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Children in care review launched

A review into why children in care are more likely to end up in the criminal justice system has been launched, aimed at stopping the "depressing route from care to custody".

Children in care aged between 10 and 17 are more than five times as likely to end up in trouble with the law than those not in care, the Prison Reform Trust said.

Almost two thirds of children looked after by the state are in care because they have been abused or neglected, the charity added.

Young people who have been in care and had experience of the criminal justice system will form a consultation group to give evidence to the review team, led by Lord Laming and established by the trust.

Lord Laming, a former social worker, said something must be done to tackle a problem that is contributing to "wasted later lives".

He said: "It is a huge step for the state to assume the parenting of a child or young person. With that comes the responsibility to provide stability, security and hope for the future.

"Fewer than 1% of children and young people are committed to the care of local authorities, yet a third of boys and 61% of girls in custody are, or have been in care.

"We cannot stand by and allow wasted opportunities to result in wasted later lives.

"We are determined to ensure this review makes practical recommendations to enable key services to work together to help children in care transform their life chances and stay out of trouble."

Juliet Lyon, director of the Prison Reform Trust, said: " There is a depressing route from care to custody which can, and must, be stopped. We need to listen to children in care about how they got drawn into trouble and hear their views on ways to get out of it."

The team is expected to report its findings, which will focus on England and Wales, early next year.

An NSPCC spokesman said: "It's a damming reflection on the system that so many children who have been in care end up in prison.

"Lord Laming's review is urgently needed. The fact that the majority of children in care have suffered abuse or neglect means they need extra help to rebuild their lives and they must not be written off by society.

"Being a victim of abuse is not an excuse for criminal behaviour but nor should the care system be a stepping stone to a life behind bars."


From Belfast Telegraph