This publication considers the flow of children (aged 10-17) through the Youth Justice System in England and Wales from 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019. In particular, it considers the number of children in the system, the kinds of offences committed, the outcomes received, their demographics and trends over time.
The published statistics were accompanied by an infographic which highlights some of the most significant information:
Other important points in the report included:
- The number of children who received a caution or sentence fell by 19% from the previous year, totalling 21 700 children.
- The decrease in sentencing occasions for White children has been at a higher rate than for other ethnic groups. This means that the proportion of all occasions in which White children were sentenced for indictable offences fell from 73% to 65% over the last 5 years. Conversely, over the same period the proportion of all occasions in which Black children were sentenced for indictable offences increased from 14% to 20%.
- The proportion of Black children cautioned or sentenced saw a minor decrease from last year, although it has been increasing over the last 10 years. The proportion of Black children who are cautioned or sentenced is almost three times that of the general 10-17 population.
- There were 11 900 first time entrants (FTEs) to the Youth Justice System. This represents an 18% fall from the previous year.
- 4500 knife and offensive weapon offences were committed by children. This represents a 1% increase from the previous year.
- The average custodial sentence given to children has increased in length over the last 10 years, from an average of 11.4 months to one of 17.7.
- The number of children held in custody on remand has increased by 12% from the previous year. This accounted for 28% of all children in youth custody; the largest proportion over the last 10 years.
- Two-thirds (66%) of children who were remanded youth detention accommodation did not subsequently receive a custodial sentence, a 3% increase from last year.
- The number of children from a Black background on youth custody has increased by 6% from the previous year, and accounts of 28% of the total youth custody population.
- Both Restrictive Physical Interventions (RPIs) and self-harm incidents in youth custody have increased to the highest level in 5 years. RPIs have increased by 16%, to around 6300 incidents. Self-harm incidents have increased by 3% to around 1800.
- The rate of reoffending has decreased by 2.5%, although it is still higher than 10 years ago. A total of 38.4% of children and young people reoffended.
The statistics raise a number of important questions. Particularly worrying are the statistics relating to children in custody and children from BAME backgrounds. Given that custody should be a last resort for children, it is unclear why the number of children in custody is increasing while the overall number of children being sentenced is decreasing. The continued increase in RPIs and self-harm by children in custody is also extremely concerning in this context. The increasing overrepresentation of BAME children held in custody and receiving sentences is another worsening problem.