Children in Care: Racial Discrimination

Department for Education written question – answered at on 15 January 2024.

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Photo of Bambos Charalambous Bambos Charalambous Independent, Enfield, Southgate

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if she will meet with the hon. Member for Enfield, Southgate and Barnardo’s to discuss how local authorities can work with partners to prevent the over-criminalisation of Black children in the care system.

Photo of David Johnston David Johnston The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We recognise that children in care are more likely than their peers in the general population to have contact with the criminal justice system. That is why we published a joint national protocol with the Home Office and the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) in 2018 on reducing the unnecessary criminalisation of looked after children and care leavers: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/national-protocol-on-reducing-criminalisation-of-looked-after-children. The protocol was produced with the input of local authority representatives, and other partners. Since the publication of the protocol, the proportion of children in care aged 10-17 who are charged with an offence or receive a caution has reduced from 3% in 2019 to 2% in 2023. Latest data for year ending March 2023 also show that 3% of care leavers age 19-21 were in custody. This figure has remained the same for the last 5 years.

We are also taking action on risk factors that can lead to criminal behaviour including through our work to improve school attendance.

Through the care leaver Ministerial Board, we are working closely with MoJ to improve support and outcomes of care-experienced people in the criminal justice system.

The MoJ is currently updating its strategy for people with care experience in the criminal justice system, to ensure that their time in the criminal justice system is used to support them to lead crime-free lives. The strategy will include a focus on race and its role in shaping the experiences and outcomes of those with care experience, and will link to wider departmental efforts to address racial disproportionality in the criminal justice system. The MoJ are aiming to publish this strategy in 2024.

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