In this unprecedented public health emergency, our members and stakeholders are working intensively through the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
There will be implications for all children and young people in our communities, particular challenges for those in the youth justice system, and exceptionally critical risks for children in custody.
Over the past few weeks, we have been working with our members to gather information and insight, enabling us to highlight issues and make practical suggestions, outlined in this paper.
The paper makes a number of recommendations around safeguarding children in the community; children under the supervision of YOTs; minimising throughput of children into the youth justice system and custody; children in custody; and coordinating the safe release of children from prison.
Key areas for consideration include:
- Specific communications directed at young people about the importance of social distancing and isolation measures.
- The balance of public health risks alongside other risks to safeguarding children and young people from harm.
- The role of frontline youth workers with flexible emergency funding, personal protective equipment and antibody testing.
- Support, guidance and advice for youth offending services and community partners.
- Guidance for policing children and young people and minimising arrests.
- Maximising diversion from the youth justice system and penal custody.
- Managing the planned release of children from prisons.
- Longer-term considerations for children in the youth justice system.