Ensuring custody is a last resort for children – new SCYJ report

SCYJ is proud to publish a new report, Ensuring custody is the last resort for children in England and Walesdeveloped with an expert group of SCYJ members:

  • The principle that custody should only ever be used as a last resort for children is enshrined in domestic law and international human rights conventions, but is not currently applied as such.
  • As the number of children in custody has declined over the past decade, the overrepresentation of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) children has worsened, such that 2019 saw more BAME children in custody than white children for the first time.
  • This paper sets out proposals for new legislation to ensure that custody for children is only ever used as a genuine last resort.
  • Distinct and tightened legal restrictions would apply more equitably to all children and minimise the influence of a range of biases, that can see disproportionately negative outcomes for BAME children and those in local authority care.
  • The suggested legislative criteria would ensure that custody is only available for the most serious crimes, where the child poses a serious and continuing risk to the public, and where there is genuinely no way of managing that risk in the community.

These proposals would be a vital tool in stemming the flow of children who are sentenced and remanded to custody. The report has been submitted to the Justice Select Committee as part of its inquiries into youth justice.

Read the report here.