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A group of leading charities, lawyers, care experienced children and young adults have worked together to produce a new guide for lawyers ‘Dare to Care’.

Care experienced children are up to six times more likely to be criminalised than other children. In 2022, 1% of children in England were in care, but 59% of children in custody in England and Wales had been in care.

It does not have to be this way.  Law and policy affecting care experienced children and young adults can be used to achieve fairer outcomes.  This guide will help lawyers prevent the unnecessary criminalisation of looked-after children and care leavers.

The guide will be a key resource for all lawyers working with children and young adults in the justice system. It provides powerful testimony from children and young adults, as well as the key legal framework and practical tips.

Laura Cooper, Director of Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC), which has published Dare to Care as part of its seminal series of youth justice guides said:

“It is incredibly unjust that care experienced children are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system when these are the very children we should be supporting. We are extremely proud to publish this comprehensive legal guide which we know will be a vital resource for practitioners in preventing the unnecessary criminalisation of care experienced children.”

Jordan Morgan, founder of the Policy Forum and Trustee of the Drive Forward Foundation, said: 

“To complement this vitally important guide, the Policy Forum is calling for the Justice Select Committee to urgently launch an inquiry into youth diversion schemes and their application to care experienced young people. We warmly welcome collaboration to achieve this aim and to support young people leaving the care system to live a full, dignified life where their aspirations can be met with opportunities.” 

Laurie Hunte, T2A Campaign Manager, said:

“For far too long, children and young adults with care experience have been vastly overrepresented in the criminal justice system. That’s why T2A and the Barrow Cadbury Trust are proud to support the publication of this much-needed guide for defence lawyers. Its ultimate aim is to ensure that every child and young adult is treated fairly and that their care experiences are considered and taken into account by criminal justice professionals. We have no doubt that this guide will play a crucial role in reducing the over-criminalisation of children and young adults with care experience.”

Kate Aubrey-Johnson, Director of CRYJ and barrister at Garden Court Chambers, said:

“Care experienced children and young adults deserve lawyers who understand their needs, the legal protections available and the reasons why they are so vulnerable to criminalisation. We are delighted to have worked with the Policy Forum at the Drive Forward Foundation. They are the most impressive group of young people who have, for the first time, explained to lawyers how to represent care experienced young people. Our hope is that this new legal guide will play a key part in addressing the shocking overrepresentation of care experienced children and young adults in the criminal justice system.”

The guide will be free to access online.  

Notes to editors

  1. Dare to Care: Representing care experienced young people written by Kate Aubrey-Johnson (barrister) and Dr Laura Janes (solicitor) in collaboration with the policy forum at the Drive Forward Foundation and is published by the Youth Justice Legal Centre.  Confidential advance copies are available to the press prior to the launch on request or it can be downloaded from 13 September 2023 at:
  1. Drive Forward Foundation supports care experienced young people into sustainable and fulfilling employment. The Policy Forum was founded by Jordan Morgan to promote legislative and policy change in the care system. Its members, who have lived experience of being needlessly criminalised, campaign on a number of issues, including mental health provision and education.   The forum worked with MOPAC to secure the creation of a London-wide protocol to reduce the criminalisation of looked-after children and care leavers.

T2A Chair, Leroy Logan, blogs about the relevance and importance of Spark Inside’s new report, Being Well, Being Equal. This blog was initially posted on the T2A website.

“I was quite positive when I went inside and I think the system strips you of that. And once it has been stripped you then have the issue of well, trying to get that back and they are not putting support in place to rebuild that.” (Young adult, Being Well Being Equal Report)

When we see young adults in the criminal justice system solely as people to be punished, we deny them the opportunity to forge a better future. We rob them of their full potential. If we don’t rehabilitate young adults at this crucial juncture in their development, the desistance process becomes much more complex after the age of 25 due to the “scarring effect” of “new adversities which are emergent in adulthood” (University of Edinburgh Study March 2022).

Prisons should focus on the rehabilitation of every individual. Young adults who are given the chance to grow, develop and realise their potential during their time in prison are less likely to reoffend – and more likely to positively contribute to society.  This is exemplified in a new report from Spark Inside. Its detailed paper Being Well, Being Equal contains a comprehensive list of recommendations on how we can prioritise the wellbeing of young men, and particularly young Black men in the criminal justice system. Spark Inside’s recommendations could not be more timely when we consider the scale of the challenges young adults face.

A 2021 thematic report from HM Chief Inspector of Prisons (HMIP) on the outcomes of young adults in custody stated: “if action is not taken, outcomes for this group and society will remain poor for the next decade and beyond.” The December 2022 HMIP thematic review into the experiences of adult black male prisoners and black prison staff found that lack of trust in prison staff was a significant barrier to asking for support.

“Prisoners generally had low expectations of the help that they might be given if they needed support; some gave examples of times when they or friends had sought support and not received it, and others did not feel that staff had the cultural sensitivity, expertise or experience to help them, and therefore did not want to ask for help.” (HMIP, 2022)

This places young Black men in the criminal justice system in an incredibly vulnerable position – one where they feel unable to seek help from the very people who have a duty of care to keep them safe.

The evidence is clear. We must act now. But where to start? Spark Inside believes we need to listen to the voices and experiences of young adults and the organisations that advocate on their behalf. Involving Black-led and Black specialist organisations in the development of wellbeing strategies will lead to greater engagement and trust on both sides – creating an approach to young Black men’s mental health and wellbeing that considers their distinct needs.

Empowering young adults to play a role in shaping policy and practice is also key. Being able to actively participate in matters that have a huge impact on their lives will boost their self-confidence, self-esteem, sense of agency, and wellbeing. Spark Inside have rightly identified that training and coaching will be vital to see through the report’s recommendations.

Many prison and probation officers want to do more to support young adults, but they don’t have the resources, time or support. HMPPS ringfencing time for staff to receive specialist training will help them understand how to effectively meet the needs of young adults – leading to more open and positive relationships. It will also help people working across the prison estate to explore and challenge discriminatory attitudes towards young adults, particularly young Black adults.

Right now, with organisations like Spark Inside working directly with young adults, we have a chance to create a criminal justice system that focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment. A system where young adults can gain the skills and confidence they need to thrive. A system where every young adult can unlock their full potential. But we need to grab this chance with both hands if we are to ever make it a reality.


Barrow Cadbury Trust and Lloyds Bank Foundation for England & Wales are looking for expressions of interest from organisations keen to get involved in the development and delivery of a pilot community leadership programme. The programme is specifically aimed at Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic leaders of voluntary and community organisations supporting people in, or at risk of getting caught up in, the criminal justice system.   

 Informed by conversations with leaders of Black, Asian and minoritised  ethnic led charities working in the criminal justice system, the pilot will aim to support enable organisations to give them the tools to have their voices heard in the national policy debate, build personal and organisational resilience and network with other criminal justice leaders. 


In the UK, the voluntary sector plays a vital role in providing services, supporting those most at risk of engagement in the criminal justice system, campaigning for policy reform, informing the media and influencing public debate.  

 The sector is diverse but, due to historic underfunding, organisations run by and for people from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic groups tend to be smaller and find it harder to achieve critical mass and sustainability.  

 Informal conversations between independent trusts and foundations and organisations run by and for people from Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic backgrounds concluded that investing in leadership development could be transformative and contribute to positive social change for people in the criminal justice system and wider society.  

Barrow Cadbury Trust and Lloyds Bank Foundation now wish to commission an organisation (or a partnership) to design and deliver the pilot programme over two years to support Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic leaders.  

About the Community Leadership Development Programme 

What is the primary objective of the programme? 

The overarching objective of the programme is to challenge and change the criminal justice system, from policy through to service design and delivery. To do this a stronger and more experienced specialist sector should be empowered and enfranchised to promote radical change and advocate for new approaches. The programme should be a unique leadership development programme tailored to Black, Asian and minoritised ethnic leaders working in criminal justice. 

The pilot programme will have four core elements:  

  • wellbeing; 
  • networking;  
  • policy development and influencing; and  
  • organisational development.  

The aim is to increase the resilience and capabilities of current leaders, supporting them to lead social change.  

What sort of knowledge and expertise is needed? 

We expect the provider to be, or work in partnership with, an organisation which is led by people from Black, Asian or minoritised ethnic communities, and have knowledge of the policy context for criminal justice charities and leadership development for charities. The provider/partnership should have clear demonstrable experience of delivering work in line with the programme design brief. 

Will the programme be monitored and evaluated?  

Over the course of the programme the provider will be expected to capture learning and feedback. The provider will be expected to design and implement a robust monitoring and outcome evaluation framework as part of the programme delivery model.  The Barrow Cadbury Trust and Lloyds Bank Foundation are considering an external evaluation this which will be funded separately. 

How much budget is available?  

The Barrow Cadbury Trust and Lloyds Bank Foundation have a budget of up to £200K for this programme.  

What is the Application Process?  

This is a two stage application process. The deadline for the first stage is 5pm 27 March, with the preferred supplier appointed at the end of June. 

Download a copy of the full programme design brief
Download a copy of the bidder profile form

“I was in general hospital being treated for self-harm. Staff attempted to restrain me as they wanted to move me to a different room. They grabbed me by the knees and wrists. I was accused of hitting one of the staff although I don’t remember doing it, I was just trying to get away.” (person accused of assaulting an emergency worker)

Attacks on police and NHS workers appear to be increasing. Prosecutions for this offence have increased almost 50% since 2018.  The government wants to “protect the protectors” and has increased the maximum criminal sanction for the offence of assaulting an emergency worker twice in the last four years. It is now two years imprisonment – four times the maximum penalty for common assault. But increased punishment has not reduced abuse. As the government admitted in its impact assessment for the new legislation, there is only “weak and mixed” evidence for the deterrent effects of the new sanctions.

A new report ‘Protecting the Protectors? Do criminal justice sanctions reduce violence against police and NHS staff’?‘ by national charity Transform Justice suggests that, not only are increased criminal sanctions ineffective in deterring this crime, they are also sweeping more people with mental health conditions, cognitive impairments and/or who are neurodivergent into the criminal justice system. People who are schizophrenic or in mental health crisis may lash out at police or nurses without being fully aware of what they are doing. People who are autistic may panic when they feel police are invading their personal space.  Transform Justice estimates that at least two-thirds of those accused of assaulting emergency workers have a serious mental illness or are neurodivergent.

Prosecution is a blunt instrument for dealing with such vulnerable suspects. If they are prosecuted, huge amounts of time and money are spent obtaining and discussing specialist reports. Many defendants have their cases withdrawn or, if convicted, are sentenced to an absolute or conditional discharge – a sentence given only for crimes where the mitigation is very strong. These outcomes do nothing to reduce abuse or help victims move on from an assault.

Transform Justice recommends that employers in the NHS and in the police should spend less time pressing for prosecutions and more time tending to the welfare of staff who have been abused. Staff want their harm to be recognised, access to counselling, and for violence and abuse to stop. Only some want their day in court.

But how do we stop the rise in abuse asks the report? Better access to mental health services would help of course. Transform Justice also suggests that both NHS workers and police need better training in dealing with neurodivergent people and people who are mentally ill. If police and NHS workers were better trained in de-escalation techniques, many of these incidents could be avoided in the first place.

Penelope Gibbs, Director of Transform Justice said “Nobody goes to work to be a punchbag. But harsher punishments aren’t protecting our protectors, they’re just sweeping more vulnerable people into the criminal justice system.”


The research in this new report – The usual suspects – was conducted by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, in partnership with the campaign group JENGbA.

Until the Supreme Court ruling, in February 2016, there were three ways that multiple people could be prosecuted for a single offence, under so-called joint enterprise principles. First, if two people jointly committed a single crime, and, second, if one or more people actively assisted or encouraged someone else to commit a crime.

The third way, known as ‘parasitic accessory liability’, involved cases in which two or more people committed a crime, during which one of them committed another crime. Under parasitic accessory liability, the others could be prosecuted as secondary suspects, on the basis that they should have foreseen that the primary suspect would commit another crime. In 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that this third approach – parasitic accessory liability – had been wrongly applied, setting far too low a bar for individuals to be convicted of offences they did not perpetrate.

To explore the possible impact of this ruling, researchers at the Centre for Crime and Justice reviewed prosecutions and convictions of secondary suspects for murder and manslaughter, and multi-defendant cases for homicide.

For murder and manslaughter:

  • In three years leading up to the Supreme Court ruling – 2013/14 to 2015/16 – the researchers identified 522 individuals charged as secondary suspects and 296 convictions of secondary suspects.
  • In the three years following the ruling – 2016/17 to 2018/19 – researchers identified 547 individuals charged as secondary suspects and 326 convictions of secondary suspects.

There was therefore no discernible impact on the number of prosecutions and convictions.

The researchers also looked at the age, ethnicity and other characteristics of defendants. A clear profile emerges about who has been convicted of serious violent offences through joint enterprise laws. They are predominately young men. Those from minority ethnicity communities, particularly the Black community, are consistently over represented. Indeed, there are indications that the most recent period has seen some increase in ethnic disproportionality among those convicted under joint enterprise rules.

Among its recommendations, the report is calling for Crown Prosecution Service to commit to proper data collection, and to undertake a retrospective review of joint enterprise prosecutions. It also calls for the House of Commons Justice Committee to undertake an Inquiry into the application of the joint enterprise rules.

The findings come at a time of renewed campaigning around the impact of joint enterprise on prisoners and their families. Those convicted prior to the 2016 Supreme Court ruling face enormous obstacles to challenging their convictions. This has led JENGbA to propose a change in the law, through a Private Member’s Bill, to make it easier for successful appeals to be mounted.

Speaking today, Helen Mills, Head of Programmes at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies and one of the report authors, said:

The Supreme Court ruling could not have simply resolved the well-established injustices of joint enterprise. But we were surprised at how consistent the number of prosecutions and convictions secured through joint enterprise were throughout the fifteen-year period we looked at. Before and after the Supreme Court ruling, numbers of prosecutions through joint enterprise laws were remarkably similar, suggesting not much has changed.

Currently there is no official record about the use of joint enterprise. In the absence of better data collection, these figures are our best guide to gauging trends about how this complex and problematic area of law is working. While we did the best we could to establish the most accurate picture, our work also strengthens the argument for greater transparency about this controversial area of prosecution policy.

Gloria Morrison, of JENGbA, said:

The Supreme Court victory in 2016 vindicated everything JENGbA had said for many years. This victory was bittersweet because we have found that those convicted under the wrong interpretation of the law now find themselves with the impossible hurdle of the Substantial Injustice Test.

Jan Cunliffe, of JENGbA, added:

JENGbA campaigners did originally take comfort from the fact that the daily trauma they continued to face, would never happen to another family. However, these findings come as no surprise to us. We receive calls from distressed family members on an almost weekly basis. Their confusion and disappointment in the criminal justice system is a harrowing reminder of the urgent need for Parliamentarians to step in and put right the draconian measures that are continuing to destroying the lives of so many.

Richard Garside, Director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said:

I remember the 2016 Supreme Court ruling well, and the hope among campaigners that it would be a real turning point. We need our research to be confirmed by future pieces of work, but it suggests that meaningful reform to the controversial joint enterprise rules is desperately needed.

Parliament is in a position to address what could be a substantial injustice in the way joint enterprise rules continue to be applied. As a first step, we think it would be positive step for the House of Commons Justice Committee to undertake an Inquiry into joint enterprise.

Read the report.

In his first blog for T2A Leroy Logan MBE explains why the Inclusive Britain report is getting some things right about young adults but needs to put words into action.

Whilst I’m critical of the Government’s response to racial inequalities and associated disproportionalities, I was encouraged by its commitment in the recently launched Inclusive Britain report (the Government’s response to the controversial Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities report published a year ago).  The ‘Inclusive Britain’ report asserted that “young adult offenders (those aged 18 to 24) receive age-appropriate consequences for their actions and are discouraged from repeating criminal behaviour … we do not want to see them criminalised if there is a strong argument for a second chance, especially where individuals are motivated to acknowledge and learn from the experience. Where drugs offences come about through the exploitation of vulnerable young people, we want to avoid a cycle of victims becoming offenders”.

Why focus on young adults?

T2A has been advocating for age appropriate services for more than a decade.  In that time we’ve amassed substantial evidence from neuroscience which shows that the brain is not fully formed until at least the mid-20s. The upshot of this is that young adults typically have more ‘psychosocial’ similarities to older children than to adults in their reasoning and decision-making. Young adulthood is also a stage of life where behaviour change is more likely. There is a crucial window of opportunity where desistance from crime can be nurtured as the young adult brain is receptive to learning and personal growth.

 Working in the police service for many years, I witnessed first-hand the impact on young adults, their families and communities when they are in the justice system. As the newly appointed chair of the Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A), I’m pleased to see a shift in the Government’s approach to 18-24 year olds in the Inclusive Britain report but this does mark a different approach to some recent positions adopted by the Government. For example the legislative changes planned in the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill which removes some existing recognition that young adults should be treated differently because of their developmental status. Nevertheless, key parts of the justice system, notably prisons and probation, acknowledge that young adulthood extends up to the age of 25 and require a distinct service.


At T2A, we are very concerned by the significant and growing disproportionality of young adults of colour in the criminal justice system. These disparities have continued to increase as consecutive governments have failed to hear and deliver on the recommendations from several reviews of the criminal justice system — such as the 2017 Lammy Review,  and going back many years now the Macpherson Inquiry — where potential reasons for racial disparities were explored and the need for more systematic research to understand the causes has been identified.

Next steps

I would like to see the government go further and commit to providing age appropriate services, which tackle long-standing inequalities, right across the criminal justice system.

Recently the government showed its intent to invest in supporting families with complex needs and has asked the Children’s Commissioner to review the way public services understand the needs of children and families. We would like to see this extended to young adults up to 25.  Young people typically reach what might have been seen as traditional milestones of adulthood at a much older age than when I started my policing career. Young adults and their families generally have access to fewer supportive public services than children because there a cliff edge of provision dropping away when they turn 18.

Young adult vulnerability

Because of their age, young adults involved in serious crime are rarely viewed as possible victims but rather as highly culpable perpetrators. While I welcome recent significant shifts in understanding the nature of youth criminality and the role of exploitation in violent and drug-related offences, this has typically focused on those who are demonstrably young and vulnerable. The fact that the vulnerability of those young adults may well have brought them into crime is rarely recognised. For instance, recent statistics from MOPAC (Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime)  in London show that only 22% of referrals for support are aged 18-25. However, 69% of people known to be involved in County Lines are aged 18-25. [MOPAC, Rescue and Response Strategic Assessment]. And research shows that public services can disproportionately view black young people as adults before they are 18 and have higher expectations of them in a process known as ‘adultification’.

Talking to young adults

T2A places utmost importance on developing solutions with people who are experts because of their own experience of the criminal justice system. In implementing the actions set out in the ‘Inclusive Britain’ report, the Government could usefully engage with young adults of colour, for example, through organisations like Leaders Unlocked. In the Leaders Unlocked report Race and the Criminal Justice System, young adults provided powerful testimony of their experiences of engaging with public services which make for sobering reading.  They demonstrate a lack of trust in the system starting in childhood. Once involved in the criminal justice system, young adults find that they are perceived through a narrow lens as a perpetrator or a criminal.  They may find it challenging to move on from their offence and rebuild their lives, which ultimately is what we all want.

Leroy Logan MBE is chair of T2A
@T2AAlliance @LeroyLogan999




This blog by Sophie Kenny, Researcher at Centre for Social Justice’s Criminal Justice Unit, was originally published on CSJ’s website on 13 March to tie in with the launch of its report ‘The Golden Thread: putting family at the heart of the criminal justice system.  We are cross-posting it here with their kind permission.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of familial relationships. For many of us, the defining memory of this period is how little we could see, chat to, or hug our loved ones. While technology helped us to overcome the distance that separated us, the quality of these interactions paled in comparison to the physical contact we were used to.

Yet, this bleak experience remains a reality for a particular cohort of people. Families with a relative in custody continue to endure the challenge of separation from their loved ones day-in and day-out. Often, their daily experience is marked by a longing for the next point of connection, whether it be through a phone call or a face to-face visit.

Challenges for families

However, this is just one of the many challenges that families who are supporting a relative through the criminal justice system face. From the moment of their relative’s arrest through to release, families become entangled in a complex system which are they forced to navigate with little to no external support. Regardless of the crime committed, many families expend huge amounts of time, energy and money maintaining their relationship with their relative inside. This level of support can be all-consuming, whether it be for the father who attends court each day despite the impact it has on his mental health, the grandparent who picks up the child from school after their primary caregiver has been sentenced, or the wife who drives for hours every weekend so that her child can see their father in prison.

Arguably, no one suffers the effects of imprisonment more than children. An estimated 312,000 children are separated from their parents by imprisonment each year. As a result, each of these children will be at increased risk of psychological, economic and social harm, yet there is currently no nationally recorded or published data on the number of individuals who pass through the criminal justice system with dependent children. Critically, there is also no process for these children to be identified and therefore supported at the point of imprisonment. This, in our view, is a national scandal.

The impact on children

During the course of our research, we heard several accounts of children being left to live on their own after their primary carer was given a custodial sentence. In one case, Leo, a 16-year-old boy, lived alone for several months in his family home without any external support when his mother was sent to prison. As his father had passed away several years before, Leo relied on his mother’s bank cards to buy food and cover the household expenses. Leo did not confide in anyone that he was living alone. Instead, he told his neighbours that his mother was working away. Before Leo was identified by police and referred to a voluntary sector organisation in the community, he struggled to sleep at night and was extremely anxious.

Stories like Leo’s are why the Centre for Social Justice believes that the Government must act to safeguard children affected by imprisonment. We have proposed a mechanism of identification and referral that will ensure there are multiple touchpoints during arrest and sentencing to pick up every child that requires support when their primary caregiver has been sent to custody.

In total, this report makes 22 recommendations which set out a vision for a more compassionate and trauma-informed criminal justice system that responds to the needs of prisoners’ families. These include ensuring that all family members, such as stepparents and grandparents, can access family days in prison and measures to ensure families are supported to come together again after imprisonment, if it is safe and in in the best interests of both the family and the prison leaver to do so.

Families can play a critical role in supporting the rehabilitation of prisoners. However, no longer can families be expected to bear this burden alone. It is time that families are valued for the gift that they are to the system, and afforded the support they so desperately need. In the words of one interviewee, we must look at ‘the impact of that trauma on affected others. If we don’t deal with that, we are just setting in motion another cycle of pain, hurt and addiction.’

Tuesday 22 Jan

Former Metropolitan Police Superintendent Leroy Logan MBE takes over as chair of T2A young adults campaign

Leroy Logan MBE, anti-racist campaigner, former Met superintendent, and a founding member of the Black Police Association, has been appointed as Chair of Transition to Adulthood (T2A).

Transition to Adulthood (T2A) is a Barrow Cadbury Trust programme advocating for a criminal justice system that takes a distinct approach to policy and practice for young adults (18-25 year olds). The criminal justice system regards all people over 18 year olds as adults.  T2A argues it’s not as simple as this.  Our research, as well as evidence from academic institutions and from government bodies, along with the insights from criminal justice practitioners, shows that between 18 and 25 the brain is still developing.  This can show itself as irresponsible and unpredictable behaviour which may lead to criminal justice interventions.  T2A is working with sentencers, criminal justice practitioners, and policy makers to make sure this evidence is taken into account when services are designed and decisions made impact on young adult in the justice system

The prison population is made up of a disproportionate number of young adults.  At the last census they made up 9.4% of the general population but 16% of the prison population, 23% of those on the most basic regime, as well as young adults making up over 30% of police cases.

On taking up the role Leroy Logan said:

“The causes of crime have always been overlooked by a ‘tough on crime’ approach. I believe my new role with T2A is a way of highlighting the challenges young adults face that may lead them to offend or repeat offend. All of these factors along with an individual’s maturity should be taken into consideration when the courts sentence an individual. I look forward to working with everyone on the T2A team and the T2A partner organisations”.

Welcoming him as Chair of the campaign, Sara Llewellin, CEO of Barrow Cadbury Trust said:

“When Leroy Logan said he would take up the role of chair we were absolutely delighted to have someone so committed to reforming the criminal justice system and challenging inequality, particularly racism.  His 30 years’ experience in the Met Police advancing policing (recognised by an MBE in 2000), and his work on the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry will help to drive the T2A campaign to the next level, increasing traction and profile.  We are very much looking forward to working with Leroy and his team to accelerate change for young adults in the CJS”.








Leaders Unlocked supports young people from diverse backgrounds to influence change on the issues that affect their lives. It was founded by Rose Dowling in 2015 with the belief that any young person could become a leader if the right conditions were created for them to thrive.

Since 2015 Leaders Unlocked projects have provided young people with the space, support, and tools they need to lead. Completely youth-led, Leaders Unlocked enables young people to define their own priorities, produce their own research, develop recommendations and co-produce solutions.

In 2020, Leaders Unlocked established a Youth Board – a group of motivated young leaders representing all of its work areas: criminal justice, education, health, and policing. These young leaders are helping to drive Leaders Unlocked’s growth as an organisation – working on its strategy, business development, partnerships, media and communications. The Youth Board of Leaders Unlocked have co-produced and authored this Impact Report – a vibrant record of its collective achievement over the last 6 years.

Follow @LeadersUnlocked

According to a new briefing from Prison Reform Trust, most women are sent to prison for non-violent offences and serve sentences of 12 months or less.  The briefing reveals that 72% of women who entered prison under sentence in 2020 have committed a non-violent offence. Furthermore, 70% of prison sentences given to women were for less than 12 months.

A series of inquiries and reports over the last 20 years, as well as the government’s own ‘female offender strategy’, have all concluded that prison is rarely a necessary, appropriate or proportionate response to women who get caught up in the criminal justice system. Despite this, the government has recently announced plans to build an additional 500 prison places in the women’s estate. This is in direct contradiction to a key commitment of the female offender strategy to reduce the female prison population.

The briefing provides a concise and informative explanation of the need to focus on reducing the imprisonment of women in England and Wales. It contains statistics on the number of women imprisoned, the characteristics of women in prison and the drivers to their offending, as well as information about community-based services and solutions.

Other key facts highlighted in the briefing include:

  •  Women were sent to prison on 5,011 occasions in 2020 – either on remand or to serve a sentence.
  • Levels of self-harm in the women’s estate reached record levels in 2020. There were 11,988 incidents of self-harm compared to 7,670 in 2016. Women made up 22% of all self-harm incidents in 2020, despite making up only 4% of the prison population.
  • Women serving a sentence of less than 12 months accounted for almost half of recalls in 2020.
  • The use of community sentences has dropped by two-thirds since 2010.

Women, who make up only 4% of the total prison population, are easily overlooked in policy, planning, and investment in the services that help them to take responsibility and turn their lives around. A recent PRT analysis of progress made by the government in implementing the female offender strategy since it was published in 2018 found that it had fully implemented less than half (31) of 65 commitments.