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Criminal Justice

T2A welcomes Justice Select Committee report on Children and Young People in Custody (part 2)

Joyce Moseley Chair of the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Alliance welcomes the Justice Select Committee’s report on Children and Young People in Custody (Part 2): The Youth Secure Estate and Resettlement, published today 10 Feb.

The Committee heard evidence from the Barrow Cadbury Trust and from Leaders Unlocked’s Young Justice Advisers on the difficulties of the transition from youth to adult services. That evidence to the Committee illustrates the importance of support for young people during this transition.  That support has not always been forthcoming. We know from neuroscience that young people continue maturing past their 18th birthday, often until their mid-twenties.  Any progress made by a child in the youth justice system is interrupted by the ‘cliff edge’ of turning 18.   A large number of young people have mental health needs, neuro-cognitive disabilities and a background of care placements. These vulnerabilities can be made more acute by the transition from youth justice and child social care services into the adult system.

The recommendations made by the Committee for the Ministry of Justice to publish a ‘youth to adult policy framework’ and to implement it across the youth and adult estates is welcomed by the T2A Alliance.  Although  guidance is already in place to support the transitions process, the remit of existing guidance is only to ensure the efficiency and effectiveness of the transitions process.  T2A believes that more attention must be paid to the best interests of the child, including early identification of any vulnerabilities, provision of consistent support, and the option not to transfer a young person into the adult system, if there are good reasons to keep them in the youth system – such as a pending parole hearing or completion of a work or educational placement. To enable the child to be fully engaged in the process, the Ministry of Justice should listen and learn from those with lived experience of the transfer process.

Finally, the existing transition process and the revised one once implemented, T2A recommends should be regularly reviewed by the Ministry of Justice to assess how effective they are at developing pro-social identities in young people, and enabling them to contribute to society for the duration of their adult lives.