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UK: Overlooked and Overrepresented: Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children in the youth justice system

22nd December 2016

This report is an analysis of the 'Children in Custody 2015–16, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons' data published on the 15 November 2016. The data for the Children in Custody report derives from surveys conducted at all Secure Training Centres (STCs) and Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) between 1 April 2015 and 12 April 2015.

In the 2015 Children in Custody report, the then HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick said in his foreword:

Both STCs and YOIs continued to hold a hugely disproportionate number of children who described themselves as being from a Traveller or Gypsy background…. a hundred times greater than the 0.1% which is the estimated proportion in the population as a whole.

We have repeatedly raised our concerns about this issue – with any other group such huge disproportionality would have led to more formal inquiry and investigation into what part of their backgrounds or interaction with the criminal justice system had led to this situation. Children from a Traveller background reported greater levels of need and worse experiences in custody than other children”.

To counter the lack of profile given to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma (GTR) children in STCs and YOIs, the Traveller Movement has highlighted the key issues facing these children.

Recommendations:

  • The Youth Justice Board should act, with urgency, to ensure the 18+1 ethnic monitoring system based on the 2011 census is implemented across the entire youth criminal justice system;
  • A formal inquiry should be launched into what has led to Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children being overrepresented in the youth criminal justice system.

Read the full report here.