The Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice recently published a range of statistics about children and young people (aged 10-17 years) in the Youth Justice System (YJS) in England and Wales from 1 April 2016 to 31 March 2017. According to this publication, there were approximately 74,800 arrests of children and young people by the police in 2016/2017, indicating a decrease of 14% in the last year and of 79% over the last 10 years. The figures reveal that 16,500 children and young people entered the YJS in 2016/2017. This means that the number of first time entrants to the YJS has fallen markedly, by 11% in the last year and by 85% over the last 10 years. Furthermore, 28,400 children and young people received a caution or a sentence in 2016/2017, a decrease of 14% in the last year and of 81% over the last 10 years.
In 2016/2017, there were 4,000 proven offences involving possession of a knife or offensive weapon. Since 2011/2012, the number of these offences committed by children and young people has increased by 11%, while the number of these offences committed by adults has decreased by 10%. This publication also reveals an increase in the reoffending rate among children and young people. According to the figures, 42.2% of children and young people reoffended within 12 months, an increase of 4% over the last 10 years. By comparison, 28.2% of adults reoffended within 12 months.
In 2016/2017, 6% of children and young people sentenced at court were sentenced to immediate custody and the average youth custody population was approximately 870. These figures show that the number of children and young people in custody has decreased by 7% in the last year and by 74% over the last 10 years. However, while the number of children and young people in custody from a Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) background has been decreasing, the proportion has been increasing. This means that children and young people from a BAME background are overrepresented in custody; they accounted for 45% of the custodial population in 2016/2017, while only making up 18% of the general 10-17-year-old population. In addition, 25% of all children and young people who received a caution or conviction in 2016/2017 were from a BAME background.
Despite ongoing efforts to improve safety for children and young people in custody, the rate of single separation, the number of Restrictive Physical Interventions (RPIs), the number of assaults, and the levels of self-harm increased in 2016/2017. The use of ‘single separation’ in Secure Children’s Homes and Secure Training Centres has risen from a rate of 52.3 per 100 young people in 2015/2016 to 93.9 in 2016/2017. After several years of decline, the number of RPIs increased by 5% to 4,527. This figure equates to a restraint rate of 32.1 per 100 young people in custody, the highest figure on record. Furthermore, the publication reveals that 100 young people required medical treatment as a result of an RPI; eight were so seriously injured that they required hospital treatment, while 92 were treated on site for minor injuries.
The number of assaults per 100 young people has increased from 9.8 in 2011/2012 to 19.5 in 2016/2017. In addition, the number of self-harm incidents per 100 young people has increased from 5.1 in 2011/2012 to 9 in 2016/2017. The number of young people requiring medical treatment after a self-harm incident rose from 193 in 2015/2016 to 338 in 2016/2017, a total increase of 75.1%. Among those injured through self-harm in 2016/2017, 19 required hospital treatment while 319 were treated on site. According to Carolyne Willow, Director of the children’s rights charity ‘Article 39’, “These figures keep the alarm bells ringing, and act as a sad reminder that hundreds of frightened, hurt children in the care of the state remain in establishments that are simply incapable of meeting their needs”.
The Youth Justice Statistics report 2016/17 is available here.
An infographic is some of the key statistics is available here.