Looked after children and youth justice: A response to recent reviews

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The paper provides a response to a recent government-commissioned review of residential care (Narey 2016), and the subsequent government response (Department of Education [DfE] 2016), which minimise the correlation between the experience of being looked after and becoming involved in the youth justice system. The Narey review emphasises the role of early adversity in looked after children’s offending behaviour but minimises the significance of experiences during and after care, and downplays the effect of policies and practices that may exacerbate looked after children’s involvement in the youth justice system.

The paper builds upon a systematic literature review conducted for the Prison Reform Trust (Author 2016) to demonstrate the extent of current knowledge about how risk factors, adverse experiences during and after care, and the criminalisation of looked after children combine to increase the likelihood of involvement in criminal proceedings. That papers also highlights gaps in the research evidence, particularly in relation to gender and ethnicity.

The findings suggest that the Narey review (2016) and the government response (DfE 2016), are misguided in their attempts to minimise the role of care in looked after children’s disproportionate representation within the youth justice system. Tthe paper cautions against the over-simplification of a complex relationship and emphasises the importance of recognising the intersection between different factors.

The paper uses secondary sources to develop an original argument to rebut claims within a recently published review.
Original languageEnglish
JournalSafer Communities
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • Youth justice
  • Looked after children
  • Offending
  • Residential care
  • Foster care
  • Narey review


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