Intensive fostering could widen criminal net, campaigners warn

More children could come into contact with the criminal justice
system under proposals outlined in the new criminal justice white
paper, The Howard League for Penal Reform has warned.

The white paper ‘Justice for All’ proposes that more use be made
of intensive fostering as an alternative to custody.

It also proposes extending foster remand arrangements to include
supervised foster placements for persistent young offenders on
bail, so they can maintain links with their school, family and

But Charlotte Day, policy officer for The Howard League for
Penal Reform, warned that while intensive fostering was a positive
step if it was used as an alternative to custody, there was a
danger that the proposed change could have a “net widening

“It could be used for children who otherwise wouldn’t go
into custody and bring in more and more children into the ambit of
the criminal justice system,” she said. “Care has to be taken that
it is used only as a last resort for people who need to be taken
away form home.”

The paper stresses that intensive fostering would be
particularly suitable for the 10 and 11-year-old persistent
offenders who are bailed by the court only to offend again, and for
whom custodial options are only available in exceptional

It suggests that social services departments could have a
greater role in protecting the community and the children. Under a
new remand process, criminal courts would be able to order a local
authority to report to them within 48-hours, saying where it would
place a child, should the child be remanded into its care.

The court would also have the right to order the local authority
to undertake an investigation into the child’s circumstances
to see whether grounds appear to justify applying for a care or
supervision order.

‘Justice for All’ from

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