The big question

    Why are so many children in custody in the

    Our service user panellists give their views.

    Len Smith
    Gypsy and Traveller Law Reform Coalition

    The number of young people behind bars in England and Wales is
    saddening and scary. Just when the need for role models is at its
    greatest, we throw them in prison. Bringing young offenders back
    into a nurturing environment, rather than a punitive one, could be
    the most effective crime fighting measure of all.

    Kierra Box
    youth campaigner

    We have failed to devise an education or care system that suits
    young people and we have made antisocial behaviour so serious that
    we have criminalised law abiding youth. And we’ve failed to
    understand that it is rehabilitation, not punishment, which will
    help them reintegrate in to society.

    Angie Lawrence
    single parent

    Teenagers are still children; their psychological development is
    insufficient for them to cope with being in custody. If money was
    invested in helping these children earlier, the government would
    not need to spend so much trying to control them later, when they
    are often beyond control, and therefore end up being put in

    Joan Scott
    Director, Action Unlimited

    They lock young people up because they want to punish them but I
    think it’s wrong. One of my sons got into trouble for fighting when
    he was 17 and he was put away in a terrible place. He has learning
    difficulties and he got bullied – by the staff and the other
    inmates. He still talks about the horrible things that he saw in

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