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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