The number of Asians in custody has significantly increased in recent years, figures collated by youth offending teams have revealed.
The statistics show that in many - although not all - areas, young Asians are now more likely to be over-represented in terms of the number of young offenders given custodial sentences.
YOTs have been told by the Youth Justice Board to go away and look at their sentencing patterns locally and to talk to the courts in areas where young Asians are over-represented in prisons. They are also being advised to consider whether the wider support needs of young Asian people are being met in their local communities, and whether there is enough involvement of Asian elders in the local volunteer force.
YJB chair Rod Morgan told the annual Nacro youth crime conference that it was “incredibly important” for YOTs to address this issue at a local level.
He said that other key concerns for the YJB included the rise in the number of young people ending up in the youth justice system despite an overall fall in crime levels, the demise of informal control systems in schools and in the home, the steady but “stubbornly high” number of children still in custody, and the move away from dealing with young offenders pre-court.
A more flexible system which allowed for more offences to be dealt with pre-court rather than the rigid “three strikes and you’re out” approach currently used was at the heart of discussions around the delayed youth justice bill, Morgan said.
He added that the legislation would now “almost certainly” appear before the summer, although possibly as part of a wider Home Office bill rather than as stand-alone legislation.