Antisocial behaviour orders for children should be abolished as part a shake-up of the youth justice system, a report out today says.
The report by the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies at King’s College, London calls for an “urgent” need for a new approach to children in trouble and sets out alternatives including an expansion of restorative justice programmes, where offenders meet victims face-to-face.
It also calls for responsibility for youth justice to be moved from the Home Office to the Department for Education and Skills, the introduction of a new sentencing framework and greater investment in prevention schemes to support children at risk.
The report, Debating youth justice: From punishment to problem solving, also calls for an expansion in child and adolescent mental health services and the creation of an extensive network of family support services.
The joint editor of the report, Zoe Davies, project officer at the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said: ‘It is striking that the government remains committed to the criminalisation of children and young people as a mainstream policy response. This is despite all the evidence that the youth justice system is damaging to the majority of those, mostly vulnerable and excluded, young people who come into contact with it.’
Rob Allen, director of the International Centre for Prison Studies, added: “Labour’s fresh start in government should include a bold agenda to reduce the numbers of young people in court and in custody by replacing our inflated use of criminal justice measures with better prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.”
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