Looked after children and offending: reducing risk and promoting resilience

In this guest post, Gareth Crossman, Executive Director of Policy, Communications and Fundraising at TACT, a fostering and adoption charity, highlights research done with the University of East Anglia on the topic of looked after children and offending. (371 words)

In 2010, TACT and the University of East Anglia’s Centre for Research on the Child and Family were awarded a research grant by the Big Lottery Fund. This funded a major project examining the relationship between children in care and the criminal justice system. One hundred young people, along with local authorities across England and Wales, took part in a series of detailed interviews and surveys. The aim was to investigate the factors that caused young people in care to be at risk of entry into the criminal justice system. And, crucially, what were the factors that could promote resilience and help keep them away from criminalisation.

Young people in care are often stereotyped as likely to become criminals. There is no doubt that statistics about prison populations show disproportionate numbers of people who have experienced being in care. However, nine out of ten young people who go into care will never come into contact with the police. The research bore out what TACT’s own experience told us; that when the care system works well it can prove hugely effective in keeping young people out of the criminal justice system. However, negative experiences can lead to greatly enhanced prospects of criminalisation. Continue reading