Keep up to date with Drugs & Crime

The state of our youth justice system

Latest YJB annual stats show first rise in the number of children arrested in a decade.

Share This Post

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Youth justice stats for year ending March 2020

Last week (28 January 2021), the Youth Justice Board published its annual Youth Justice Statistics, covering the financial year 2019/20. These statistics draw together a range of statistics about children and young people in the Youth Justice System (YJS). The latest time period of data within this report covers up to the year ending March 2020, so will be broadly unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The main trends are summarised by the statistician preparing the report:

The long-term falls in the number of First Time Entrants (FTEs) to the YJS and the number of children receiving a youth caution or court sentence have continued. While the number of children in youth custody has also fallen over the last ten years, the average custodial sentence length given to children increased by more than seven months over the same period (from 11.3 to 18.6 months). The proportion of children who reoffend remains higher than that for young adults or adults.

Ethnic disproportionality is seen at many stages of the YJS. The proportion of Black children arrested has been steadily increasing over the last ten years. While the number of FTEs from a Black background has decreased compared with ten years ago, the proportion they comprise of all child FTEs has increased, from 9% to 16%. The proportion of Black children given a caution or sentence has doubled over the last ten years and the proportion of Black children on remand in youth custody has increased to over a third.

Despite the custodial population being at a record low, the key behaviour management measures of Restrictive Physical Intervention and self harm are at a five year high, which points towards the more complex needs of those in custody. 
The Youth Custody Service have announced new experimental statistics, ‘Safety in the children and young people secure estate’ bulletin. The publication will capture quarterly statistics on assault and self harm incidents, and deaths for children and young people in the secure estate. The first publication will be available 29th April 2021 on the Youth Custody Service website.

The overall flow through the Youth Justice System is illustrated in the infographic below (please note that the first number relating to Police Recorded Crime includes adults in the total), all other numbers relate to children.

Interesting facts and figures

I have perused the report and have picked on a few facts and figures which I think are of particular interest. I hope you agree.

Arrests up but cautions down

  • Whilst the number of children arrested in the latest year decreased by 74% compared with ten years ago, there was an increase of 1% compared with the previous year; the first rise in arrests over the last ten years
  •  Black children accounted for 17% of arrests, which is 7 percentage points higher than ten years ago. 
  • Around 7,200 youth cautions were given to children in England and Wales. This is a decrease of 90% compared with the year ending March 2010, with a decrease of 16% in the last year.

Greater proportion of Black children entering the system

In the year ending December 2019: 

  • There were around 11,100 first time entrants (FTEs) to the Youth Justice System (YJS). The number of FTEs has continued to fall, decreasing by 84% since the year ending December 2009, with a 12% fall since the year ending December 2018. 
  • The proportion of FTEs committing Possession of Weapon offences has increased by 16 percentage points over the last ten years and is now the second most common offence committed by FTEs (after Summary Offences Excluding Motoring) and is the only offence group to see a real term increase in that period. 
  • While the number of FTEs from a Black background has decreased since the year ending December 2009, the proportion they comprise of all child FTEs has increased, from 9% to 16%.

Demographics

In the year ending March 2020: 

  • Just over 19,000 children received a caution or sentence, a fall of 82% compared with ten years ago, with a fall of 12% in the latest year. 
  • There were 10% more Asian children who received a caution or sentence compared with the previous year (around 1,200), the first increase in the last ten years and the only ethnicity group to see a rise in the latest year. 
  • The proportion of Black children cautioned or sentenced has been increasing over the last ten years and is now double what it was in the year ending March 2010 (12% compared to 6%).

Continued fall in offences

In the year ending March 2020: 

  • The number of proven offences committed by children has continued to fall and was 75% lower than the year ending March 2010, with a 17% fall in the latest year, to around 49,100 proven offences. 
  • The number of proven offences committed by children fell for all offence groups compared to the previous year, except Robbery offences, which increased by 2%. 
  • Whilst the number of Violence Against the Person offences has followed an overall downward trend, this offence group has been steadily increasing as a proportion of all offences over the last ten years, and now accounts for 31% of all proven offences. 
  • Knife and Offensive Weapon sentencing statistics show that there were just over 4,400 Knife or Offensive Weapon offences resulting in a caution or sentence committed by 10-17 year olds. This is a fall of 5% compared with the year ending March 2010, with a 1% fall in the latest year, though numbers remain higher than five years ago.

Sentencing

In the year ending March 2020: 

  • There were just under 16,900 occasions where children were sentenced at court, which is 78% lower than ten years ago, with a 13% fall in the latest year. 
  • Of all sentencing occasions for indictable offences, the proportion involving White children has decreased from 74% to 62% over the last five years. Conversely, the proportion of sentencing occasions involving Black children for indictable offences increased from 14% to 22% over the same period. 
  • The average custodial sentence length for all offences has increased by over seven months over the last ten years from 11.3 months to 18.6 months.

Children in custody

In the year ending March 2020: 

  • There was an average of just over 780 children in custody at any one time during the year. This is a fall of 68% compared with ten years ago, with a 9% fall compared with the previous year.
  • The number of children in youth custody from a Black background decreased by 10% in the last year, with Black children accounting for 28% of the youth custody population. While the same proportion as the previous year, this is an increase from 15% ten years ago. 
  • While there has been a slight decrease in the number of children in youth custody for Violence Against the Person offences, the proportion this comprises has continued to increase, to 55%.

Self-harm and restraints continue to rise

In the year ending March 2020: 

  • The number of self harm incidents has seen the largest increase of the four behaviour management measures, increasing by 35% in the last year to around 2,500. This has continued the upward trend since the year ending March 2018 and is the highest number of self harm incidents in the last five years. 
  • The number of Restrictive Physical Interventions (RPIs) has increased by 19% in the last year to around 7,500 incidents. This continues the increase seen over the last four years. 
  • There were just under 3,900 assault incidents in the youth secure estate.
  • There were nearly 7,800 use of force incidents across the three Secure Training Centres and five Young Offender Institutions. This is an average of 82.5 incidents per 100 children and young people per month.

 

Thanks to Nicolas Lobos for permission to use the header image, previously published on Unsplash.

Share This Post

Share on twitter
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email

Related posts

young offenders
Criminal Justice
The State of Youth Justice 2020

Youth Justice Statistics for 2018/19 show that the number of first time entrants to the youth justice system fell by 18% last year.

Criminal Justice
The State of Youth Justice

The number of children and young people in the youth justice system fell again in 2016/17 but knife crime was up and those detained were more likely to be restrained or separated.

Criminal Justice
Good news on young offenders

While there are plenty of things to complain about in our justice system, it seems churlish not to celebrate the continuing fall in youth crime and the reduction in the numbers of young people drawn into the system.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

GTD-website.png

Measuring social impact

Our cutting-edge approach to measurement and evaluation is underpinned by robust methods, rigorous analyses, and cost-effective data collection.

Proving Social Impact

Get the Data provides Social Impact Analytics to enable organisations to demonstrate their impact on society.

keep informed

One email every day at noon