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Youth justice in the UK: children, young people and crime
Youth justice in the UK: children, young people and crime

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8 Summary of Session 2

In this second session you have explored the origins of the youth justice system in England and Wales. Although this single entity is operational throughout the two jurisdictions, you have explored how different approaches developed in Wales are feeding back into the larger system of England. You will return to this issue in Session 8. Several decades have passed since the system was established and some of its best intentions to provide systematic coherence and national consistency have come at a high price – high levels of incarceration with lots of children and young people in prison. Young people’s offending behaviour and the way society responds to their needs and their deeds are complex issues. Another approach, with an even longer history, is the subject of the next session.

The main learning points of this second session are:

  • The youth justice system in England and Wales was established in 1998 by the Crime and Disorder Act.
  • A complex system expanded and the numbers of young people drawn into the system grew, resulting in the highest levels of childhood incarceration in Europe.
  • More recently, the youth justice system in England and Wales has shrunk and its priorities changed.
  • Wales has led some of the changes and has developed distinctive approaches to children’s offending behaviour.
  • These approaches are characterised by diversion and an emphasis on the child as a person with particular needs rather than on the label of being an offender.

In the next session, the focus shifts to Scotland and a very different approach.

You can now go to Session 3 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .