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Expert comment, NAO report on children in custody

The National Audit Office reports Link opens in a new windowthat while the average number of children in custody fell by 73% in the decade between 2010 and 2020, numbers are expected to rise rapidly in the next months.

Professor Azrini WahidinLink opens in a new window (Sociology) is a leading expert on prison policy in the UK with a particular interest in the links between criminal justice and social justice. She comments:

"In 2016, the government-commissioned Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales recommended that the Ministry of Justice (the Ministry) create secure schools. But are secure schools the answer costing the tax-payer £43 million?

“The National Audit Office (NAO) report said in 2021 more than half (53%) of children in custody were from minority ethnic groups, up from less than a third (32%) 10 years earlier, while the proportion of black children increased from 18% to 29% over the same period.

“This is a direct result of increased police recruitment, outsourcing of prison services, moves to tackle the court backlog caused by Covid and tougher sentencing after the passing of the police, crime, sentencing and courts reform bill and the failure to address system issues around social injustice. As in the adult prison estate we are criminalising those from the lower socio-economic groups.

“Surely, there are better ways to ensure that children who come into conflict with the law do not become the adult prisoners of tomorrow.”

28 April 2022


Sheila Kiggins

Media Relations Manager

07876 218166