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  • Writer's pictureClare Jerrom

Support lacking for ethnic minority young people transitioning in the criminal justice system

Young people from ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely to receive appropriate support when they transition into adulthood in the criminal justice system, an evidence review has found.

The Alliance for Youth Justice report highlights a steep cliff edge at 18 for children in contact with the criminal justice system, where support decreases, exacerbating vulnerabilities and leaving young people at risk of continued involvement in crime.

Young people experiencing particularly destabilising transitions include racially minoritised young people, girls and young women, young people with care experience, and neurodiverse young people.

"Racial disparities in the justice system and wider society mean racially minoritised children are disproportionately likely to experience transition from youth to adult justice. Inequalities experienced in childhood mean they may be more likely to transition from a point of greater vulnerability, and can leave racially minoritised young adults facing barriers to desistance," said the report, which was published as part of a three-year project funded by Barrow Cadbury Trust, exploring the experiences of young people transitioning into adulthood whilst in contact with the criminal justice system.

The evidence review emphasises that racially minoritised young people are less likely to be appropriately supported through the transition to adulthood due to adultification bias affecting perceptions of culpability and vulnerability.

Furthermore, a lack of trust and confidence impacts on engagement from young people from ethnic minorities while services lack cultural competency and fail to offer suitable support.

As a result, racially minoritised young people may see the effects of the cliff edge at 18 compounded.

The review concludes that the voluntary and community sector can bridge the gap between statutory services at 18. Black and racially minoritised-led organisations are critical in ensuring specialist support is available.

"Much more needs to be done to facilitate their involvement," said the report.

Young people in transition in the criminal justice system: Evidence Review


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