When young children are sentenced, they are detainedand placed in either the Young Offenders Institution (YOI), Secure TrainingCentres or Local Authority Secure Children’s Homes. Issues have been raised asto the practices used against young children in custody such asstrip-searching, segregation and physical techniques.1This illustrates the incapability to care for vulnerable children who are sentto institutions to better their lives and their futures. Additionally, it canbe argued that the justice systems use of imprisonment does not influence theyouth offender to understand and face accountability for his actions. Theoffender is perhaps released on good behaviour and freed into society were thesame causes which contributed to his antisocial criminal behaviour in the firstplace still exist.
Presently, the number of young children involved withthe YJS has dropped considerably. This reduction in numbers has been quiteconsistent as the years have gone by, thereby suggesting that the currentjustice system is working. The Ministry of Justice recorded that the number ofyoung children cautioned or convicted in 2015 dropped by 79% from the year2007.2 Additionally,it was found that the number of first-time entrants into the YJS had dropped by82% during the same period.3This may potentially be since the police and youth offending services havebegun to deal with minor offending children informally, thus not going throughthe actual process implemented with the current justice system.4 Regardless of the statistics mentioned above, the currentjustice system in England and Wales is not enough for young children. Althoughthe figures indicate a drop in those convicted or cautioned, it does notillustrate the number of those who re-offend and thus, those who are stuck inthe cycle of the YJS.
In July 2013 to June 2014 approximately 1200 youthoffenders were released from custody and an estimated 67.7% of these youthswere proven to have reoffended within a year of release.5 They self-identify and become labelled as offenders, which increasesthe rate of reoffending. Moreover, around 9000 youth offenders werecautioned, convicted or released from custody from the October to December 2015period, and approximately 4000 of these youths reoffended within a year(41.8%).6Evidently, the justice system could be better in terms of helping youngchildren by improving their welfare and essentially preventing them fromoffending at first instance.1 ‘TheCarlile Inquiry’ (The Howard League for Penal Reform 2006)page 12.2 ‘YouthCustody Report: September 2016′(Ministry of Justice and Youth Justice Board 2016) page 1.3 Ibid4 Charlie Taylor, ‘Review OfThe Youth Justice System In England And Wales’ (Ministry of Justice 2016) page 2.5 ‘ProvenReoffending Statistics Quarterly Bulletin: July 2013 To June 2014’ (Ministry of Justice 2016) page 13.6 ‘Proven ReoffendingStatistics Quarterly Bulletin’ (Ministry of Justice 2017) page 6.