The Care Leavers’ Association (CLA) held a series of Care Leaver Roundtable Events in November 2018 at HMP Hatfield, Wealstun and Humber in Yorkshire & Humberside. We have published the report to these events, which draws on the views of delegates who attended from across the Yorkshire & Humber region. These roundtables were care leaver led and brought together operational and strategic leads from across the region, with a focus on understanding what the region was able to do in response to care leavers and children looked after who find themselves in criminal justice settings.
The CLA have covered much of the country covering these issues, holding similar Care Leaver Roundtable Events and it is safe to say the views of those in Yorkshire & Humber are very much reflective of the views of others across the country.
Children looked after and care leavers continue to be disproportionately represented in all criminal justice settings and face discriminatory practices across all criminal justice pathways, with children in care continuing to be penalised for behaviours that would not take a criminal justice route in a family home. This report asks the system and its institutions to take responsibility for the treatment of children in its care and care leavers who were once in it care.
The Police & Crime Commissioners (PCCs) of West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and Humberside have worked with us and continue to do so as have prisons across the Yorkshire Prisons Group. Whilst seeking full consensus from three PCCs across the region is not possible, each of them have committed to taking forward work in recognition of the needs of children looked after and care leavers across the region.
The report has been shared with Community Safety Partnerships across Yorkshire & Humber. In West Yorkshire for instance the Regional Reducing Reoffending strategy identifies specifically care leavers and this is now also being identified in Community Safety Partnership work and local Reducing Reoffending Boards where relevant Local Authority and health commissioners meet.
This regional policy work is complimented by the face to face work The CLA continue do across the criminal justice system in Yorkshire & Humber and the North West. Currently we have a model of work that engages care leavers in custody and community settings, provides advocacy for them linking into Local Authorities (LAs) and working with SPOCs identified in each establishment to ensure the links between HMPPS and LAs is bridged and pathway and sentence planning is dovetailed seeking to mitigate against the odds of reoffending and improved resettlement prospects. This work extends to provide support for care leavers across all ages, irrespective of their eligibility for leaving care services and extends through a wide network of Peer Advocacy work that is networked across the Yorkshire Prisons Group.