UK publishes action plan in response to report on experiences of black and mixed heritage boys in the youth justice system
The action plan aims to address the key areas of concern
The Ministry of Justice submitted its action plan on 23 February in response to the thematic analysis report by the HM Inspectorate of Probation for England and Wales (HMIP) on the experiences of black and mixed heritage boys in the youth justice system.
The findings of the HMIP’s thematic inspection, which were published in October 2021, discovered “significant deficits” in the quality of work conducted by youth offending services and partner agencies with black and mixed heritage boys. Following analysis of sample cases, the HMIP found that many of the black and mixed heritage boys faced multiple disadvantages; half of the boys had faced racial discrimination in their life; a third had been victims of criminal exploitation; and a quarter had a disability.
The Ministry of Justice’s action plan sets out its specific responses and the action taken or planned in response to the HMIP’s recommendations. Most of the recommendations have been accepted by the government or have been partially accepted, with action already completed or underway.
The work outlined in the action plan includes: steps to ensure that local authorities are providing black and mixed heritage boys with their legal entitlement to education, including alternative provision when deemed necessary; action to require police forces to share local stop and search and ‘release under investigation’ statistics broken down by gender, age and ethnicity with the relevant Youth Justice Management Boards; and the Department for Education to make sure that the special educational needs of black and mixed heritage boys are assessed and responded to at the earliest opportunity.
Speaking at the time of the HMIP report’s release, Chief Inspector of Probation Justin Russell said: “There is a disproportionate number of black and mixed heritage boys in the youth justice system. Addressing this disparity has been a long-standing goal, but we found a lack of clarity and curiosity about why this disparity exists and what needs to be done to change it.”
In 2022, the Ministry of Justice took on the role of leading and coordinating the production of action plans in relation to HMIP youth thematic inspections for the first time, in order to help make the youth justice system more effective and efficient in preventing and tackling crime committed by children and young people.