Dr Alan Billings, South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner was the opening speaker at a roundtable discussion ‘Between Care and the Criminal Justice System’ held in HMP Hatfield in Doncaster on Monday, 5 November 2018.
The roundtable was organised by Darren Coyne, Project Manager of the Care Leavers’ Association, and brought together representatives of key organisations such as the police, local authorities and the prison service, that seek to help those who are or have been in care.
The representatives discussed ways of supporting those in or on the periphery of the criminal justice system who have been in care.
Dr Billings said: “South Yorkshire has high numbers of mainly private children’s homes with many children being placed here from other parts of the country.
“Children go missing from these homes on a regular basis and this takes up a lot of police time finding them and bringing them back.
“We know that young people in care are very vulnerable. Some have been in and out of many homes, many times. In addition, they can be targeted by gangs and drawn into criminality – they are often victims before they are offenders.
“A disproportionate number of care leavers are in the criminal justice system. More than 25% of the adult prison population have been in care. We need to understand why this is and what we can do together to keep them out and give support.”
Other speakers included inmates of Hatfield prison who have been in care themselves. Those present agreed to build on the day and take matters further over the coming year.