'Between a Rock and a Hard Place' : Responses to Offending in Residential Childcare

Moodie, Kristina and Nolan, Deborah Anne (2016) 'Between a Rock and a Hard Place' : Responses to Offending in Residential Childcare. Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice, Glasgow.

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There is current and ongoing concern regarding the potential criminalisation of looked after young people. This concern has been based on recent research across England and Wales which has identified that young people in care are more likely to be criminalised than their non-looked after peers (The Howard League for Penal Reform, 2016), with retrospective examinations of individuals in young offenders institutions and prisons finding they are disproportionately more likely to have been care experienced (Summerfield, 2011; Carnie and Broderick, 2015; Laming, 2016). In Scotland, less data is available and limited research attention has been paid to the responses by residential childcare workers to offending behaviour. To address these issues, this study aimed to: gather more data about police contact for offending by young people in children’s houses; to explore how practitioners make, and are supported to make, the decision to involve the police in incidents; and to survey what formal policies are in place within each local authority to aid decision making. This was achieved through the collation of ‘police contact data’ for young people placed in local authority run children’s houses over a period of six months; completion of an online survey by house managers asking them to describe the policy and/or practice guidance available to staff in relation to offending behaviour and police contact; and interviews with 27 residential workers, across two Scottish local authorities. In order to provide further context, the remaining Scottish local authorities were contacted and asked to provide written responses regarding guidance available to staff in their area in responding to offending behaviour.