Include Youth and VOYPIC Care Question Time 2017

The first question put to the panel was about the relationship between the police and young people in children’s homes
The first question put to the panel was about the relationship between the police and young people in children’s homes

Children in care are five times more likely to get mixed up with the police

It is estimated that looked after children are around five times more likely to come into contact with the criminal justice system, than young people outside of the care system. There’s something just not right about that! Two charities that support vulnerable children and young people, took on the hot topic of youth justice asking what could be done to address this shocking statistic. ‘Care and Crime – Let’s Talk Justice’ was jointly hosted by Include Youth and VOYPIC. 

The event gave young people from a care background, the rare opportunity to ask direct questions to the people in the seats of power. The panel was made up of Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray from the PSNI, Chief Executive Declan McGeown from the Youth Justice Agency, Sean Holland Chief Social Worker from the Department of Health, Avril Calder President of the International Association of Youth and Family Judges and Magistrates, Mairead Cafferty CEO of NICCY and Dr Deena Haydon, an Independent Researcher.

 Amanda Stewart, CEO of the Northern Ireland Policing Board fielded tough questions from young people to members of the panel. 

“Why are staff in care homes not equipped to deal with young people with mental health issues?”

“Why is it mostly boys that get stopped and searched?”

“Why is more not being done when young people are the victims of paramilitary threats?”

“How can relations between police and young people in children’s homes be improved?”

Other guests taking the chance to contribute to the debate were MLAs, influencers and voluntary organisations who work with and support children and young people in care. 

Vivian McConvey, CEO of VOYPIC welcomed guests and opened the event saying, “I question if the behaviour of vulnerable children and young people should ever be seen as offending behaviour that needs a response from the justice system.  We know that children and young people in care are often traumatised and it’s my view that we need an alternative response that cares, supports and safeguards.”

Paula Rodgers, Policy Coordinator at Include Youth commented, “Events like these are extremely important to ensure young people have a voice and are being listened to properly by decision makers, on topics that affect their everyday lives. It was great to see some MLAs here today, although the lack of a local political agreement is a major block to any progression and I feel the young people are being seriously let down.”