National award marks success of Norfolk scheme to cut offending by vulnerable children

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Coun

John Fisher, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for children's services. Pic: Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Efforts to cut offending by some of Norfolk’s most vulnerable children and young people have been recognised through a national award.

There has been a 50pc reduction in the number of children in residential care in Norfolk who have been charged, summonsed to court or cautioned, thanks to work over the past three years.

Restorative work has meant young people with challenging behaviour have been able to make amends, without ending up appearing before courts and getting convictions to set them on a slippery slope.

And the work meant Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Constabulary and the Norfolk Youth Offending Team scooped a Howard League for Penal Reform Community Award in the children in care and care leavers category.

The organisations have been working together to try to prevent young people, many of whom have already faced trauma in their lives, from being sucked into the criminal justice system.

As part of the work, Norfolk Youth Offending Team offered children’s homes residential managers support to prevent unnecessary police intervention for young people and subsequent criminalisation.

Staff working in children’s homes were also offered restorative sessions to explore the impact of young people’s challenging behaviours and to address their own needs as carers.

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Restorative circles helped fix relationships between staff and young people, helping to stop placement breakdowns.

John Fisher, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said: “It is tremendous that our joint efforts have led to fewer children in our care receiving criminal convictions.

“Many of these young people have faced significant trauma in their lives and criminalising them at a young age significantly impacts their future chances of success.

“By giving young people a chance to understand the impact of their behaviour and make amends, we can really improve their outcomes for the future and help prevent offending later on.”

Inspector Julia Sandell, from Norfolk police, said: “We are delighted to have won this award from The Howard League, and carry this motivation forward in our continued work focussing on the needs of our looked after children and care leavers.”

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