Youth justice policy

“The UK government is failing in its most basic duty to keep the children in its care safe”

Policy statements


Stripping away abuse: the U R Boss campaign to end routine strip-searching in children’s prisons

After years of camapignign we got the government to end routine strip searching of children in prison. Read our story here.


Reinventing the broken wheel: The Howard League for Penal Reform briefing on Criminal Justice and Courts Bill

There are particular areas of the Bill where we believe the changes could be deeply damaging to public safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system. Our particular concerns regarding youth justice are:

(1) plans to build the largest children’s prison in Europe, termed a ‘Secure College’

(2) the proposal to use force against children in custody to enforce ‘good order and discipline’, a practice that the courts have deemed illegal and inquests have found as a contributory factor to the deaths of children in custody.

Read the full briefing here.


Transforming Youth Custody and 'Secure Colleges' - our response

We raise concerns about proposed reforms of the secure estate and call for the Ministry of Justice to consider children and young people's welfare needs alongside education.


Looked after children in the youth justice system

Looked after children are vastly over-represented in the youth justice system, hear how our Young Advisors have shaped our policy.


The minimum age of criminal responsibility

At 10 years of age, England and Wales has one of the lowest ages of criminal responsibility in the world. We think it should be substantially raised.


Intensive supervision and surveillance

A key finding of our participation led policy report, Life Outside, was that intensive supervision and surveillance should be scrapped. Find out what young people told us that led to this call.



We got the government to agree to pilot the end of routine strip-searching in children’s prisons. Read our letter that set out the argument for change.


Education and custody

Young people in custody talk about their education before custody and whilst they are in prison.