England and Wales

  • Tim BatemanEmail author


The recent history of juvenile justice in England and Wales—more commonly referred to as ‘youth justice’—has been characterized by dramatic swings in underlying philosophies, reinforced by legislative change, that have had concrete implications for children in conflict with the law. Thus, the ‘orthodoxy’ of the 1980s that children should wherever possible be diverted from criminal justice processes, and that incarceration should be used sparingly, rapidly gave way in the subsequent decade to a more punitive response to youth offending premised on early formal intervention and a spiraling use of child custody. In more recent years, policy makers have strived to reduce the number of children entering the system for the first time and to shrink the custodial population in something of a reversion to an earlier era, albeit with significant differences of nuance.

The current chapter outlines the existing framework for dealing with children who break the law in England and Wales, locating current provisions within the context of the rapid shifts of the last 30 years. It argues that it is hard to identify an underlying, evidence-based, rationale for the various twists and turns and notes that the arrangements described may be subject to significant further amendment as a consequence of a major review of youth justice due to report to the government in the summer of 2016.


Cyclical juvenile justice Diversion Child imprisonment Youth offending teams Youth Justice Board 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Applied Social StudiesUniversity of BedfordshireLutonUK

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