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Pathways of incarcerated children in care

Researchers: Dr Tim Bateman | Professor John Pitts ...

By Nuffield Foundation

Project overview

This study focuses on the experiences of looked after children in custody. It aims to identify the particular pathways of children in local authority (LA) care who enter the ‘secure estate’ as offenders in order to inform policymakers and practitioners about ways to improve support to these young people. A comparative element will ascertain the extent to which such pathways differ from those of children in custody who have no experience of care.

Children looked after by an LA are over represented among those who come to the attention of the youth justice system, including those in custody. This research will be in partnership with the South and West Yorkshire Resettlement Consortium, which covers nine LAs. The project team will undertake a mixed methodology making use of the following:

  • Statistical analysis of the Consortium’s database
  • Interviews with samples of looked after and non-looked after children sentenced to custody
  • Case file analysis of children’s services and youth justice records for cases of children in the two samples and interviews and focus groups with professionals.

The researchers will examine the pathways of these children to identify factors before, during and after incarceration, which of these shape their pathways and in so doing, highlight key intervention points that might generate outcomes that are more favourable or make available alternative avenues.

The outputs of this project will have relevance for policy makers and professionals working in childcare, safeguarding and youth justice. It will provide much needed and valuable data as to how policy makers and practitioners can improve the support offered to this population during their time in custody and after release, as well as how to divert them from entering custody in the first place.


  • Dr Tim Bateman
    University of Bedfordshire
  • Professor John Pitts
    IASR University of Bedfordshire
  • Professor Emily Munro
    IASR University of Bedfordshire

  • Ash Patel
    Programme Head, Justice
    Nuffield Foundation
  • Director, Justice
    Nuffield Foundation

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We aim to improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in Education, Welfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

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