Understanding ethnic disparity in reoffending rates in the youth justice system (April 2023)

This research was commissioned by the YJB and conducted by Traverse. The research involved statistical analysis of reoffending data from England and Wales, interviews with children from England as well as focus groups with youth justice service practitioners. The findings are published in two parts, a child and practitioners perspectives report and an analysis of reoffending data report.

The statistical analysis suggest substantial differences in reoffending rates, including a higher-than-expected re-offending rate for children from a Black or Mixed heritage background compared to White children, even after various contextual factors – such as offence type, local area deprivation, practitioner assessment of risk, and previous disposal – are taken into account. Children from a Black, Asian or Mixed heritage background are more likely to receive a custodial sentence following reoffending compared to White children. The child and practitioner perspectives also identify a number of factors that may be driving higher rates of reoffending for Black and Mixed heritage children, including marginalisation, social inequalities, individual, institutional and systemic bias, weaknesses in prevention and diversion, and negative experiences of the wider criminal justice system.