Overlooked and Overrepresented: Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children in the youth justice system

An analysis of 12-18-year-olds' Gypsy, Traveller and Roma perceptions of their experiences in Secure Training Centres and Young Offender Institutions


Date of publication:  20 Dec 2016 Publisher:  the Traveller Movement Publication type:  Report / Study / Data

The analysis developed by the UK's Traveller Movement tells a compelling and troubling story about the experiences of Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children and services they interact with.
They are consistently failed as they progress through childhood. They are more likely to have been 14 or younger when they dropped out of school and almost half of them had been in local authority care.
They have been through different agencies and institutions until their challenging behavior escalates to the point of arriving in the criminal justice system.

Key findings
2.1 Secure Training Centres

  • Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children remain hugely overrepresented in STCs, representing 12% of the population.
  • Almost half of the Gypsy, Traveller and Roma children in STCs have been in local authority care.
  • GTR children find it significantly more difficult to maintain contact with their family.
  • GTR children were almost twice as likely to report unmet health needs.
  • Almost one in three GTR children (29%) reported experiencing physical abuse from staff.
  • GTR children were almost twice as likely to report having felt unsafe at some point during their stay.
  • GTR children were significantly more likely than other children to be afraid to make a complaint due to fears about what would happen to them.

2.2 Young Offender Institutions

  •  Gypsy, Traveller and Roma boys represented 7% of those in YOIs. However, in the Keppel Unit, which is for the most vulnerable boys, GTR boys made up 17% of the population.
  • A third of GTR boys in YOIs have been in local authority care.
  • A quarter of GTR boys said they had emotional/mental health problems. Less than half reported receiving help for these issues.
  • 25% of GTR boys considered themselves disabled.
  • More than half of GTR boys in YOIs were 14 or younger the last time they were in education.
  • GTR boys had a significantly more favourable outlook toward education in YOIs, with 70% stating they believed it would benefit them when they left.
  • Over half of GTR boys reported that they had been victimised by other young people whilst in the YOI.
  • GTR boys were less likely to know who to contact for help in opening a bank account, finding accommodation and continuing health services when they were released
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United Kingdom

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