A NEW policy to prevent young people in council care becoming “unnecessarily criminalised” could soon be introduced in Bradford.

Bradford Council’s Corporate Parenting Panel is to look at the work being done in the past year to deal with the issue of “looked after” young people and offending.

The panel will hear that the way police and the Council deal with complaints against these young people is being reviewed, with a view to dealing with their behaviour without formal police involvement.

Nationally there is a disproportionate number of children in care who are locked up by the courts, and several groups have raised concerns that young people in care are dealt with differently than young people in family situations committing the same acts, with police often getting involved at a much earlier stage.

The report by Jim Hopkinson, the Council's deputy director for children’s social care, says that between June 2016 and June 2017, 45 young people in its care received a “formal intervention”, either a caution or a court order.

A further 11 young people were in care at the start of a police intervention, but that status ended during the intervention.

This made up 27.18 per cent of the total number of interventions involving young people started in the period.

Of the young people dealt with, 38 were boys and 18 were girls.

In his report, Mr Hopkinson stresses that it is a national issue, adding: “Serious concerns have been raised by a number of bodies, including the Magistrates' Association, that low level, minor but unacceptable behaviour was being criminalised when the same behaviour in a family setting would be addressed without resorting to formal police action.

“The protocol between West Yorkshire Police in Bradford, children’s social care and the Youth Offending Team is being reviewed and will be updated shortly.

“The key principle in the protocol is that where possible, as an alternative to formal police involvement, all those working with the young person will consider other ways of addressing such behaviour such as the use of permitted sanctions, informal education and increasingly, a restorative intervention.”

It says the policy will be aided by two newly-recruited police officers, linked to Bradford’s children’s homes.

The report adds: “The overall aims of these developments is to prevent offending and anti social behaviour and reduce the number of episodes young people go missing.”

The panel meets at Bradford City Hall on Wednesday, July 19, from 4.30pm.