1 Nov 2010

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today said there was an urgent need for change in all aspects of the youth justice system.

 “It is crucial that the Youth Justice system has children at its heart.” said Ms Lewsley. “This will require joined up working across all Government, not just the Department for Justice.”

Ms Lewsley said that it was important to understand the reasons why children ended up coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

“Too often disadvantage and inequality, such as, poverty, mental health problems and experience of the care system are part of these children’s lives,” she said.“We need to intervene early to make a difference in the quality of children’s lives and to prevent them from becoming involved in crime.”

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“Government must do more to meet the needs of young people who are, or have been, in custody.  Many of those who are detained have very real education and health difficulties that are not adequately addressed. Change is essential if we are to ensure that young people are not only given the support they need, but are also able to play a valuable role in contributing to their communities and to society as a whole.”

"As part of my Make it Right campaign I hope that children and young people will act now to help make it right for children and young people in the youth justice system.”