On 31st March 2015, there were 69,540 "Looked After Children" in England - (Dept. of Education Statistics).  75% of those were in foster care.  Whilst the legal definition is somewhat more complex, a Looked After Child is basically one who is subject to a Care Order under the Children Act 1989.

94% of Looked After Children do not have any interaction with the criminal justice system.  Early in 2015, the Prison Reform Trust (with the support of the J Paul Getty Trust) launched a review, chaired by Lord Laming, to investigate the disproportionate numbers of children in care who were in custody and to make recommendations for reform.

The outcome of the review has been published - Keeping children in care out of trouble

The review calls for a coherent programme of reform, led from the very top of government, to help improve the life chances of looked after children and prevent future crime.

Around half of the 1,000 children currently in custody in England and Wales have experience of the care system. This is despite fewer than 1% of all children in England, and 2% of those in Wales, being in care. It costs over £200,000 each year to keep a young person in a secure children’s home and the yearly cost of a place in a young offender institution is about £60,000.

While most looked after children do not get into trouble with the law, this group is still six times more likely than children in the general population to be cautioned or convicted of a crime. 

The full report as well as an executive summary may be downloaded via this link.

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