Fostering A New Approach Episode 6: Care Experienced and the Criminal Justice System with Dr Claire Fitzpatrick

Leicestershire Cares’ latest care experienced podcast, Fostering a New Approach, explores the issues surrounding care experienced young people and the criminal justice system. This episode Casey and Diana are joined by Dr Claire Fitzpatrick, a Senior Lecturer in Criminology and the Youth Justice Lead in the Centre for Child & Family Justice Research, at Lancaster University.

This is a massive and complex topic that will take more than today’s show to unpack, and in future episodes we hope to speak to a range of people involved, from young people with experiences of the criminal justice system, to the people that work within it.

Most children in care do not commit crime, however there is an over-representation of care leavers in the criminal justice system.

Less than 1% of the population have been in the care system, yet a recent review chaired by Lord Laming reports that about 50% of children in custody have been in care.

So why is this? Is it because we are damaged or have complex needs that have not been met? Is it because we’ve been let down by family and then by the state?

Or is it more subtle than that? Hidden in the wider systemic problems that exist and affect care experienced young people?

Main talking points

  • Care experienced young people are under more surveillance compared to their peers.
  • Unnecessary criminalisation of some children in care for minor offences.
  • Changing the narrative from blaming the individual to blaming the systems.
  • Do I offend to get better access to mental health support? The justice setting compared to the community setting.
  • The risk level score. A classification given to care experienced young people. Is it better to elevate the score, so a young person can access higher level of support quicker, but, have live with that risk score hanging over their head?
  • A failings care system and criminal justice system which creates a revolving door. Is this down to the lack of support in society?
  • Diversion is the key.
  • A post code lottery with the support you may get from your local authority.

Podcast Information

Find out more about Dr Claire Fitzpatrick and her research

Disrupting the Routes between Care and Custody: Learning from Girls and Women in the Care and Criminal Justice Systems

Social media: Twitter






Research for this podcast:

The Conversation. Why have so many people in prison spent time in care as children?

Howard League for Penal Reform. The impact of care-experience across the life-course

Howard League for Penal Reform. Criminal Care?

Gov.UK. Care leavers in prison and probation

Prison Reform Trust: Keeping children in care out of trouble: an independent review

Sampson, Robert J. and John H. Laub. 2016. "Turning Points and the Future of Life-Course Criminology: Reflections on the 1986 Criminal Careers Report." Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency 53: 321-335.


Get involved in the podcast

If you have a questions for Casey and Diana to discuss on their podcast, tweet them at @LeicsCares #CEYPPODCAST or email

For more information about our Voices project contact

Find out how we work with care experienced young people