Children in care across Birmingham are nearly five times as likely to be convicted of a crime as other children in our region, exclusive analysis by BirminghamLive has revealed.

The latest government figures show that 5.0% of children looked after by Birmingham council were convicted or cautioned for a crime last year.

In comparison, just 1.1% of all children in our city were punished for an offence in 2017/18.

Charities argue that the higher conviction rate for children in care does not mean that these children are actually more likely to commit a crime - they’re just more likely to be reported to police.

Sarah Wilkinson, care leavers impact lead at Catch22 - a national charity that works with care leavers and young offenders - said it was important to remember that the "huge majority" of children in care did not commit crime.

She said it was important to focus less on statistics and more on "the factors that can contribute to children engaging in criminal behaviour - such as backgrounds of abuse and neglect".

 

She added: “When you’re in care, your misbehaviour is much more likely to be reported to the police than a child who lives with relatives.

“If a young person breaks a window in the family home, this is unlikely to be reported to the police or have any impact on that child’s record. 

“Children in care do not have this margin for error, and a broken window in a children’s home is likely to be reported as criminal damage.

“More needs to be done to intervene early and give children and families the support they need before reaching crisis point.

“With the right support available, a safe place to live, positive people around them and a purpose, children can be supported to thrive and stay away from the criminal justice system.”

 

A child in care is defined as any being looked after by a local authority - whether in a children’s home, in foster care, or living at home with their parents under the supervision of social services.

A total of 48 such children in Birmingham were convicted or cautioned in 2017/18 - 5.0% of all children who were cared for by the council for at least 12 months and aged 10 or older.

Meanwhile, in total 1,263 children in Birmingham were convicted or cautioned in 2016/17 - the latest year available - meaning just 1.1% of all 10-17 year olds in the city were punished for a crime.

The situation in Birmingham reflects a national trend, which saw 4.1% of children in care across England convicted or cautioned for a crime last year, compared to just 0.8% of all children.