'Child First' Justice

‘Child First’ Justice is a rights-based approach, whereby children coming to the attention of the Youth Justice System are seen as ‘children’ rather than as ‘offenders’.

Prioritising the child’s best interests, it is a constructive and future-focused approach, promoting the development of a pro-social identity for sustainable desistance, working collaboratively with children and their carers to encourage participation, engagement and social inclusion. Child First Justice focuses on prevention, diversion and minimal intervention to reduce the stigmatising effects of system contact.

Our summary report sets out the research evidence-base for the ‘Child First’ principle - the foundation of a progressive approach to how children should be understood, treated, and supported when they come to the attention of the Youth Justice System (YJS).

The Child First principle has been guided by a longstanding body of research and scholarship by Professor Stephen Case, an expert in criminology at Loughborough, with key colleagues nationally and a close working relationship with the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, Youth Offending Teams and children in the YJS.

Child First Justice: The research evidence-base

The full and summary reports are freely accessible for all to cite, share and download.

Read the summary report Read the full report

The Child First Strategy Implementation Project: Realising the guiding principle for youth justice

The report is available to download for free below.

Read the report

Meet our experts

Ann Browning

Senior Researcher

Child First Justice: The research evidence-base’ was funded by the UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund.

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