How to avoid online sex offenders
Young offenders will have their backgrounds examined in greater detail under a new sentencing regime which will take into account whether they have suffered trauma.
The latest guidelines set out how courts should consider mitigating circumstances which may indicate an “unstable upbringing” when determining punishments for children and teenagers aged between 10 and 17.
The UK takes a tougher approach to youth justice than some countries.
While the age of criminal responsibility in the UK is 10, in Finland it is 15 and in Belgium and Luxembourg it is 18.
Repeat offenders are statistically very likely to have experienced trauma, abuse, bereavement, grown up in care, been excluded from school, have experienced drug or alcohol dependencies and have mental health problems or personality disorders, according to the charity.
One of the most striking statistics is that while less than one per cent of all children in England are in care, looked-after children make up 33 per cent of boys and 66 per cent of girls in youth custody.
Galen Baughman, 32, who was imprisoned and registered as a sex offender in 2004 after having oral sex with a 14-year-old boy, had gone on to become a highly vocal spokesperson for sex offenders' rights.
The number of young offenders being sent to prison has been declining steadily over the past decade, according to official figures, and in January 2015, the number of children in youth custody in England and Wales fell below 1,000 to 981 for the first time on record. The charity Beyond Youth Custody says that many young offenders who end up in custody have had “complicated and chaotic lives”.
Around one third of the UK’s young offenders return to crime after being released from custody, according to statistics from the Ministry of Justice.