Residential care and criminalisation: the impact of system abuse

Julie Shaw (Department of Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University, Liverpool, UK)

Safer Communities

ISSN: 1757-8043

Publication date: 10 July 2017



The purpose of this paper is to present and explore the findings of part of the author’s research study, an aim of which is to illuminate factors at policy, practice and procedural levels that contribute to the criminalisation of children in residential care in England.


This study utilises semi-structured interviews with children, young people, and professional adults in the care system.


Through analysis of the semi-structured interviews, the paper highlights how “system abuse” can contribute to poor outcomes, including involvement with the youth justice system.


The paper concludes by arguing that in order to successfully decrease criminalisation, it is necessary to employ an approach which, while acknowledging individual culpability, both recognises and focuses on the contribution of wider systemic failings.



Shaw, J. (2017), "Residential care and criminalisation: the impact of system abuse", Safer Communities, Vol. 16 No. 3, pp. 112-121.



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