Shaping the Agenda: 2023 in Review

It has been a jam-packed start to my life at Drive Forward. Having joined the team in the summer of 2023, it has been a massive learning experience. I’ve had only one option – to get stuck straight into the world of policy campaigning and advocacy. In this blog, I’d like to highlight some of the main achievements Drive Forward’s Policy Forum has had this year and reflect on what it means for us going into 2024.

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What barristers can do to help decriminalise care

Half of the children detained in Youth Offending Institutes are, or have been, in the care system. That’s despite the fact that children in care make up less than one percent of the child population. Research conducted by the Howard League for Penal Reform has found that unnecessary police call-outs and mental health difficulties are two of the main factors behind this statistic.

Prevention is better than the cure, and our Policy Forum’s criminalisation subgroup has mainly focused on how we can avoid children in care coming into contact with the criminal justice system in the first place. The group has worked extensively with the Metropolitan Police and the London Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime on ways to achieve this. Forcing carers, social workers and other agents to ask themselves the question ‘Would this be good enough for my child’, our young people helped to write a protocol, released in March this year, aimed at keeping police call-outs as a last resort.

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Our shared vision

After months of consultations, surveys and working groups Drive Forward’s policy ambassadors are proud to present their manifesto of a shared vision for a better care system. The document is uncompromisingly ambitious and reflective of the priorities, aims and ethos of the Policy Forum. Please get in contact if you are a care experienced person

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