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Unicef UK praise Levelling the Playing Field’s ‘innovative blueprint’

The UK Committee for Unicef (Unicef UK) has praised the “innovative blueprint” offered by our Levelling the Playing Field project in efforts to tackle over-representation in the Youth Justice System.

Unicef UK has made a series of recommendations around key areas of concern in their newly-published report, ‘A Rights-Based Analysis of Youth Justice in the United Kingdom‘.

One of the areas spotlighted in the report is the continued disproportionality of ethnically diverse children within the Youth Justice System in England.

Within its recommendations, the report states: “The UK Government and Youth Justice Board should develop and fund further initiatives such as Levelling the Playing Field which are aimed at preventing Black, Asian and minority ethnic children from entering into the formal youth justice system in the first instance, and addressing their needs if within the formal youth justice system.”

After quoting at length the figures for arrests, cautions, first-time entrants into the YJS, sentencing and youth custody, the report concludes that disproportionality has intensified, rather than reduced, in the four years since the publication of the Lammy Report, which first highlighted these issues in 2016.

The report states: “Given the gravity of the situation, it is welcome that the Alliance of Sport, supported by the Youth Justice Board, have recently received £1 million in funding from the London Marathon Charitable Trust to launch Levelling the Playing Field; a sports-based project to enhance health and life trajectories for 11,200 ethnically diverse children aged between 10 and 17 years old who are either at risk of entering, or already situated within the youth justice system in England.

“This project offers an innovative blueprint and the data that the project captures should be regularly reviewed and used to inform future policy and practice.”

Rudro Sen, Project Manager for Levelling the Playing Field, said: “We thank Unicef UK for using our project as an example of good practice in tackling the ongoing inequalities that sadly are still prevalent in youth justice.

“We are pouring all our efforts into using the power of sport to improve life chances for children from diverse communities. Our focus is on building an evidence base which will lead to positive change in policy and practice, and reverse the concerning trend of disproportionality in the justice system in England and Wales.”

Read more about our Levelling the Playing Field project here.