Beyond Youth Custody

A timeline of youth justice legislation, policy and practice

5 December 2014

timeline image

Beyond Youth Custody has consolidated significant events in hundreds of years of youth justice. Dr Tim Bateman and Professor Neal Hazel’s comprehensive timeline provides an overview of the main shifts in youth justice legislation, policy and practice since the first attempts to separate young offenders from adults in the criminal justice system a little over 220 years ago.

The timeline will be useful to anyone with an interest in the development of present arrangements for dealing with children who break the law. In providing an indication of the range of different approaches that have been considered appropriate at different periods without any necessary shifts in the evidence base, it poses challenges to policy makers and practitioners to demonstrate that responses to youth crime are informed by robust evidence.

We asked Dr Tim Bateman what lessons can be learned from the timeline. Find out his response below:

“One of the lessons to be derived from the timeline is that there is a tendency, when one form of custody is found not to work very well, to replace it with another form. Sometimes this is little more than a change of name; sometimes a change of orientation, for instance a shift towards harsher punishment when regimes are regarded as too soft, or to treatment or education where regimes are considered to be too tough.

The (unwarranted) assumption underlying this circular dynamic would seem to be that it is the form of institution that matters and this might help to explain why – until recently at least – the notion of resettlement has not featured particularly highly”.


Resettlement of young offenders: informing practice, improving outcomes