Source: (2006) . In, John Muncie and Barry Goldson, eds., Comparative Youth Justice, London: Sage Publications. PP. 34-47.

The authors focus their analysis on two main developments in juvenile justice reform: (1) the targeting of noncriminal behavior within formal systems of justice; and (2) the rising rates of youth incarceration despite the “new” rhetoric of youth crime prevention, restoration, and social inclusion. Youth justice reform in England and Wales has been rampant since the early 1990s when the New Labour Party developed their “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” juvenile justice reform strategy, which was embodied in the 1998 Crime and Disorder Act. The Crime and Disorder Act criminalized the actions of children between the ages of 10 to 13 years and ushered in a range of legislative initiatives that targeted “disorderly” behavior. New “civil orders” were introduced that allowed police officers and even teachers to target the disorderly behavior of children and punish either the children or, more commonly, the parents. These orders are issued in the absence of criminal acts and without the benefit of due process. Punishments range from parenting classes to fines. Failure to fulfill the requirements of such orders can result in imprisonment. These civil orders are aimed at reducing “risk,” but have been widely criticized as being overly patrimonial and targeted at racial minorities and the poor. The result has been that the juvenile justice system is coming into contact with increasing numbers of youth, often for noncriminal behaviors, and at increasingly young ages. Moreover, despite the rhetoric of restorative justice and inclusion espoused by the Crime and Disorder Act, the criminalization of noncriminal behaviors has resulted in more youth being incarcerated in England and Wales than any other country in Europe. The high rate of juvenile incarceration in England and Wales is made even worse by the largely deplorable conditions in which juvenile offenders are housed. (Abstract courtesy of the National Criminal Justice Reference Service, www.ncjrs.gov).