Care not Custody – Bella's story

Care not Custody – Bella's story

Care not Custody – Bella

Bella’s (not her real name) father is not involved in her life and her mother has serious mental health problems. She was placed in residential care aged 12 when her mother’s illness deteriorated. Bella has very low IQ and has been moved around multiple schools and residential units.

By the time she was 15, Bella was regularly getting into trouble with the police and courts for her behaviour in the residential unit. On one occasion, she broke into the internal office of the unit and damaged a cabinet and some papers. She was charged with aggravated burglary and criminal damage. In the car on the way home from court, she had an argument with another child and threw a pen at the car door. She was charged with criminal damage.

Another day, after some of her possessions were stolen, she got into an argument with a carer and broke a coffee mug belonging to the unit in addition to smashing some of her own possessions. She was charged with criminal damage. The charges relating to the damage to her own possessions were later withdrawn.

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Read more information about Care not Custody: a new approach to keeping kids in residential care out of the criminal justice system