Children come into contact with the justice system in a host of ways – as victims, witnesses, because they are in conflict with the law, or as parties to civil or administrative processes, such as alternative care arrangements or asylum hearings, respectively.
Children’s encounters with the justice system, along with information on the surrounding circumstances, are usually recorded by the authorities and service providers that form part of the justice sector. Such information is essential to monitoring and evaluating the performance of the justice system and to understanding the profile of children who come into contact with it. Yet these data are often overlooked, especially in lowand middle-income countries, since they may be incomplete in terms of coverage and information. Moreover, they often lack reliability due to an absence of quality controls and may not be up to date.
A mature administrative data system on justice for children generates high-quality information on a core of set of indicators at regular intervals and possesses the following characteristics:
• A comprehensive and coherent legal and normative framework for data and statistics on justice for children
• Effective governance and the ability to plan in the area of administrative data on justice for children
• A well-equipped data infrastructure – that is, stable access to information and communication technologies (ICT) and database software – along with adequate human resources (sufficient personnel with the necessary training without a high turnover rate) and financing to support data collection, analysis and reporting
• Strong coordination of data on justice for children
• Completeness of data on justice for children
• Effective and secure data transmission
• Standardized data and practices in relation to justice for children
• Administrative data quality assurance
• Relevant use, robust demand and regular dissemination of such data.
This publication describes how these components function in administrative data systems that have varying levels of maturity. The aim is to facilitate the identification of general areas that would benefit from targeted intervention and investment. This said, since countries develop their administrative data systems differently, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to strengthening these systems. Each country will have different requirements to improve its system. It is also important to note that there are no specific stages through which an administrative data system must develop, since emerging technology could, for instance, ‘leapfrog’ a low-income country from a paperbased system to a state-of-the-art electronic database.