Action is needed to keep children in care out of prison, a review chaired by crossbench peer Lord Laming has demanded.
The review, established by the Prison Reform Trust, calls for a 'coherent programme of reform' to help improve the life chances of looked after children and prevent future crime.
It says about half the 1,000 children currently in custody in England and Wales have experience of the care system.
The review acknowledges that the Government has committed to transforming the life chances of children in care. But it calls for steps to reduce the large numbers of looked after children ending up in custody.
It recommends the establishment of a cross-departmental cabinet sub-committee to provide leadership and better early support for children and families at risk.
Lord Laming said: 'This report provides a golden opportunity for our society to transform the life opportunities for children and young people who have to look to the state to be their parents.
'It sets out in clear terms an action plan on how to reduce the number of young people in care progressing into custody which is costly to them and to us all.'