Potential changes to the youth justice landscape

Two recently published reports highlight similar flaws in the current system of justice affecting children and young people. The Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) has produced a report on child defendants and video links. Fewer than 12% of those surveyed felt it had made a positive impact on their experience. This fits with the apparent lack of engagement children and young people experience when having to navigate the criminal justice system leaving them feeling that they have no real participation in spite of the process addressing their behaviours and their futures.

The Centre for Justice Innovation has published a paper proposing a fairer way of dealing with young people between the ages of 18 and 24 who are currently treated in the criminal justice system in the same way as adults. The paper sets out the method and rationale in order to achieve a fairer process for those in this age bracket who are not ‘mature’; who are from BAME backgrounds and treated differently; who are previously ‘looked after children’ with little or no ongoing support. Over 75% of young people in this age group re-offend which has extensive financial consequences and it can destroy communities.

There is much merit in both these published papers and advocates who prosecute and represent children and young people in the criminal justice system are encouraged to read them.