We support implementation of the Council of Europe Resolution 2010 to "set the minimum age of criminal responsibility no lower than 14 years of age while establishing a range of suitable alternatives to formal prosecution for [children]"
(Note: the UK remains a founder member of the Council of Europe).
We support the principal aim of the youth justice system, namely to prevent offending by children and call for investment in local services aimed at helping children refrain from criminal activities and anti-social behaviour.
We maintain that criminal behaviour orders should be used only as a last resort when voluntary interventions such as acceptable behaviour contracts have proven to be unsuccessful.
For more information see UKPGA 1998 Section 37.
We support the National Protocol on Reducing Unnecessary Criminalisation of Looked After Children and Care Leavers and we work with partners to assist its implementation.
We support efforts to ensure that the justice system completes proceedings against children in a timely manner.
In particular we support the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (2019) that our “youth justice system should extend protection to children who were below the age of 18 years at the time of the commission of the offence but who turn 18 years during the trial or sentencing process”.
We support the principles of multi-agency joined up support to help children and families who are in need of help.
We promote a Child First model of practice across all parts of the system which prioritises the best interests of children and works collaboratively with them and their families to build pro-social behaviour.
We recognise that evidence indicates children arrested for the first time are less likely to re-offend when formal contact with the criminal justice system is minimal.
We support efforts to reform the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (1974) to ensure that fewer people have their career prospects damaged by having to declare convictions obtained when a child.
We recognise that a small minority of children in the justice system may need to spend a period of time in secure accommodation for the protection of the public. We believe that such accommodation is most effective when provided in small units close to their home area.
We therefore support the view of the Children’s Commissioner that “We need a radical new approach to reducing the numbers of children in custody to an absolute minimum and transforming secure care for children so that rehabilitation is at its heart”.
We believe that education is an important part of this rehabilitation and that children must feel safe whilst subject to such provision.
We believe that children have the right to have equal access to all appropriate services within the youth justice system and must not be excluded on the grounds of age, gender, disability, ethnic background, cultural heritage, skin colour, language, faith, health, social and economic backgrounds (including care status), sexuality or other prejudice.
We share the determination of the Youth Justice Board and others to address the disproportionate representation of children from minority ethnic groups in the youth justice system.
We encourage our members to be alert to and to challenge the unequal treatment of any children.
We welcome the view from research that “responding to young people that come into contact with the youth justice system as ‘children’ and not as ‘offenders’ can enhance lives, reduce offending, promote safer communities and lead to fewer victims”.
We promote a Child First model of practice across all parts of the youth justice system which prioritises the best interests of children and works collaboratively with them and their families to build pro-social behaviour.
We support work that increases our understanding to help mitigate the impact of adverse childhood experiences and early trauma on the neurological development and behaviour of children in the justice system.
We welcome research into the impact on behaviour of brain development during adolescence and support policy developments that take account of this research.
We believe that all children entering the youth justice system should be assumed to have special educational needs including speech and language and communication difficulties unless a full assessment proves otherwise.
We fully support restorative approaches and are committed to them being embedded in youth justice. These enable children to accept responsibility for their choices and actions, to reflect on how they interact with others and find positive ways forward to prevent harm and conflict.
For more details and a Youth Justice Team information pack, please click here
*Restorative Justice info from UK Gov (1)
*Restorative Justice team pack info (2)
We support efforts to ensure that the youth justice system has the confidence of victims of youth crime, particularly through the implementation of the Code of Practice for Victims of Crime.
We recognise and support the important role played by community volunteers in the youth justice system, particularly through their work as volunteer panel members with YOTs.
We support the full engagement of YOT managers with local criminal justice boards and equivalent, local arrangements designed to maintain oversight of the criminal justice system and promote a collaborative approach to addressing its challenges.
We welcome and support the focus of HM Inspectorate of Probation and others on governance and leadership of YOTs and agree that an effective local management board “supports and promotes the delivery of a high-quality, personalised and responsive service for all children”.
We take the view that the YOT Manager has a key strategic role in facilitating and encouraging multi-agency working at a local level and should be equipped with substantial youth justice experience and positioned at a such a level within local structures that she/he can liaise directly with chief officers of partner agencies.
We support and encourage research into effective practice in youth justice
We support and encourage sector-led activity to improve practice across the system by sharing and rewarding innovative practice, training operational managers and aspiring future leaders, and encouraging the engagement of all YOT managers in a peer review process.
*For more information about our John Hawkins Award see here. This award is presented annually to a youth offending service for innovation and creativity in youth justice practice.