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An Inquiry by Parliamentarians into the operation and effectiveness of the youth justice system, chaired by Lord Carlile

The Inquiry reported on 19 June 2014

  • The Update on Outcomes from the Carlile Inquiry published September 2015 can be viewed here
  • The Update on Outcomes from the Carlile Inquiry published March 2015 can be viewed here
  • The full Inquiry Report can be found here.
  • The Full Press Release and Recommendations can be viewed online here.

The Carlile Inquiry Report
Request for Comment 22 December 2014

Working with Lord Carlile and the National Children’s Bureau the Foundation has sought to ensure that the recommendations are implemented, briefing the Government and other political parties and working with agencies. The Foundation has been working with the Courts at every level of the system. The Foundation has met with the Association of Directors of Children’s Services, the Magistrates’ Association, the Youth Justice Board and in conjunction with Lord Carlile with a Justice Minister, the Chief Social Worker, the Director General of the Bar Standards Board, the (incoming) Chief Executive of the Law Society and the Probation Inspectorate. All are committed to looking at the recommendations. The Bar Standards Board has set up a study to consider the question of competence for advocates.

One of the central recommendations was to explore the use of the concept of a problem solving court to tackle the difficult cases still coming before the Youth Court, where it might be that the young offender would be at risk of a custodial sentence. Successful diversion of some away from the courts has meant that the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children remain the principal defendants before the Youth Court, at substantial risk of custodial sentences and perpetuation of a cycle of disadvantage and poor outcomes for both the child and society. In order to take this problem solving concept further the Foundation set up a Working Group comprising representatives from the Magistrates’ Association, the Justices’ Clerks Society, District Judges, the Youth Justice Board, the Judicial College, the Family Drug and Alcohol Court and the Centre for Justice Innovation.

We anticipate that feasibility studies in courts will be set up to examine how to take this work further, prior to piloting of specific projects, and separate funding applications will be made for these purposes. The Foundation’s work in overseeing the implementation of this work and coordinating the various interests will remain important and needs to be separately funded. Another recommendation was that there should be a senior judge appointed with overall responsibility for Youth Courts. We are pleased to note that this recommendation has already been accepted, with the appointment of Mr Justice William Davis (see the Announcement on the Courts and Tribunals Judiciary website here.

If you want to know more please contact the Secretary at: richard@michaelsief-foundation.org.uk

Written Evidence to the Inquiry

Organisations and individuals were invited to make Written Evidence Submissions which were published on The National Children’s Bureau (NCB) website.

Oral Evidence to the Inquiry

The inquiry also took oral evidence, transcripts of which were published regularly on the Oral Evidence Transcripts page. The transcripts of these sessions were published periodically on the NCB’s website.

Michael Sieff Foundation Submission

The Michael Sieff Foundation made a Submission to the Inquiry on 15 October 2013 – read more here.

Parliament begins scrutiny of youth courts system

A Parliamentary inquiry into the operation and effectiveness of the youth courts system was launched on 23 September 2013 under the chairmanship of Lord Carlile CBE QC. The inquiry drew on evidence from youth justice and legal experts as well as the experiences of children and young people themselves. The inquiry is supported by the Michael Sieff Foundation and the National Children’s Bureau.

The inquiry, which ran until spring 2014, and came amid growing concerns that criminal and youth courts do not, in their current form, offer the most effective means of dealing with young offenders. In particular, the inquiry considered whether youth courts are succeeding in preventing youth offending given the high reoffending rates for convicted under-18s, particularly for those leaving custody of whom 7 in 10 are reconvicted within one year.

The inquiry also evaluated whether the current system adequately protects the welfare of young people, and if the Crown Court is appropriate for those committing serious offences.

The inquiry was prompted by cases including the disturbing ‘Edlington case’ in 2009, which highlighted the absence of a holistic, joined-up approach to children in trouble by some youth courts. In too many cases the criminal court system responds to child offending in near isolation from the welfare problems from which criminality so often flows.

Lord Carlile said:
“This inquiry goes to the heart of the Youth Justice system in England and Wales. It will examine the effectiveness of the youth court
system, in particular its wider role in preventing youth crime. We want to see an improved youth court that better addresses youth offending, and delivers a better deal for victims and wider society.”

Enver Solomon, Director of Evidence and Impact at the National Children’s Bureau said:
“We welcome the work of this inquiry and hope it will provide fresh impetus for improving how the youth court system works. Given the significant number of children and young people that appear before the courts with complex welfare needs, it is imperative that decisions take account of their life circumstances and how best to ensure they are supported to stop offending.”

John Tenconi, Chair of the Trustees of the Michael Sieff Foundation, said:
“The Trustees welcome the launch of this important Inquiry. We are grateful to Lord Carlile for agreeing to act as Chair and to the Panel members for agreeing to participate. The idea for the Inquiry emerged from the Foundation’s Working Group ‘Care and Crime Together’ which was set up at the beginning of 2013.

The Foundation has been concerned about the operation and effectiveness of the Youth Justice system for many years. It held major inter-disciplinary conferences in 2001, 2002 and 2009 (click the links for further information), which produced proposals for change which are still relevant today. We are delighted that a Parliamentarians’ Inquiry will look again at proposals to improve the system and hope that the Inquiry will provide a stimulus to the implementation of improvements for the benefit of young people before the youth courts.”

Lord Carlile was assisted by a cross-party panel of six other parliamentarians including: Robert Buckland MP, Lord Bach, Baroness Greengross, Baroness Lane-Fox, Sarah Teather MP and Angela Watkinson MP.

The period for the submission of written evidence to the Carlile Inquiry has now closed. The Panel held sessions on 10 December 2013 and 20 January 2014 to hear oral evidence.

Further details concerning the terms of reference for the inquiry are in the Official Call for Evidence Document here.