Update on Outcomes from the Carlile Inquiry
The Foundation has continued to promote the recommendations emerging from the Carlile Inquiry. Lord Carlile has been active in these discussions.
The Inquiry Panel continues to be involved and met again on 27 November 2014 to consider progress in relation to recommendations. Robert Buckland, a former member of the Inquiry Panel, has since been appointed as Solicitor General. Lord Bach, a member of the Inquiry Panel, is now Shadow Attorney General.
In December 2014 the Lord Chief Justice announced the appointment of a High Court Judge, Mr Justice William Davis, to have responsibility for the Youth Justice system in the courts. He has set up a Judicial Youth Courts Committee.
The Conservatives have agreed to consider including a manifesto commitment to review the youth justice system along the lines of the Carlile Report. The Foundation met with Lord Carlile and Simon Hughes (Lib/Dem Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice) who agreed to promote the Report amongst Justice Ministers. We anticipate that Nick Clegg will also be supportive.
We have met with agencies with responsibilities for the youth justice system: the Ministry of Justice, the Youth Justice Board, the Association of Directors of Children Services, the Magistrates’ Association, the Standing Committee on Youth Justice, the Chief Inspector of Probation. We will be seeking to meet with HMCTS, the Law Society and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Having considered the Inquiry’s recommendations relating to lawyers’ accreditation, the Bar Standards Board and ILEx has funded research to look into the issue of accreditation for barristers and authorised advocates appearing in the Youth Court. The Law Society and Solicitors Regulation Authority are not involved.
The Foundation sets up Problem Solving Courts Group
The Foundation has set up a ‘Problem Solving Courts Group to report on progress. The objectives of the Group, following recommendations made by the Carlile Inquiry, were to explore whether the Youth Court could better achieve its purpose of promoting the welfare of young offenders by adopting an approach beyond mere conviction and sentence to examine whether through the court process steps could be taken to reduce offending. This would take account of principles developed in the Family Drug and Alcohol Court (FDAC), where recently published research had demonstrated the benefits of judicial continuity allied with comprehensive services and a holistic approach to the young person.
The Group had been set up with representatives from, in addition to Sieff Trustees, the Magistrates’ Association, District Judges, FDAC, the Judicial College, the Centre for Justice Innovation, NCB, the Children’s Commissioner and the Youth Justice Board. A smaller group had agreed to take the plans forward, the Magistrates’ Association had conducted a survey to establish what Youth Courts themselves thought they were doing in relation to problem solving, and it was now intended to set up feasibility studies to provide further information on how to go forward. A report would be prepared by the end of March by the Centre for Justice Innovation for further discussion. All parties involved were considering funding elements.
Following a conference held to consider the Carlile Inquiry recommendations, the Youth Court in Northampton has also adopted a problem solving approach with the involvement of a youth magistrate post sentence.
AssetPlus, the YOT assessment tool, is due to be rolled out in June 2015. The Foundation is considering how it relates to the Common Assessment Framework used by Children’s Services. This was important because of the need to undertake a wider type of assessment in some circumstances, than appeared to be that intended by AssetPlus.
Footnote: 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.