Update on Outcomes from the Carlile Inquiry
The Foundation continues to work on the recommendations contained in the Report of the Carlile Inquiry published in June 2014.
Initially it is worth highlighting what has been achieved as a result of the Inquiry.
- Appointment of a Judicial Lead for the Youth Court;
- Setting up of the Laming Inquiry on the criminalisation of looked after children;
- The Standing Committee on Youth Justice is examining the Disclosure and Barring Regulations and Naming and Shaming;
- Setting up of the Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review (YPAR) with the Bar Standards Board on competences;
- The Magistrates’ Association intends to establish training with an emphasis on ‘communication skills’ using a training pack which it is hoped will be ready by the end of October. Their Youth Courts’ Committee has been discussing the training with the Judicial College and there will be critical readers at the appropriate stage. The training will be initially for youth magistrates and legal advisers although it may be transferable to all magistrates dealing with vulnerable adults. (See the recommendation at page 37 of the Carlile Inquiry Report that there should be comprehensive training on speech, language and communication needs.)
Looking ahead and drawing on the Matrix of recommendations which has been regularly updated (and is separately available) we will bear in mind:
a) whether we have gone as far as we can on some topics and whether a new approach is possible or whether we should discontinue them as having little likelihood of success;
b) what fresh approaches to existing programmes are relevant and should be developed into action plans;
c) where it should be steady as you go-the approach is correct and it is working.
Challenges resulting from the significant contraction in the youth justice system – reported in the Carlile Inquiry – remain, and may have worsened over the past year.
- children (detained overnight) are increasingly likely to appear in adult magistrates’ courts due to reductions in the number of youth court sittings;
- diversion from court has led to a decrease in the number of young people coming before the courts, but this has left a hard core of more intractable cases and more needy young defendants;
- declining expertise amongst youth court magistrates and legal practitioners;
- continuing legal aid cuts;
- reduction in court funding.
These matters must also be considered in the light of the reorganisation of the court system consequent on the Leveson Report. Although it did not specifically deal with the youth justice system, we understand that a programme will be developed comparable to plans relating to other court sectors.
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.