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The Youth Justice System in the UK

An Inquiry by Parliamentarians into the operation and effectiveness of the youth justice system, chaired by Lord Carlile was launched on 23 September 2014. There is further information concerning the inquiry on our Parliamentarians Inquiry page.

Operation & effectiveness of the youth justice system – our concern for over a decade

Given that some of the issues being considered have been the subject of Michael Sieff Foundation Conferences for more than a decade, the desired outcome of this Inquiry is to ensure that it reaches recommendations which can be implemented.

In April 2009 the Michael Sieff Foundation held a conference on Youth Justice, which made recommendations relevant to the Carlile Inquiry.

Speakers at the conference entitled: “1908 – 2008: The Children Act 100 years on young defendants today” included Lord Justice Thomas (now Lord Chief Justice), Lord Justice Toulson (now Lord Toulson), Sally O’Neill QC (formerly Chair of the Criminal Bar Association), Mark Ashford, a Youth Crime Solicitor, and Dr. Eileen Vizard, Consultant Child Psychiatrist, chaired by Christopher Kinch, QC.

Recommendations included:

  • Youth Justice : those working in the system need specialised training.
  • Youth Court : Young Defendants should always be tried in the Youth Court (unless necessarily with an adult).
  • Linking the Family Court and the Youth Court.
  • Use s37 Children Act 1989 in the Youth Court.
  • Assess Young Defendants to determine fitness to plead and whether they are intellectually and emotionally able to understand the Youth Court process.
  • Youth Court: should proceedings be adversarial?
  • Age of criminal responsibility: should it be raised from 10 years old?

We have reproduced the full conference report as a web page here in the hope that the outcomes become more widely found on the web.

In addition the conference report can be downloaded as a pdf document here.

Earlier Michael Sieff Foundation conferences on Youth Justice were held in September 2001:

  • The Needs of Offending Children – Action to reduce recidivism and advance the care of children charged with crimes, leading to improved outcomes for child, family and community. Download the conference report here: the-needs-of-offending-children-conference-report.pdf

and in April 2002

Both conferences were attended by senior figures and made similar recommendations on Youth Justice.