Youth courts pledge faster justice system

Youth courts are to deliver swifter justice to persistent young offenders in a bid to bring home the impact of each sentence and to prevent re-offending.

In a joint statement issued by the Magistrates' Association and the Justices' Clerks' Society, youth courts are being encouraged to bring persistent young offenders to trial for individual offences as soon as is possible and not wait to tie up outstanding cases.

When young offenders commit a number of offences over a short period, the usual practice has been to wait until all the offences are ready to be tried and sentenced together.

The two organisations say that this approach has led to “a large number of adjournments, which are not beneficial to many young offenders as the impact of the sentence for a particular crime is lost, and it may increase the temptation to re-offend, thus placing both the offender and the community at greater risk”.

The new guidance addresses the concerns of the Criminal Justice Consultative Council, which represents all criminal justice agencies.

Solicitor member Tony Edwards said that persistent offenders represented a significant proportion of crime and the failure to sentence them quickly was almost encouraging them to re-offend. “The problem is extremely serious and I very strongly support the new guidance.

“We've lost control of the system of young offenders. We have to show that the courts can control them,” he added.