This report considers how youth court practice should become more ‘problem-solving’ to better address children’s underlying welfare needs. It makes a number of important, and much needed, recommendations for reform.
The report is based on fieldwork conducted in three sites across England, comprising five youth courts and associated youth offending services, between February and October 2019.
The report made a number of recommendations including:
1. Tackle pre-court delays and maximise diversion opportunities pre-court
2. Improve the procedural fairness and specialisation of youth courts
3. Bolster services to improve collaborative supervision and intervention for vulnerable children and young people
4. Extend and evaluate trials of the innovative judicial monitoring ‘problem-solving’ review model
5. Improve the operating environment to guarantee fairer outcomes
The report comprehensively covers many of the current challenges facing the youth court and barriers to progress. However, it sets out a number of clear and practical recommendations for reform. Importantly, the report recognised that lawyers representing young people involved in the criminal justice system should receive specialist training in youth justice law and skills needed to communicate with children and young people.
YJLC specifically welcomes the recommendation that the Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Bar Standards Board develop a set of standards for accredited training in youth advocacy and that the Legal Aid Agency enables advocates who have completed that accredited training to claim higher rates of remuneration, as applies in a number of other specialist areas.