The Bar Standards Board (BSB) has published new guidance for barristers working in youth proceedings based on a set of essential competences that are expected of all advocates working with children as part of a phased introduction to increased regulation in this area.
The publication of the new guidance represents the first phase of regulation which the BSB is implementing in light of the Youth Advocacy Proceedings Review commissioned by the BSB and published in November 2015. The BSB’s phased approach will involve introducing compulsory registration later in the year for barristers practising in the youth court and representing children in adult courts. Registration will allow the BSB to identify all barristers who are working in the youth court and where necessary to take steps to ensure that they have the specialist skills, knowledge and attributes that it states are crucial when working with young people. The BSB believes that this work is a priority, given the variable standards of advocacy, and the vulnerability of the young people involved. It has worked with interested parties across the youth justice sector, including the Youth Justice Legal Centre, to develop these competences.
The newly published document outlines the key competences that barristers who undertake youth proceedings must meet. The competences themselves include specialist requirements in the following areas:
- Law and procedure relating to criminal and youth justice;
- Dealing with the vulnerability of young people;
- Awareness of the background and needs of young people;
- Communication and engagement; and
- Awareness of the key organisations relevant to the youth justice sector.
The document contains further guidance for barristers and gives practical advice to consider when dealing with vulnerable children and young people.
Read the BSB’s Youth Proceedings Competences.
The Youth Justice Legal Centre welcomes the introduction of the BSB’s Competences and guidance and its plans to recognise those barristers choosing to specialise in representing children. We will continue to support the profession and support practitioners by sharing good practice and expertise.