Category: Legal Updates
Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre failings: A warning sign
An all party Justice Committee Parliamentary Report into to the mismanagement of Rainsbrook Secure Training Centre near Rugby published at the end of March raised serious concerns about the safety of the institution. This STC holds up to 87 children (boys and girls) aged 12 to 17. It is run by MTC a US based global company offering custodial services in the US, Uk and Australia. Subsequent investigations including a further Ofsted inspection which rated it 'inadequate' have resulted in the Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland taking the decision move all children from the STC and to review the purpose and managemnt of the site.
New Youth Court Preparation for Effective Trial Form: A step in the right direction
As of 7 June 2021 Youth Courts across the UK will be using specific Youth Court Preparation for Effective Trial (PET) forms. To date, Magistrates Court PET forms have been used for Youth Court cases. This form is specifically tailored to deal with child defendants in the Youth Court and demonstrates a recognition of the fact that children caught up in the youth justice system require distinct and specialist measures. However, there is still room for improvement and it is hoped that the form will evolve over time.
Police, Crime, Sentencing and Court Bill: Extensive and Controversial Proposed Changes to the Youth Justice System
This Bill proposes significant change across the criminal justice system, including how children and young people are sentenced and how they are managed in the community. Whilst in some areas the Bill's proposals represent progress for children caught up in the criminal justice system, many practitioners are concerned that if passed in its current form the new measures may lead to increased numbers of children in custody and exacerbate existing disparities and injustices.
Covid Joint Interim Interview Protocol – no longer in use for suspects under the age of 18 or adults who are vulnerable
The Joint Interim Interview Protocol (JIIP) between the Police, CPS and lawyers is intended to assist investigators and prosecutors in deciding whether suspects should be interviewed as part of a police investigation during the Covid-19 pandemic. It is regularly reviewed, and the latest version is effective from 17 May 2021. The latest guidance is the first phase of an aspiration to withdraw the protocol as national restrictions are eased and as such it will no longer apply where the suspect is aged under 18 or is a vulnerable adult.
MOJ publishes response to consultation on legal aid for pre-charge engagement
On 7 April 2021, the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) published its response to the consultation on remuneration for pre-charge engagement. The consultation followed the recent update to the Attorney General’s Guidelines on Disclosure which recommended that pre-charge engagement between the prosecution and the defence may be appropriate in some cases. Whilst this work is clearly beneficial to the effective operation of the criminal justice system, it is not remunerated under the current Criminal Legal Aid scheme. The consultation sought views on the government’s proposed approach to remedy this. The Crime Contract Amendments come into force on 7 June 2021 and allow agreed pre-charge engagement work to be charged at the hourly rates set out in the Criminal Remuneration Regulations.
Young adults convicted of murder – what is the appropriate discount for youth?
The defendants, BN and HS were aged 19 at the time of the incident for which they were later convicted of murder. BN was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 20 years. HS was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 16 years. The Attorney General appealed the sentences as being unduly lenient. The Court of Appeal upheld BN’s sentence but increased HS’s sentence to life imprisonment with a minimum term of 19 years. This case reiterates the well-established principle that attaining the age of 18 does not represent a cliff edge between being sentenced as a youth and being sentenced as an adult.
R v Beyonce Parkes: A reminder that turning 18 is not a “cliff edge”
The Court of Appeal reiterated the importance of ensuring that a defendant’s age is given proper weight and consideration during the sentencing process. The COA considered the decisions in R v Clarke (2018) EWCA Crim 185 and R v Peters (2005) EWCA Crim 506.s The case is a reminder that age and consequent lack of maturity must be actively brought to the attention of the sentencing court, particularly in cases concerning young adult offenders.
Anti-social Behaviour Injunctions for children – the requirement to consult the YOT
The High Court considered an appeal by way of case stated brough by a 14-year-old who was found to have breached the terms of a civil injunction made under section 1 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (“the 2014 Act”). AM appealed on two grounds; that the Chief Constable failed to comply with the obligation to consult with the youth offending team (“the YOT”) and that the terms of the order were unclear. The Court rejected both grounds of appeal, finding on the facts that the contact between the police solicitor and the YOT before the hearing amounted to consultation, and that whilst the order could have been made clearer, there was no doubt AM was in breach.
R v VT: Children should not be sentenced simply as ‘cut-down’ adults
The Solicitor General appealed against the imposition of a youth rehabilitation order for a 15-year old convicted of wounding with intent. Dismissing the appeal, the Court of Appeal confirmed that when sentencing children, the court should not approach children as ‘cut-down’ versions of adults and, in the particular circumstances of this serious case, a non-custodial sentence was just within the range of appropriate orders. The case demonstrates the impact that a detailed Pre-Sentence Report can have.
Racial disparity in stop and search – new report calls for greater scrutiny of ‘self-generated’ searches
This report of HMICFRS examines key data on the use of stop and search by police and investigates the implicit bias that may underpin the use of this power. The report lays out the disproportionality that exists in police treatment of BAME people compared to White people, placing the onus on police to provide evidence-based explanations for the discrepancies observed and to better monitor, train and educate officers around this topic.
YJLC Summit 2021
The Youth Justice Legal Centre Summit: Bias. Discrimination. Fear. explored five areas where children in the criminal justice system experience discrimination: Girls, Race, Class, Kids (age), and Fear. Please contact YJLC@justforkidslaw.org for access to the replay videos.
Lifting reporting restrictions for young people post-conviction – when does the excepting direction apply?
In this case the Court of Appeal upheld a Crown Court judge's decision to make an excepting direction allowing the reporting of a child defendant's in relation to a murder conviction at the conclusion of the proceedings. The judgment shows the reluctance of the higher courts to interfere with a balancing exercise carried out by Crown Court Judges where the reasoning cannot be said to be wrong in law.