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Legal Updates

24 February 2021

Court of Appeal case: Sentencing may be complex but the core principles of youth justice are not

This case involved 3 Appellants; aged between 17 years and 4 months to 18 years at the time of the offences (a series of aggravated robberies). The Recorder applied a starting point before discount for guilty plea of 12 years for all offences and said that the Sentencing Council's Guideline for Sentencing Children and Young People: Overarching Principles (Overarching Principles) did not apply as all three had turned 18. All three Appellant’s argued this was too long and indicated that a much higher actual starting point had effectively been applied prior to any considerations on the basis of youth, mental disorder, and personal background respectively given that all 3 were of good character. The appeal was allowed and the sentences reduced.

18 February 2021

Revised Drugs Sentencing Guidelines from the Sentencing Council – clear reminder to Sentencers of racial disparity in sentences

The sentencing council published its revised sentencing guidelines relating to drug sentencing on 27th January 2021. This new guidance applies to the existing drug sentencing guidelines. This revision was made in view of legislative changes and considering how drug related offending has changed and increased in severity, including the prevalence of CCE and recognition of racial disparity in sentencing. These new guidelines come into effect on 1 April 2021.

17 February 2021

Justice Committee report on children and young people in custody: The youth secure estate and resettlement

This report highlights that the number of children being held in custody has significantly fallen in the last 10 years. Whilst this demonstrates alternative ways to deal with crime committed by children, including non-custodial sentences, may be successful, those who are still held in custody present greater challenges for those looking after them, for the system of rehabilitation and for the children themselves.

17 February 2021

Government response to the Justice Committee report ‘Children and young people in custody (Part 1): Entry into the youth justice system’ – radical change remains unlikely

The Government have published their response to the Justice Committee Report 'Children and Young People in Custody (Part 1): Entry into the youth justice system' recognising the need for a whole system approach and better understanding of out-of-court disposals and disproportionality within the youth justice system but radical change remains unlikely.

11 February 2021

AG’s Guidelines on Disclosure – too much discretion in the hands of investigators?

The updated guidelines were published following the publication of the Attorney General’s Review of the efficiency and effectiveness of disclosure in the criminal justice system in 2018 which highlighted significant concerns about the disclosure process. Its recommendations included encouraging earlier engagement between the prosecution and defence, harnessing the use of technology and effecting culture change. These guidelines attempt to address these and other systemic issues.

9 February 2021

HM Inspectorate of Prisons’ Report on Children in Custody – serious cause for concern

HM Inspectorate of Prisons has published a report analysing the perceptions of 12 to 18 year olds of their experiences in secure training centres (STCs) and young offender institutions (YOIs).  The report is based on survey data which was mirrored by the findings of the inspections which report that not a single STC was good enough and that violence and self-harm in YOIs remained at or near an all-time high. Only one institution inspected in 2019-20 was deemed sufficiently safe.

4 February 2021

New Charging Guidance from the DPP – an attempt to encourage expedition

Updated guidance has been issued which sets out the arrangements prescribed by the DPP for charging decisions, the information required to be sent to the Prosecutor when a charging decision is sought from the CPS, the other material required to support a prosecution and the joint working framework for police and prosecutors during the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases.

3 February 2021

ONS Knife Crime Data – how deadly will this summer be for young people?

 The Office for National Statistics released the results of its Crime Survey for the year ending September 2020 in February 2021. The figures for knife or sharp instrument offences are drawn from police recorded crime rather than the Crime Survey and show that there was a 3% decrease in offences involving knives or sharp instruments compared with the previous year. Reviewing the quarterly data for the year ending September 2020 suggests that if lockdown restrictions are eased in the summer of 2021 knife crime is likely to increase.