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.
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.
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.
The sentencing of young adults: a distinct group requiring a distinct approach
This article in the Criminal Law Review describes the growing legal consensus that young adults are a distinct group who require a distinct approach to sentencing, as shown by the emerging caselaw and guidance from the Sentencing Council.
Magistrates’ Association Maturity Report – a better understanding of maturity is needed
The Magistrates’ Association recently published a report of the findings of research into the consideration of maturity as a factor in decisions made in the magistrates’ courts. The overarching finding was that the issue of maturity is not often raised in magistrates’ courts.
An unsuccessful AG reference demonstrates that departing from sentencing guidelines should be rare
The Court of Appeal refused to refer sentences as unduly lenient of 3 child defendants convicted of manslaughter of a police officer.
The ‘cliff edge’ of turning 18 and disparity of sentences with younger co-defendants
A Court of Appeal case on turning 18 and disparity of sentence with younger co-defendants
New Sentencing Guidelines for Firearms Offences Published
The Sentencing Council has published eight new guidelines to be used by the Courts in England and Wales when sentencing firearms offences under the Firearms Act 1968.
The Sentencing Council’s Sentencing Children and Young People Definitive Guideline – has it achieved its aims?
The Sentencing Council recently published a report assessing the impact of the Sentencing Children and Young People Definitive Guideline (“the Guideline”). The Guideline came into force on 1 June 2017 to replace the previous guidance, Overarching Principles: Sentencing Youths.
The Sentencing Code 2020: A new era of simpler sentencing procedure
The Sentencing Code comes into force on 1 December 2020. The Code is intended to be a single point of reference for the procedural law considered by courts when sentencing. It is hoped that this will bring clarity to the legislative sentencing framework for children.
R v CW: A Court of Appeal judgment on age, delay dangerousness and sentence
The Court of Appeal reduced the appellant’s sentence on the basis that the alienation of a young person from society through an extended sentence should be avoided where possible.