The YJLC’s inaugural Youth Justice Summit brought together leading practitioners to share and build expertise in representing children in criminal cases.
Speakers included the Judicial Lead on Youth Justice in England and Wales, Mr Justice William Davis QC; senior Old Bailey judge HHJ Nicholas Hilliard QC (who delivered the keynote speech); Angela Rafferty QC; and Edward Fitzgerald QC, who acted in Venables v UK. Expert-led workshops were given on: Running youth cases effectively and profitably; sexting and serious sex cases and children; litigating the UNCRC: children’s rights in criminal cases; reporting restrictions for children in criminal cases; an update on youth sentencing; children with learning difficulties: how to represent them in the youth court; Criminal Behaviour Orders (CBOs) and anti social behaviour injunctions; Problem Solving Courts.
Far too often children are represented in criminal courts across the country by lawyers who have little or no training in youth justice law. The Summit showed that beneath the surface, a quiet revolution is taking place. All the main legal professional bodies – the Criminal Bar Association, the Bar Standards Board, The Law Society, Solicitors Regulation Authority and the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives – now recognise that youth advocates should be specially trained and equipped with the communication skills they need to engage with vulnerable young people, and are taking steps to achieve this for their members.
These are changes which would have been unthinkable when the Youth Justice Legal Centre was founded three years ago. There is still a mountain to climb, but, as the Summit demonstrated, the days when junior barristers were expected to bluff their way through youth court work before moving to other “more serious” crown court work will soon be behind us.
100% of attendees who gave feedback said they’d recommend the Summit to others.
Some of the feedback: “inspiring and very informative”; “a very authoritative and fascinating debate”; Well that was totally brilliant! I’m feeling fired up and motivated!”; “The energy and passion about this important subject was palpable from the moment I arrived.”; “incredible insight”; “excellent programme and speakers”.
The event received considerable coverage. Please click on the publication/source to access the articles.
YJLC Youth Justice Champion Awards
The Summit also saw the presentation of the first YJLC Youth Justice Champion Awards. These new awards, one given to a senior practitioner and the other to a rising star, seeks to recognise lawyers who are committed and passionate about youth justice. The two recipients of the first awards stand out as being dedicated and fearless in the representation of children and young people. Both recipients through their work have driven up standards in youth justice law and improved the protection of children’s rights in the youth justice system.
Mark Ashford – Outstanding achievement
The winner of the inaugural YJLC youth justice champion award is Mark Ashford from TV Edwards Solicitors LLP. Mark is the doyen of youth justice work. For more than 20 years, he has worked to protect the rights and welfare of children in the criminal justice system. His knowledge of the law in this area is immense – he tends to know more about it than the judges he appears in front of. But while he is known for putting judges on their mettle, he is equally well known for putting his young clients at ease – no matter how troubled. He manages to combine great legal expertise with great human compassion and has the ability to build a rapport with even the most closed off young people. He does not patronise or speak down to his clients, and will stand up to judges, police officers and even parents to defend their rights. He is a fitting winner for this YJLC award because he embodies everything the centre stands for and aims to achieve.
Daniella Waddoup – Rising star
This award recognises newer entrants to the profession. These are the lawyers who will be handling the bulk of these cases and on whose shoulders the burden of raising standards, learning new skills, and challenging previously accepted ways of doing things will fall. Our winner, Daniella, was called to the Bar just three years ago but is everything you would want a young advocate to be. Smart, skilled, dedicated, hardworking, fearless and compassionate. She acted for Just for Kids Law in their successful intervention in the Supreme Court joint enterprise case of Jogee. She set up Project Epic to offer SEN advice to children in prison, and was on the Inns of Court College of Advocacy working group into youth justice. With her exceptional commitment to the youth justice system she is a rising star in every sense of the word.