The Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review published by the Bar Standards Board and Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx) highlights the damaging effects that poor advocacy has on access to justice for young and often very vulnerable offenders, and their perceptions of the system in general.
This report by the Institute of Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) concludes that youth court work is considered low paid and low status. As one judge put it ‘it’s seen as a place where young barristers and solicitors cut their teeth.’ This is work undertaken by the most junior barristers, those starting out in their careers, and is seen as a stepping stone to more prestigious work. Researchers from the Institute of Criminal Policy Research (ICPR) were told by barristers, ‘I did a lot of this sort of work during pupillage and the early years of my practice. I’ve now moved on’; ‘You tend only to be in the Youth Court when you’re learning your trade’; ‘It is a kindergarten for professionals to gain skills’.
The report identified three fundamental components of effective advocacy: first, specialist knowledge; secondly, communication and wider social skills; and, thirdly, professionalism.
The report’s recommendations include the introduction of mandatory youth justice training and that a youth justice licensing or accreditation system should be developed.
Read the Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review.
Read the BSB’s press release here.