Today (7th March 2017) the Sentencing Council published new guidance for courts sentencing children. In response, the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) said:
“We welcome the new Sentencing Council guidance, particularly its renewed emphasis on the welfare, background and experiences of children in court. If the youth justice system is to fulfill its aim of reducing reoffending, it is common sense for courts to look at the factors underlying children’s behaviour.
The seriousness of a crime remains the starting point for sentencing children, but it’s right that their needs and experiences inform decisions too.
We do however have concerns that the Sentencing Council’s new guidance on guilty pleas will put pressure on children to plead guilty, even though this isn’t the intention. There is evidence that children already feel such pressure and the new guidance risks adding to this.”
SCYJ Chair, Ali Wigzell, appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme to discuss the changes, watch here (from 1:54:20).
The Sentencing Council published its new guidance after a public consultation. Read SCYJ’s response to the consultation here.