SCYJ responded to the HM Courts and Tribunals Service consultation “Fit for the future: transforming the court and tribunal estate”.
SCYJ has concerns about the general lack of consideration of the distinct needs of children in the future estates strategy, and has grave concerns over the assumption within the strategy that digital services will replace most of the need for physical court appearances, without public consultation or evaluation of digital reforms.
Two recent reviews of the youth justice system (by Lord Carlile of Berriew and Charlie Taylor) have identified serious problems with the court system as it relates to child defendants, particularly around their difficulties with understanding and participating in proceedings. The proposals in the consultation do nothing to address the serious concerns identified, and in fact may make many of the problems significantly worse. This risks undermining children’s right to a fair trial.
SCYJ recommends that the reform programme is put on hold until sufficient assessment and public consultation has occurred on the impact of the proposals on child defendants’ access to justice.
You can read our submission here.