SCYJ responds to Sentencing Council guidance on children

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. 

SCYJ responds to Government’s plans to break up the YJB

SCYJ has responded to the Government’s plans to break up the Youth Justice Board. You can read the full response here.

“SCYJ is disappointed by the Justice Secretary’s announcement that the Youth Justice Board (YJB) is to be broken up, believing it to be a retrograde step.

“The transfer of all youth custody responsibilities from the YJB to the Ministry of Justice and Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service, risks the development of an adult-centric and fragmented approach to children who offend. Charlie Taylor’s recent review for the government called for a ‘integrated, seamless and coordinated’ response to the challenge of reducing offending by children. We agree. This announcement will make this harder.

“We welcome, however, the appointment of Charlie Taylor as the new Chair of the YJB. We firmly support the principles asserted in his review, as well as many of its recommendations, and hope that he will have the opportunity to put them into practice.”