Young Women’s Justice Project Literature Review

Agenda and the Standing Committee for Youth Justice (SCYJ) publish their literature review as part of the Young Women’s Justice Project which shines a light on the experiences of young  women aged 17–25  years old in contact with the criminal justice system, including the experiences of girls transitioning into adult services as they turn 18.

Young women in contact with the criminal justice system are overlooked, ignored and misunderstood. A minority within a minority, little is understood about their experiences.

This literature review has been produced to:  map and grow the evidence-base around young adult women in contact with the criminal justice system; provide a foundation for more effective policy and practice by identifying the core components of an age-appropriate, gender-sensitive and trauma-informed response; and identify gaps in knowledge in order to inform the direction of future work.

Read the Executive Summary here.
Read the Literature Review here.

SCYJ Submission in response to the Sentencing White Paper Reform of childhood criminal records

The Government’s sentencing white paper outlines plans to reform the criminal records system. While we warmly welcome these reforms, we believe we can and should go further for children, and are calling on the Government to conduct a wide ranging review of the system to ensure it is child-specific and better reflects the nature of childhood offending.  We have submitted a response to the MoJ that sets out our position.

Our key points and recommendations include:

  • We welcome the Statutory Instruments set to come into force on 28th November 2020 that will stop automatic disclosure on standard and enhanced DBS checks of childhood cautions, and of all convictions where a person has more than one conviction. These changes are long-awaited following the 2019 Supreme Court ruling that these elements of the system for children are disproportionate and unlawful.
  • We welcome plans outlined in the white paper for reduced rehabilitation periods under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (ROA). While these are a significant improvement, we believe the rehabilitation period brackets should be amended to align with the childhood sentencing regime. We also do not believe the exclusion of sexual, violent and terrorism offences from the introduction of rehabilitation periods for custodial sentences over four years should apply for children.
  • The childhood criminal records system actively impedes efforts of the MoJ and YJB to encourage desistance, reduce racial disproportionality in the youth justice system,  and tackle the exploitation of children. International comparisons highlight how punitive the system in England and Wales is for children. Tweaks to the current system will not go far enough: a wide-ranging review of the system is urgently needed.
  • The Government should urgently amend the ‘relevant date’ for rehabilitation periods of children who turn 18 between committing an offence and conviction, so the corresponding date is when the offence was committed.

Read our full response here.

SCYJ Response to the Sentencing White Paper Reducing the number of children remanded to custody

The Government’s sentencing white paper sets out proposals for reform of the legislation governing remand to custody for children. SCYJ supports the decision to revisit the threshold for the remand of children into custody, particularly given the Government’s stated aim that remand to custody should be used only as a last resort for children. Developed with a group of experts from the SCYJ membership and specialist youth legal practitioners, we have submitted a response to the MoJ outlining our position on remand and proposals for reducing remand to Youth Detention Accommodation (YDA) for children.

Our key points and recommendations include:

  • For the use of YDA remands for children to be a genuine last resort the core principle underpinning court decisions must be whether it is necessary for public protection. A primary consideration for courts in all decisions for children must also be the child’s welfare.
  • While we welcome proposals to reform the Sentencing and History Conditions in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012, we believe the Government’s stated aim of reducing custodial remand could be far better achieved by, alongside the current proposals for reform, focussing primarily on the Necessity Condition, and the Offence Condition.
  • A child should not be remanded to custody unless the court is satisfied that there is a significant risk of serious harm to the public, and that there is no mechanism for dealing with that risk with a remand to Local Authority Accommodation.
  • The range of offences for which a remand to YDA could be available to the courts should be restricted to serious offences specified by current legislation to be “dangerous” and/or “grave”.
  • The ‘History Conditions’ which consider a child’s ‘recent’ behaviour should be removed, the issues covered by these conditions could instead be considerations for the court regarding whether the Necessity Condition is met. If the Conditions are not removed, ‘recent’ should be restricted to within the last six weeks.
  • We welcome the Government proposal that the court should justify why they believe a custodial sentence is likely. The court should also be required to set out overall why they determined a custodial remand is necessary; why they believe the child presents a significant risk of serious harm to others, and why they believe no option other than a custodial remand is suitable to manage that risk.
  • The conditions for remand to YDA should explicitly set out the various duties on both courts and local authorities to protect children and promote their welfare.

Read the full response here.