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Centre for Justice Innovation report on young people’s voices on youth court

09 June 2020
Centre for Justice Innovation report on young people’s voices on youth court

The Centre for Justice Innovation and the Institute for Crime and Justice Policy have published a report examining existing youth court practice, and how well it meets the needs of children and young people. The research involved speaking to 25 young people about their perceptions of youth courts and their recent experiences as defendants. Much of what the young people spoke about related to procedural fairness, and four drivers of procedural fairness were identified:

  • Understanding the court process – it is essential for young people to understand what had happened and why, and feel like they have agency in the process
  • Having a voice in proceedings – the opportunity to be heard is key for young people perceiving the court process as fair, regardless of the outcome of the case
  • Being treated with respect and dignity – the treatment received by young people is linked to them perceiving justice institutions as fair and legitimate. Small things that can be done to improve the experiences of young people in court include court staff introducing themselves, and magistrates speaking directly to them
  • Being able to trust the neutrality of the decisions made – it is essential for decision-makers to be seen as unbiased for young people to have trust in a process. Transparency about how decisions were made, along with how decision-makers interact with parties in court both affect perceived neutrality

The report made three recommendations:

  • The Judicial College develop a suite of training resources for youth court magistrates including video guides of good engagement practice
  • The senior judiciary set a clear expectation that youth court magistrates and judges engage in continuous and monitored professional development
  • HMCTS set a goal that all youth cases should be heard in adapted courtrooms by the end of this parliament

The full report can be found here.

It is already expected that magistrates engage with ongoing learning and development as part of the competence framework. The MA worked with the Judicial College to produce a training resource on communication in youth court that can be accessed here.


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