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Justice Select Committee consultation on children and young people in custody

MA response


17 October 2019
Justice Select Committee consultation on children and young people in custody

The MA has responded to the Justice Select Committee’s consultation on children and young people (CYP) in custody. The committee’s inquiry is considering what progress the government has made in implementing the Taylor review’s recommendations, and reforming approaches to youth justice.

Our response made the following points:

  • We are concerned about growing county lines activity leading to exploited CYP appearing in court as defendants for serious gang-related offences, and raised two issues in relation to this increase:
    • Delays with the National Referral Mechanism process
    • Section 45 defence for victims of modern slavery; particularly relevant to this cohort of CYP.
  • We are concerned about using out of court disposals for violent offences, and the lack of monitoring around their use. We believe scrutiny panels could provide useful monitoring.
  • We are concerned about delays in youth court proceedings where a CYP turns 18 between the time of the alleged offence and court appearance – meaning they are tried as an adult due to delays.
  • We believe it is essential for all criminal justice agencies to receive training to identify criminally exploited and vulnerable CYP so they receive proper support and are diverted from prosecution where appropriate.
  • We are alarmed at the continuing increase in the disproportionate number of BAME CYP entering the youth justice system, as well as those being detained in custody. Disproportionality continues to be a policy priority for the MA.
  • We highlight the importance of youth offending services receiving the resources they need to support CYP in custody and the community, to ensure effective and robust community sentencing.
  • Sentencers need to have robust and appropriate options as alternatives to custody, which offer the right support for CYP, and we believe sentencers should have powers to review community sentences to support rehabilitation.
  • We noted our concerns about the current suitability of the secure estate and the need for proper provision for those residing within it.
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