Youth Court

Magistrates also sit in special courts dealing with young people aged 10 to 17

The Youth Court is a type of magistrates' court which deals with young people. Cases in the Youth Court are either dealt with by three magistrates or a single district judge, sitting alone. 

Youth Court proceedings

This type of court differs from adult criminal proceedings in a number of ways, for example the proceedings are designed to be less formal, the public are not permitted to enter the court and defendants are addressed by their first name. If the victim(s) wishes to observe the proceedings they are obliged to make a request to the court. 

Those permitted inside the court include the usual participants in cases heard in court; ranging from officers of the court, to the parties, parents and guardians, and bona fide members of the press. Reporting restrictions include not revealing the name, home address or school of any young person concerned in the proceedings, or particulars which may make identifying them likely. Similarly, no pictures are permitted to be published of a young person(s) in the proceedings.

Sentencing in the Youth Court

Magistrates' sentencing powers in the Youth Court are set by the Sentencing Guidelines. They include: -

  • Detention and training orders
  • Fines up to £1,000 (up to £250 if the offender is under the age of 14)
  • Youth community orders
  • Reparation orders
  • Referral orders
  • Absolute and conditional discharges
  • Ancillary orders
  • Binding over the offender's parents

In sentencing children and young people, as stated in ‘Overarching Principles- Sentencing Youths’ (2009) the Youth Court must have regard to:

 “a) the principal aim of the youth justice system (to prevent offending by children and young persons) and

b) the welfare of the offender.”

The MA has its own dedicated Youth Court Committee made up members who are experienced specialists in the area. You can find out more about its work here.