The MA has responded to a recent Transform Justice Report that assesses the use of custodial remand for children. The report highlights a rise in the use of pre-trail detention for children over the last two years, and sets out a range of recommendations to rectify this – including raising the minimum age for custodial remand to 14 and reserving remand only for those accused of crimes which would be heard in the crown court. While the MA welcomed much of the report, and certainly agrees that any decision to remand a child or young person (CYP) in custody is incredibly serious, our response raised a number of concerns with the way the report conveyed current trends in youth remand. We also disagreed with some of the report's arguments about how the courts treat a CYP in remand hearings – including an assumption that youth defendants appear in secure docks following police detention.
At the core of the report is a call for the courts to slow down remand hearings in the interests of allowing agencies to develop effective bail or Remand to Local Authority Accommodation (RLAA) packages, to avoid the unnecessary use of custody for short periods of time. We agree that it can be beneficial in some circumstances for courts to adjourn for a few hours to allow this to happen, but would caution that excessive delays may result in a CYP spending longer in police or court cells. The MA suggests that research is needed to evaluate what reasons are behind children only being remanded for very short periods, to assess whether anything further can be done to put together RLAA packages in a timelier manner.