Youth Justice policy is ‘tough on crime and


This paper deals with the responses made by the Government in order to reform the young person justness system. First, we look at a brief history of policy and reform made to the young person justness system. We so turn to recent reforms and policy sing the young person justness system and other steps adopted by the Government. Throughout this paper mentions will be made to the evident ‘toughness’ of the reforms.

Brief history of Youth Justice Policy and reforms.

The Children and Young Person Act 1963 established condemnable duty should be incurred by those over and of 10 old ages of age. This was a controversial step as it was seen as a really low age for condemnable blameworthiness. From this benchmark, policy in the 1970s showed an increasing tendency towards harsh, punitory methods towards immature wrongdoers. The usage of tutelary sentences and attention orders involved taking the immature wrongdoers from their places were used in order to discourage childs from offense [ 1 ] . The Criminal Justice Act 1988 was introduced in order to command the increasing usage of tutelary sentencing. These control steps decreased the figure of young persons sent to custody well. In 1991, it was reported that the usage of detention for 10-16 twelvemonth olds had dropped from a high of 7,700 in 1979 to 1,600 in 1991 [ 2 ] . Some juvenile tribunals used community based steps to keep back from the usage of tutelary sentences. These community steps specified in oversing orders and these tribunals claimed to be ‘custody free zones’ [ 3 ] . The Criminal Justice Act 1991 brought 17 twelvemonth olds under the legal power of the young person tribunals, the courts’ name changed every bit good [ 4 ] . The tragic instance of the James Bulger slaying was to tag a considerable displacement in youth justness policy. This instance involved the slaying of the yearling, James Bulger, by two 10 twelvemonth olds in February 1993. The intensive media coverage sparked uproar from many persons and politicians saw that this was a gravy train non to be missed.

Home Office policy

Policy picks mirrored the public’s discontent with the young person justness system and increasingly more punitory, legislative responses were made [ 5 ] to battle this evident rise in young person offense. Demand grew to extinguish the usage of cautiousnesss for immature wrongdoers. This was a controversial displacement from old sentiment and policy. It was the policy from the 1970s through to the 1990s for the constabulary to publish cautiousnesss to immature wrongdoers instead than prosecuting them. This position was stated by Lord Ingleby as:

“A strong belief may hold serious effects for a immature individual ‘s calling, there is a natural reluctance to prosecute … A cautiousness spares offenders the stigma of a tribunal visual aspect, and may continue whatever deterrent consequence is presented by the menace of prosecution. A cautiousness may be given in the hope that if a juvenile is non instantly treated as a delinquent so there is less opportunity of his behaving like one in the future.” [ 6 ]

This mirrored the thought behind much of the young person justness system’s processs. However, this was to alter, when Michael Howard announced in 1994 that there would be a reversal of these constabularies. He stated that:

“From now on your first opportunity is your last opportunity. Criminals should cognize that they will be punished. Giving cautiousnesss to serious wrongdoers or to the same individual clip and clip once more, direct the incorrect message to felons and the public.” [ 7 ]

This ‘tough’ policy doing determination shows the tendency of the authorities at the clip. The counsel from the Home Office besides persuaded tribunals to take less history of the exposure of kids and publish no more than one cautiousness per wrongdoer, which led to an addition of tribunal visual aspect for young person wrongdoers [ 8 ] . Fionda notes that there has been an eroding of the derived function intervention which immature wrongdoers have been treated to. The tribunals used to follow a child-centred attack which saw kids as ‘lacing the competency to believe their action through and…capable of outgrowing their troublesome and immature behaviour’ [ 9 ] . She notes that the policies and processs which are employed in the young person justness system dainty kids as ‘fully competent, cognizant of the significance of their actions and mature sufficiency to accept duty for them in the signifier of a proportionate punishment’ [ 10 ]

The Audit Commissions’ study,Misspent Youth,highlighted defects with the young person justness system which stated that the system was expensive, inefficient and inconsistent. As the Labour party won a landslide election in 1997, they declared that these damaging factors will be eradicated by their youth justness policy reforms. The White Paper, No More Excuses — A New Approach to Tackling Youth Crime in England and Wales [ 11 ] , influenced new legislative reforms.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998

The purpose of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 ( CDA ) was to alter accent from tough steps on offense to the combating of the causes of offense. The CDA defined the bar of piquing as the chief purpose of the young person justness system [ 12 ] . Section 38 of the 1998 Act established the Youth Justice Board which had duty for youth justness policy and local multi-disciplinary young person piquing squads ( “YOTs” ) . This showed the governments’ end of obtaining a common pattern civilization and utilize multi-agency work to accomplish their chief purpose as stated in s.37. The usage of ‘cautions’ were eliminated, and the new act enabled governments to publish rebukes and warnings under subdivisions 66 and 67. The new rebukes are formal verbal rebukes for those acknowledging guilt for a first minor offense. The new warnings are besides formal verbal warnings but it includes an appraisal and an intercession bundle for immature wrongdoers acknowledging guilt for a first or 2nd offense.

From this alteration, the Final Warning strategy was introduced in 2000 which meant that immature wrongdoer can non be given more than one rebuke and to avoid repetition admonishing which plagued the old system. The ‘final warning’ strategy straight supports the claim that the governments’ policies were tough on offense as it deals with first clip wrongdoers and efforts to root out the causes of offense. Gonsalves and Carter claimed that between 2000 and 2001 the figure of Final Warnings rose from 52 to 70 per cent [ 13 ] .

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 ( YJCEA ) .

The YJCEA established reforms that enabled vulnerable informants ( kids ) to give grounds in tribunal instances without bullying [ 14 ] . Besides, portion I of the YJCEA gives these YOTs power to publish referral orders. The increased power of the YOTs showed that the authorities intended to deconcentrate the determination devising to stipulate squads that knew the wrongdoers good. However, the impact of these YOTs would be important and demo to be another vehicle which ‘tough’ policy could be enforced.

The Criminal Justice Act 2003

The Criminal Justice Act 2003 reformed many facets of the young person justness system including alterations to youth tribunal powers in relation to community sentences for 16 and 17-year olds [ 15 ] . The new policy that was ushered in demonstrates the police’s aspiration to forestall and step in at an early phase in order to cover with wrongdoers rapidly [ 16 ] . Stewart Field investigated the positions of those offices that worked on YOTs [ 17 ] . He remarked that constabulary officers that worked in YOTs showed differences in positions when compared to societal workers. Field states that there was greater accent on the importance of supplying subject, doing clear the unacceptableness of certain behavior and the negative effects of making otherwise amongst constabulary officers. He added that ‘tough experiences were frequently regarded as beneficial’ amongst those constabularies officers that were involved [ 18 ] .

Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003

Following the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act in England and Wales, ‘dispersal zones’ in towns and metropoliss were established. They were established in order to ease the motion of constabularies so that they could move on groups of persons that were seen as baleful. De Castella looked at the impact of these zones and concluded that young persons felt like they were being victimized and alienated by the actions of the constabulary [ 19 ] .


From these new reforms, theories sing this ‘new justice’ system emerged. Analysis by Phil Scraton described the new young person justness ‘s concern for hazard, protection and bar as a veneer that ‘coats a deepening, about evangelical committedness to train, ordinance and punishment’ [ 20 ] .

Caroline Ball notes the complexness which surrounds the young person justness system in relation to condemning commissariats as it was unaccessible to attorneies, pre-sentence study authors and magistrates, and inexplicable to most suspects and families’ [ 21 ] . The CDA 1998 and the YJCEA established farther sentences and so the scope of sentences available to magistrates was great. Evidence stated that the complexness may ensue in ignorance about the available orders by magistrates and besides professional Judgess [ 22 ] . These remarks have been adopted by the authoritiess and other policy theoretical accounts have been introduced to offer a solution to the jobs that have non been solved by the reforms.

Other policy theoretical accounts

a ) Community Measures

The president of the Youth Justice Board ( YJB ) declared in a address in 2002, that young person policy needed to be ‘ratcheted up’ . Lord Warner stated that young person policy and statute law needed to co-occur with community sentences. He stated that those involved with the young person justness system could non ‘sit back and rely on the constabulary to work out all the jobs … youth offense is non a phenomenon that we can merely patrol our manner out of’ [ 23 ] . This position was endorsed by a figure of functionaries, including the Association of Chief Police Offices ( ACPO ) . The Association acknowledged the importance of agencies’ fall ining up and this resulted in the publication of itsScheme for Children and Young Peoples[ 24 ].This scheme emphasised the important function of the constabulary in halting young persons perpetrating offense by ‘stepping onto the conveyer belt of crime’ [ 25 ] . This meant that the constabulary should organize its workings with YOTs and track relentless immature wrongdoers ( PYOs ) via information sharing amongst this superimposed system [ 26 ] .

The usage of the Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme was introduced by the YJB in 2001. Waters suggests that the ISSP is one of the most robust community sentences as it targets fecund and serious immature wrongdoers, aged 10-17 [ 27 ] . The engagement of the constabulary in ISSP emphasises the function of monitoring and controlling of PYOs. These schemes form portion of the Home Office’s response to piquing behavior and demo its evident ‘toughness’ when covering with PYOs [ 28 ] . This position was endorsed by those implementing the policy. Waters’ probe into the success of ISSP noted one YOT constabulary officers statement which encapsulated the policy motive and the mark of those policies:

“I am a house truster of aiming known wrongdoers. It lets them cognize that such behaviors will non be taken lightly … . Some immature people have such an unsettled background, that sometimes all they need is intensive support and counsel to enable them to unbend themselves out” [ 29 ]

Other observers have noted the evident ‘toughness’ of the ISSP. Hazel Blears stated that the ISSP was ‘tough’ [ 30 ] and an ISSP director stated that the community and its victims were more likely to be reassured by the engagement of constabulary officers in YOTs, instead than by the ‘softer’ presences of other staff working in YOTs [ 31 ] .

B ) Restorative Justice

Policy shapers saw that all punitory steps and policies could non work out all of the jobs built-in in the young person justness system. During the 1990s, accent grew on rules of renewing justness to try to battle young person offense. These rules were based on ‘the 3Rs ; Restoration, reintegration and responsibility’ [ 32 ] which engages the victims, households and the wrongdoer of the offense and offers a positive attack to youth piquing. The CDA 1998 introduced steps to ease renewing justness within communities. Rehabilitation programmes were prepared by YOTs for wrongdoers. The YJCEA established youth piquing panels for suspects looking in tribunal for the first clip. Ball notes that the “contract of behaviour” drawn up between the wrongdoer and the panel will affect elements of reparation either straight to the victim or the community [ 33 ] . Surely renewing justness policies mark a distinguishable alteration from the punitory steps that have been introduced. This suggests that the policy affecting the young person justness system is non ever ‘tough’ and punitive as it offers options to battle immature wrongdoers. Field notes that ‘the pattern civilizations of the ‘new’ young person justness suggests that a desire to prosecute constructively with the public assistance jobs that may underpin piquing has non been displaced by dominant ‘tough’ punitory attitudes’ [ 34 ]


The statute law put in topographic point during the late 1990s and throughout the beginning of the 20 first century high spots the importance that the policy shapers hold to punitory steps. Although we can see engagement of community steps by the YOTs, these still use ‘tough’ schemes, such as the ISSPs. A renewing justness technique surely adopts a ‘lighter’ attack but it is still dominated by the statute law put in topographic point. With the figure of serious offenses committed by immature people lifting, it is hard to see the tendency altering in the close hereafter.


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