Thursday, October 19, 2006

More About the Kiddy Court

I do not sit in the Youth Court, so I am by no means an expert on young offenders, but what I do know is that courts are seeing more and more young defendants. The number of sitting days allocated to youth cases has had to be doubled in some courthouses to cope with the work. There are a number of reasons for this increase - one obvious one is the fact that many young people routinely carry several hundred pounds' worth of electronics in the shape of mobile phones and IPods, which largely explains the surge in street robberies. I am also told that there is an increasing trend for youths to plead not guilty. The discount for an early guilty plea doesn't amount to much if the court is going to impose a referral order, so quite a few decide to give it a run. A contested robbery charge involving several defendants, all of them claiming to have taken no part, with separate lawyers for each can easily run to several days.

The New Statesman has a thoughtful piece on youth crime here. The writer suggests that the criteria for charge versus warning or caution are tighter for youths than for adults, which could be another factor in the increased workload.

I am grateful to H27 for this link to a story about David Simpson, a District Judge who specialises in youth work, and whom I know.

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