As a criminal defence solicitor specialising in defending allegations of sexual misconduct and representing children, the perfect storm that has erupted since the launch of Everyone’s Invited has made me privy to some of the saddest and most distraught children I have ever advised.
The head of the Youth Justice Board has rightly criticised the Government’s plans to raise child custodial sentences. At a time when England and Wales falls behind most European countries in protecting children with the lowest age of criminal responsibility (10), it is inexplicable that the Government is taking a further regressive step by seeking to increase the length of time that children must spend in prison.
Children under 18 years old are afforded a number of special protections by virtue of the fact that they are children in the eyes of the law. These protections fall away when an individual turns 18 and they are legally considered an ‘adult’. For defendants who cross the threshold into adulthood during the criminal process, the impact of reaching this milestone can be profound.
Today JUSTICE has published the latest working party report ‘Tackling Racial Injustice: Children and the Youth Justice System’. I am delighted to have had the opportunity to chair the working party that produced this report. The report makes practical recommendations to reduce BAME disproportionality in the Youth Justice System (YJS) of England and Wales.
David Lammy’s landmark review of racial bias in the Criminal Justice System (‘CJS’), made many key recommendations to help improve trust and fairness in the CJS when it was published in 2017. One of which was to expand the use of the deferred prosecution for adults and young offenders.