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Wednesday, 24 June 2020 10:11

Children facing delays

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Crimeline reports hundreds of children facing endless delays in the criminal justice system to be convicted as adults.

A new report by the Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC), part of the charity Just for Kids Law, reveals that severe delays in the criminal justice system are leaving children, families and victims in limbo, resulting in serious consequences for those who turn 18. System delay is the main reason children turn 18 years old between the commission of an offence and prosecution. The coronavirus crisis has exacerbated delays throughout the criminal justice system and the impact on children approaching their 18th birthday will be grave. The most recent official data shows that 1,400 offences a year are committed by children who turn 18 prior to conviction but this is a significant underestimate and the number is expected to rise. Turning 18 prior to prosecution means the young people have their cases heard in adult courts and lose the opportunity to benefit from the youth justice system. This often happens because it can take months or sometimes years for the police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to make a charging decision. There are currently no fast-track  options for children, including those approaching their 18th birthday. The outcomes for children who turn 18  are vastly different to those of their peers who are prosecuted as children The damaging consequences include losing access to youth diversion schemes,  losing anonymity during court proceedings,  only being eligible for adult sentences including much longer rehabilitation periods which reduce employment prospects and prevent people from moving on with their lives.

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