• To clear up grey areas of Youth sentencing
• To look at very latest data and facts
• To get a broader view of youth sentencing by
having a look at some perspectives of the
Youth Crime Framework
• Both adult and youth crime frameworks are
based upon the principle of
proportionality, introduced by the Criminal
Justice Act 1991, but this principle is modified
within the youth justice system.
• When sentencing the court takes the following
principles into consideration:
– Regard to the prevention of offending
– Regard to the welfare of the child
– Sentencing must reflect the seriousness of the
Court principals can cause problems
• Tensions can arise between these
principles, as a sentence that concentrates
heavily on prevention of offences by
imposing greater penalties will not
necessarily be best for the welfare of the
child or reflect the seriousness of the crime.
• Principle aim of the youth justice system
Section 37 of the Criminal Justice Act 1998
introduced 2 statutory aims:
1. To prevent offending by children and young
2. It is the duty of all persons and bodies carrying
out functions for the youth justice system to
have regard to aim 1.
3 points of Principal aim
• Achieving this statutory aim is not straight forward.
There are 3 main points:
– A severe sentence can not be given to prevent offending
where it does not reflect the seriousness of the crime.
– Judicial Studies Board points out intervention designed to
prevent offending and help the child grow into a
responsible adult is in fact promoting that young persons
– Severe sentencing such as custodial sentences, effectively
prevents crime in the short run, but in the long run will
increase the chances of the child relapsing into crime.
The Welfare principle
Section 44 of the Children and Young persons Act
1933 states that:
– 'Every court… shall have regard to the welfare of the
child or young person…'
• This is reinforced more recently by the United
Nations' quot;Convention on the Rights of the
• The welfare principle may consider the
interference with a young persons educational
or work commitments and to be consistent with
his or her religious beliefs.
The principle of proportionality
• The sentencing framework introduced by the
Criminal Justice Act 1991 – now contained in
the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing)
Act 2000 - is based on the notion of 'just
deserts '. It depends on the idea that:
– 'the sentence for a given offence should reflect
primarily the seriousness of the offence which
has been committed'
3 Sentencing bands
• Legislation to achieve this establishes thresholds that must be reached before
certain penalties are deployed, known as the '3 sentencing bands', shown below:
• 1. Custodial sentence
• '(a) that the offence, or the combination of the offence and one or more offences
associated with it, was so serious that only such a sentence can be justified for
the offence; or
• (b) where the offence is a violent or sexual offence, that only such a sentence
would be adequate to protect the public from serious harm from him '.
• A custodial sentence may also be imposed if a young person refuses to co-
operate with a community sentence.
• 2. Community sentence
• 'offence, or the combination of the offence and one or more offence associated
with it, was serious enough to warrant such a sentence '.
• 3. Lower-level order
• When neither the custody or community penalty thresholds are met. This
composes of a discharge, financial penalty or reparation order.
• The sentencing process for children and young people
involves a complex interplay between 3 principles:
proportionality; the prevention of offending; and the
welfare of the child. While there is potential for these
elements to clash, a sensitive balance can be achieved
which gives an appropriate weighting to each. In
general terms, the principle of proportionality
establishes the appropriate programme to be
imposed on a young offender.
• Providing that the prevention of youth crime is
treated as a longer-term aim, welfare, proportionality
and the reduction of offending will be the likely
Young People and Prison:
How many children and young people are in prison?
There are 11,133 prisoners under the age of 21 in
England and Wales.
How many children (under 17's) are in prison?
There are 2,320 15 to 17 year olds in prison and 233 in
Secure Training Centres. In addition to this there are
213 10-14 year olds locked up in Local Authority Secure
What is the youngest age you can be
Despite the requirement of international law
that prison should be a last resort for
children, children as young as 12 can now be
jailed, if they commit an offence which would
be punishable by prison if committed by an
adult. Following the Crime and Disorder Act of
1998, the Home Secretary has the power to
lower the age of detention to 10 years old.
What crimes are they sentenced for?
Almost half the children in prison have been
convicted of non-violent offences. More children
are in prison for robbery than any other offence.
Sentencing for children is becoming harsher - in
1992 only 100 children under 15 were sentenced
to custody, all had committed what were defined
as 'grave crimes'. In 2003/4 794 under 15s were
imprisoned, yet only 45 of these had committed
the same definition of 'grave crimes‘.
How much does it cost?
It costs £50,800 per year to send someone to
a Young Offenders Institution, £164,750 to
send a child to a Secure Training Centre and
£185,780 to place a child in a Local Authority
Secure Children's Home.
Does it work?
Reconviction rates are extremely high for
children. Over eight out of ten boys under 18
who were released from prison were
reconvicted within two years.
Categories of age
• 21 and older is adult
• Young Offender 18-20
• Young People (juvenile offenders) 15 - 17
• A young offender is someone who is aged
between 18 and 20.
• Prison life for a young offender held in a Young
Offenders Institution (or YOI) isn't that
different to prison life for adult
prisoners, however there are some differences
in the way YOIs are run.
• Secure Training Centres
• Local Authority Secure Children’s homes
• Young offender institution
Secure Training Centres (STCs)
• STCs are purpose-built centres for young offenders up to the age of
17. They are run by private operators according to Home Office
contracts, which set out detailed operational requirements. There
are now four STCs in England.
• STCs house vulnerable young people who are sentenced to custody
in a secure environment where they can be educated and
rehabilitated. They have a minimum of three staff members to eight
trainees. They are smaller in size in YOIs, which means that
individual's needs can be met more easily.
• The regimes in STCs are constructive and education-focused. They
provide tailored programmes for young offenders that give them
the opportunity to develop as individuals which, in turn, will help
stop them reoffending. Trainees are provided with formal education
25 hours a week, 50 weeks of the year.
Local Authority Secure Children’s
• Local Authority Secure Children's Homes (LASCHs) focus on
attending to the physical, emotional and behavioural needs
of the young people they accommodate. They are run by
local authority social services departments, overseen by
the Department of Health and the Department for
Education and Skills.
• LASCHs provide young people with support tailored to their
individual needs. To achieve this, they have a high ratio of
staff to young people and are generally small
facilities, ranging in size from six to 40 beds.
• LASCHs are generally used to accommodate young
offenders aged 12 to 14, girls up to the age of 16, and 15 to
16-year-old boys who are assessed as vulnerable.
Young Offender Institutions (YOIs)
• Young Offender Institutions (YOIs) are facilities
run by the Prison Service. They accommodate 15
to 21-year-olds. The Youth Justice Board is only
responsible for placing young people under 18
years of age in secure accommodation.
Consequently, some of these institutions
accommodate older young people than STCs and
LASCHs. The Board commissions and purchases
places for under-18s, who are held in discrete