7 Dec 2010

Comment from Bob Reitemeier, Chief Executive, The Children's Society, on the Youth Justice chapter within the Justice Green Paper:

“The Children's Society welcomes the reforms to the Youth Justice System within today’s Green Paper - particularly the focus on restorative justice.

“We have long campaigned for restorative, community-based, approaches to offending behaviour and conflict. This approach supports children and young people to work with their communities and their victims. It means the children in trouble are correctly treated as ‘in need’ and not criminalised. The Children's Society has several restorative projects throughout the country, in a range of settings, including care, schools and the community.

“We also welcome the Government’s commitment to a distinct youth justice function being maintained within the Ministry of Justice.

“The Children's Society strongly believes that children should only ever be locked up as a last resort and for the shortest possible period, in line with international law. Therefore we are very disappointed that the Green Paper missed the opportunity to look at the age of criminal responsibility. England and Wales have one of the youngest ages of criminal responsibility in Europe at ten years old. The Children's Society believes that this should be raised to 14 years old as a minimum. We also feel that there should be a distinct custody threshold, which takes into account the seriousness of the offence and the vulnerability of the young person, before imprisonment is considered. This has lowered the child custody population and youth crime rate in Canada - and could have the same impact here.”

Ends.

For more information, please contact Rafi Cooper in The Children's Society media office: 020 7841 4526; 07740 777 450; rafi.cooper@childsoc.org.uk