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Youth crime is increasing in the UK which begs the question whether the law is effective for the younger generations in today’s society. He explained how this had come about, after a history of disapproval of “smackheads” among the general prison population, for whom smoking cannabis had long been a more tolerated form of drug use. In the US, mandatory custodial sentences have long been a feature of the sentencing of children, even in some cases leading to the imprisonment of those under 18 for the rest of their natural lives. Photograph: Martin Godwin/The Guardian. Jason’s time inside was not put to waste. government's services and There would be an uproar. The criminal justice system that judge represents – which operates on behalf of us all – is what created Gethin the child, Gethin the young offender, Gethin the addict, Gethin the adult criminal. There are other punishments that can be given to children under 10 who break the law. The Youth Justice Statistics, published in January 2018, show that there was a staggering 14,500 new entrants into the Youth Justice System. In many ways, his story is one of all that is wrong with the criminal justice system when it turns its firepower on the young. Not all theories give a good explanation for tackling youth crime, the labelling theory states that the label is the route of criminal behaviour; this is not a good explanation because there is a reason an individual becomes a burglar, not because they have been labelled as one. Youth courts deal with offences including theft and burglary, anti-social behaviour and drugs offences. 'A stain on national life': why are we locking up so many children? If they are 16 or under, their parents, guardians or carers must attend court. The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old. Utterly contradictory policies towards young offenders prevailed in the 80s and 90s, veering between the exploration of non-custodial alternatives and increased sentence lengths, introduced by the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act of 1994. Young offenders are dealt with differently in the courts compared to adults with defendants referred to by their first names. Tragically, in what amounts to a stain on Britain’s national life, the proportion of young ethnic minority people in custody has increased in the past decade, along with assaults, use of physical restraint and self-harm incidents. You could be forgiven for doing so, when politician after politician advocates a “crackdown” on “antisocial behaviour”, “gang violence”, knives and even “feral youth”. The use of evidence, or of any form of analysis of what actually works to reduce youth crime, always gives way – in the end – to populism. … Another important step for better supporting children in the criminal justice system was taken last year, when a judicially-led project called the 'Young Witness Initiative', culminated in a protocol being signed between the CPS, police and Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunal Services to expedite cases in the courts involving a witness who is under the age of 10. In fact, the total number of violent incidents is higher than when there were three times the number of young inmates as there are today. For instance, what you used to be regarded as simple nuisance, such as kids hanging around a street corner or being rude to adults now falls under what is considered to be ‘youth crime’. And one of the most pointless and counteractive parts of the criminal justice system I have seen is the incarceration of children. Help us to improve our website; let us know We use cookies to collect information about how you use GOV.UK… The government pledges almost £100 million to fund youth crime reduction initiatives. This hardly suggests a link between increasing the incarceration of the young and the reduction of youth crime. Navigate to Things you need to know section; 3. The Youth Court is a type of magistrates' court which deals with young people. In terms of our life journeys, that is where the similarities largely end. Or more? His mother, a single parent to four children, had spent her childhood in care and had learning difficulties. Zahid Mubarek, who was murdered inside Feltham young offender institution in 2000. The Commission has the support of MPs from across political parties but it is not funded by Government, nor is it an All Party Parliamentary Group. Hundreds of the most damaged and vulnerable young people in our society face the daily risk of violence, self-harm and death, and we are all allowing this to happen. Not only are young offender institutions places of misery, violence and death (there is a suicide in a British young offender institution almost every month, and self-harm is at epidemic levels), but they also have precisely the opposite effect to that which is claimed by their advocates. This publication looks at the YJS in England and Wales for the year ending March 2019. Skip to main content. Children aged 10 – 17 years old can be given a youth conditional caution if they admit a criminal offence. I spoke to Gethin late last year as I approached my 50th birthday. 370 results containing ‘youth crime ... UK youth economic activity by ethnic groups 2011 to 2020 . Six long years later, Gethin had completed what he describes as his “whole rehabilitation journey”. Indeed, we happily condemn damaged children – at enormous expense – to hellholes like Feltham, where they are more likely to be assaulted or killed than to find an escape from the revolving doors of courts, prisons and addiction. Official figures show the shocking truth about the criminalisation of our children. Throughout all of these waves of media and political tub-thumping about youth crime, and subsequent policies on child sentencing, one thing above all shines through: recidivism. It was very gruesome and horrifying for me to see all the blood spurting out and someone on the floor nearly dying.”. Patel’s supporters could be heard cheering on this “war on crime”. His father had cancer. Special measures were introduced through the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act (YJCEA) 1999 and include a range of measures to support victims and witnesses (other than the accused) to give their best evidence and help reduce some of the anxiety of attending court. With hindsight, Gethin understands that his mother’s history and struggles made it impossible for her to relate to her children in an ideal and entirely nurturing way. She is also the Director of Sessions of YourStance, which she set up after feeling a sense of helplessness with the amount of young people attending the Royal London Hospital with significant injuries from serious youth violence. Considered by many to be even more dangerous than adult prisons, establishments such as Feltham YOI, west of London, closely replicate the feral violence of custodial institutions in the Victorian age. The YJS is different to the adult system and is structured to address the needs of children. There is only one feature of Gethin’s life that sets him apart from the majority of other children arrested, criminalised, brutalised and institutionalised by our criminal justice system: he managed, eventually, to escape. Gethin Jones is a man of wisdom, insight and compassion. Gethin believes that a legal and safe supply of drugs, access to counselling, addiction services and appropriate forms of therapy would have a huge impact on young people in the criminal justice system – particularly those who have passed through the care system and experienced trauma in their lives. Voters respond with approval in large numbers at the ballot box, in Britain and elsewhere, and parliament duly obliges by passing harsh sanctions for children and young people, whichever party is in power. “It used to be 80% career criminals, and 20% addicts and the mentally ill,” he told me, “Now it’s the other way around.”. Having been told by everyone in authority, throughout his childhood and teenage years, that he was destined not only for failure but for prison and drug addiction, it was unsurprising that the predictions came true. This was the verdict of the criminal justice system on Gethin Jones, a young man barely out of his teens. The exercise yard at HM prison and youth offender institution in Portland, Dorset. His first conviction was at the age of 11, the result of what he describes as “erratic behaviour”. The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old. As soon as he “graduated” to adult prison, Gethin found heroin, having never taken it “on the out”. Navigate to By ethnicity over time section; 4. “Where were we when he was five?” Gethin asked, rhetorically. This is the society we have created and, just as with prison policy across the board and our approach to drugs, we have got it completely wrong. This is an edited extract from Justice on Trial: Radical Solutions for a System at Breaking Point by Chris Daw, published by Bloomsbury and available at guardianbookshop.co.uk, • Follow the Long Read on Twitter at @gdnlongread, and sign up to the long read weekly email here, The radical lessons of a year reporting on knife crime, An inmate in his cell at Feltham young offender institution, 2004. , new figures reveal lack of enthusiasm one of the most pointless counteractive... Made the decision to place Stewart with Zahid apparently knew nothing of the news duly. There are other punishments that can be arrested and taken to court if they are breaking law! S time inside was not put to waste ‘ youth crime videos and news... Politicians get excited about statistics, still less about those that tend to undermine the public. 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