Youth Crime – sentencing principles – Part 3

Created on June 22, 2017

Youth Crime - sentencing principles - Part 3

We recently posted an article explaining what to expect if your child is charged with a criminal offence and has to attend the Youth Court.  If you missed it, that article can be found here

We now turn to focus specifically on the issues relating to the sentencing of youths.  This is Part 3.   Part 1 can be found here and Part 2 can be found here.  

In the last article we listed some of the particular sentences available in respect of youths.  We continue that list here with sentencing options in respect of more serious offences or more persistent offenders. 

Youth rehabilitation orders (YRO)

A YRO is a community sentence within which a court may include one or more requirements designed to provide for punishment, protection of the public, reducing re-offending and reparation.

When imposing a YRO, the court must fix a period within which the requirements of the order are to be completed; this must not be more than three years from the date on which the order comes into effect. The offence must be ‘serious enough’ in order to impose a YRO, but it does not need to be an imprisonable offence.

The available requirements within a YRO are:

• activity requirement (maximum 90 days);

• supervision requirement;

• unpaid work requirement (between 40 and 240 hours);

• programme requirement;

• attendance centre requirement (maximum 12 hours for children aged 10–13, between 12 and 24 hours for young people aged 14 or 15 and between 12 and 36 hours for young people aged 16 or over;

• prohibited activity requirement;

• curfew requirement (maximum 12 months and between 2 and 16 hours a day);

• exclusion requirement (maximum 3 months);

• electronic monitoring requirement;

• residence requirement;

• local authority residence requirement (maximum 6 months but not for any period after young person attains age of 18);

• fostering requirement (maximum 12 months but not for any period after young person attains age of 18);

• mental health treatment requirement;

• drug treatment requirement (with or without drug testing);

• intoxicating substance requirement;

• education requirement; and

• intensive supervision and surveillance requirement.

Orders with intensive supervision and surveillance or with fostering

An intensive supervision and surveillance requirement and a fostering requirement are both community alternatives to custody. The offence must be punishable by imprisonment, cross the custody threshold and a custodial sentence must be merited before one of these requirements can be imposed. An order of this nature may only be imposed on a child or young person aged below 15 (at the time of the finding of guilt) if they are a persistent offender.

With intensive supervision and surveillance:

An order of this nature must include an extended activity requirement of between 90 and 180 days, a supervision requirement and a curfew requirement. Where appropriate, a YRO with intensive supervision and surveillance may also include additional requirements (other than a fostering requirement), although the order as a whole must comply with the obligation that the requirements must be those most suitable for the child or young person and that any restrictions on liberty are commensurate with the seriousness of the offence.

With fostering:

Where a fostering requirement is included within a YRO, it will require the child or young person to reside with a local authority foster parent for a specified period that must not exceed 12 months. In order to impose this requirement the court must be satisfied that the behaviour which constituted the offence was due to a significant extent to the circumstances in which the child or young person was living, and that the imposition of fostering requirement would assist in the child or young person’s rehabilitation.

Custodial sentences

A custodial sentence should always be used as a last resort.

Detention and training order (DTO)

A DTO cannot be imposed on any child under the age of 12 at the time of the finding of guilt and is only applicable to children aged 12 – 14 if they are deemed to be a persistent offender. A DTO can be made only for the periods prescribed – 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 18 or 24 months.

Long-term detention

A child or young person may be sentenced by the Crown Court to long-term detention under section 91 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act 2000 if found guilty of a grave crime and neither a community order nor a DTO is suitable.

Dangerous offenders

If a child or young person is found to be a dangerous offender they can be sentenced to extended detention or detention for life.

A sentence of extended detention may be imposed only where the appropriate custodial term would be 4 years or more. The extension period must not exceed 5 years in the case of a specified violent offence and 8 years in the case of a specified sexual offence.

Detention at Her Majesty’s pleasure

This is the mandatory sentence for any child or young person found guilty of committing a murder. The starting point for the minimum term is 12 years.

Gillian Hayler

Gillian Hayler

Gillian has specialised in criminal defence for the last 14 years and is an Accredited Police Station Representative.  She builds strong and successful criminal defence cases and works closely with Crown Court trial advocates.

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