The age of criminal responsibility in England and Wales is 10 years old. This means that children under 10 can’t be arrested or charged with a crime. There are other ways to deal with children under 10, who break the law. Young people between 10 and 17 can however be arrested and charged by the police if they commit a crime.
The East Riding Youth Offending Service is a multi-agency team that works with young people at risk of entering and already in the Youth Justice System. The principle aim of the Youth Offending Service is to prevent offending, reduce risk and promote positive outcomes for the young people they work with.
Youth Offending Services engage in a wide variety of work with young people (from age 10-18) in order to achieve their aims. Some of the work they cover includes the following:
Out of Court Disposals:
(reserved for less serious crimes or first time offences):
There are a range of out of court options:
The police can independently issue:
- No further action: If a young person is arrested and the police do not pursue the case, this is known as taking ‘no further action’. This could happen if the police do not have enough evidence.
- Youth Caution: A Youth Caution may be given for any offence when the young person admits the offence and there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction, but it is not in the public interest to prosecute. No intervention will take place but the offence is recorded. The police can independently issue one Youth Caution, any subsequent eligible offences will need to come to the YOS for assessment.
The Youth Offending Service and the Police can also work jointly to complete an assessment and hold an out of court panel to help decide the most appropriate out-of-court disposal for a young person, where the following disposals can be delivered:
- Community Resolution: This is the resolution of a very minor offence or anti-social behaviour incident through an informal agreement, this could include a very short period of voluntary intervention.
- Triage: The East Riding Youth Offending Service operates a Triage scheme. Triage is a diversion away from the criminal justice system, offering interventions to prevent further offending. These interventions can be delivered by the Youth Offending Service or by other agencies such as Children’s Social Care, Youth and Family Support, The Fire Service or the Police Early Intervention Team.
- Youth Conditional Caution: The Youth Conditional Caution is a formal out-of-court disposal, with compulsory intervention attached to it. A Youth Conditional Caution may be offered when a young person admits an offence, there is sufficient evidence for a realistic prospect of conviction and when the public interest can best be served by the young person complying with suitable conditions, rather than a prosecution. The Youth Offending Service must assess the young person and advise on appropriate conditions. The young person must also agree to accept the Youth Conditional Caution and the conditions attached. Failure to comply with the conditions can result in prosecution to court for the original offence. This intervention should be delivered for up to 16 weeks.
(For more serious offences or persistent offenders)
Courts have a range of different sentences they can give offenders aged 10-17. These include:
- Discharge – absolute or conditional – These are the same as those for adult offenders;
- Fine – For offenders under 16, paying the fine is the responsibility of a parent/guardian.
- Referral Order – This order will last between three months and a year. This can only be given if the young person pleads guilty to the offence. If the young person pleads guilty, this is always the first option, unless the offence is so serious it warrants custody. A Referral Order will initially involve the Youth Offending Service completing an assessment with the young person and their parent/ carer. The young person will then be expected to attend a making it right panel (made up of two volunteer panel members from the local community and an advisor from a Youth Offending Service) and agree a contract, containing certain commitments, based on the assessment. If a young person does not comply with the terms of their Referral Order, they are referred back to a Making It Right Panel to decide on the appropriate action.
- Youth Rehabilitation Order – this is a community sentence which can include one or more of 18 different requirements that the young person must comply with, this can be imposed for up to three years. Some examples of the requirements that can be imposed are a curfew, supervision and unpaid work.
- Custodial sentences – young people can receive custodial sentences but they will only be imposed in the most serious cases. Sentences can be spent in Secure Children’s Homes, Secure Training Centres and Young Offender Institutions.
If a young person between 12 and 17 years old is sentenced in the Youth Court, a Detention and Training Order (DTO) is available. This can last between four months and two years.
In the Crown Court, a Detention and Training Order (DTO) can also be given the same as in the Youth Court.
For more serious offences in the Crown Court, longer term detention is available where the offence committed carries a maximum sentence of at least 14 year imprisonment or is one of the offences listed in section 91 of the Powers of Criminal Courts (Sentencing) Act, 2000.
Process of Youth Court
The Youth Court is a type of Magistrates’ Court which deals with young people. Cases in the Youth Court are either dealt with by three magistrates or a single district Judge, sitting alone.
This type of court differs from adult criminal proceedings in a number of ways, for example the proceedings are designed to be less formal, the public are not permitted to enter the court and defendants are addressed by their first name.
Youth court’s deal with offences including theft and burglary, anti-social behaviour, minor assaults and possession of drugs. More serious offences are usually transferred to Crown Court.
If a youth is 16 or under, their parents, guardians or carers must attend court.