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Juvenile Justice Reform in England and Wales (From UNAFEI Annual Report for 2000 and Resource Material Series No. 59, P 128-143, 2002, -- See NCJ-200221)

NCJ Number
Rob Allen
Date Published
October 2002
This document discusses reforms in the juvenile justice system in England and Wales.
The Crime and Disorder Act introduced a new philosophy to the juvenile justice system--early intervention. The idea is to intervene early to try to change the way in which young people behave and avoid problems in families, school failures, drug and alcohol misuse, and gang involvement. The old philosophy was to keep the child out of the system in order to avoid labeling. There are three kinds of sentences: custodial or prison sentences, community sentences, and fines. An idea that is growing in importance is that of restorative justice. The three aims of restorative justice are instilling responsibility in young people, restoration paid back to the victim, and reintegration into the community. Public and media concern about crime has grown. Getting tough on crime has become more popular. The reformed youth justice system has six key objectives. The first objective is to prevent long delays between arrest and sentencing. The second objective is getting young offenders to take responsibility for their actions. The third objective is to have the resources to be able to tackle individual risk factors for young offenders. The fourth objective is “proportional punishment.” The fifth objective is reparation to victims of juvenile crime. The sixth objective is to reinforce and strengthen parental responsibility. The Crime and Disorder Act also puts limits on youths receiving conditional discharges. A conditional discharge is available in youth court and means that nothing will happen provided the youth stays out of trouble for the period of the discharge. It is unlikely that young people understand the youth justice system because of the range of options in sentencing. There are three main changes to the prevention service: (1) the modernization program, which is a centralized national service; (2) a greater emphasis on enforcement of orders; and (3) a major emphasis on effective practice or the “what works” initiative.