Justice Bill To Introduce Youth Community Orders

The Government has revealed a shake up of the youth justice system to put a greater emphasis on community sentencing. The plans, unveiled last week in the Criminal Justice and Immigration Bill, include the creation of a youth rehabilitation order, which brings together a number of existing community sentences.

The aim of the order is to offer courts a greater choice in community punishments, such as supervision and curfews. In addition, the Bill outlines plans to extend the adult conditional caution scheme to 16- and 17-year-old offenders. The scheme gives the Crown Prosecution Service an alternative to taking people to court by issuing a caution with a condition, such as making reparations.

Campaigners for reform of youth justice welcomed the plans. The Children’s Society’s policy director Kathy Evans described the Bill as a “chance to reverse policies that have created a high population of youth in custody, including the 800 per cent increase in under-15s in custody since 1994.

“A greater emphasis on community sentencing represents an alternative to subjecting children to a prison system that cannot provide the safety or intensive individual work that effective rehabilitation requires,” she added. “We hope this legislation will make intensive supervision and surveillance in the community the preferred option for courts.”

A Youth Justice Board spokeswoman also welcomed the plans for youth rehabilitation orders, which “should lead to community sentences being more closely tailored to individual young offenders”.