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Human rights implications of the youth justice proposals in the Police, Crime, Sentencing, and Courts Bill examined

29 June 2021

The implications for the human rights of children of parts of the Government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill explored in this week’s evidence session from the Joint Committee on Human Rights.


Wednesday June 30, 2021, virtual meeting

At 3pm

Panel One

  • Pippa Goodfellow, Director, Alliance for Youth Justice
  • Dr Laura Janes, Legal Director at Howard League for Penal Reform
  • Danielle Manson, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers

Panel Two

  • Hazel Williamson, Chair, Association of Youth Offending Team Managers 
  • Claudia Sturt, Chief Executive Officer, Youth Justice Board 

Parts 7 and 8 of the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill primarily engage the youth justice system in relation to sentencing and remand and these are the focus of this evidence session.

The European Convention on Human Rights, incorporated into domestic law through the Human Rights Act 1998, guarantees rights for adults and children alike. The European Court of Human Rights has underlined children’s need for special protection due to their vulnerability. The UK has also ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and its 54 articles cover the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of children.

According to the most recent statistics for England and Wales (April 2019-March 2020), there has been a significant decrease in the number of children being cautioned or sentenced and in custody. However, the average custodial sentence length given to children increased by more than seven months over the last ten years, from 11.3 to 18.6 months (Ministry of Justice, Youth Justice Statistics 2019/20 England and Wales).

Likely discussion will include:

  • Whether the provisions of the Bill will result in longer sentences for children and young offenders
  • Potential changes to minimum sentences and the right to review for those sentenced to Detention at Her Majesty’s Pleasure
  • Whether different groups could be impacted differently by the legislation, including racial disproportionality
  • How the Bill deals with issues of child criminal exploitation and those with complex needs
  • The impact of proposed changes to remand

Further information

Image: PA