Geographical location is still a major factor in the sentencing
of young offenders, according to the Youth Justice Board.
New figures covering the six months to March 2003 show wide
variations in the rate of custodial sentences imposed by courts on
young people in different areas, irrespective of the nature of the
For example, south east England (excluding London) has a custody
rate (custodial sentences as a proportion of community penalties)
of 7.2 per cent although the gravity of offences are relatively
high. In Wales where the gravity score is lower, the custody rate
is 10.5 per cent.
Between youth offending teams (Yots) the differences are even
greater, ranging from 28.2 per cent in Luton to less than 1 per
cent in Dorset and West Berkshire.
Overall there has been a decrease in the use of custodial
sentences, with a fall of 8 per cent in the population of juveniles
in custody. This is likely to continue says the YJB as the
intensive supervision and surveillance order – the new
community-based alternative to a custodial sentence – is rolled out
Charles Pollard, acting chairperson of the YJB, has urged Yots
and the courts to make sure custodial sentences are given only when
no alternative will do.
– See website www.youth-justice-board.gov.uk