Youth offending team workers should urge courts to use community sentences and challenge any failure to use them, the conference was told.
Their work was critical in drawing up accurate risk assessments and pre-sentence reports to keep children who had committed minor offences out of custody, said justice minister Baroness Scotland.
She conceded that judges needed to be trained on the effectiveness of community sentences. But she told delegates: “You have
to show why this will be the best way of containing risk. And when that judge disagrees with you they have to have a good reason why.”
But Lord Justice Thomas, the senior presiding judge for England and Wales, told Community Care that it was unrealistic to expect judges to be immune to the lack of appetite among the public for community sentencing, adding, “judges are only human”.