Young failed by system, says judge

The criminal justice system is failing to deal effectively with
young offenders, a High Court judge claimed last week.

At a lecture organised by charity Youth for Christ, Mr Justice
Hedley said the system forced a choice between a soft welfare
approach and a hard punitive approach, but that “neither approach
appears to work”.

He said that, although there was a recognition that “almost
anything is preferable to institutional care when dealing with
children in the care system”, there was an increasing readiness to
use the institutional option for children in trouble.

He said:”Until we address the needs of children in trouble, they
will continue to get into trouble, and then it will become too late
to address their needs.”

He hoped community punishment orders would be seen as an effective
yet constructive punishment. “The perception that there can be
effective punishment without custody seems a very important one to
reinforce,” he said.

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