Magistrates “disregard” Youth Offending Teams’ advice when making decisions on young people

Magistrates are disregarding the advice of Youth Offending Teams and other professionals when making decisions on young people, according to a report out today.

Researchers from the Economic and Social Research Council found that magistrates viewed information from YOTs as “biased” because they seldom recommended custody.

Most magistrates said they did not find the risk assessment in pre-sentence reports helpful and relied on their own observations and the young person’s prior criminal histories and family backgrounds instead, the study based on 80 interviews with professionals and young people found.

Young people felt their explanations were not often conveyed to police or magistrates, and many believed professionals did not want to hear “their truth” and feared telling the truth would get them into further trouble.

Jo Phonenix, of the University of Bath, who conducted the study, said the decisions and recommendations of youth justice professionals were “based on little more than stereotypes” and said the engagement of young people was “not necessarily in their best interests.”

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