The Independent Commission on Youth Crime and Antisocial Behaviour is considering whether England should radically change its youth justice system and follow Scotland in having a reporter refer cases to lay tribunals and oversee young people’s progress.
The commission is working on reforms to the “over-complicated” youth justice system in England and Wales and has issued a consultation document asking for views on some of their interim proposals.
It praises the Scottish system and also the French system where specialist judges investigate allegations against children and young people, assessing their circumstances and deciding what course of action or sanction should be applied.
The consultation follows concerns over the current youth justice system in England and Wales, which the commission calculates may be spending as much as £4bn per year on youth crime responses.
“At a time when public spending is under intense scrutiny, we also think it is reasonable to ask whether the taxpayer is really getting value for money,” said Anthony Salz, chair of the Independent Commission.
Salz said the commission was keen to obtain views on whether a shift in investment priorities – for example, towards earlier intervention and prevention – would make it possible to: “reduce the levels of persistent, serious and violent offending and also the very large sums we spend on custody and other intensive responses to young people whose problems have been allowed to escalate over the years”.
The consultation will close on 18 December, 2009 and the commission is not due to publish its final report before summer 2010.