Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner has welcomed a major inquiry calling for a shake-up of how young people are treated in the criminal justice system.
The independent Parliamentary inquiry, chaired by leading peer Lord Carlile, proposes a range of measures including: the criminal records of children involved in minor crime to be wiped clean when they reach 18, if they have shown a commitment to turning their backs on criminal activity; new laws to ensure that all children are accompanied by an adult when in court; and a greater emphasis on the involvement of victims to help youngsters understand the impact their offending behaviour has had.
Responding to the report, Tony Lloyd said:
“If a child makes a silly mistake in their youth they shouldn’t be criminalised for the rest of their lives. We want to see all young people become successful, aspirational members of our communities – and this is as true for those who have committed minor offences as anyone else.
“Lord Carlile’s report is a carefully considered, thoughtful report that contains a number of sensible recommendations. There is a real need for reform in how the courts and the criminal justice system treat children in this country. If we truly believe in rehabilitation, we have to do all we can to give young people the tools to both learn from their failings and build for the future.
“This isn’t about taking a soft option on justice. What this report emphasises, is that the whole criminal justice system can work more effectively and provide more support to some of society’s most vulnerable individuals, to reduce reoffending in the long term.”
The report highlighted a number of problems in the system such as inadequate tools to tackle the problems behind youth offending and a lack of effort being made to understand why young people were committing crimes in some parts of the system.
The report follows the ruling by the Supreme Court this month that all police cautions and minor convictions should not have to be disclosed in criminal record checks. By disclosing cautions and minor convictions from when an individual was under the age of 18, the Disclosure and Barring Service was in breach of that person’s human rights, argued the Supreme Court.
Under the new system, cautions given to adults are removed from criminal records checks after six years. Cautions to children will be filtered out after two years.