Tuesday, October 8, 2019

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 Essay

The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 - Essay Example The result was a collection of ideas based on the Scottish Youth Justice system, particularly the Scottish Reporter System. The Scottish Reporter System, introduced in the 1960s as part of the Children's Hearing System, is a system where those involved with youth who have offended or are at risk of offending make a referral requiring any services deemed necessary to put the child on the right track be provided. Those making referrals include police, schools, parents and social workers. Referrals are made to the Reporter, who then investigates the case and decides where it should go. "The Reporter must decide whether referrals should be discharged with no further action, whether they should be referred to a local authority social work department or whether the case should be referred to a children's hearing (Arthur 2004)." This is essentially what the U.K.'s referral order is, with just a few minor differences. The referral order was introduced in October 1999 as part of the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999. The order's primary aim is to keep first-time young offenders out of the court system and prevent them from re-offending. The Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 was a response to the White Paper, No More Excuses address that the Secretary of State presented to Parliament in 1997. The White Paper addressed specifically the issue of youth crime. "Today's young offenders can too easily become tomorrow's hardened criminals," Home Secretary Jack Straw said in a preface to the White Paper. "As a society we do ourselves no favours by failing to break the link between juvenile crime and disorder and the serial burglar of the future (Home Office 1997)." According to Straw, the general belief was that young offenders would "grow out of" their offending ways on their own. He said research showed otherwise and insisted something be done that could give young offenders that nudge in the right direction. Thus, the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 introduced the referral order, a proactive approach to addressing juvenile crime. The office of the Reporter in Scotland would be akin to the Court of the Magistrate in England, in that they are the ones who refer a child to the family-conference style meetings - Scotland's Children's Hearing and England's Youth Offender Panel (YOP). However, while the Reporter has other options, "Part III of the Powers of Criminal Courts (sentencing) Act 2000 provides that the referral order is to become the standards sentence imposed by the youth courts, or other magistrates court (Arthur 2004)." The referral order is a sentence given by the court referring 10- to 17-year-olds, who have pleaded guilty to a first offence, to a youth offending panel. In Scotland, the age of an offender referred to a Children's Hearing is eight to 16. The order requires the offender and his parents or carer to meet with the youth offender panel and map out a course of action for the youth to help him get on the right track. The court sets the length of time a referral should last, or the compliance period. The compliance period begins once the offender and chair of the panel have signed the contract. By law, the compliance period can be no shorter than three months and no longer than a year. In cases where the offender was previously convicted of a crime, the

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