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24th May, 2022

New court to problem solve youth offending a step closer to reality

Sarah Mason 25th Feb, 2022

A PLAN to create a new ‘problem solving’ court to help young offenders across the region is one step closer to becoming a reality.

A feasibility study led by the Centre for Justice Innovation, in collaboration with the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, has looked at the possibility of introducing the country’s first court of its kind for 18-25 year olds.

District Judges or Magistrates would work with a team of criminal justice professionals, looking at why and how young offenders have become involved in criminal activity with the intention of helping them turn their lives around.

The court would have the authority to place young adults, as part of their sentence, on a programme tackling the reasons why they committed crime and meet with the District Judge or Magistrates to review their progress.

This approach means that the courts, probation, youth offending teams and other organisations would have joint responsibility for seeing the young person through the programme.

The research received near to unanimous support from the Probation Service, Children’s Services, the Youth Offending Service and third sector organisations which work with young offenders.

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, Simon Foster, who spent over 35 years as a legal aid solicitor, said: “Our criminal justice system is facing serious court backlogs and this model could not only help us reduce re-offending but could help ease the pressures on Magistrates and Crown Courts, by looking at how we work with young offenders differently.”

Claire Ely, head of innovative practice at the Centre for Justice Innovation said: “We know from our research that this is a particularly important age group to work with, and that this type of court is both fairer and more effective.

“A new court of this type would be in fine company in the West Midlands, which has also been a pioneer of problem solving Family Drug and Alcohol Courts.”

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