Archive for February 2013
The Government has just published a consultation paper on how youths detained in custody should be handled. While the total numbers of such youths have declined in recent years, those that remain detained have very high rates of re-offending and do a lot of damage to the communities in which they live.
Government figures show:
- In the 12 months to June 2012, 3,645 of all young offenders sentenced received a custodial sentence, 94% of whom were boys. Over half of these were 17 years old.
- According to the latest reoffending statistics for 2011/12, 73% of young offenders reoffended within a year of leaving custody, compared to 47% of adults leaving custody.
- The youth secure estate currently consists of three different types of detention including Young Offender Institutions (YOIs), Secure Training Centres (STCs) and Secure Children’s Homes (SCHs). In 2012/13 the Youth Justice Board expects to spend approximately £245 million on the detention of young offenders:
- A place in a Secure Children’s Home costs an average of £212,000 per annum
- A place in a Secure Training Centre costs an average of £178,000 per annum
- A place in a Young Offender Institution costs an average of £65,000 per annum.
- YOIs are contracted to deliver 15 hours of education per week, though this is not frequently achieved. Of 15-17 year olds entering YOIs, half were assessed as having the literacy levels of a 7-11 year old; of 15-17 year olds 88% of young men and 74% of young women had been excluded from school. 18% of young people in custody (under sentence) had a statement of special educational needs, compared to 3% in the general population
The Government rightly regards this as unacceptable. In this new Consultation Paper, the Government seeks views on its idea that education should be placed at the heart of the managements of young offenders. While educational opportunities are already available in young offender institutions, the Government argues that education should be at the centre of the philosophy and practice relating to the treatment of young offenders.
Of course, the Government hopes that a new approach might also save money. But where costs currently run at up to over £200,000 a year to manage someone with a very high risk of reoffending, what is currently on offer does not look like value for money.
The Consultation runs until the end of April 2013. It is not yet clear exactly what shape final reform will take. much will depend on whether these proposals are seen as ‘soft on crime’ or bringing new discipline to often rather chaotic and unhappy lives.
I think the Government makes a persuasive case for change. What do you think? To read the consultation go to https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/transforming-youth-custody
In January 2013, I wrote a short note about pro bono costs – costs recovered from a losing party, where the winning party to the litigation has been represented pro bono (for free). In these cases, the payments do not go to the litigant – by definition, being represented for free they have paid nothing – but to a charity, the Access to Justice Foundation.
In this podcast I talk to Ruth Daniel, CEO of the Foundation and the work it does throughout the country.
For more information about the Foundation go to http://www.accesstojusticefoundation.org.uk/
The Chartered Institute of Legal Executives is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The Institute sets standards for and regulates the activities of legal executive, who play an important role in the delivery of legal services.
Those who left school but decided for what ever reason not to go to university, but who nonetheless wish to work in a legal environment can – by joining the Chartered Institute and studying the different courses it offers – become qualified in specific areas of legal expertise.
They can also become fully qualified solicitors (though not barristers).
A major attraction of this way of entering the legal profession is that you can work while you qualify – and thus avoid much of the expense now associated with obtaining a professional legal qualification.
You can find out more about the Chartered Institute by going to their website at http://www.cilex.org.uk/.
In this podcast I talk with the Chief Executive of CILEX about the challenges facing the legal profession and the opportunities provided for Legal Executives in the rapidly developing legal world.
Go to http://fdslive.oup.com/www.oup.com/orc/resources/law/els/partington13_14/student/podcasts/Burleigh.mp3
One development, not adequately publicised, is the creation of an increasing number of short YouTube videos on different aspects of the justice system. Produced by the Ministry of Justice they provide introductions to many aspects of the justice systems, including information about a number of tribunals where those appearing will struggle to get legal representation.
To browse the videos, go to http://www.youtube.com/user/MinistryofJusticeUK/videos?view=1&flow=grid