New sentencing guidelines come into effect today for people under 25 to reduce re-offending and promote rehabilitation and recovery. Judges will consider the backgrounds and experiences of under-25s before sentencing them, taking into account the impact of childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, traumatic bereavement, family breakdown, or addiction. Community-based approaches will be considered as alternatives to prison detention.
Bruce Adamson, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, said: “The changes to sentencing guidelines are a welcome and necessary step to respecting the human rights of young people in the criminal justice system. The justice system must do more to recognise both the effect of childhood trauma and young people’s capacity to be supported to change their behaviour and not be trapped in a cycle of reoffending.
“These new guidelines must be linked to wider changes in our criminal justice system to ensure that children in conflict with the law are treated first and foremost as children. Our low age of criminal responsibility and the continuing imprisonment of children, sometime due to the lack of secure beds, needs to change urgently. The principles which underpin the changes to the sentencing guidelines should be applied more broadly as part of a human rights-based approach to children and young people in conflict with the law.”