Treated like Children; Youth Court Plan Condemned as Gimmick That Won't Tackle Crime

By Barnes, Eddie | Daily Mail (London), January 28, 2003 | Go to article overview

Treated like Children; Youth Court Plan Condemned as Gimmick That Won't Tackle Crime


Barnes, Eddie, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: EDDIE BARNES

PERSISTENT young thugs are to be dealt with by a new 'youth court' system under plans unveiled by ministers yesterday.

Offenders aged 16 and 17, who are presently tried in a similar way to adults, will be seen by specially trained sheriffs who will decide on punishments.

Experts estimate that one in five cases will result in a community sentence u meaning the youngster will escape probation.

Ministers claim the scheme will cut crime by dealing with the root causes of offending.

But critics yesterday dismissed it as a 'gimmick' which will only convince young thugs that they will never be sent to prison.

A two-year pilot scheme is to be launched in Hamilton, Lanarkshire, in April.

Tory deputy justice spokesman Bill Aitken said: 'The fact is that 16 and 17-year-olds at present go before an adult court, which has a l l the powers necessary to address their behaviour.

'I fear youth courts will be just another Executive gimmick and will do nothing to deter the offenders who make life so difficult for so many people.' The youth court is the latest product of First Minister Jack McConnell's crackdown on youth crime, unveiled last summer.

Ministers were anxious yesterday that the scheme should not be seen as a soft option. However, Justice Minister Jim Wallace said punishment was only one factor to be considered. …

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