Call for timely justice for those who commit offences as children

Date: 10th July 2020


Youth Justice Legal Centre has created a guide to help lawyers navigate the different rules applying to children turning 18 in the criminal justice system. The Centre has also written a report which analyses the inequities that arise for children who turn 18 between offence and prosecution and makes proposals for policy and practice reform.

The child justice system gives children some special protections, for example, they are more likely to be diverted away from the formal criminal justice systems through diversion schemes. The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (the UN Committee), has made it clear that these protections should be extended to children who were below the age of 18 at the time of the offence, but who turn 18 during the trial or sentencing process.

Despite this, many children do not benefit from these legal protections, which can lead to the loss of anonymity, reduced likelihood of diversion away from the formal criminal justice system, only being eligible for adult sentences, longer supervision periods and much longer rehabilitation periods which can reduce employment prospects and prevent them moving on with their lives.

The Youth Justice Legal Centre has made recommendations addressing: how police investigate crimes, how the Crown Prosecution Service decides to prosecute individuals, in which court an individual’s case should be heard, what access they have to specialist lawyers, what reporting restrictions can be put in place and to what extent a defendant is afforded anonymity, what sentencing choices are open to courts, the importance of ensuring specialist support and placements within the adult estate for individuals who have offended as children and reforming criminal records.

  • Read the recommendations here. 
  • Access the legal guide here.