Debates between Baroness Sater and Baroness Scott of Bybrook during the 2019 Parliament

Youth Justice System

Debate between Baroness Sater and Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Tuesday 23rd March 2021

(3 years, 3 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater
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To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to enable children who commit offences to be tried and sentenced according to the youth justice system, and in particular, those who turn 18 before their first court appearance.

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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My Lords, the courts are working to prioritise trials involving youth defendants, particularly when they involve a child who is about to turn 18. When a child turns 18 after an offence is committed but before they appear in court, they must be tried as an adult. However, guidelines state that in these cases courts should use as a starting point a sentence that would have been given at the time the offence was committed.

Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con) [V]
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My Lords, delays, backlogs and where you live can mean that a defendant who commits an offence under the age of 18 but who does not attend their first court appearance before their 18th birthday is treated differently from those who get to court before they turn 18. Through no fault of their own, those defendants miss out on receiving the valuable specialist youth court provision and sentences, especially referral orders, which can be vital in the rehabilitation and turning around of a young person’s life and which I have witnessed as a former youth magistrate. Will the Government consider reviewing this unfair anomaly?

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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My noble friend is correct that under current legislation, the date of the hearing determines whether the defendant appears in a youth court or in an adult court. However, she should not draw the wrong conclusion. Measures exist in adult courts to support defendants who are particularly vulnerable, and throughout court proceedings consideration is given to the age of the defendant. Like referral orders in youth courts, community order requirements for adults can also be tailored to address an offender’s needs and support their rehabilitation. Finally, HMCTS is working to increase the throughput of cases in the courts and, while listing is a matter for the judiciary, youth cases have been prioritised to ensure that they are listed as expediently as possible, especially when a child is almost 18.

Female Offender Strategy

Debate between Baroness Sater and Baroness Scott of Bybrook
Tuesday 29th September 2020

(3 years, 8 months ago)

Lords Chamber
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Baroness Sater Portrait Baroness Sater (Con) [V]
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My Lords, the £2.5 million announced in May is a welcome addition to the Female Offender Strategy. Nearly 60% of women entering prison have experienced domestic abuse. There has been a clear increase in domestic abuse, with mental health and other issues increasing during the Covid pandemic. Does the Minister have confidence that the Female Offender Strategy is still fit for purpose and, if not, what changes are being considered to take account of the new demands?

Baroness Scott of Bybrook Portrait Baroness Scott of Bybrook (Con)
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I thank my noble friend. We do remain committed to the strategy. We also think that it is flexible enough, within its policies, to be able to deal with the situation we find ourselves in at the moment. The Government have also given £76 million to support very vulnerable people during the pandemic, £2.5 million of which came from the Ministry of Justice to charities supporting victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. We also, let us not forget, launched the new You Are Not Alone campaign during the pandemic, which is helping victims. They include female offenders, of course, as we help those who are victims of domestic abuse during the lockdown and pandemic period.