Lord Chancellor moves to fast-track young offenders

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Lord Chancellor moves to fast-track young offenders

The new Lord Chancellor yesterday fired the opening shot in the Government's drive to halve the time from arrest to sentencing of persistent young offenders.

Lord Irvine of Lairg urged all magistrates to end the current "adjournment culture" in which neither offenders nor lawyers expect cases to be disposed of, or even to make progress, at the initial hearing. In a letter to chairmen of youth courts throughout England and Wales, he encourages JPs, "wherever possible and consistent with the interests of justice", to sentence a greater proportion of cases at first hearing and to be more critical of applications for adjournments. Where an adjournment appears unavoidable, magistrates should be ready to question the amount of time needed before the next hearing and set a clear timetable for the remaining action. "Speed is essential," Lord Irvine says. "Delay disconnects the offence from the punishment and may waste months of the young person's development." Patricia Wynn Davies