Headlines: September 22nd, 1998

Youth justice agencies have been set targets to speed up their ability to deal with young offenders.The Government says the time taken to deal with a young offender should be halved from the current 142 days.The joint Home Office/LCD circular, “Measuring Performance to Reduce Delays in the Youth Justice System”, also offers advice on identifying both potential difficulties and good practice.

Geoff Hoon MP, Minister of State at the Lord Chancellor’s Department, said: “Fast-tracking schemes are already being developed in some areas demonstrate that youth justice agencies working together can achieve this degree of improvement – and better”.

Mr Hoon also approved of the amalgamation of some magistrates courts to provide better alignment with the other strands of the justice system: “We believe this will lead to an overall increase in efficiency, both for the management of the courts themselves and for the wider criminal justice system.

The targets set for dealing with persistent young offenders include 2 days from arrest to charge; 7 days from charge to first appearance in the magistrates’ court; 28 days from first appearance to start of trial (or guilty plea being accepted) in the youth court; and 14 days from verdict to sentence