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Youth Offending Team

In January I dealt with a 17-year-old girl who had been arrested for something she hadn't done but then proceeded to write her name several times on the cell walls in pencil.  Her mother attended, told her off and offered to make her rub off the pencil marks.  The original reason for her arrest was dropped by the police but she was charged with criminal damage as the Youth Offending Team (YOT) would not authorise a reprimand.

In December 2010, a colleague asked the YOT to review this again with a view to giving a warning or reprimand as it seemed like over-kill to give somebody who had never been in contact with the police let alone the courts a criminal record for such a minor offence.

Unfortunately, the YOT didn't seem to want to do anything.  So, when I went back in January it was adjourned again to give them some more time.  I've just looked at the file.  It was finally resolved at the end of February after five adjournments for the YOT to make a decision!  At the final hearing they still hadn't made up their minds but the client entered a guilty plea and received an absolute discharge - which is the lowest "sentence" a court can impose and means that the case is over and the court recognises that the defendant does not deserve punishment for the offence!

A reprimand could have been issued in December, to all intents and purposes it would have been the same thing as an absolute discharge but would have saved the lawyers fees on both the defence and prosecution sides as well as a lot of court time (six hearings in total) as well as the time of the police and others.

Given that this is how that particular YOT office handle a kid who isn't a real trouble-maker I think it's no surprise that you see the same kids in that court week-in, week-out.


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