New court aimed at solving youth offending a step closer to reality

A brand new court, seeking to tackle the underlying reasons for young adult offending in the Black Country, is a step closer.

Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster
Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster

A feasibility study led by the Centre for Justice Innovation, in collaboration with the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner, has looked into the UK's first ‘problem solving court’ for 18-25 year olds.

District Judge or Magistrates will work with a team of criminal justice professionals, looking at why and how young offenders have become involved in criminal activity, with the intention of helping them turn their lives around.

The court would have the authority to place young adults, as part of their sentence, on a programme tackling the reasons why they committed crime.

The young adult would then have to regularly meet with the District Judge or Magistrates to review their progress.

This approach means that the courts, probation, youth offending teams and other organisations would have joint responsibility for seeing the young person through the programme.

West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, who spent over 35 years as a legal aid solicitor, said: "I am committed to looking at new ways to cut crime, reduce the victims of crime, prevent pressure on our police service, public services and criminal justice system, save taxpayers money and provide an opportunity to break the cycle of crime so that previous offenders are able to make a positive contribution to society.

"The ‘Problem Solving Court’ model has proved itself successful in reducing the cost and harm of crime, whilst helping to tackle the underlying causes of offending and integrating care and support into the system."

He added: "Our criminal justice system is facing serious court backlogs and this model could not only help us reduce reoffending but could help ease the pressures on Magistrates and Crown Courts, by looking at how we work with young offenders differently.

"I will be paying close attention to this report and looking at how we can implement its findings to make this new court a reality."

Head of innovative practice at the centre for justice innovation Claire Ely said: "The Centre for Justice Innovation is delighted that the West Midlands are looking into setting up a new problem solving court. We know from our work and research that this is a particularly important age group to work with, and that this type of court is both fairer and more effective.

"A new court of this type would be in fine company in the West Midlands, which has also been a pioneer of problem solving Family Drug and Alcohol Courts."

Young adults have high re-offending rates, with 75 per cent of young adults who are released from prison being re-convicted within two years. This new approach would give them the opportunity to get their lives back on track and could include counselling, treatment, or assistance with employment and housing.

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