Youth justice in the UK: children, young people and crime
Youth justice in the UK: children, young people and crime

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Youth justice in the UK: children, young people and crime

4 Wales makes a difference?

This is a map of Wales with the different regions labelled.
Figure 4 A map of Wales.

England and Wales have the same criminal justice system but successive moves towards devolution have widened differences between the two jurisdictions. In Wales all children and young person related services (e.g. Children’s Services, Education, Health and Housing) are devolved to the Welsh Government with the exception of youth justice. The Welsh Government’s formal adoption of the United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) resulted in the incorporation of the convention into its domestic legislation. In youth justice this has led to practice and policy that emphasises children’s rights and entitlement to various services. It has become known as a ‘children first, offenders second’ approach. This contrasts with the practice and policy enshrined in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 that emphasises the management of risks – the risk of children offending, the risk they pose to themselves and others, as well as risks of neglect.

The activities in this section help you to appreciate these differences and consider their implications.

Activity 4 The Swansea Bureau

Timing: Allow approximately 10 minutes for this activity

Some of the developments in youth justice in Wales have been built on evidence and practice developed in a pioneering project based in Swansea called ‘the Swansea Bureau’.

Read this short account of its work and then answer the questions that follow.

Swansea Bureau - Pre Court Diversion Model [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

What year was the Swansea Bureau set up in?

a. 

2011


b. 

2013


c. 

2009


d. 

1998


The correct answer is c.

Name the three approaches to children’s offending behaviour underpinning the Bureau’s practice and policy.

a. 

children’s rights


b. 

restorative justice


c. 

needs-led theory


d. 

procedural justice


e. 

punitive protection


f. 

pre-emptive punishment


The correct answers are a, b and c.

What legislation allows for the scheme to be extended to low level offending by children and young people already in the justice system?

a. 

Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012


b. 

Crime and Disorder Act 1998


c. 

Criminal Justice Act 2003


The correct answer is a.

Discussion

The work of the Swansea Bureau is interesting because it is an example of how a small scale local development had wider significance. By showing how a diversionary approach developed by practitioners working with academics could address children’s needs, they won wider support for making children’s rights more central than children’s offending. The Swansea Bureau linked practice to the Welsh Government’s rights-based ‘Extending Entitlements’ youth policy. Significantly, this meant that rather than simply holding children and their parents to account for their behaviour, local services that had a responsibility to support young people could also be held to account.

The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 covered England and Wales as if they were one place, but the pace of change and patterns of divergence from the system continue – as you will explore in the next activity.

Activity 5 The Commission on Justice in Wales

Timing: Allow approximately 15 minutes for this activity

In 2018 a Commission on Justice in Wales was launched. The Commission examined all aspects of criminal justice, including youth justice. It offered The Welsh Government and other stakeholders in Wales an opportunity to make the case for changes they would like to see in the way criminal justice operates in Wales.

Below is an edited extract of the submission by the Welsh Government that discusses youth justice.

Commission on Justice in Wales: Written evidence submitted by the Welsh Government

Read the extract and when you’ve finished make a note of what the acronyms ACE, ECM and LAC stand for.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Discussion

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are increasingly recognised as propelling children into social- and self-destructive behaviour. Enhanced Case Management (ECM) builds from the recognition that such behaviours often arise from complex and entrenched difficulties that require a range of agencies and additional resources. Frequently both ACEs and ECM feature in the lives of Looked After Children (LAC). The common denominator in each of these terms is a focus on children as children. Their needs as children takes priority over their deeds as offenders, hence the phrasing that describes the Welsh approach – Children First, Offenders Second. The Commission weighed up the evidence presented to it by all the different stakeholders and the final report, published in October 2019, recommends the devolution of youth justice to Wales and raising the age of criminal responsibility to 12.

The impacts of developments in Wales are not confined to Wales. In the next section you will examine how the changes being developed in Wales might have implications for England, and elsewhere.

YJ_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371