The new sentencing guidelines will only apply to children and teenagers aged between 10 and 17 and will come into effect in June.
The guidelines will instruct judges and magistrates that they should take into account the following underlying factors, which could contribute to a youth breaking the law:
• time spent being in care;
• lack of family presence or support;
• disrupted experiences in accommodation or education;
• exposure to drug/alcohol abuse;
• family criminal behaviour or domestic abuse;
• victim of or exposure to neglect or abuse;
• experiences of trauma or loss.
The guidelines state that, “One factor is that a significant proportion of looked-after children and young people are from a black and minority ethnic background. A further factor may be the experience of such children and young people in terms of discrimination and negative experiences of authority.”
What I think
It’s a good thing these factors are being considered but I think they should already have been taken into account. It’s common sense that the courts should be looking at a young person’s background, and the difficulties they may have faced, before sentencing them and making their lives even worse.