14 Dec 2015

Youth Justice Review report highlights where progress has been made but also where work still needed.

Following the release of the final report reviewing progress on implementing recommendations from the 2011 Youth Justice Review, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Koulla Yiasouma said:

“I am very disappointed that four years after the review, over 40% of the recommendations accepted by the Justice Minister, have still not been implemented. While I acknowledge that some progress has been made, this is far below the Department of Justice’s own target. 

“I welcome the fact that the practice of detaining young people under the age of 18 in Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre has ended, and recognise the significant work undertaken to achieve this.  However I do not share the Department’s assertion that legislation is no longer necessary.  Indeed I am of the view that legislation is absolutely necessary.

“The report highlights that important areas such as raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility and the introduction of Statutory Time Limits have not yet been achieved. These outstanding recommendations are essential for the improvement of the youth justice system in Northern Ireland.

“It is with further concern that I note the CJINI’s observation that there has been a loss of momentum in implementing the recommendations over the past 2 years. This along with internal changes in the Department’s structure, chief amongst which is the inclusion of the Youth Justice Agency within a directorate dominated by the NI Prison service, leaves me concerned about the future of our youth justice system.

“It is very clear that the Minister and his Department need to reinvigorate the process, and I hope that the current Children in the Justice System Scoping Study will provide the necessary momentum.

“I will continue to scrutinise the next stages of this Scoping Study, as it is essential that the important work of the Youth Justice Review is not lost, and the outstanding recommendations are fully implemented as a matter of urgency.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors