Summary of the Criminal Justice Alliance and T2A event on Maturity and Sentencing Young Adults

The Criminal Justice Alliance, who recently published ‘Sentencing Young Adults: Getting it Right’ for the T2A Alliance, convened an event in the House of Commons on the 17th October 2011 to discuss the report’s findings in more detail with key experts.


The event  was hosted by Paul Maynard MP, and was supported by the Barrow Cadbury Trust. The panel of experts on sentencing were: John Thornhill, Chairman of the Magistrates’ Association; Roz Campion, Head of the Office of the Sentencing Council; and Adam Smith, Deputy Director of the Sentencing Directorate at the Ministry of Justice. A question and answer session with the panel followed the presentations.


The full transcript of the event is below.


Paul Maynard, Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys


In his opening remarks at the event, Paul Maynard MP said:


“As an MP one of my greatest frustrations and embarrassments is that I am morally responsible for the care of thousands of young people in our criminal justice system, who are often not having their dignity respected or their needs catered for. 


“As a new MP, one of the first things I did was go to see what happened to young offenders in my constituency – many get sent to Secure Children’s Home in Redbank or Hindley Youth Offender Institution.  On visits to both I was struck that we were trying to solve all of society’s problems in the justice system. I was horrified by case at a secure children’s home where a young man asked to be readmitted because it was the only place he had felt cared for.


“Issues of maturity interest me particularly. Too many young people have underlying communication difficulties which are not diagnosed. There are young people who are not emotionally mature or articulate and cannot put their case in court, and others who may be very mature who can do this well. We have a system without enough flexibility to account for someone’s emotional age as well as physical maturity.”