24 January 2023

Transform Justice

Courts and sentencing, Young adults


Transform Justice plan to observe how young adults are dealt with as defendants in magistrates courts.

In 2019 the Trust funded a research project led by the Magistrates Association to inform and train magistrates on young adults developing maturity. This project will see if there have been any substantive changes in how young adults are perceived and treated while in court.

Transform Justice will set up a court observation programme, where members of the community observe the daily hearings in magistrates’ courts and report what they see. Data on what happens in court will expose any shortfalls in how young adults are treated and strengthen the case for T2A’s recommendations for change. The project will observe court processes in up to three London magistrates courts. It is estimated that the project will observe courts for 100 days The project will be divided into four phases 1. project scoping which will included stakeholder out reach 2. developing the methodology and recruiting the CourtWatch volunteers 3. observing the courts and 4. analysis and reporting.

A key aspect of the project is the profile of the volunteer courtwatchers. Transform Justice plans to recruit the courtwatchers from the local area of the courts it will be observing. In early scoping exercises Transform Justice have identified a number of organisations they could engage with to source volunteers who are young adults who may have former engagement with justice services, for example the Account group in Hackney or Bridging the Gap mentoring services in Islington. Transform Justice will also work with third sector groups that have membership bodies such as the Howard League to recruit courtwatchers.

The project will be led by Transform Justice’s Director Penelope Gibbs. Penelope will be supported by Fionnuala Ratcliffe, policy and research lead at Transform Justice.

Transform Justice