Clause 81 - First set of conditions for a remand to youth detention accommodation

Part of Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 4:15 pm on 11th October 2011.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Justice) (Prisons and Probation) 4:15 pm, 11th October 2011

I do not propose to reply to amendment 357 in this speech; we will deal with that separately. Amendments 424 and 425 would insert into clause 81 the requirement that a sentencing condition should be met, in addition to the existing conditions listed in the clause, that there is a real prospect of custody before a court may remand a person under 18 to youth detention accommodation.

That additional condition is not necessary in respect of the clause. The clause sets out four conditions that must be met for a child to be eligible for remand to youth detention accommodation. Only when each of those is met can a child be so remanded. A key condition that must be satisfied is that the offence with which the child is charged, or of which they are being convicted, is a violent or sexual offence

“punishable in the case of an adult with imprisonment for a term of 14 years or more.”

Violent and sexual offences are defined in clause 77(8) as offences specified in schedule 15 to the Criminal Justice Act 2003. By their very nature, offences of that type are likely to result in a custodial sentence, even in the case of a person under the age of 18. That would render the application of a sentence condition in clause 81, of a “real prospect” of custody, redundant in the large majority of cases whose offences, listed in schedule 15, will warrant custody.

The sentence condition—the “real prospect” test—is necessary in clause 82, which sets out an alternative set of conditions for a remand to youth detention and accommodation. That is because the relevant condition there is only that the offence, for which the young person is charged or has been convicted, is one that can be punishable by imprisonment. That could include some relatively minor offences, such as petty theft. Where the offence is not serious or violent, we do not believe it is right to remand young people in custody if there is no real prospect of them getting a custodial sentence. For those reasons, I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will withdraw his amendment.