Commenting on the decision by the Bar Standards Board (BSB) to change their rules to require barristers working in the Youth Court to register with the BSB and declare that they have the specialist knowledge, skills, and competencies to work with children and young people, Enver Solomon, CEO of the charity Just for Kids Law, said:
‘This is a welcome and long overdue reform which will help address the fact that overall the quality of legal representation in the youth court is not good enough and much too variable. Children are amongst the most vulnerable in the criminal justice system yet have been failed for too long by lawyers who are not equipped to meet their needs. Mandatory high quality training is now also needed to ensure legal representation is always of the very best standard for every child and the reform needs to be extended to the Crown Court too.’
Kate Aubrey-Johnson, Director of the Youth Justice Legal Centre at Just for Kids Law, said:
‘It is important not to underestimate how much difference this will make. We know from our work that children going through the criminal justice system are being unnecessarily criminalised and are left bewildered and confused after going to court. Encouraging barristers to undertake specialist training will ensure children get the quality of representation they deserve.’
Notes to Editors:
- Just for Kids Law delivers holistic, client-led support to children and young people from crisis to stability and onwards into independence. We do this through our innovative, community-based legal representation, advocacy and opportunities programme. We drive systemic change through strategic litigation and policy reform. We aim to be the UK’s leading experts in youth justice law, sharing our knowledge, expertise and model across the UK and the world.
- Just for Kids Law set up the Youth Justice Legal Centre to provide a legally accurate source of youth justice legal information and to ensure children are represented by lawyers who have specialist expertise. The Youth Justice Legal Centre has developed an interactive youth justice advocacy programme in partnership with the Law Society and supported by the Inns of Court College of Advocacy and the Bar Council.