Thursday 24 May 2012

Prosecutors should consider the maturity of a young adult as part of their public-interest test for prosecution, a report by lobbying coalition the Transition to Adulthood Alliance has suggested.

The report, published this week, says that police and the Crown Prosecution Service should consider the 'lack of maturity' of a young adult offender before deciding whether to arrest, charge or prosecute them. It suggests that extending the criteria already used as a mitigating factor in sentencing could result in better-informed charging decisions for offences committed by young adults.

The recommendation is one of 10 made by the alliance to improve the way the criminal justice process deals with people aged 16 to 24.

It says that the police should use more conditional cautions, where appropriate, to ensure that unnecessary criminal records do not prevent young people from turning their lives around.

Other recommendations include: offering restorative justice at all stages of the justice system; greater use of community sentences; and helping offenders improve their situation through, for example, a national employment initiative. The report says that young adults make up less than 10% of the British population, but account for almost one-third of those sentenced to prison every year. Three out of four young adults leaving prison are reconvicted of a crime within two years.

Read the full report.

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