21 September 2019

Youth Court Advocacy Review findings published

We have published the results of our review into advocacy standards in youth court proceedings which we commissioned alongside CILEx Regulation.

Whilst recognising that there were examples of good practice amongst advocates appearing in youth court proceedings, the report found that the overall quality of advocacy was "highly variable".

Although the report was commissioned to gather evidence about advocacy standards, it clearly found that the reason for the mixed quality standards is at least partly linked to systemic problems with the way in which youth justice is administered. Such problems include - but are not limited to - the time pressure on advocates brought about by legal aid reform.

With this in mind, we have called for a collaborative response to the issues raised in our review. We have called on all parties including the Ministry of Justice and the Youth Justice Board, to work alongside us to address the issues highlighted.

We are also going to consider what we - as the regulator acting in the public interest - can do to address the issue of advocacy standards amongst those working with young offenders.

It is important to stress that we have made no firm decisions yet about what regulatory action we and the other regulators should take in response to the report's findings. However, we have accepted in principle the recommendations set out in the report. These include ways to improve specialist training for all advocates appearing in the youth courts. You can read the full report on our website.