Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner, Vera Baird DBE QC, has welcomed new sentencing guidelines, published by the Sentencing Council, to help ‘avoid criminalising children unnecessarily’.
The guidelines for judges and magistrates, published today, state that the social and ethnic backgrounds should be taken into account when punishing those between the ages of 10 and 17.
The regulations also give greater priority to the defendant’s social circumstances, which includes considerations for social deprivation and abuse.
Vera Baird said: “Young people have their whole lives ahead of them, they’re recoverable and education and rehabilitation is the answer in most cases. I’m not saying criminals should go unpunished, but sending under 18s to prison should be a last resort. Some youngsters have had very difficult starts in life and they’ve made mistakes. What they need is help in turning their lives around so they can break out of a destructive cycle of crime.
“I very much welcome an approach that carefully considers young offenders on an individual basis, taking their backgrounds into consideration. The focus needs to be on what would help steer them onto the right path and ultimately prevent re-offending time and time again.”