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The Youth Justice System: The Need To Put Young People At The Heart Of It

Hodge Jones & Allen’s youth team is aware of the changes in the youth justice system. We agree that there should be a mark to ensure a high standard of best practice is maintained when dealing with children in the youth court. As a team, we know that even when a child or young person has been charged with a criminal offence, they are still exceptionally vulnerable in the court process. This is due to their age and their whole future being at stake. The best interests and welfare of a child form the central principle of the youth justice system and the youth team at Hodge Jones and Allen.

Every parent fears receiving a phone call from the police about their child. We understand that mistakes are made, especially when people are young. We believe that such misjudgements should not always result in permanent marks against a young person’s character. We understand that there is more to a child than the issue that brings them into contact with the criminal justice system. We relate to them because we spend time with our young clients. We build that relationship. Caroline Liggins had a particular client who was charged with the most serious crime in the country: murder. She has known this young person since the age of 11. Ms Liggins was able to build that trust and relationship with the young person, which enabled her to facilitate as an intermediary for the duration of the trial. Hodge Jones & Allen is the only law firm that has been able to do that for the whole period of the seven. Why? Because of the client relationship with Caroline Liggins and the young person.

We know how children do not think like adults, and often can’t predict the results of their actions. We make sure the law does not wrongly define immaturity concerning youth crime. There may also just be an innocent explanation for what has happened, which they can’t always explain. Facilitating communication between young people of those professionals, and determining their future, is essential for fair youth justice. We work with the parents and the young person to identify how we can avoid prosecution, then educate and support them to avoid and manage any future contact with the police and criminal justice system.

Caroline Liggins, Head of the Youth Team at Hodge Jones & Allen, makes sure her team strive to minimise the impact of any contact with the criminal justice system. “My team aren’t just lawyers. We want to drive change and not just say we agree with things. We want to be part of that change to improve and reform the youth justice world.”

As Head of the Youth Justice Team at Hodge Jones & Allen, Caroline is constantly talking with the Ministry of Justice and Parliament to discuss how the police station-to-the-court structure can be improved for the young person at the heart of it.

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