This provides a framework for criminal justice and local agencies to co-develop local arrangements in order that they can respond consistently, and share necessary information, to help achieve better outcomes for looked after children and care leavers. This guidance is intended to assist youth specialists in determining where the public interest lies when it is alleged that a looked after child has committed an offence in the children's home where he or she lives. It is not intended to apply to all offences committed by looked after children; although some of the principles may be helpful when applying the public interest stage of the Full Code Test to offences committed outside the home.
Children and young people who live in children's homes are at a high risk of offending behaviour because:. The police are more likely to be called to a children's home than a domestic setting to deal with an incident of offending behaviour by an adolescent. Specialists should bear this in mind when dealing with incidents that take place in a children's home.
However, where offending behaviour occurs in a family context, the CPS Domestic Violence Policy would apply wherever a partner, sibling, parent or other family member experiences violence at the hands of a youth. It is important that all people feel safe in the place that they live, whether that is in a family home or children's home and that they have confidence in the criminal justice system to intervene and protect them where this is necessary. A criminal justice disposal, whether a prosecution, youth caution or youth conditional caution, should not be regarded as an automatic response to offending behaviour by a looked after child, irrespective of their criminal history.
This applies equally to persistent offenders and youths of good character. A criminal justice disposal will only be appropriate where it is clearly required. Informal disposals such as restorative justice conferencing, reparation, acceptable behaviour contracts and disciplinary measures by the home may be sufficient to satisfy the public interest and to reduce the risk of future offending. All children's homes, whether they are run privately or by the local authority or voluntary sector must comply with the Children's Home Regulations , which are mandatory, and the National Minimum Standards, which are issued by the Secretary of State under section 23 Care Standards Act These are minimum standards, not examples of good practice, and Homes should aspire to exceed them.
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Copies of these documents are available at:. Each home must have a written behaviour management policy that sets out the measures of control, restraint and discipline which may be used in the children's home and the means whereby appropriate behaviour is to be promoted in the home. A copy of this policy and a statement from the home setting out how the policy has been applied to this incident should accompany any request for advice on charging.
Each home should have a clear written policy, procedures and guidance for staff based on a code of conduct that sets out control, discipline and restraint measures that are permitted and must reinforce positive messages to children for the achievement of acceptable behaviour.
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The consequences of unacceptable behaviour should be clear to staff and children and must be appropriate to the age, understanding and individual needs of the child. It must also be recognised that unacceptable or challenging behaviour may be the result of illness, bullying, disabilities such as autism, ADHD or communication difficulties. Standard 22 National Minimum Standards for Children's Homes requires staff to respond positively to acceptable behaviour, and where the behaviour of children is regarded as unacceptable by staff, is responded to by constructive, acceptable and known disciplinary measures approved by the registered person.
Control and disciplinary measures should encourage reparation and restitution. Corporal punishment, deprivation of food and drink and punishing a group for the behaviour of an individual may not be used as a disciplinary measure, and financial penalties are restricted to the imposition of a reasonable sum, which may be paid by instalments, by way of reparation Rule 17 CHR Unless the registered person can show it is inappropriate, the home should also have procedures and guidance on police involvement in the home, which has been agreed with the local police.
Staff should know about the agreement with the police and should be clear when the police should be involved. Prosecutors are reminded of the need to consider all the circumstances surrounding the offence and the circumstances of the youth before reaching a decision and to apply all relevant CPS policies and documents.
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An explanation from the Home regarding their decision to involve the police, which should refer to the procedures and guidance on police involvement. The views of the key worker, social worker, counsellor or CAHMS worker on the effect of criminal justice intervention on the youth, particularly where the youth suffers from an illness or disorder. The local authority should be able to provide this information as it should be an integral part of the Care Plan for the looked after child.
Prosecutors should consider all of the aggravating and mitigating features when deciding on the appropriate outcome.
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The Psychoactive Substances Act Commencement Regulations SI brought the provisions of the Psychoactive Substances Act into force on 26th May , in so far as they were not already in force. The Psychoactive Substances Act introduces a legal definition of a psychoactive substance, which will be used to enforce a range of criminal offences and civil sanctions. The criminal offences are:. The maximum sentence, on conviction on indictment, for the offence of possession in a custodial institution is two years imprisonment.
For full information on offences arising from the Psychoactive Substances Act , advice on charging practice and factors to consider when reviewing such cases, please refer to the Legal Guidance on Psychoactive Substances. The National Crime Agency has identified that there is growing evidence of city-based organised crime gangs extending their drug dealing activity into new areas, many of which are coastal towns. The gangs recruit vulnerable people, often children, to act as couriers and to sell drugs.
Potential buyers telephone the number and local runners are dispatched to make deliveries via a telephone 'relay or exchange' system. The 'runners' are invariably children, often boys aged 14 to 17 years, who are groomed with money and gifts and forced to carry out day to day dealing. Runaway and missing children are also used by gangs to expand inner city drugs empires into county towns.
Children as young as 11 years of age have been reported as being recruited into the highly sophisticated gangs. Gang members enter into relationships with young women in order to secure a location for drugs to be stored in the new area. In addition, violence is used against drug users to coerce them to become runners, enforce debts, and use their accommodation as an operating base.
Prosecutors are encouraged to consider all available charges when considering a prosecution in connection with 'County Lines' offending. The Modern Slavery Act may provide opportunities to consider the circumstances of 'County Line' offending, particularly where there has been deliberate targeting, recruitment and significant exploitation of young and vulnerable people.
Prosecutors should, however, be alert to the challenge of securing a conviction for a Modern Slavery Act offence. The general principles of the Code and the reprimand and final warning system should be applied. However, there are aggravating features which may increase the need to prosecute in borderline cases. These include:. Occasionally the police locally may target a particular type of conduct for special attention in an attempt to discourage it. This will have an effect on the number of cases recommended by them for prosecution.
The police should be encouraged to discuss the implications of such a campaign in advance with the CPS.
Whilst every case will be considered on its merits, the force objective should be taken into account, as a public interest factor, when deciding whether or not to institute or continue proceedings. Prosecution may not be necessary because of other available alternatives, but there will be cases in which a prosecution is needed in the public interest.
In cases of serious or persistent bullying, prosecutions must be carefully considered.
Such cases usually involve one pupil or a group of pupils using their strength or power to induce fear in the victimised pupil, whether or not for a particular purpose such as extortion of money or valuables. They may involve verbal persecution and abuse, physical assault or the threat of it, or even the degradation or humiliation of the victim. Such attacks tend to be systematic and persistent leading to the oppression of a fellow pupil and his or her virtual isolation from the support and friendship of others. It is important to differentiate occasional jibes from systematic bullying of children because of ethnic origin, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.
It is important to ensure that the seriousness of the conduct is accurately and appropriately reflected in the seriousness of the charge. All schools should have internal procedures and strategies for dealing with these incidents. It may be necessary to explore with the police and the YOT whether certain schools are in fact accepting their responsibility in this area fully. In such cases the file should include information on the background of the incident, any previous incident and any disciplinary measures taken by the school.
If the incident has taken place outside school but is connected to conduct occurring at school the same information described above is relevant. Schools often feel unable to act in these circumstances. However, under the Home Office Guidelines, Where a young person commits a minor traffic offence, a fixed penalty notice remains an appropriate response for 16 and 17 year olds. The police deal with the majority of minor motoring offences without reference to CPS. A final warning for an offence of no insurance will prevent a youth from further statutory diversions and is likely to result in a youth being prosecuted for any other offence he or she commits.
However, a successful prosecution for no insurance is not a recordable offence and therefore will probably mean that a youth will not be prosecuted for the next offence that he commits.
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It will cause penalty points to be endorsed on a youth's licence that could result in the licence being suspended by DVLA and the youth being required to re-take the driving test. Such a consequence may have a substantial impact on the youth's employment prospects. However, Rule 10 of the Magistrates Court Children and Young Persons Rules provides that the Court should take into account the general conduct of the youth on sentence. This guidance expands on, and should be read in conjunction with other specific sections elsewhere in Legal Guidance, such as Rape and Sexual Offences.
Also note the Notification requirements. Any decision to prosecute or not to prosecute should be free of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender. If an allegation of any sexual abuse committed by a youth offender has been fully investigated and there is sufficient evidence to justify instituting proceedings, the balance of the public interest must always be carefully considered before any prosecution is commenced. Positive action may need to be taken at an early stage of offending of this type.
Although a youth caution or youth conditional caution may provide an acceptable alternative in some cases, in reaching any decision, the police and the CPS will have to take into account fully the view of other agencies involved in the case, in particular the Social Services.
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