19 November 2015
The Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review report, published
today as a result of extensive research, highlights the damaging
effects that poor advocacy has on access to justice for young and
often very vulnerable offenders, and their perceptions of the
system in general.
Whilst recognising there were examples of good practice amongst
advocates appearing in youth court proceedings, the overriding view
of those who participated within the research was that standards of
advocacy were not at the level that the public should expect.
Key findings from the report include:
The report also makes recommendations that go beyond improving
the quality of advocacy. Concerns with the wider nature of the
youth justice system are highlighted. For example:
BSB Chair Sir Andrew Burns said: "This is an important piece of
insight into the current state of justice in youth court
proceedings. As a regulator acting in the public interest, it is
our duty to act on these findings and this is precisely what we
intend to do in relation to the recommendations that fall under our
regulatory remit. We have accepted in principle the recommendations
set out in the report and will now focus on how we can improve
standards of advocacy amongst barristers working with young
offenders. Of course, we will need to do this alongside our
counterparts regulating other parts of the legal profession.
"However, because this report also highlights systemic problems
with the way in which youth justice is administered, the BSB calls
for urgent collaboration between all parties including the Ministry
of Justice and the Youth Justice Board. It is our view that only by
working together can we successfully address the serious issues
highlighted in the report."
CILEx Regulation Chair Sam Younger strongly supported the call
for broad-based reforms to improve outcomes for young people -
defendants, witnesses and victims - caught up in the youth
"The research shows advocates are working in an imperfect
environment. How the improvements to the infrastructure around
youth court proceedings can be achieved is for others to address,
particularly the Ministry of Justice. For our part, we accept that
we need to ensure CILEx advocates have the right training and the
resources for professional development they need to support the
Youth Court and work effectively with all young people caught up in
"CILEx advocates specialising in criminal work have substantial
experience in youth court proceedings by the time they qualify, but
the research shows we need to do more as a regulator to ensure they
can achieve the best possible outcomes for the young people they
The BSB and CILEx Regulation would also like to express their
thanks to Ali Wigzell, Amy Kirby and Jessica Jacobson from ICPR,
who undertook the research and wrote the report.
The authors said: "Our research found that the quality of
advocacy in youth proceedings is very mixed, and that most
advocates practising in the Youth Court lack specialist training
for this role. It is also clear that there are many aspects of
court culture and the wider youth justice system which hamper the
work of advocates - including the low status of the Youth Court,
and the formality and complexity of language used at court."
Commenting on the report from a youth justice perspective,
Director of the Youth Justice Legal Centre and youth justice
barrister at Just for Kids Law, Kate Aubrey-Johnson said: "This
report highlights the shocking way children are being failed by the
justice system, and why youth justice needs to be recognised as a
"All the evidence shows that children in court are exceptionally
vulnerable: a third have an identified special educational needs
and a similar number suffer mental illness.
"Just for Kids Law has long argued that it cannot be right for
young people to be represented by the least experienced advocates,
who through no fault of their own are ill-equipped to deal with the
extra demands that acting for this acutely vulnerable group places
The Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review report is available
Notes to editors
About the Bar Standards Board
The BSB regulates barristers called to the Bar in England and
Wales in the public interest. We also regulate entities.
It is responsible for:
The BSB's mission is to regulate the Bar so as to promote high
standards of practice and safeguard clients and the public
About Sir Andrew Burns KCMG
Sir Andrew Burns joined the BSB as Chair on 1 January 2015,
following a long career in the Diplomatic Service. He was the UK
Envoy for Post-Holocaust Issues since 2010 to 2015 and was Chair of
the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance in 2014/15. His
past roles include British High Commissioner to Canada (2000-2003),
British Consul-General in Hong Kong and Macau (1997-2000) and
British Ambassador to Israel (1992-1995). He chairs
Hestercombe Gardens Trust and the International Polar Foundation-UK
and is a Governor of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Sir Andrew Burns is available for interview.
About CILEx Regulation
CILEx Regulation regulates members of the Chartered Institute of
Legal Executives (CILEx) and entities. It oversees the education,
qualification and practice standards of Chartered Legal Executive
lawyers, CILEx members and CILEx Practitioners, and ensures they
maintain proper standards of professional and personal conduct.
CILEx Regulation embodies the principle that legal professional
bodies like CILEx should separate their regulatory and leadership
functions so that clients and the public can have confidence in
their legal advisors.
CILEx Regulation works with CILEx to ensure CILEx qualifications
are at the right level and are appropriate to the work CILEx
members carry out. CILEx Regulation also aims to ensure members are
fully aware of their obligations to clients, colleagues, the courts
and the public. When necessary, CILEx Regulation deals with
complaints against CILEx members.
About Sam Younger CBE
Sam Younger joined CILEx Regulation as Chair in October 2015.
Sam's various roles have included Council Member of the Advertising
Standards Authority, Vice Chair of Voluntary Service Overseas, and
Public Interest Observer on the Council of the Chartered Institute
of Taxation. Previously he had a 20-year career at the BBC, where
he was Managing Director of BBC World Service (1994-1998). He was
subsequently Director General of the British Red Cross (1999-2001),
inaugural Chair of the Electoral Commission (2001-2008) and Chief
Executive of the Charity Commission for England and Wales
(2010-2014).He was appointed CBE in 2008.
About the Institute for Criminal Policy
The Institute for Criminal Policy Research (http://icpr.org.uk/) is an independent
research charity which undertakes academically-grounded,
policy-oriented research into all aspects of the criminal justice
system. ICPR produces work for a range of audiences including
policy-makers and their advisers, and criminal justice
practitioners, academics, and the wider public. ICPR is based in
the Law School of Birkbeck, University of London.
About Kate Aubrey-Johnson
Kate is the Director of the Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC).
YJLC was set up by Just for Kids Law in 2014 as a centre of
excellence on youth justice law. Kate is a youth justice specialist
barrister at Garden Court Chambers and having qualified in 2001 has
represented many children and adults in criminal and prison law
Kate Aubrey-Johnson is available for interview.
Contact: For all media enquiries call: 0207 611 1452 or