Youth justice system is ‘disjointed’ and not helping recidivism rates

Magistrates call on Manx government to do more to help miners

The Isle of Man’s youth justice system is ‘disjointed’ and the courts are blocked from trying to stop young people from re-offending.

This is the view of members of the judiciary who have called on the Manx government to do more to deal with ‘totally limited and inadequate’ sentencing options.

The Constitutional and Legal Affairs and Justice Committee – which explores the subject of juvenile justice – met last week.

Lisa Horton has served as Youth Panel Chair and Judge for 15 years:

In 2017, 91 minors appeared before the courts, this number rose to 196 in 2018 and 215 the following year.

Figures subsequently were described as ‘somewhat distorted’ due to Covid-19 but showed a drop which magistrates say is likely due to the introduction of the police early action team .

Gill Eaton is the Vice Chairman of the Isle of Man Bench and former Chairman of the Minors Bench.

She has been a magistrate for 18 years and says the government’s decision to suspend the juvenile justice team has increased the pressure on the courts:

Without a youth justice team, the focus on trying to stop children committing offenses falls to the police early action team – something set up in 2019.

But while the move has been well received, there are concerns that the team does not have the breadth of experience, or the number of staff, to effectively tackle the prevailing issues.

Referrals to the PEAT have increased year over year with 480 young offenders referred in fiscal year 2021-22.

Magistrates say they have the appropriate sentencing legislation in place, but call on the government to properly invest and fund the juvenile justice field so they can use all options available their.

Ruksana Kosser is a lawyer and clerk to judges – she took up her post in November last year, after moving to the island, and has been a legal adviser since 1998.

She specializes in youth justice and says the Manx system is “disjointed”:

Manx Radio has called on the Home Office to respond to claims made in the committee.

You can listen to it in full HERE.