Source: (2004) European Society of Criminology. Downloaded 25 February 2005.

The youth justice system in Northern Ireland is quite distinct and different to that in the rest of the United Kingdom or Ireland. It has also evolved considerably in the past ten to fifteen years and there have been very significant changes to its whole philosophy and operation as recently as 2003, with the introduction of a Youth Conferencing Service. The Conferencing Service now deals with young offenders using an approach based around the principles of restorative justice and the very process and structure of the system has changed to incorporate this new approach (detailed below). This paper looks at crime and how the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland deals with young people who have offended. It examines what is known about youth offending in general and looks specifically at a number of innovative approaches to criminal justice practice. The police response to youth offending is examined and their specialist teams of officers who deal with young offenders. The courts and sentencing are then looked at with attention being placed on the new arrangements for holding children in custody. The range of measures introduced following the Criminal Justice Review are then examined, and specifically the youth conferencing arrangements, which adopt a restorative justice model to deal with young offenders. The paper draws to a close with a critical overview of the major changes in our system of youth justice and the possible lessons that can be learnt from an international perspective. (excerpt)

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