Source: (2003) London: YMCA England, Public Affairs. Downloaded 18 February 2005.

YMCA England recognises the progress that has been made in the area of youth justice following the creation of the Youth Justice Board in 2000, as well as the efforts made by the government to separate children from adults within the criminal justice system. We also note the positive progress that has been made in reducing the numbers of children held in custody in the UK within the last year. However we believe that there is far more which still needs to be done if we are genuine about improving the problem of youth offending in the UK. More children are locked up in the UK than in any other European nation yet recorded crime is actually falling. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that custody should be used only as a last resort, yet our experiences indicate that custodial sentences are still being given before non-custodial sentencing options have been exhausted. There exist a number of alternatives to custody already but they are either used too infrequently or fail to address the causes of the offenders criminality. Any non-custodial sentence must be restorative, reparative and rehabilitative and this third factor is something that we feel has been missed out far too often. YMCA England would urge the government to look very hard at section 7 of the document which outlines sentencing purposes and fails to focus heavily enough on the need for rehabilitation. YMCA England welcomes moves to introduce Young Defendants Packs as well as simplifying the language and processes for children. (excerpt)

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