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Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002

Section 53: Aims of youth justice system

98.The principal aim of the youth justice system is set out in subsection (1): to protect the public by preventing offending by children. This section provides that all persons and bodies exercising functions in relation to the youth justice system (such as the police, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the courts) must have regard to the principal aim of the youth justice system and to the welfare of children affected by the exercise of those functions (subsections (2) and (3)). Thus, decisions as to whether to prosecute children, how to deal with them if they are found guilty, and the content of any sentence will have to be made having regard to these matters. The “youth justice system” is defined in subsection (4). “Children” is defined in subsection (6) as persons under the age of 18.

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