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Justice (Northern Ireland) Act 2002

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Section 63: Extension of youth justice system to 17 year olds

131.This section introduces Schedule 11. The amendments made by that Schedule have the effect that persons who have not attained the age of 18 will be treated as children in respect of proceedings against them for criminal offences. At present a “child” is defined as a person who has not attained the age of 17.

Section 64: Juvenile justice centre orders for 17 year olds

132.Currently a court cannot make a juvenile justice centre order in respect of a child who has attained the age of 17 (Article 39(1) of the 1998 Order). As a result of the amendments made in Schedule 11 (in particular that at paragraph 17), a court will be able to make such an order in respect of a 17 year old offender. The effect of the amendment made by this section is to limit the ability of a court to make such an order to cases of 17 year olds who may be particularly vulnerable, as recommended by the Review (paragraph 10.72). A 17 year old in respect of whom a court wishes to impose a custodial sentence and for whom a juvenile justice centre order cannot be made by virtue of this amendment will be sentenced to a period of detention in a young offenders centre.

Section 65: Consultation about detention

133.Article 45 of the 1998 Order deals with children who have been found guilty of offences the sentences for which are (in the case of an adult) fixed by law as imprisonment for life (Article 45(1)) and, on indictment, for which an adult could be sentenced to 14 years or more imprisonment and the court thinks no other way of dealing with the offender (i.e. non-custodial) is suitable (Article 45(2)). In the case of offences to which Article 45(1) applies, the child is detained during the pleasure of the Secretary of State; in the case of offences to which Article 45(2) applies, the court specifies the period of detention. But in both cases the Secretary of State directs the place and conditions in which the child is to be detained. The amendment made to Article 45 by this section requires the Secretary of State, before making such a direction in relation to a child of less than 14, to consult the appropriate authority (i.e. the Health and Social Services Board or Trust for the area where the child ordinarily resides or, if that is not known, for the area where he is).

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