Attending court

Wimbledon Youth Court is different from courts which deal with adults in that:

  • The law is different for young people under 18 and Youth Court Magistrates have different powers.
  • The Magistrates, sometimes called the "Bench", youth panel or justices are specially trained to deal with young people.
  • The law requires that parents/carers attend with their child if they are under 16 years old.
  • The court is private, which means that no members of the public are allowed in. While the press can write about offences and the sentences passed, they cannot name the young person or their family, unless the court allows it.

Court officers

Court officers from the Youth Offending Service (YOS) attend youth court to inform young people and parents of the procedure if they receive a sentence, who to report to, where and when. They make assessments on suitability for bail and remand, present reports and inform the court of the progress of young people on orders. They also present information on breaches of court orders on behalf of the YOS.

Pre-sentence reports

The YOS provides information and assessments for court to inform sentencing decisions. Pre-sentence reports are requested by the court and include an analysis of the offence, the young person’s circumstances and the reasons for their behaviour, the impact on the victim and a proposal for a suitable sentence.

Bail and remand

The court may decide to bail a young person to attend a future court hearing with conditions including:

  • a curfew
  • to stay away from prosecution witnesses
  • restriction of movements
  • having to report to the police station at certain times
  • a programme of support from the YOS.

Contact on bail support is usually offered three times a week to address welfare concerns and help prevent reoffending.

The court may remand a young person to the care of the Local Authority, in which case they become a Looked After Child for the remand period.

The YOS direct the young person to live where their needs will best be met, and in the interests of protecting the public. This can be with a family member or with specially recruited and trained foster carers, with support from the YOS and/or children’s services.

If the court orders a secure remand, YOS officers will make arrangements with the Youth Justice Board to find a bed space and ensure that the young person is safely escorted there.

Some basic tips on the day

Do:

  • Come with your parent(s)/carer(s). The court requires their attendance and may put off dealing with your case if they are not there.
  • Plan your journey with plenty of time so that you arrive at least 15 minutes before court starts.
  • Give your name to the Court Usher so that the Magistrates know that you are there.
  • Make an effort to look smart.
  • Get help from a solicitor. If you haven't already got one, ask the Court Usher for the Duty Solicitor. (You will first need to talk to you parent(s)/carer(s) and find out about legal aid).
  • Be polite when you speak to the court staff and Magistrates.
  • Ask to see the Youth Offending Service Officer if you want help.

Don't:

  • Give the impression of being arrogant, like chewing gum, standing with your hands in your pockets or being generally awkward when you're in court.
  • Leave the court building while waiting for your hearing, you may be called in to court and not hear the announcement.
  • Cause a nuisance whilst in or around court building.

Updated: 22 April 2014