The Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC) has helpfully and thoroughly analysed the decision in R v Grant-Murray and Henry; R v McGill, Hewitt and Hewitt  EWCA 1228 which raises, among other matters, the issue of the effective participation of young offenders in the criminal justice system. All five appeals against the joint enterprise direction were rejected, following the decision in R v Jogee  UKSC 8 and the subsequent decision in R v Johnson & Ors  EWCA Crim 1613. Whilst this case is a further positioning of the Court of Appeal in relation to appeals based on a pre-Jogee interpretation of joint enterprise, it does assist practitioners with the way forward in terms of representing young people in the criminal justice system.
- For example, at paragraph 220 onwards, under the section headed: “The adequacy of current procedures for the trial of young persons” the Court of Appeal confirmed: “…..that the principles in R v Lubemba  EWCA Crim 2064 apply to child defendants as witnesses in the same way as they apply to other vulnerable witnesses.” (paragraph 226).
- There is reference again to compulsory training for advocates representing children although there are no such plans in place currently.
- At paragraph 227 the Lord Chief Justice announced an amendment to the plea and trial preparation hearing (PTPH) form. This will now include a checklist of the things that need to be considered when young defendants are in the Crown Court. It will also require the judge with conduct to give reasons for departing from the practice directions. This is important in terms of decisions relating to children and young people sitting outside the dock.
- Interestingly, paras 95- 99 of the judgment deal with the submissions on tailoring directions and discusses some of the recent scientific developments about adolescent brain development.
- Paragraphs 105 – 115 provide a useful summary of the correct criminal procedure and law as applicable to young or vulnerable defendants.
- Paragraph 112 refers specifically to The Advocate's Gateway Toolkits and the importance of clear language and the avoidance of tag questions when questioning certain witnesses; “It is important to emphasise that these observations apply to defendants as much as to other witnesses.”
The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists (RCSLT) has issued new research on the communication needs of those in the youth justice system.
The paper sets out clearly the evidence base for Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN) in the criminal justice system; stating that: “The implications for a young person with SLCN within the CJS can be profound. Within the CJS, young people with SLCN are faced with situations in which they require the ability to understand and retain complex information in stressful circumstances. They need to understand the processes they are subject to as well as communicate and interact proficiently with a wide range of individuals”.
On 9 June 2017, the Court of Appeal handed down judgment in the case of Markham and Edwards v The Queen  EWCA Crim 739. The matter concerned appeals against sentence and an appeal against the ruling of Mr Justice Haddon-Cave to lift the reporting ban and allow unrestricted reporting. Both defendants were 15 at the time of convictions. Their sentences were reduced from 20 years to 17 and a half years. A stay of the decision at first instance to lift reporting restrictions was granted to allow for the matter to be judicially reviewed. The appeal came before the judicial review hearing could be listed, making Judicial Review proceedings academic.
The judgment deals with the matter of the reporting restrictions at paragraphs 73 – 92. Having balanced the arguments in relation to competing principles (primarily articles 8 and 10 ECHR), the Court of Appeal came down firmly in favour of lifting reporting restrictions on the basis that it is in accordance with law, it pursues a legitimate aim and is a reasonable and proportionate measure. This recent decision should be read in conjunction with the information contained in ICCA's guide to anonymity and reporting which sets out case by case advice on these matters.