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Children and Young Persons Acts

Treatment of young offenders

The Children and Young Persons Acts of 1963 and 1969 reformed the treatment of young offenders in juvenile courts. The 1963 act emphasised the importance of care and protection, raising the age of criminal responsibility from eight to ten. The 1969 act reduced the powers of juvenile courts to make orders, coming down in favour of care orders and supervision by probation officers and social workers. The Wilson government also initiated the reform of courts.

Following a Royal Commission on Assizes and Quarter Sessions in 1966, the Heath government established the Crown Court system. This allowed for serious criminal cases to be heard before a judge and jury in the Crown Court, while less serious cases were sent for trial in the magistrates' courts.

Reform and rehabilitation

Reform during the 1960s was accompanied by the improvement of selection procedures and formal training for Justices of the Peace. There was a further commitment to rehabilitation, extending the parole system and enabling review committees to grant parole to prisoners with short sentences. The reform period introduced alternative measures, including community service orders and attendance at day centres, limiting incarceration.


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