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9.2.4 Court Duty Practice and Procedural Guidelines

  

AMENDMENT

This chapter was entirely revised and updated in April 2016 and should be re-read in full.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Pre Court Duties and Responsibilities
  3. At Court (in conjunction with Court Admin)
  4. During Hearings (in conjunction with Court Admin)
  5. After Hearings
  6. Post Court
  7. Fast Delivery Reports


1. Introduction

Hillingdon YOS provides a service to the local youth court through;

  • The Court Duty Officer whose duty is to provide a service in line with national standards to Uxbridge Youth Court. This includes young people and their carers, court staff, the CPS, defence solicitors, security staff and other agencies (e.g. social services and other YOTs);
  • The Court Administrator who supports the service according to the guidance contained in the Court Duty Admin Guidance;
  • The Bail and Remand lead who prioritises the duties described in the document - Bail and Remand Court Tasks and Responsibilities. The remand lead will also undertake any of the duties described below should the Court Duty Officer require assistance, particularly where the list is split across courts.

The primary function of the Court Duty Officer is to monitor and act on behalf of the welfare of young people appearing before the court. This will involve ensuring that young people and their carers understand the process and that the court and other agents and representatives act in accordance with the law and agreed procedures and protocols.

It is important that the Court Duty Officer accurately records the decisions of the court so that YOS records (Careworks) can be updated and maintained.

The Youth Court in Uxbridge sits on Thursdays. The Court Duty Officer needs to be at court by 9.30am, having previously carried out the pre court duties and responsibilities listed below, and will need to remain at court until the day's business is complete. The post court duties and responsibilities should be completed as soon after court finishes as possible. In most cases this should be possible on the same day, but on occasions when the court business runs into the late afternoon or early evening it may be necessary to complete the work first thing the following day. The only exception to this is work in relation to remands to youth detention accommodation and custodial sentences which must be completed on the same day.


2. Pre Court Duties and Responsibilities

  1. Check the court list and court diary to ensure that all the necessary court files are available;
  2. On the Wednesday before the court and where the young person is not known to the YOS, make enquiries using the pre-court screening tool;
  3. Where the young person is looked after contact social worker to confirm that the young person will be accompanied to court by an appropriate person;
  4. Review the court files so as to be familiar with the nature of the case and the stage that it has reached. Make a note of cases relating to young people from other areas and the responsible YOS;
  5. Ensure that any reports that were requested for this hearing date are available, and that there are sufficient copies (eight);
  6. Attempt to identify any cases which may be suitable for Referral Orders (see Referral Order Guidance); where Reports may be requested; and where Bail may be opposed or a remand to youth detention accommodation is a possible outcome;
  7. Check that a Placement Information Form has been done, or arrange for one to be done, for those cases that might result in a placement being required;
  8. Anticipate any cases where it might be feasible to do a Fast Delivery Report;
  9. Alert the Bail & Remand Lead (when available) to any cases which may require their input (e.g. assessments for Bail Supervision and Support Packages and Remands to Youth Detention Accommodation).


3. At Court (in conjunction with Court Admin)

  1. Collect any post for the YOS from the front desk;
  2. Check with the security staff in the cells whether they are holding or are expecting any youths (17 and under) in custody and inform the Bail & Remand Lead so that they can be visited in the cells prior to their hearing. (N.B. The Bail & Remand Lead will also be checking this);
  3. Check the Extras List and complete new Referral Forms for first listings and contact admin to arrange for court files on existing cases to be sent over (e.g. those arrested as a result of breach of bail or warrants);
  4. Consult with the CPS lawyer, if possible, to confirm any cases where there will be objections to bail and ensure that the Bail & Remand Lead is aware of these cases.


4 During Hearings (in conjunction with Court Admin)

  1. Act as Appropriate Adult for any young person under 17 who does not have a parent or carer with them, and ensure that they have legal representation (using the duty solicitor if necessary);
  2. Monitor the information being presented to the court and the decisions being made. Where necessary or when asked advise the court about information held by or known to the YOS and about legal powers, guidelines or procedures;
  3. Record all decisions (including bail conditions and next hearing date where applicable) made by the court on the Referral Form/Continuation Sheet in the space for the particular hearing date;
  4. Request copies of CPS Papers from CPS at first hearings;
  5. In cases where Bail is being opposed by the CPS ensure that a Bail ASSET Assessment has been undertaken and that a Bail Supervision and Support Package is available for presentation to the court (if appropriate) before a decision on bail is made by the court. Seek an adjournment for this to be undertaken if necessary. This piece of work will normally be the responsibility of the Bail & Remand Lead (see 1.6 & 2.3 above);
  6. Ensure that Referral Orders are made when this is appropriate and that the court complete and hand over the necessary paperwork (see Referral Order Guidance);
  7. If the court is considering requesting a Report consideration should be given to whether a Fast Delivery Report is appropriate and feasible (see below). If necessary, the court can be asked to adjourn briefly to allow time to interview the young person in order to prepare the report, which can be presented verbally and written up later;
  8. Full Pre Sentence Reports should only be requested in cases where there are obvious concerning factors, which relate to persistent offenders who have previously been subject to Orders or where a custodial penalty is being considered. When Pre Sentence Reports are requested it is important to ask the court to state and record what options it wishes the report to address;
  9. Ensure that the court keeps to the time for the preparation of reports – fifteen working days;
  10. Sentences must be recorded in full and linked to the offences for which they are given.


5. After Hearings

  1. Interviews must take place with all young people (and their carers) where reports have been requested or orders made so that details can be taken and appropriate information given (leaflets);
  2. In cases where a PSR has been requested or a Referral made advise young person and their carer that they must go straight from court to the YOS for their fist appointment. This will be with the Victim Engagement Restorative Justice (VERJ) co-ordinator;
  3. Contact VERJ and give basic details of young person and estimated arrival time at the YOS.
  4. Those made the subject of any other type of community order should already have an appointment with the Responsible Officer (if known). If an appointment has not been pre-booked they must be given an appointment to see the Duty Officer at the YOS within 24 hours;
  5. Notification Forms must be completed in full (two sides) for all cases that have resulted in reports being requested or orders made;
  6. Attendance Centre letters and instructions must be completed and given to those made subject to these requirements;
  7. Arrangements must be made for any young person remanded to youth detention accommodation or sentenced to custody to be interviewed in the cells so that the Post Court Report can be completed. It may be more appropriate for this to be done by the allocated responsible officer or bail & remand lead. In those cases where it is preferable for the Court Duty Officer to do the cell interview (e.g. because they are the only one who knows what happened in court) Court Duty Cover will need to be arranged;
  8. Ensure parents/carers and social workers are notified where the young person has been placed by the Youth Justice Board with contact details.


6. Post Court

  1. Ensure Outcomes/Results are fully recorded on relevant paperwork and passed to admin for entry on Careworks (if not already done at court);
  2. Check that all tasks have been completed in relation to any young person remanded to youth detention accommodation or sentenced to custody (see Custody Checklist);
  3. In cases where Reports have been requested check whether the following are required, and complete and send (along with verification of fax transmission) before passing to admin:
    • Request for Victim Details;
    • Unpaid Work Assessment Referral;
    • Advance Disclosure Request.
  4. Ensure admin are aware of cases where the Responsible Officer, another YOT or any other worker or agency needs to be notified of the outcome.


7. Fast Delivery Reports

Fast Delivery reports (i.e. reports prepared and presented on the same day) can be offered by the court duty officer in appropriate cases as a means of avoiding unnecessary adjournments and requests for written reports. However, the court cannot insist that a Fast Delivery report is presented;

If the court is able (i.e. has the power) and is willing to sentence without reports (e.g. traffic offences, possession of cannabis, fixed penalties) a Fast Delivery report should not be presented;

In the following circumstances Fast Delivery reports should not be offered:

  • Where custody is being considered;
  • Where there is an identifiable victim;
  • For those under seventeen where a parent/carer is not present;

It will be necessary to interview the young person before presenting a Fast Delivery report, and the court should be asked to put the case back for at least one hour to allow for the preparation of the report.

End