There are four types of sentences available for both young and adult offenders. They are custodial sentence, community order, fines and discharges. Major reforms have been introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003.
All offenders under the age of 21 are considered as a young offender. Custodial sentences for young offenders, offenders under 18 are normally deal with in the Youth Court. Offenders aged 18 to 20 serve sentence in a Young Offenders’ Institution (YOI) as a custodial sentence. The minimum sentence is 21 days and the maximum is the maximum allowed for the particular offence.
The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 introduce a new custodial sentence, called detention and training order. Such order can be passed on an offender of 12 to 21 years for 4 to 24 months, but for those under the age of 15 this order can only be made if they are a persistent offender. First half of sentence is in custody the rest in the community under the supervision of the Local Youth Offending Team. Very young offender will be detained in secure local authority accommodation. Young offender convicted of serious crimes tried in the crown court could be sentenced up to the maximum an adult could be. A young offender convicted of murder must be detained at Her Majesty Pleasure. Custodial sentences are used rarely for young offenders, usually only for persistent offenders. Statistics shows that about 70% re-offend within two years of release, not an effective deterrent.
The Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008 introduce a new community sentence for young offender, the Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO). Under this the court can mix and match requirements to suit the circumstances. A YRO can be used for multiple times but can only be for a maximum of 3 years. Breach of an order will result in warnings and in case of persistent breaches return to the court. This could result in fine, amendments of YRO or even custody. The requirements which can be attached to YRO are Activity, Supervision, Programme, Curfew, Exclusion, Residence, Mental Health treatment, Drug Treatment, Education and many more.
The maximum amount of fines varies according to the age of the offender. 10 to 13 years old and 14 to 17 years old, can be fined up to £250 and £1000 respectively. Those aged 18 and over are subject to normal maximum of the Magistrate court of £5000.
Both custodial discharge and an absolute discharge may be used for an offender of any age. It is intend to be used where it is thought that punishment is not necessary. Custodial discharges are commonly used for first-time young offenders who have committed minor offence.