Legal Aid Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

How the Act affects youth justice

The Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act was passed in May 2012.

The implementation date for most of the provisions within the Act was 3 December 2012.

The provisions regarding out-of-court disposals came into effect on 8 April 2013.

The provisions regarding the rehabilitation of offenders are not expected to come into effect until the end of 2013. 

The Act introduced significant changes that affect the youth justice system, particularly around:

  • youth sentences
  • remands of children (otherwise than on bail)
  • out-of-court disposals
  • knife crime
  • rehabilitation of offenders.
This page gives a summary of these changes and how they affect youth justice practice.

Supporting materials for YOTs

The main points of the Act are covered in this PowerPoint presentation that YOTs can use.

Implementation of the LASPO Act 2012 (PowerPoint 2mb)

The presentations below were given at the LASPO implementation events that took place in October and November 2012. They are provided for reference, and contain overviews of specific aspects of the Act.

Alternatives to custody workshop (PowerPoint 0.33mb)

Delivering care to children on remand workshop (PowerPoint 0.31mb)

Remands finance workshop (PowerPoint 2mb)

Finance and performance monitoring workshop (PowerPoint 0.85mb)

These additional presentations (provided by Just for Kids Law in Partnership with the Prison Reform Trust) may be useful:

LASPO implications - Bail and remand (PowerPoint 0.35mb)

LASPO implications - Looked after children (PowerPoint 0.62mb)

Sentencing changes under LASPO (PowerPoint 0.75mb)

Access the remand detention placement plan template, allowing details of care-planning and custodial provision to be captured in one place, and a flowchart summarising the roles and responsibilities of social care and youth offending team staff, from the point at which a young person is identified as being at risk of charge, to resettlement.

Remand detention placement plan (Word 0.15mb)

YOT and children's/social services responsibility flowchart (PDF 0.17mb)

Youth sentences

Refer to Part 3, Chapter 1 - Sections 79-84 of the Act.

Referral orders

Part 3, Chapter 1 - Section 79.

These new provision will ONLY apply to sentencing decisions for offences committed after commencement (i.e. 3 December)
  • Courts will have more discretion to conditionally discharge a young person who pleads guilty to their first offence instead of giving a referral order.
  • The Act allows for repeated use of referral orders (i.e. it removes the current restriction) in line with the commitment in the Breaking The Cycle green paper to increase the use of restorative justice.
Updated Referral Order Guidance has been published to support these changes.

Read the MoJ circular on Referral Order implementation.

Breach of a Detention and Training Order (DTO)

Part 3, Chapter 1 - Section 80.

These provisions apply to breaches (not the breach hearing) that take place after 3rd December 2012.

  • Breach proceedings can now be brought to court even after a DTO has finished (a summons or a warrant must be issued while the DTO is still in force).
  • The court retains the power to impose a period of detention in response to a breach of a DTO, and gains a new power to impose a period of supervision instead of custody for the breach. The maximum period of supervision or detention will be three months or the period beginning with the date of the failure to comply with the requirement and the last day of the term of the DTO, whichever is the shorter.
  • Where the court imposes a period of custody or supervision for breach, it takes immediate effect and can run concurrently with a period of supervision under the DTO. Also, if a young person continues to breach the DTO, the court can impose a further period of supervision (or custody or a fine) and this continues to be the case until the young person completes the order.

Youth Rehabilitation Order (YRO)

Part 3, Chapter 1 - Section 81-84.
  • YRO Curfew Requirements:  The new provisions can be applied to YROs made after 3 December 2012, where the offence was also committed after 3 December 2012.  The number of hours a curfew can be imposed is increased from 12 to 16 hours per day, and the length from 6 to 12 months. Additional guidance on use of extended curfews is available.

Expanded guidance - Curfew Requirements (DOC 0.03mb)

  • YRO Mental Health Treatment Requirement: The new provisions apply to all MHTRs made after 3 December regardless of whether the offence was committed before or after this date.There is no longer a requirement for evidence from a medical practitioner, approved for the purposes of section 12 of the Mental Health Act 1983 Additional guidance is available.

Expanded Guidance - Mental Health Treatment Requirement (DOC 0.03mb)

  • YRO duration: The new provisions apply to all YROs made after 3 December. The YRO can end once all the requirements of the order have been completed. This resolves the issue where the requirements of an order are completed, but the order itself has not reached its end date (which currently means returning to court and seeking a revocation of the YRO).
  • The end date of a YRO can be extended by up to six months, where the requirements of the order have not been completed. This can only be done once.
  • YRO Fine: for breach applies to breaches (not the breach hearing) that take place after 3 December. The maximum fine for breach is increased to £2,500, instead of the current limits set at £250 for under 14 year olds or £1,000 for those over 14. There is no change to the requirement for courts to take into consideration the means of the offender when setting an appropriate fine.

Remands of children otherwise than on Bail

Refer to Part 3, Chapter 3 - Sections 91-107 of the Act.

The Act aims to reduce the use of secure remand for children and young people.
  • The current, complex remand arrangements will be simplified into a 'single remand framework'.
  • The costs of keeping a young person in custody on remand will be transferred to local authorities, in order to provide an incentive to use remand more sparingly.
  • The status of 'looked after child' will apply to all young people on remand.
  • A charged/convicted young person must meet one of two conditions - or 'tests' - before they are remanded into custody:
    • seriousness of the offence - the offence must be either a violent or sexual offence, or one that, if committed by an adult, is punishable with a sentence of imprisonment of fourteen years or more (this is an existing test)
    • 'realistic prospect' of receiving a custodial sentence - the young person must have a history of committing offences or absconding while on remand

  • 17 year olds can now be remanded in a secure children's homes or secure training centres, not just young offender institutions. (The Act has defined a child as a person under the age of 18).
  • If the young person is remanded to local authority accommodation, the local authority (designated by the court) must receive the young person and provide/arrange suitable accommodation for them (as per the duties of a local authority to place a child that is remanded as set out in section 22C of the Children Act 1989).
  • A court can impose conditions on a child remanded to local authority accommodation similar to conditions that can be imposed on a child remanded on bail. The court can also 'impose requirements' on the local authority to make sure these conditions are adhered to, eg by using electronic monitoring.

Guidance on the remands changes

Youth Secure Remand report 2014 - This report explores some of the trends in remand levels since 1 April 2013.  

For more guidance on remands, refer to the remands toolkit.

A Ministry of Justice circular gives guidance for criminal justice agencies on the new youth remand framework and amendments to adult remand provisions for commencement of the LASPO Act on 3 December 2012.

The YJB have compiled a set of frequently asked questions to give YOTs and local authorities greater clarity on the implications of the LASPO Act 2012 on the remands of children otherwise on Bail.

When remanding a child to local authority or youth detention accommodation, the court must designate a local authority for the child. This requirement is set out in the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012. A full description of this process is contained below.

Process for determining the “Designated Authority” (PDF 0.48mb)

The guidance note below sets out the funding and cost recovery arrangements in respect of children detained on remand in youth detention accommodation.

Payment and cost recovery arrangements in respect of children detained on remand in youth detention accommodation (PDF 0.1mb)

The Remand Bed Night Tracking Tool below is to help youth offending teams and local authorities monitor the use of remand beds and the associated costs of secure remand placements.

Remand Bed Night Tracking Tool (XLS 0.24mb)

Out-of-court disposals

Refer to Part 3, Chapter 7 - Sections 135 -138 of the Act.

The Act simplifies and reduces the number of out-of-court disposals available for young people. In summary:

  • the various reprimands and warnings available under the Final Warning Scheme are replaced by Youth Cautions 
  • Youth Conditional Cautions are available across England and Wales 
  • Penalty Notices for Disorder for under 18s will be abolished. 

  Youth Cautions

  • These can be given to a young person even if they have been previously convicted of an offence.
  • Before issuing a Youth Caution, a police constable must establish that: 
    •  
    • there is sufficient evidence to charge the young person with an offence 
    • it is not in the public interest to prosecute 
    • the young person admits the offence.

  • As with the procedure for issuing a Reprimand, the police must refer the young person to the appropriate youth offending team as soon as is practicable. 
  • Similarly, if a second Youth Caution is given, the YOT will be expected to assess the young person and - if appropriate - deliver a voluntary rehabilitation programme (as is the case with Warnings).
  • As with Reprimands/Warnings, an adult must be present when a young person under 17 is given a Youth Caution. 

Youth Conditional Cautions

  • Youth Conditional Cautions can now be given to a young person even if they have been charged with a previous offence.
  • As with a Youth Caution, a police constable must establish that: 
    •  
    • there is sufficient evidence to charge the young person with an offence 
    • it is not in the public interest to prosecute
    • the young person admits the offence.  

  • Youth Conditional Cautions no longer need to be authorised by a prosecutor, except for indictable-only offences. 
  • A young person must be referred to their youth offending team for assessment, and the police and the youth offending team must jointly agree suitable conditions and interventions to be attached to the Youth Conditional Caution. 
The Youth Justice Board and the Ministry of Justice have produced a guide to youth out-of-court disposals for police and youth offending services.

Knife crime

Refer to Part 3, Chapter 9 - Section 142 of the Act.  

This section creates offences of 'threatening with article with blade or point or offensive weapon in public or on school premises.'

This is where a young person intentionally uses the weapon (or item) to threaten another person creating an 'immediate risk of serious physical harm.' The offence must take place in a public place or on school premises.

Sentencing

  • These offences will have a maximum sentence of 4 years.
  • 16 and 17-years-olds (when they are convicted) will be given a Detention and Training Order (DTO) for at least 4 months.
  • 18 year olds will be given a custodial sentence of at least 6 months.
  • Courts will have discretion to consider community sentences to allow for early guilty pleas or mitigating circumstances.
  • As ever, the court has a duty to "have regard to the welfare of the child" as set out in section 44 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933.

Abolition of certain sentences for dangerous offenders

  • The Act removes the provision for young people to receive a custodial sentence of detention for public protection.
  • Section 226 and 228 sentences will no longer available.

    However, a new 226B sentence will be, and will be similar to s228. The main difference will be that the court must consider whether the young person meets the conditions for a discretionary life sentence (s91) before giving a 226B sentence.

  • Discretionary Life sentences under section 91 for specified offences will continue to be available - it is expected that section 91 will be used more as a result of this legislative change.

New extended sentences

  • Long licence periods are being introduced. When a young person is released from custody they will be monitored for long periods and returned to custody if necessary. This will be for up to 5 years for violent offences and 8 years for sexual offences.
  • Release on license - a young person will have to serve two-thirds of the custodial term of a 226B, rather than half, as is the current arrangement for a s228.

Rehabilitation of Offenders

Refer to Part 3, Chapter 8 - Section 139 of the Act.

This section makes changes to the changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

  • Custodial sentences of up to and including 4 years in length can become 'spent'.
  • The times when other convictions become spent have also changed - on the whole, they have been reduced. 
These changes are not expected to come into effect until the end 2013.
See the table below:
                                       
Sentence  End of rehabilitation period for offenders under 18 at date of conviction
A custodial sentence of more than 30 months and up to, or consisting of, 48 months The end of the period of 42 months beginning with the day on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed
A custodial sentence of more than 6 months and up to, or consisting of, 30 months The end of the period of 24 months beginning with the day on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed
A custodial sentence of 6 months or less The end of the period of 18 months beginning  with the day on which the sentence (including any licence period) is completed
Removal from Her Majesty's service The end of the period of 6 months beginning with the date of the conviction in respect of which the sentence is imposed
A sentence of service detention The end of the period of 6 months beginning with the day on which the sentence is completed
A fine The end of the period of 6 months beginning with the date of the conviction in respect of which the sentence is imposed
A compensation order The date on which the payment is made in full
A community or youth rehabilitation order The end of the period of 6 months beginning with the day provided for by or under the order as the last day on which the order is to have effect
A relevant order The day provided for by or under the order as the last day on which the order is to have effect
 
Youth Justice Board

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