PPS launch new guidelines on dealing with cases involving young people

01 December 2021

The PPS has launched new guidelines to assist prosecutors dealing with cases involving young people.

The document provides an outline of the general principles, commitments and associated working practices, and the standards of service expected from the PPS when a young person has been accused of a crime.

The new guidelines reaffirm the PPS’s commitment to ensuring that the Best Interests of the Child Principle, as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, is adhered to, and that the special considerations which apply to cases involving a young person are enshrined in our working practices.

The new guidelines are accompanied by four information booklets designed to make often complex legal processes more easily understood by children and young people.

The booklets were produced after the PPS met with a range of young people during an extended consultation period, including children who have been in contact with the criminal justice system.

The booklets explain:

  • How the PPS hands cases involving young people, including our role and remit
  • The different types of Youth Diversions and alternatives to prosecution
  • Our commitment to young people who are vulnerable
  • How we handle sexual offence cases involving young people

A number of organisations were also consulted during the development of the guidelines.

Dr Richard Scullion, Head of the PPS’s Policy and Information Unit, explained the importance of the guidelines for the PPS.

“This new policy sets out how the PPS deals with cases involving children and young people” said Dr Scullion.

“It details the disposals available to prosecutors and the range of factors that must be considered before reaching a decision.

 “In line with international guidance, prosecutors will give particular consideration to disposing of cases by way of an alternative to prosecution at court.

 “Guidance is also provided for handling cases involving children with experience of care, children with mental health difficulties and cases of sexual offending involving children.”

The new guidelines were launched today (Wednesday 1 December) at the PPS Stakeholder Engagement Forum, where partner agencies, victim and witness representative groups including the NSPCC and VOYPIC and PPS staff met remotely to discuss the rollout of the guidelines.

Dr Scullion thanked PPS stakeholders and others who responded to the consultation on the new guidance.

 “The consultation allowed consultees to give us very detailed and valuable feedback on the guidelines and we thank them for their insight and suggestions, many of which have been accepted and have shaped the final document.

“We hope that our stakeholders, and all those with an interest in youth justice, find the guidelines useful and informative.” ENDS


Notes to Editors

  • The guidance can be read in full by clicking the link
  • A summary of consultation responses can be found by clicking the link
  • Media queries should be referred to the PPS Communications Unit by emailing ppspressoffice@ppsni.gov.uk inside office hours. The out of hours press officer can be contacted on 07920 271 804.