Guidelines for the Prosecution of Young People

01 December 2021
Policy papers

The purpose of this policy is to provide guidance on the general principles, commitments and associated working practices, and to explain the standards of service expected from the PPS when a young person has been accused of a crime. In the context of this policy, a ‘young person’ or ‘child’ is defined as someone that is under 18 years of age at the commencement of criminal proceedings. Throughout the policy the term young person (or young people) refers to a person (or persons) accused of a crime.

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is committed to ensuring that the Best Interests of the Child Principle, as set out in Article 3(1) of the United Nations 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 its 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