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Lord Williams of Mostyn: If we can improve it, then we shall try to.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon moved Amendment No. 227:

Page 41, line 21, at end insert ("or a probation officer").

The noble Baroness said: In moving this amendment, I shall speak also to Amendment No. 228. The amendments relate also to the definition of "appropriate adult" in relation to who should be present when a juvenile is reprimanded or warned.

In these amendments I seek both to widen and to narrow the definition of "appropriate adult". As drafted, the provision that any responsible adult may act as the appropriate adult is totally inappropriate when one is dealing with young persons who need, as has been said already, to treat the reprimand or warning with considerable seriousness. As has also been said, over the years police cautions have fallen into disrepute often because the conditions in which they were administered have varied enormously. There has been a lack of uniformity and a tendency to treat them with considerable casualness. Therefore, it is extremely important that the appropriate adult should be clearly defined. It should be made clear to the child that it is someone with whom he is likely to have a continuing relationship and not just any old adult over 18 who may be brought in off the streets to act as a witness that the police are behaving properly.

I also feel that to include social workers in the definition of an appropriate adult but not to include probation officers is a mistake. Therefore my other amendment seeks to define probation officers as one of the appropriate adults who may be present. I beg to move.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: As I indicated a few moments ago, we want to make the definition of an appropriate adult consistent with that already provided for under PACE. The PACE provisions, of course, seek to safeguard a young person's interests through all investigative processes including charge.

If these amendments were accepted, we would have a situation--as I mentioned a few moments ago--where we had two quite different definitions of "appropriate adult", one for the investigation, as provided for by PACE, and another at the point at which a reprimand or warning is issued. We do not think that that is logical; we think it is impractical. We believe that the system of

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appropriate adults which operates under PACE works well and we do not see the necessity to introduce a different system here.

However, I reiterate, we appreciate that the role of appropriate adults needs to be covered by guidance to be produced by the Government. I have already undertaken that that will be done. The guidance will make it absolutely clear that, wherever possible, the adult with direct responsibility for the young person should be the appropriate adult present when a warning or reprimand is issued. The aim is to ensure that parents are aware of the extent and nature of the young person's offending behaviour and that they recognise their responsibilities for their children. I hope that with that explanation the noble Baroness will not seek to press these amendments.

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon: I do not seek to press the amendments but I am disappointed that the provision concerning any responsible adult will remain in place. I hope that the guidance that is issued will encourage police officers when organising reprimands and warnings not to resort to any responsible adults except in extreme circumstances. It should be someone who currently knows the child, or is responsible for him or her, or is likely to be responsible in future; otherwise, I think that reprimands and warnings will fall into the same disrepute as police cautions. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

[Amendment No. 228 not moved.]

Lord Hardie moved Amendment No. 229:

Page 41, line 26, leave out ("and any") and insert--
("(9) Any").

The noble and learned Lord said: In moving this amendment, I wish to speak also to Amendment No. 339. These amendments are purely technical. References to cautions given by the police in England and Wales to children or young persons occur in United Kingdom legislation. They can also occur in Scottish as well as purely English and Welsh legislation. It is therefore necessary for reasons of consistency to extend to Scotland the provisions that references in statute to such cautions should in future be taken to include a reference to a child or young person being reprimanded or warned. This is achieved by Amendment No. 339.

In order to avoid ambiguity we have introduced Amendment No. 229 which will ensure that the provision prohibiting future cautioning of children or young persons does not extend to Scotland where we do not have a formal system of police cautions and where therefore the provision would at best be meaningless. I beg to move.

The Earl of Mar and Kellie: I am certainly interested in the explanation of the noble and learned Lord the Lord Advocate because to me what is called a caution--I shall give it the correct Scots pronunciation of "kayshun"--is a form of temporary financial penalty. I wonder whether I am right about the spelling.

Lord Hardie: The noble Earl is, of course, correct. The word in Scots law pronounced "kayshun" is spelt

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"caution", but what we are talking about here is something quite different. We are talking about formal police cautions in England which do not apply to children or young persons in Scotland.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

Clause 52, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 53 [Effect of reprimands and warnings]:

[Amendment No. 230 not moved.]

Baroness David moved Amendment No. 231:

Page 41, line 31, leave out ("Where") and insert ("Before").

The noble Baroness said: I shall also speak to Amendment No. 232.

This amendment provides that a warning shall be given to a young offender after--not before--an assessment by a youth offending team.

The Bill provides that a warning will prompt an investigation of the young persons's circumstances and behaviour, which will normally be followed by a programme of intervention planned by the youth offending team which will provide guidance and support to help prevent reoffending. The Government consultation paper, Tackling Youth Crime, published in September, said that a warning,

    "will need to be issued without unnecessary delay, possibly before a detailed assessment has been made of the scope for providing a suitable intervention programme and of the likelihood that the offender would complete the programme and benefit from it".

The Government invited comments on two options. Option A was that the warning would be issued before an assessment: the police or an invited member of the youth offending team would explain the likely demands of an intervention programme and the warning would be issued provided the young person agreed to undertake the programme in principle. Option B was that the warning would be issued after the case had been referred to the youth offending team for assessment, to be completed within a time-limited period of, say, two weeks. The Bill as drafted incorporates Option A.

We favour Option B, whereby a warning would be issued after an assessment by a youth offender team. In practice it would be more difficult to gain meaningful consent by the offender to a diversion programme when the details of the programme were unknown or hypothetical. This amendment therefore provides for Option B to be inserted into the Bill. As the Government invited comment, I hope that this comment will be taken seriously. It seems to have a lot of good sense attached to it.

Amendment No. 232, grouped with Amendment No. 231, would leave out subsection (4) of Clause 53, which provides that courts should not, except in exceptional circumstances, conditionally discharge a young offender who is convicted of an offence within two years of receiving a warning.

A conditional discharge can be over-used--but one reason for this is at present the current absence of any low-tariff non-financial penalty, which will be rectified by the introduction of the reparation order. However, there are many situations in which conditional discharge is entirely appropriate. These include cases where there

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are strong mitigating features, welfare considerations or developments since the offence which make a merciful sentence appropriate, but an absolute discharge (which should be used where the offender is technically guilty but no real blame attaches to him or her) is inappropriate or insufficient; where the court judges that the effect of a court appearance coupled with the threat of punishment for the current offence and any new one if the young person reoffends, constitute a useful and sufficient deterrent; or where the offence is trivial.

A high proportion of offenders who receive a conditional discharge on their first court appearance are not reconvicted. We would have no objection to a provision requiring courts to give reasons for giving a conditional discharge, as a useful discipline to ensure that there are positive reasons for using it.

Both these amendments are important and I hope that they will receive very sympathetic consideration. I beg to move.

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