Legal Analysis

Judicial Review and Courts Bill: Joint briefing on child defendants

Published: (Last updated: )

Judicial Review and Courts Bill: Joint briefing for parliamentarians on the proposed introduction of online and written plea procedures for child defendants.

  • Part 2 Chapter 1 of the Judicial Review and Courts Bill would introduce changes to our criminal justice system to make it possible for defendants, including children, to plead guilty to criminal offences online or in writing rather than appearing in court.
  • We recognise that the Bill aims to address inefficiencies and delays in the court process,1 which we agree can seriously undermine the effectiveness of our criminal justice system. We welcome the Government’s recognition of the need to address these challenges. However, the Bill prioritises speed over fundamental rights, eliminating safeguards and oversight mechanisms. By expanding the use of online and written procedures to children, the Bill fails to recognise the increased vulnerability and additional requirements they have.

This briefing is supported by Fair Trials, JUSTICE, the University of Exeter Evidence-Based Justice Lab, the Youth Practitioners Association, Just for Kids Law, StopWatch, and Transform Justice