The Impact of Covid on Custody Time for Young Offenders
A Review of Custody Time Limits for Children
In response to the Coronavirus pandemic, the government introduced changes to the custody time limit regulations that extended the custody time limits in the Crown Court by two months to address ongoing delays in the criminal justice system worsened during the pandemic.
In September, Just for Kids Law, along with The Howard League for Penal Reform and Liberty wrote to the government to raise concerns about:
‘…the disproportionate impact of the extension of custody time limits on those remanded pending trial, particularly on children from BAME backgrounds.’
The parties argued that the regulations were unlawful and threatened litigation. The government did not back down, and a pre-action letter was sent to the government.
This week the Ministry of Justice announced that they would introduce further regulations exempting children from the extended custody time limits. The new rules will apply retrospectively to children who had their custody time limits set under the September 2020 regulations, and so all children remanded at the Crown Court will have a custody time limit of 182 days even if their first appearance took place before the laying date of these new regulations. Their trials will also be required to be relisted to take place within the shorter custody time limits.
As a firm, we are delighted with this development; custody is a traumatic experience for any young person and time on remand should be as short as possible. A child’s welfare should always be paramount, no matter what challenges society faces.
How can we help?
We will ensure that all of our clients affected by this change are notified at the earliest possible opportunity and that their trials are prioritised. If you would like to discuss any aspect of your case, please call us now on 0161 477 1121 or email us if you have any questions in relation to this article.