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Response to Ministerial statement on launch of a comprehensive scoping study on children in the justice system

Responding to yesterday's ministerial statement from Justice Minister David Ford announcing the launch of a comprehensive scoping study on children in the justice system, Paula Rodgers, Policy Coordinator at Include Youth said:

"We welcome the proposed scoping study on children in the criminal justice system, in particular the strong commitment to embed the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child across the entire justice system.

"We agree with the Minister that every effort must be made to ensure children who come to the attention of the justice system are dealt with as early as possible and at the lowest possible level. Every attempt must be made to keep children out of the formal justice system and the continued use of Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre for non-sentenced children must be addressed as a matter of urgency.

"The Minister has made clear his intention to involve children in the scoping study, something we welcome and look forward to hearing how this process will be conducted.

"We would also like to see greater departmental representation on the newly established steering group, particularly from the Departmental of Education and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and also think consideration must be given to the role of the voluntary and community sector in this process.

"As a whole, this is significant step forward and we look forward to learning the detail of the study and playing an active role in making sure better options are in place for children in conflict with the law."

ENDS

Media Enquiries: For more information contact Sharon Whittaker, Communications Officer at Include Youth, on 028 9031 1007 or sharon@includeyouth.org