We represented a young person who had been charged with an offence of possession of a bladed article. The offence dated back to the end of the 2020 when our client had just turned 16 years old. Our client made full admissions in his police station interview and had been engaging with the Youth Offending Service, and other professionals, after he had been referred to them by the police. Months after his arrest, his case was referred to the Crown Prosecution Service who made the decision to charge him in light of his age and the nature of the offence. They made this decision on the basis that the ACPO youth gravity matrix indicates that children over the age of 16 arrested for this offence should be charged.
At our client’s first appearance, we made submissions that the case should be adjourned so that we could make written representations as to our client’s suitability for an out of court disposal and after considering our submissions, the Court agreed. We subsequently made written representations to the Crown Prosecution Service that our client was suitable for an out of court disposal and that it was not in the public interest to prosecute him for this offence. We argued that in light of the work that our client had already completed, continuing with the prosecution would only serve to criminalise him. The Crown subsequently responded to confirm that they would be proceeding with the prosecution against our client.
We subsequently invited the Crown to provide us with their full reasons for this decision. They informed us that this decision had again been made on the basis of the ACPO youth gravity matrix and the fact that if our client came before the Court again for a second knife offence, the mandatory minimum sentence would not apply. We informed them that these reasons were simply insufficient and that they were arguably fettering their discretion; something that could potentially be challenged by way of a judicial review. They subsequently agreed to consider further written representations in support of our client’s eligibility for an out of court disposal.
We worked with the Youth Offending Service, and other professionals that our client had been engaging with, to obtain a detailed breakdown of the work that our client had already completed. We made further representations to the Crown and after considering our representations and the information provided, they agreed that this matter could be disposed of by way of a Youth Conditional Caution. The caution was administered and the Crown subsequently withdrew the charge against our client meaning that he remained a young person with no convictions.
Our client was represented by Sabrina Neves, a solicitor in our specialist Youth Crime Team.