This section provides a summary of the Youth Courts matters.
- Jurisdiction of the Youth Courts
- Approach of the Youth Courts
- Multi-disciplinary team in the Youth Courts
- Types of cases in the Youth Courts
- Judicial Monitoring
The information provided below is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. The Family Justice Courts (FJC) cannot provide legal advice or assist with drafting the contents of any document.
References to legislation:
- Children and Young Persons Act (CYPA)
- Jurisdiction of The Youth Courts
The Youth Courts are presided over by a District Judge or Magistrate, who is designated by the Chief Justice as a Judge of the Youth Courts, a change from the former regime where the Juvenile Court used to be presided over by a Magistrate.
Under the new regime, a Youth Court has the expanded powers of a District Court in the exercise of its criminal or quasi-criminal jurisdiction, including the power to order Reformative Training for youths found guilty of committing a criminal offence.
- Approach of the Youth Courts
The philosophy of the Youth Courts is that of Restorative Justice, which recognises the potential for change and reform in young offenders and delinquent youths. Restorative Justice seeks to re-integrate the young offender or delinquent youth back into their families and community, as well as balance the need for effective deterrence versus the need for rehabilitation and restoration.
The Youth Courts place the welfare and best interests of the youth as the first and paramount consideration. Emphasis is placed on identifying and preventing crime, delinquency and abuse through early intervention, assistance and care. There is also protection for youths facing parental neglect. The Youth Courts also take into account the welfare of the youths and in suitable cases, will order them to be removed from undesirable surroundings and make provision for their education and training.
The Youth Courts work in close collaboration with various agencies, stakeholders and professionals such as the Ministry of Education (MOE), Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), social workers, psychologist and counsellors. The Youth Courts will also issue appropriate orders that will bring about a more sustained change for the betterment of families, including ordering relevant parties in the family of the affected children or youths to undergo mediation or counselling, or to participate in family support programmes or activities that have been put in place by relevant organisations such as the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF).
Multi-Disciplinary Team in the Youth Courts
A Judge of a Youth Court sits with two members of the Panel of Advisers to the Youth Court (Panel Advisers) in Chambers discussion when presiding over a case concerning a child or young person. The Panel Advisers are individuals and professionals in the community with vast experience working with youths, and are appointed by the President on the recommendation of the MSF. The role of the Panel Advisers is to advise the Judge on the appropriate orders to pass for the child or young person.
Court Family Specialists from the Counselling and Psychological Services (CAPS) undertake a unique hybrid role in the Youth Courts. The Court Family Specialists participate in Chambers discussion and provide expertise in psycho-legal and social science issues relevant to the cases discussed. The Court Family Specialists also facilitate Family Conferences directed by the Judge for selected cases to address concerns relating to the child or young person and the family, as well as specific issues relevant to the rehabilitation and restoration of the youth to the community.
Under the CYPA, the Youth Courts essentially deal with three types of cases:
- Cases involving youths who commit offences (Youth Arrest cases);
- Cases involving youths who are beyond parental control (Beyond Parental Control cases); and
- Cases involving the protection of children (Child Protection cases).
Under the framework of the Youth Courts, court processes have been strengthened and new and better practices have been put in place to provide for more effective early intervention measures for these cases.