1st Edition

Justice for Juveniles The 1969 Children and Young Persons Act: A Case for Reform?

    The working of the 1969 Children and Young Persons Act was the subject of much debate in the 1970s. Discussion had been strong on opinion and short on facts; this book, originally published in 1977, supplied some much-needed evidence, based on the results of a research project funded by the Home Office Research Unit. It also discusses the origins of the Act and its consequences for children and their families.

    The authors describe the way in which two groups of children were dealt with by the police, social workers, probation officers and juvenile courts during the first three months of 1972. Their findings depict a system which decides what to do with ‘children in trouble’ mainly on the basis of their offence behaviour rather than on assessments of their personal needs – a ‘judicial’ rather than ‘welfare’ system of the kind envisaged in the legislation. As a result of these observations, the authors conclude that ‘the idea of the juvenile court has been tried and found wanting, and that it suffers from the congenital defects which fresh applications of money or manpower will fail to cure.’ They recommend the abolition of the juvenile court and the raising of the age of criminal responsibility, proposing a number of controversial alternatives based on principles of non-intervention.

    Introduction  1. Children and the Law: 1908–69  2. Justice and Welfare: The Elements of a System  3. Entering the System: Children Coming to the Notice of the Police  4. Children in Trouble: The Official Picture  5. ‘Without Favour or Affection’: Police Decision-Making  6. In Court: Trial and Sentence  7. ‘The Interests of the Child’: Past, Present and Future.  Appendix- Background to the Study: Origins and Methods.  Notes.


    Philip Priestley, Denise Fears and Roger Fuller