The project is to develop an operating and financial model for growth, identify the funding requirement and scope out a plan to raise the grant funding or investment needed.
In May 2014, Just for Kids Law established the Youth Justice Legal Centre (YJLC). The aim was to create a centre of excellence, providing comprehensive information for those working with children in the criminal justice system, intervening directly in key cases, pushing for improvements in youth justice and providing expert legal advice and training for professionals working with children in the criminal justice system.
A website has been established providing information about youth justice law for lawyers, professionals and young people, their families and carers (www.yjlc.uk). Training courses have also been developed and delivered. Feedback is excellent. The formal launch of the Centre was held in November 2015 at the House of Lords.
In November 2015, the Bar Standards Board (BSB) published its Youth Proceedings Advocacy Review report which highlighted the damaging effects that poor advocacy has on access to justice for young and often very vulnerable offenders. Key findings about the varied quality of provision, the lack of specialist knowledge and skills amongst some advocates, and a lack of specialist training for advocates undertaking work in youth court proceedings all directly support the aims of the YJLC which is well-positioned to drive the response. At the same time, YJLC has been in positive discussions with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and with the head of training at The Law Society(TLS) which revealed strong agreement with these findings and a willingness to address this. There appears to be growing interest at MoJ, BSB and TLS in introducing some sort of requirement on legal professionals to undergo specific training in youth justice provision, which could be accompanied by the introduction of an accreditation scheme. This would make YJLC very well placed to harness the opportunities of this new market.