The Welsh Government has claimed time and again that children in the Youth Justice System should be treated as ‘children first, offenders second’. For example, in its most recent Youth Justice Strategy (2014), it emphasises that professionals should always consider the rights and welfare of children when making decisions which affect those children.
However, official statistics show that a significant proportion of Welsh children who have offended are returned to court and punished if they fail to comply with an element(s) of their community sentence. We must therefore ask to what extent considerations of ‘welfare’ influence the decisions of staff and magistrates when the children do not comply.
And therefore, the main purposes of this study are to discover which principles (if at all) form the basis of decisions made by youth justice professionals, assess the impact of these decisions on the children involved, and evaluate how compatible the decisions are with the alleged commitment of the Welsh Government to promote the welfare of every child.