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Young Persons’ Probation (YPP), a division of the Probation Service, has primary statutory responsibility for implementing the courts’ directions in relation to the assessment and supervision of children in criminal matters. The procedure for most children convicted before the courts is to have their case adjourned for the purposes of preparing a pre-sanction (pre-sentence) report prior to imposing sentence. The court is obliged in the legislation to order a pre-sanction report except in cases where the penalty for the child’s offence is fixed by law or an existing report is deemed adequate. Reports typically include information on the offence, the child’s life situation, underlying causes of offending behaviour, motivation to change, risk of re-offending, as well as a statement in relation to the appropriateness of a community sanction. The report has an important function in informing the court about the child against the background of the legislative principle that any penalty imposed should cause the least interference to the child’s legitimate activities and maintain and promote the child’s development. Probation officers working within YPP complete the pre-sanction report following consultation and assessment with the child, the family and other relevant stakeholders.

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