We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

School of Applied Social Sciences


Publication details for Professor Jo Phoenix

Phoenix, J. (2010). Pre-sentence reports, magisterial discourse and agency in the Youth Courts in England and Wales. Punishment & Society 12(3): 348-365.

Author(s) from Durham


This article draws on interviews with Youth Court magistrates to examine if and how discourses, strategies and technologies of risk governance have affected Youth Court magistrates in England and Wales. The aim of the article is to detail the complex relationship between magisterial agency in decision making and youth justice policies which focus on risk control and management. The article demonstrates that, contrary to what might be assumed from the youth and risk governance theoretical literature, Youth Offending Team risk assessments form only one part of the information used by magistrates to explain young people’s presence in courts. This article concludes that magisterial decision making is framed not by formal, expert assessments of risk, but by magistrates’ claims that they are ‘knowing outsiders’, who through judicious use of information presented to them and their own life experiences are able to make objective judgements about both the risk assessments authored by Youth Offending Teams and the young lawbreakers before them.