Youth Court Centenary Event
The centenary of the establishment of
youth courts in England and Wales was celebrated by
an exhibition in Dewsbury Library and an event at
Huddersfield Youth Courts in May 2009.
Youth Courts were established by the Children Act of 1908 which
determined that from April 1909 young offenders’ hearing should be
held in a separate building or sit at different times to adult hearings
and that public access should be restricted.
Richard Smith, Kirklees Youth Offending Team Manager said “Through searching local newspapers from April 1909 - March 1910 for juvenile cases and extensive archive research we have produced the exhibition. If local journalists had not had access to the courts then we would know little about youth courts at the time.
“The research provided a really interesting insight into crime and
punishment 100 years ago. Many offences reported involved the theft of food and there were a surprising number of instances where the parents were punished for failing to exercise proper care and control of their children - some even received custodial sentences.
“The stories of the 30 cases from 1909-10 and especially John Casson who went to Calder Farm Reformatory make fascinating reading.
“In 100 years time it will not be possible to have the same insight
into 2009 cases because restrictions on court reporting and data
protection leads to the destruction of most records.”
The exhibition features the story of 13 year old John William Casson of Union Street, Dewsbury who was convicted by Dewsbury Borough magistrates Court. He was sent to Calder Farm Reformatory School that was on Sands Lane between, Mirfield, Ravensthorpe and Hopton. Calder Farm was a reformatory for boys established in 1855. It had about 100 resident boys. It closed in 1922.
With the help of: census records, Registrar General records, newspapers on microfilm in Kirklees Libraries, Calder Farm Reformatory School records in the West Yorkshire Archive Service, Wakefield and military and shipping records in the National Archives we can follow his progress to the school and when he left to work in tailoring, through WWI and up to 1922.
The main Calder Farm school building is now ‘The Woodlands’, a care home.
The details of news cuttings of these cases and archive records are
available from Kirklees Council marketing officer, Christopher Marsden, 07528 252285, email firstname.lastname@example.org