LAUNCESTON will have a specialist youth justice court from March next year following the success of a two-year pilot in Hobart.
The Specialist Youth Justice Court pilot has been running out of Hobart Magistrate Court since January 2011 and means all youth justice matters are seen by the same magistrate, deputy chief magistrate Michael Daly, who also runs a specialist list to engage other youth services and devise more effective outcomes for particularly vulnerable youths.
Establishing a similar specialist court in Launceston is one of 19 recommendations of a report into the pilot program released by the Magistrates Court yesterday.
At the moment, youth justice matters are dealt with as part of an ordinary court list by one of Launceston's three magistrates with the only discernible difference being the ejection of members of the public and press from the courtroom.
The Launceston youth justice court would be operated, like Hobart, a set number of days a month under the watch of a designated magistrate.
The report said that before the pilot program, "responses of the youth justice court were insufficient to engender any particular hope for better outcomes".
Attorney-General Brian Wightman welcomed the proposed expansion into Launceston and said he was keen to find better ways to deal with people who came before the justice system.
"This report clearly demonstrates that there are advantages in having a separate youth court, in terms of encouraging consistency and developing better co-ordination in youth justice matters," Mr Wightman said.
Tasmania has the highest per capita rates of youth offenders in the country, with about five in 1000 Tasmanians aged 10 to 19 involved in the justice system.
About two-thirds of youth justice matters are dealt with outside of court.
Chief Magistrate Michael Hill said the success of the youth justice court was due to increased co-operation with police, child protection, the Department of Education and not-for-profit groups like Save the Children.
Case studies of five young people involved in the pilot court, included in the report, found that all who were connected to Save the Children found it beneficial and all preferred appearing before a single magistrate.
Mr Hill said work had already begun on the Launceston pilot.