Joint inquiry launched into how Scotland’s care and justice system can be improved

Date: 28th March 2018
Category: Care Experienced children

The Children and Young People's Commissioner and Action for Children have co-established an enquiry aimed at identifying how the care and justice system can be improved for children and young people in Scotland.

The enquiry, entitled 'Kilbrandon Again', is supported by the University of Edinburgh. It will look at what is going well for children and young people in the care and justice system and what needs to be changed and improved.

The enquiry panel will be chaired by writer and broadcaster Richard Holloway. He will be supported by Kaliani Lyle, currently vice chair of the Poverty and Inequality Commission, and Ruth Wishart, a leading journalist and political commentator.

The panel will gather evidence from academics and others about relevant research in a Scottish, UK and international context. They will also speak directly with those working in the system, such as social workers and panel members, and young people and adults with lived experience, such as those living in Polmont Young Offender's Institution and residential homes.

The panel has identified several issues of concern which include:

  • The age of criminal responsibility
  • The long-term burden of a criminal record
  • The lack of support for young people coming out of care and prison
  • The lack of diversion from harm for the most vulnerable children and young people
  • The incidence of recidivism

Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People's Commissioner for Scotland, said:

"Scotland is one of only a few countries internationally which have decided to address youth offending on a rights-based, holistic welfare basis.
More than 40 years since its inception, the Children's Hearings System continues to have much to recommend it, but we should always be willing to challenge and review law, policy and practice.

In particular, I am concerned that the age of criminal responsibility remains at eight years old and that vulnerable children and young people can acquire lifelong criminal records that affect their future opportunities.
I am grateful that the panel has accepted the challenge to examine how successfully Scotland is addressing offending by children and young people.
It is in everyone's best interests that we have a system which works effectively and in a rights-compliant way."