Calls to radically reshape bail and remand system

Date: 13th January 2021
Category: Civil Rights and Freedoms, Children in conflict with the law

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A CYCJ study has called for reform to ensure the system is child-friendly, fair and just for both victims and children who have offended.

The report describes the complexity involved in decision-making about the use of bail and remand for children, with many factors to be balanced and deliberated, often hindered by a lack of available information and short time-frames.

The study notes positive, yet incremental, changes in the adult justice system, but finds these are no longer sufficient at ensuring procedural justice for children in conflict with the law. More radical change is needed.

Testimonies from children and families with experience of bail and remand, revealed a system which is difficult to understand and readily participate in. This affects children and families’ perceptions of procedural fairness and their ability to comply. Many children and families felt that the system was stacked against them and that they were destined to fail.

CYCJ calls for the following:

  • All children under age 18 are referred to the Children’s Hearing System, and only the most serious cases are to be referred to the Procurator Fiscal.
  • For the most serious offences, children should go to a specialist child-friendly justice arena that has the same standing as the formal court; however, its design and implementation upholds children’s rights and promotes understanding, inclusion, and a sense of legitimacy paramount to adhering to the law.
  • All professionals should have additional training to ensure the age, maturity and development of the child are considered, and that all age-appropriate disposals are discussed and available. This can encourage desistance and rehabilitation from future offending.
  • The disposals open to these child-friendly justice arenas should provide timely and appropriate support for the child.
  • Co-location of professionals and services should occur when feasible, to improve communication and easy access to support.

Read the research report here.

Read CYCJ’s calls in full here.