Scottish Sentencing Council to take a trauma-informed approach to sentencing young people

Date: 2nd February 2022
Category: Children of prisoners


New sentencing guidelines have come into effect for people under 25. It asks that rehabilitation is a primary consideration when sentencing a young person. Courts must now consider the backgrounds and experiences of those who are under the age of 25 at the date of their plea of guilty or when a finding of guilt is made against them.

Courts must now consider the impact of childhood trauma, abuse, neglect, traumatic bereavement, family breakdown, or addiction. Community-based approaches will be considered as alternatives to prison detention. 

Together welcomes these changes as a crucial step to respecting, protecting and fulfilling the rights of children and young people within the criminal justice system although emphasise they must be part of wider reforms. We echo the sentiment of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner, who stated:

“These new guidelines must be linked to wider changes in our criminal justice system to ensure that children in conflict with the law are treated first and foremost as children. Our low age of criminal responsibility and the continuing imprisonment of children, sometime due to the lack of secure beds, needs to change urgently. The principles which underpin the changes to the sentencing guidelines should be applied more broadly as part of a human rights-based approach to children and young people in conflict with the law.”