Having been through the care or justice systems, and often both, its nae wunner the young people who work on the Youth Just Us project don’t trust the polis. That’s not because they’ve chosen to feel this way, I mean who wouldn’t want to be kept safe and protected? Right? It’s the polis and the systems they feel have let them down. They’ve not only been let down but prevented from moving on “they pull me in the street, known I’m just oot the jail!” a young person say’s, they feel threatened and intimidated, living with no trust in the people that must protect them keep them safe. This needs to change!

So, moving forward to make things better for themselves and other young people, members reached out and invited Police Scotland to join them in 3 sessions of working together to establish a genuine relationship between care and justice experience young people and Police.

With intros and pleasantries out the way in the first one, the young people have been busy planning the second session in just a few weeks’ time and are keen to give the police a flavour of the experiences that lie behind their mistrust.

“My house was broken into, trashed and robbed, when the polis showed up they warrant checked me, asking wit’ve you been upto? and where had I been’

Time and time again young people with care experience are being let down by police and ending up in a justice system that is slow, confusing and damaging to their futures. These young people didn’t choose to be ‘looked after’ and will be honest to admit that they’ve made mistakes but remember they're young people, sometimes children and deserve the same un-biased protection offered to the rest of the public.

“I don’t want my wee boy growing up and being labelled like I was, because they knew my mum”

Young people who have experienced prison or secure care tell us that they’re not allowed to move on from their past experiences and struggle to turn a new leaf when the police are stopping them, searching them, and making it clear they’re under their radar. This behaviour from the police is preventing young people from feeling confident and safe in their own communities and reiterates the stereotypes and stigma’s that get attached to care and justice experienced young people.

With the light now shining on how Scotland respects the rights of its young people, with the incorporation of the UNCRC bill into Scots law, the members of the YJU project want to assist the police and other agencies in getting it right for young people. But in doing this a few hard truths of their own negative experiences will need to be heard, and for its impact on them to be realised before they can start afresh. Young people, particularly care and justice experienced need to be given a chance, a chance to feel accepted and valued and given the opportunity to rehabilitate, to get into work or education and to create themselves a positive future away from offending. The young people who work on the Youth Just Us project have skills and knowledge in abundance, but they also have fears, sometime thinking ‘well what’s the point? I’m always getting the blame!’ and we can’t blame them for this, we can just help them to participate in meaningful dialogue with Police and hope that they have the same passion as we do to get it right for children and young people.