“Children and young people’s voices should be brought into law – they should be able to inform the Bill and it should be a legal right” (Youth Justice Voices member).

A small number of care and justice experienced young people from Youth Justice Voices have responded to the Consultation on the Children’s Care and Justice Bill. This included members of Youth Just Us, our steering group in the community, and Inside Out our steering group within HMPYOI Polmont. Only 4 in total with people selectively answering questions so their responses may not represent everyone in the steering groups. Children and young people chose to answer questions which interested in. There is currently consultation fatigue, so it was difficult for people to feel able/ it was the right time to engage in discussions.

We’ve drawn out the main themes from the responses from the steering groups.

Support for person harmed and the person who caused the harm

The respondents thought both groups should receive counselling, support around Post Traumatic Stress, information/ awareness about when the person might be released if they were sentenced to a custodial sentence, preparation and procedures to support when this might happen e.g. victim notification.

What information should be shared about the person who caused the harm?

The information should be age appropriate. This might include the parent/ carer if appropriate to age, maturity and understanding. A simplified version for the child and more detailed for the parent/ carer or someone who could support them to understand the information, was suggested. This is so they are not overwhelmed. Info shared should be appropriate and relevant.

Should a single point of contact be introduced for each person who has been harmed?

Yes – the relationship was seen as important here. Having an organisation which could bring different opportunities, information and support was suggested, not necessarily social work if the relationship was negative. It thought this would be helpful to bring all that information together where they would sit down with that person similar to Bairns House with a single point of contact bringing the support together.

Additional options as part of a child’s order to keep the victim safe?

The group felt more information would be needed to answer this properly. It was felt further restrictions might not help a young person victim or person who caused harm as it might make them isolated and impact on choices, rights, opportunities and mental health. Having contact with friends was seen as important. Avoiding formal justice system was preferred though.

Should children be able to stay within the children’s hearings system after their 18th birthday?

Concerns were raised about how this would work in practice. Would they stay on supervision? Would there be conflicts with how they were treated? Could this be optional? They want young people to avoid going to YOI from secure if they are due to be liberated soon after they turn 18.

Do you think the criminal justice system should be changed for children?

It was felt that there needed to be a child friendly justice system. Children should be seen as children and not seen with adults whether that is in legal processes or deprived of their liberty and being treated like a minor and not be judged or stigmatised  “they don’t look at your age, they look at what you’re in for” which led to them being treated differently.

There was a call for children to be transported differently to adults, perhaps by someone known to them if it’s safe to do so which would reduce the trauma and stigma of under 18s.

“There should be someone to support you through the process” – it was felt having a person of contact who could support you through the whole process was important, supporting you to understand everything, to access support and to support you through the physical and emotional journey – explaining what was happening, escorting you and so on.

Secure care vs YOI for under 18s?

“You don’t get treated as a child in a Y.O.I”. You should be treated as a child or young person, so you can get all the support you need. It was felt that this was more likely to happen in secure care than a Y.O.I environment.

All remand/sentences should go to secure.  Putting anyone into a YOI u18 is wrong.  Other options should be at home, unless it us unsafe for others.  YOI are not equipped to meet the mental health needs of children.  They cause trauma – the way they look, sound, mechanism involved in getting there is traumatic and not child friendly.

Remand should only be used when the risk of absconding, reoffending is demonstrably high.  Remand is being used too often for YP, you can lose ties to community, supports and rights.

Young people have also spoken about being introduced to different behaviour and negative influences in a Y.O.I. There was a feeling that it was harder to stay out of trouble.

In remand settings there is little throughcare and aftercare support which led to reoffending “right back to square one which leads to re-offending… nae money, nothing and then go back to where I used to be”

Support in Secure Care

Needs to be on an individual basis and programmes available in YOI should be available there too including work experience.

Rules on Anonymity

Rules on Anonymity should continue to apply once aged over 18, the impact of revealing information can have a devastating impact on the young person and their friends and family with news outlets not taking considering context of the case. Only in extreme cases should information be shared, when the public are at risk as decided by the judge.

Double jeopardy and Cross Border Placements

“The powers should be taken away from the Police and instead given to the panel. Take away double jeopardy” – an example was provided where it was recommended through the panel that the child should not go to secure care but it then went through the courts and they were placed in secure care. They did not feel that was fair. They felt they were on trial twice.

Cross-border placements should not happen, but we should not be placing Scottish children hundreds of miles from their family, community and friends either. “It would not be familiar for them and they should be accommodated where they live or close to where they live”


It was felt that there needs to be more law and guidance on restraint particularly within a Y.O.I. Young people spoke about feeling/ seeing people when they were restrained “smashing to the ground” that it was traumatic. It was felt that it was unfair a child or young person was hurt or restrained when not necessary. It was felt that it was likely to be worse in a Y.O.I than secure as not regulated the same.

“Obviously when you are being restrained the young person might not like being touched [because of past experiences] doing that, then in the box might aggravate and frustrate them and they might not mean to and lash out”.

“Should be more of a law with stricter consequences for prison as secure aren’t as rough”

Overall thoughts on Bill proposals

Those who responded stated the Scottish Government is heading in the right direction with proposed changes. Relationships, advocacy, single point of communication, proper legal support and advice for children and young people through a trial are vital.