Promoting child-friendly justice.
The Justice Secretary and Childcare Minister are in Iceland to learn more about creating a child-friendly, safe environment for those involved in the justice system.
The visit, which includes a Barnahus site tour, facilitated by Scotland's national children's charity Children 1st will look at the innovative concept that supports child victims and investigates abuse, bringing together all relevant services under one roof.
When a child in Scotland is the victim of abuse they currently have to go to different places to be examined, tell their story and get the help they need to recover. Ministers want to improve this experience, supporting children and their families through the process and giving them stronger chances of recovering.
Cabinet Secretary for Justice Michael Matheson said:
“While Scotland’s justice system already leads the way in many areas, I am aware that we can still learn from, and share best practices with other countries. We are an outward looking country, and we can learn from Iceland how to improve the care and justice experiences of children in Scotland.
“I’m encouraged by the steps we are already taking to lowers the chances of children being re-traumatised by having to relive their experiences in open court.
“I am looking forward to meeting with leaders in Iceland who are pioneering approaches that are raising conviction rates and improving the justice system for children.”
Minister for Childcare and Early Years Mark McDonald said:
“It’s vital that children and young people who have been victims of such horrific crimes get care and support as soon as possible and in a way that best meets their individual needs.
“This visit is part of the government’s commitment to learn from others about how we can continue to strengthen our approach to protecting children and young people. The visit will show us how health and social work services can work with the criminal justice system to better support children and young people to recover."
Acting Chief Executive of Children 1st Mary Glasgow said:
“Children 1st has been working to highlight the importance of ensuring that the justice system enables children and young people to give their best evidence, supports them through the process and helps them to access recovery services as soon as possible.
“We are delighted that Scottish Government Ministers are keen to explore and learn from effective holistic approaches in other countries with a view to applying them within the Scottish context.
“This visit to Iceland’s Child Protection Agency is an opportunity to consider what lessons Scotland can gather from Iceland’s child-centred, multi-agency response to violence against children. We look forward to sharing our learning from Iceland and to working collaboratively with the Scottish Government and other stakeholders in the future to improve the justice system for children and families.”
The first Barnahus was set up in Iceland in 1998 and since then the concept has gradually spread, with more than 50 Barnahus now in the Nordic countries.
Whilst in Iceland the Ministers will meet with senior leaders from Iceland's child protection, justice and health services as well as meeting with Iceland’s Minister of Social Affairs and Gender Equality.