Preventing offending is key to our vision of Scotland as the best place to grow up.
We focus on tackling the causes of offending by young people and supporting them to change their behaviour, with the aim of avoiding them entering the criminal justice system.
We are delivering on the priorities set out in our youth justice strategy 2015 to 2020.
Our work includes:
- ensuring that all agencies who come into contact with children and young people who offend work together, putting a Whole System Approach into practice
- placing and managing the sentences of children who have been convicted and sentenced to detention in secure care
- introducing legislation to raise the age of criminal responsibility
- funding the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice at the University of Strathclyde to develop, support and understand youth justice practice, policy and research in Scotland
Implementation of the youth justice strategy is being driven by the Youth Justice Improvement Board.
We published a report in June 2017 updating on progress made since we published our 2015 youth justice strategy. This builds on the progress that’s already been made, and sets out our priorities for 2015 to 2020:
Bills and legislation
Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill introduced in December 2022, makes changes to the law in relation to the care of children and the involvement of children in the criminal justice system
- Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill, introduced to the Scottish Parliament in March 2018, will raise the age of criminal responsibility to 12 years.
- Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 This legislation strengthened the rights of children and young people in Scotland.
- Children’s Hearing (Scotland) Act 2011 As well as strengthening and modernising the Children’s Hearings system, this brought the children’s hearings legislation together.
- Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 Sets out actions to be taken in cases involving children and young people.
- Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016 replaced all legislation regarding arrest for criminal offences.
Central enquiry unit 0300 244 4000
Care and Justice Division
Area 2-B North