3. Will there be different impacts on different groups of children and young people?
Care Experienced CYP
Summary – Care experienced individuals are overrepresented in the Scottish prison population, as are people who have had Adverse Childhood Experiences . The use of remand only in cases where there is a risk to public safety, as well as specific pre-release planning and support upon release may help individuals, including care experienced CYP, remain in the community or with their families in the case of parental imprisonment.
Detail - Children’s early life experiences have a significant impact on their development, and future life chances. As such, experiences gained prior to going into care and while in care can influence the chances a CYP may come into contact with the criminal justice system. The risk factors that make a CYP more likely to become ‘looked after’ are also those that make it more likely that person may come into contact with the criminal justice system (although that is not to say all care experienced children go on to have contact with the justice system).
Research has demonstrated that individuals with more ACEs have a higher probability of becoming victims or perpetrators of violence and be placed into custody in the criminal justice system. This can be seen in the Scottish prison population, the 2019 Scottish prison survey shows a large proportion of those in custody have had ACEs.
Local authorities have a responsibility to provide support for certain CYP, known as ‘looked after children’. There are a variety of reasons a child may become looked after, including abuse, complex disabilities requiring specialist care, or involvement in the criminal justice system (either as an accused person or with parental/carer imprisonment). While a parent is held in custody, children may go into formal care, or into the care of another family member. They may also have to move house to house or be separated from siblings.
Of the CYP who become involved in the criminal justice system on Scotland, there are an estimated 27,000 children who experience parental imprisonment each year, and 2,203 (2016/17) who are prosecuted in Scotland’s courts, of which 51 are detained in custody.
In comparison to the rest of the UK, Scotland has the highest rate of looked after children (in 2020) at 139 children per 10,000 under 18 population. At the end of July 2020, there were nearly 15,000 looked after children in Scotland. SPS estimate around 40% of CYP in custody have been in care, and that high proportions of CYP in custody have experienced trauma. In addition, the SPS report that over 40% of CYP in custody have low levels of literacy, numeracy and speech, language and communication needs.
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