I want Scotland to be the best place in the world to grow up. The Scottish Government is rightly unapologetic in our level of ambition. To achieve this, we are adopting a progressive, and continually improving, approach to supporting our children and young people to achieve the best outcomes possible for them. In doing so, we are committed to promoting and enhancing the rights of every child.
For all children, especially those who need extra care and protection, it is crucial to ensure the correct support can be provided, at the right time, to meet their needs.
Where children come into contact or conflict with the law, providing the best support to address the causes of their behaviours will help children to reintegrate, rehabilitate and desist. In turn, this approach can prevent the causing of further harm and minimise the number of people experiencing such harm. The benefits of this are felt by everyone – the individual child thought to be responsible for causing harm, their family, the wider community, the person harmed and ultimately broader society.
We are committed to enhancing the rights of people who have been harmed to ensure appropriate protection, support and information, irrespective of the age of the person who has caused harm or how this harm is responded to. It is often other children who are harmed by children's behaviours. Children who cause harm have often been harmed at earlier stages in their childhood. It is imperative that we get it right for every child and any person who has been harmed.
In February 2020, Scotland's Independent Care Review published a series of reports with The Promise narrating a vision for Scotland. The Promise told Scotland what it must do to make sure that all children and young people, are loved, safe and resected so that they can reach their full potential. The Scottish Government is committed to Keeping The Promise by 2030 and our Promise Implementation Plan sets out the actions and commitments we are taking to do so.
Last year we published a new Vision for Youth Justice, which represents a shared foundation between the Scottish Government and partners to keep children out of the criminal justice system, and promote the Whole System Approach to preventing offending by young people focused on early intervention, diversion from prosecution, and alternatives.
Our current Programme for Government commits to: "…safeguard young people within the youth justice system, supporting a presumption against under 18s in the Criminal Justice System, keeping them out of young offenders' institutions where possible and appropriate, while ensuring that victims receive the support they need. We will bring forward a Children's Care and Justice Billto support this transformation".
Therefore I am very pleased to be publishing this consultation, seeking views of people and organisations across civic Scotland, to inform the development of legislation ahead of introduction to the Scottish Parliament.
Of course, legislation alone cannot deliver these overarching aims. The proposed Children's Care and Justice Bill is one strand of body of work being taken forward on policy, legislative, structural and resourcing matters to Keep The Promise. We must continue to strive across all fronts in order to do all we can to improve the outcomes for Scotland's children and young people and I welcome the continued commitment and dedication of partners to help achieve that aim.
Clare Haughey MSP
Minister for Children and Young People
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