Children's Care and Justice Bill - policy proposals: consultation analysis

The Children’s Care and Justice Bill consultation was published on 30 March 2022 seeking views and feedback on policy proposals to inform the development of the Bill. 106 responses were received from a broad range of stakeholders. This document provides full analysis of those responses.

2. Consultation Process and Method

The consultation was launched on 31st March 2022, and ran for 12 weeks until 22nd June. A small number of organisations requested an extension to this deadline, and late responses received by 1st July 2022 were included in this analysis.

The main consultation was hosted on the Scottish Government's consultation hub, Citizen Space, and contained 30 questions on six separate pillars of care and justice:

  • Raising the Maximum Age of Referral to the Principal Reporter
  • Children and the Criminal Justice System
  • Secure Care
  • Residential Care and Cross-Border Placements
  • Age of Criminal Responsibility
  • Assessing Impact

An Easy Read version was also available which contained 20 questions on the same topics, and a Conversation Guide was designed with children and young people to support workers to have discussions about the consultation topics. This Conversation Guide contained prompts and resources around the children's hearings system, the criminal justice system, secure care and residential care. Some organisations used this guide to host focus groups with children and young people and to complete the Easy Read questions. The consultation and a full list of the consultation questions can be access here. The Scottish Government also accepted written responses, that often shared a narrative outlining perspectives on the topic(s) but did not formally respond to the individual questions.


Responses were carefully checked for any duplicate or blank entries, leaving 106 responses for analysis. Where written submissions followed the consultation format, these were entered on to Citizen Space. This included 96 'standard' responses that had answered some or all of the main consultation questions. Ten non-standard responses were also included, comprised of seven narrative responses and three Easy Read submissions. Many responses represented a 'group' response e.g. an organisational response or a focus group response, although these have only been counted as a single response in the analysis.

Organisations were classified according to their 'sector' and also to their 'purpose'. Where organisations spanned different sectors, they have been classified by their predominant sector. In relation to 'purpose', organisations were classified as to whether their main activities were direct service delivery organisations (public or private); influencers (e.g. advocacy or campaigners for children's rights or justice reform) and organisations that were a hybrid of both. A final category included membership/representative organisations that were typically, but not exclusively, representative bodies for delivery organisations. A small number of individual responses came from an organisational email account with reference to their organisation within the response. These have been given a sector 'classification' in order to accurately represent their professional position and perspectives. The breakdown of responses received is outlined in Table 1.

Table 1: characteristics of responses received (total n=106, organisational n=78)

Response Type












Child / Young person



Local Government / Social Work



Third Sector Organisation



Secure Care Centre



Police and related



Legal and related



Young Person's Organisation



Children's Hearings System related


















Analytical Approach

The purpose of the analysis was to synthesise and present the findings from the consultation, providing a detailed overview of the key themes as well as drawing out and reflecting upon the depth and breadth of opinion across different categories of respondents.

Quantitative Analysis

Frequencies for the closed questions were produced in Excel 2020 by one researcher, and a sample were spot-checked by a separate researcher. Given the breadth of the consultation, respondents often did not answer all questions, or even all pillars, instead responding within their spheres of knowledge or expertise. Thus in this consultation analysis report the closed questions are reported as a 'valid percentage' of the total number of responses to each question. Comparisons were made across respondent, sector and organisational classification; however, to ensure that the consultation analysis report remained both comprehensive and useful, only similarities or differences of note were highlighted. Ten non-standard responses were not included in the quantitative analysis as they did not complete these specific questions. The full breakdown of responses, including 'Not Answered' is included in Appendix B.

Qualitative Analysis

The open ended responses were analysed thematically using NVivo 2020. Initial coding was undertaken question by question, with non-standard responses aligned to each question where appropriate. During the first coding cycle, most questions were fully coded by two researchers independently of each other. Some questions were fully coded by three researchers, and for a small number of questions only a sample of responses were double-coded. Following the first level coding, the researchers reviewed the codes and identified any points of divergence and convergence. Some codes were added or refined during this process, but there was a high level of congruence between researchers and no substantive amendments were required. The purpose of this approach was to ensure robust analysis by minimising researcher subjectivities as much as possible and by encouraging a process of discussion and debate that incorporated multiple perspectives into the coding process.

One researcher then undertook a second level of coding, where the initial codes were organised into higher level themes within each question, and themes were sense-checked across all researchers. These themes are reported in the main findings section of the report. The quotes provided are selected to highlight the themes identified, or where there are complexities or nuances between closed and open responses (for example, many respondents caveated their closed response in the open-ended questions). Quotes have only been drawn from responses where the respondent has given permission for their response to be published. While a comparison of themes was undertaken for each of the different respondent/sector/organisational types, for reasons of space the themes from this analysis are only reported when there are notable divergences from the overall themes identified in the full dataset, or where there are important differences between groups.

Children and Young People's Responses

While analysis of young people's responses and the production of an accessible analytical report was commissioned separately, it was ultimately decided to incorporate the findings from children and young people into the main consultation analysis, in order that their views are considered in the same way as other respondents, and not seen as separate or additional. Children and young people's responses are included in both the quantitative analysis (where these questions were completed) as well as the overall themes reported for each question. However, to ensure that children and young people's voices are given due prominence in this report, their views and direct quotes related to each question are additionally presented in their own sub-section. Children's views tended to be gathered via focus group or organisational activity, and thus their responses often reflect the voice of groups of children, with five 'group' responses and nine individual responses from children and young people. It has been assumed that all direct responses by individuals on to Citizen Space were from an adult respondent, although it is not possible to ascertain the age of individuals and so this may not have been the case. It should also be noted that several respondents, both individual and organisational, drew upon their knowledge of the views and experiences of children and young people to shape their professional/adult responses. In addition, the Scottish Youth Parliament conducted a survey of its members on a number of topics, one of which was care and justice, and received 243 responses. Unfortunately this was received too late for inclusion in the main analysis but was analysed by the SYP and is presented in Appendix A.


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