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.

4. Pillar Two: Children in the Criminal Justice System

Question 9

Should any of the above options be considered further?

Yes / No

1. A re-examination of the decision-making framework between which system should deal with a child's case and the consequent interfaces between the children's hearings system and the courts, as outlined currently in Section 4 above.

2. The continued use of traditional court settings, recognising the local innovations that are already underway across different areas of Scotland to improve children's experiences.

3. Making changes to practice, conduct in court and support for all children, whilst retaining children in court settings.

4. In light of the Promise we would welcome views on any other proposals beyond options 1-3 that should be considered.

If yes, which option(s)?

Please give reasons for your answer, including any positive or negative implications of any of the options. We are particularly interested in implications for people who have been harmed

Statistical Overview

  • This question had two aspects. Not all respondents who answered 'yes' to the first aspect of the question then specified which option(s) they supported in the second aspect of the question.
  • For the first part of this question 93% agreed that (some of) the above options should be considered further
  • Four respondents disagreed, including three individuals and one Local Government/Social Work organisation
  • For the second part of this question, within which respondents were able to select multiple options, Option 1 was the most popular, with 68% supporting its further consideration
  • Option 2 received the least support, at 36%, whilst Option 3 received 58% and Option 4 received 53%.

Main Themes

Option 1

Option 1 received the most support, with 68% of those who responded to this part of the question supporting this proposal. Several respondents expressed that Option 1 held the most potential for long term, radical change, should the decision-making framework be reviewed to allow all (or the vast majority) children to be removed from criminal justice systems and dealt with via the children's hearings system. It was added that this was an essential step should Scotland wish to be United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) compliant and 'Keep the Promise'. Furthermore, several respondents highlighted that this proposal offered scope for more balanced and multi-agency decision making that accounted for the views of all agencies and lead professionals involved with the child. In particular, it was felt that local authorities' perspectives should be accounted for in this process:

"The decision-making framework as mentioned in a previous answer should be considered. A more balanced approach where it is not simply for the court to decide could lead to greater consistency."

[Case 6, Local Government/Social Work]

"NYJAG would call for clearer guidance and an increased expectation that more offending behaviour is dealt with via the Children's Hearing for jointly reported cases. There should be a greater level of involvement of the local authority in this key point of decision making."

[Case 43, National Youth Justice Advisory Group]

Option 2

Only 36% of those who responded to this part of the question supported Option 2, with limited qualitative responses provided to support this position. One respondent highlighted the potential for learning from innovations already taking place:

"As mentioned in option 2, we need to continue to learn and share developments from innovations that are already underway. It will be particularly interesting to see the outcomes from the pilot youth court."

[Case 32, East Lothian Council]

In arguing against this proposal, several respondents highlighted that it felt disjointed from the ethos of the rest of the consultation. These respondents emphasised that traditional court settings are not appropriate spaces for children.

"Option 2 – We do not support the proposal for the continued use of traditional court settings whilst recognising local innovations and good practice. We believe that traditional court settings are not appropriate for children and we should be working to remove the need for children to appear in such spaces. We do not believe that we can rely on pockets of 'local innovation' alone and are concerned that however innovative they may be, they would still expose children to adult justice environments that we should be looking to steer children away from."

[Case 74, Aberlour]

Some respondents, did, however, highlight that whilst they did not feel traditional court settings were appropriate spaces for children, in extreme cases of serious harm a court was more appropriate than a hearing. These respondents highlighted the need to learn from local innovations, as Option 2 proposes, whilst taking forward (some of) the suggestions in Option 3.

Option 3

Of those who responded to this part of the question, 58% supported Option 3. Several respondents stressed that whilst they supported the more long-term goals of Option 1 and 4, in the interim, Option 3 should be pursued to make immediate improvements to the experiences of children and young people being dealt with in court. In addition, other respondents argued that children who have caused the most serious harms should still be dealt with in court, and that for these children the changes proposed in Option 3 would help make their court experiences more child friendly. For these reasons, many respondents who supported this option felt that it should not be pursued in isolation, with only six respondents exclusively selecting Option 3.

"Whilst there is a need to support changes to decision-making and the implementation of these changes to minimise the number of children routed to the criminal justice system, we understand that some children will still be before this system. As such, we welcome the changes proposed by option 3 to make improvements to court settings to ensure they better meet the needs of children."

[Case 71, CELCIS]

"Option 3 - We support these proposals to make changes to practice, conduct and support in court. However, we do not believe they should be seen as an alternative to extending use of referral to the CHS. All under 18s should be referred to the CHS, but where a crime has been committed where the sentence is set in law, or there requires a parallel response from the courts (e.g. driving ban), these arrangements would support child-centred management in safe, trauma-informed, rights-respecting spaces."

[Case 74, Aberlour]

A very small number of respondents expressed concerns about Option 3. The Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service highlighted a range of concerns that could pose challenges to implementation:

"Whilst we fully appreciate the rationale behind these, there are likely to be a number of practical difficulties […]. For example, smaller courts may only have one court room available and many of our buildings are historic and may not have facilities such as separate exits/entrances available within them. The consultation document notes that it would be beneficial to prioritise children's cases so that they call first on a court day and are heard within a shorter timescale. Cases involving children already have a degree of prioritisation when hearing dates are assigned, however, the order of calling cases may be determined by other factors outwith the courts' control, for example, witness availability. Other proposals suggested, such as changes to the pace of the court hearing, regular breaks and a shorter court day, will also have an impact on court programming. This has the potential to reduce the number of cases that can be dealt with during the court day."

[Case 101, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service]

The concern over the impracticality of separate entrances and waiting rooms was also flagged by The Sheriffs' and Summary Sheriffs' Association, who also expressed concern over the logistics of accommodating all those who are required to attend a trial (including the accused, the sheriff/judge, clerks, solicitors, prosecutors, court officers and potentially social workers, advocacy workers and relatives) around one table, as proposed by Option 3. It was highlighted that this would likely result in attendees sitting in close proximity with one another, posing both practical and safety implications especially where witnesses are required to be present. In addition, they highlighted unintended legal and rights implications that these proposals could have:

"Furthermore, it would appear that the rights of the accused could be significantly compromised by some of the proposals, if implemented. If the sheriff was at the same table as the child then any necessary interaction with or reassurance given by the child's legal advisers (which at present can take place a suitable distance away from the sheriff) would become impossible without the sheriff overhearing, or without there becoming a need for frequent, unscheduled interruptions to proceedings. Any accused person's lawyer (solicitor or counsel) is there to speak for the person, to give advice, to advocate and lead evidence on their behalf, and to assist in ensuring that proceedings are fair. If the sheriff ignored the lawyer to speak directly to the young person about certain aspects of the case this could threaten their fair trial rights."

[Case 34, The Sheriffs' and Summary Sheriffs' Association]

Option 4

Fifty-three percent of respondents who answered this part of the question supported Option 4, with respondents emphasising their support for The Promise and agreement that court settings are not suitable environments for children. Several also provided their views on proposals beyond Option 1-3. These included:

  • The use of Evidence Suites, newly opened in Glasgow and Inverness, which provide a non-court venue for witnesses giving evidence by using a live TV link on the day of a court hearing; or by having their evidence taken by a commissioner and pre-recorded in advance of a trial.
  • Increasing scope for participation in the children's hearings system
  • Guardians or advocates for every child referred to a hearing
  • Training to ensure all those working with children in conflict with the law are trauma informed
  • The statutory provision of the Barnahus model to improve victim's experiences in the justice system

Young People

Two young people felt that none of these options should be pursued further, whilst four felt that (some of) the above options should be explored further. Of these, four felt that Option 1 should be explored further and two felt that Option 3 should be explored further. There were mixed views across young people, with some feeling that traditional court settings should never be used for children and others feeling that these are appropriate in some cases:

"I think traditional courts should be used in serious cases to send a message to the child about the severity of the case. They should still have support in court but the case should be in a court room rather than a children's hearing."

[Case 90, Individual Young Person]

"Stick to current system, including courts for some offences."

[Case 94, Individual Young Person]

"No, traditional courts shouldn't be used for children."

[Case 93, Individual Young Person]

Question 10

Where a child requires to be deprived of their liberty, should this be secure care rather than a YOI in all cases?

Yes / No

Please give reasons for your answer

Statistical overview

  • Most respondents agreed with this question, at 83% compared to 17% who disagreed
  • Organisations were more likely to agree than individuals, at 89% compared to 70%
  • All Influencer Organisations, 91% of Hybrid Organisations, 87% of Delivery Organisations and 83% of Representative Groups agreeing with this question.
  • Notably, all Secure Care Centre respondents agreed with this question, as did all Legal and 'Other' organisations. Police-related organisations and Children's Hearings System-related organisations had the lowest percentage of support across the sector groupings, at 67%.

Main themes

Many respondents emphasised that Young Offenders Institutions (YOIs) were fundamentally inappropriate settings for children. This was mentioned at least once across all but one of the sector groupings, and was particularly emphasised by Local Government/Social Work, Third Sector and Children's Rights organisations. Various reasons were given to argue that YOIs were inappropriate settings for children, due to the likelihood of trauma being exacerbated within that environment. This included the use of pain-inducing restraints; the detrimental aspects of the culture and environment; and the stigma and shame associated with a sentence. Across these responses, there was emphasis on the ways in which these aspects of being detained in YOIs can significantly impact upon children and young people's mental health and result in incidents of self-harm and suicide.

"Yes, we would support the view that Young Offenders Institutions are not an appropriate solution for children. In 2018, the Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland reviewed mental health provision in HMYOI Polmont. This report highlighted the increased risk factors for self-harm and suicide and vulnerability of many of the young people in detention."

[Case 83, Public Health Scotland]

"Recent research which found that 83% of children held in a YOI had been strip-searched - clearly breaching their human rights under the UNCRC - adds further weight to HLS's belief that children should never be accommodated in a YOI under any circumstances."

[Case 65, Howard League Scotland]

Further responses – particularly, but not exclusively, those from Children's Rights organisations - highlighted the tension that currently exists between international children's rights standards and the use of YOIs as settings for children.

"Where children are deprived of their liberty, the UNCRC is clear that they must be treated with humanity, respect and in a manner that takes into account their needs. Together's position is that these standards are unlikely to be met in Young Offenders Institutions. By contrast, secure care offers relationship-based, therapeutic, trauma-informed support. As such, Together believes that where no alternatives are possible and deprivation of liberty is required as a last resort, that this should be in secure care."

[Case 73, Together]

In addition to arguments against YOIs, respondents justified their support for this proposal by emphasising the benefits associated with a secure care environment. It was expressed that secure care can provide a superior trauma-informed and therapeutic setting, where children and young people's needs can be responded to on an individual basis. It was suggested that secure care affords better access and opportunities for education, whilst allowing for family visits to be more regular, private and meaningful. It was stressed that this type of environment offered greater scope for effecting rehabilitative change - a point particularly emphasised in Local Government/Social Work and Secure Care Centre responses.

"Young people and I would go as far as saying up to the 21st birthday they need to be given an opportunity for therapeutic intervention and whilst YOI will try and replicate what is currently delivered in secure care the very environment enforces 'prison'."

[Case 77, Secure Care Centre]

"A secure unit is more conducive to implementing a trauma informed approach. As outlined in the consultation the physical environment is crucial to nurturing an approach that is rights based, value driven with rehabilitation at its heart."

[Case 29, Falkirk Council]

A small proportion of responses argued that use of YOIs should be maintained in certain circumstances. This was more prominent in responses from individuals than organisations. These responses argued that YOIs must be retained for children who have committed the gravest of offences or where it has been assessed that secure would be unable to manage the risk posed to others. One Victim organisation also emphasised that YOIs might be more appropriate for some offences, to ensure that the child or young person is held accountable for the level of the harm they have caused.

"Other secure care settings may put more focus on the care needs of the person as opposed to the disposal being due to their actions/responsibilities. Regardless of secure care or YOI interventions if sexual offences should include looking at their behaviours and take responsibility including the impact on survivors, look at consent and healthy relationships etc."

[Case 87, Women's Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre Dundee and Angus]

More broadly, attention was given by a number of respondents to the resource implications that any increased usage of secure care would entail - particularly challenges relating to additional capacity, staffing levels, workforce skills and guaranteeing the safety of 'all' children residing in these settings. This was seen as an issue across most sector groupings, although one organisation did flag that the very small number of young people typically held in YOIs would make the impact of this transition minimal. Children's Rights organisations did also emphasise that secure care is not immune to its own challenges - highlighting for example, instances of children's rights potentially being breached and a lack of communication to children about what is happening to them.

"We are concerned about continuing practices in secure care of restraint, placement in a dark cell (lights being turned off as punishment) and solitary confinement – disciplinary measures which violate Article 37 of the Convention (see p.16 of General Comment 24)."

[Case 64, Who Cares? Scotland]

Several responses also stressed the need for community alternatives to be fully resourced to avoid children being held in either YOIs or secure care. This was particularly emphasised by Children's Rights organisations who maintained that the proposed changes to legislation should not encourage an expansion of the secure estate across Scotland. It was stressed here that early intervention and whole family supports needed to be fully resourced to ensure as few children and young people as possible end up on a trajectory to secure care.

Young People

Six young people agreed that all children who need to be deprived of their liberty should be held in secure care rather than YOIs - and five disagreed. Of those who supported this proposal, the key reason given was that YOIs were trauma-producing institutions, inappropriate for children and seriously detrimental to their mental health, whilst secure care could offer a more supportive and nurturing environment that facilitated rehabilitation. Furthermore, several responses from young people emphasised that YOIs can expose children and young people to more harmful behaviour and older prisoners and obstruct opportunities for desistance.

"STARR wholeheartedly believes that YOI is inappropriate for children and poses a serious risk to safety and wellbeing. We have witnessed tragic losses of children in YOI, often connected to inappropriate placement due to a lack of secure accommodation. If Scotland wishes to meet the aims of The Promise we must end the practice of placing children in YOIs – one death in custody is too many, and it is vital that children's rights and wellbeing are prioritised to prevent further injustice and loss."

[Case 102, STARR]

This support was due to it being a more child friendly location, more access to supports and education, increased opportunities to have visits from family and a better opportunity to make amends for their actions."

[Case 59, Children and Young People's Centre for Justice (Young People)]

A key concern raised by young people who disagreed with this proposal was the risks posed by mixing children who are being held for welfare and offence grounds. There was concern that if secure care is to be used for all children and young people, including for those who have committed the gravest of crimes, then the safety and mental health of those held for lower-level offending or on welfare grounds would be threatened. For these reasons, and despite acknowledging benefits of secure, some young people felt YOIs should remain for the most serious offences, as they are better placed to keep the child and others safe. Responses from other young people, however, felt that secure care could still be used in these instances so long as the centre split children held on offence and welfare grounds into different areas:

"I don't believe YOIs should exist at all. If a young person has to go to secure care the secure care unit should separate residents based on why they're there."

[Case 90, Individual Young Person]

Question 11

Should there be an explicit statutory prohibition on placing any child in a YOI, even in the gravest cases where a child faces a significant post-18 custodial sentence and/or where parts of a child's behaviour pose the greatest risk of serious harm?

Yes / No

If no, in what exceptional circumstances should use of a YOI be considered? Please give reasons for your answer

Statistical overview

  • There was less support for this proposal, compared to Question 10. Still, 62% of respondents support an explicit statutory prohibition
  • As with Question 10, there was more support from organisations than individuals, at 67% compared to 52%
  • Hybrid Organisations had the highest percentage support, at 88%. Influencer Organisations supported this at 75%, Delivery Organisations at 65%, and Representative Groups supported this the least, at 40%.
  • Support for this proposal was over 50% in all sector groupings except from in Police-related Organisations, where all three answered no
  • Notably, all four Secure Care Centres who answered this question said yes, although their qualitative responses were caveated to emphasise that further work was needed before implementing an explicit statutory prohibition would be practically possible.

Main themes

Several respondents stressed the importance of introducing an explicit statutory prohibition - a point raised by Children's Rights organisations, along with Local Government/Social Work, Third Sector and Children's Hearings Systems-related organisations. All of whom emphasised that regardless of the severity of the offence committed by a child, the use of YOIs for children is fundamentally incompatible with the UNCRC, The Promise and Kilbrandon. Many raised similar concerns to those discussed in Question 10 - including the inappropriateness of YOI settings for children, along with the therapeutic and rehabilitative potential of secure care.

"There should be an explicit statutory prohibition on placements that are incompatible with children's rights. There is a significant body of evidence that placing children in custody deprives children of their rights, is traumatising and does not lead to positive outcomes. YOIs cannot uphold children's rights and therefore should not continue to be used."

[Case 58, Children's Hearings Scotland]

"Yes, there should be an explicit statutory prohibition on placing any child in a YOI. We cannot allow Scotland to adopt a child-centred approach, but only for those children committing lesser offences. All children should be treated as children."

[Case 32, East Lothian Council]

Relatedly, one Legal organisation also raised concern that if exceptions were made only for children who committed the gravest offences, this could lead to a single child being placed in a YOI alone, with adverse outcomes for their development.

"Given the acceptance that a YOI is not an appropriate setting for a child, it is important that no child is ever placed within this setting. If there were to be exceptions allowed for children who have committed the most serious offences then, given how rare it is for children to commit the most serious offences, it is likely that there would at times just be one child in a YOI at a time. Given the problems in having a child mixing with adults in prison, there would be significant difficulties in ensuring they were provided with appropriate social and development opportunities."

[Case 56, Clan Childlaw]

Many respondents also echoed their responses to Question 10, reiterating that secure care centres would need to adapt, and benefit from increased resources and training, if they were to support greater numbers of higher risk children, detained on offence-based grounds. A few responses suggested that a separate secure-like estate might be advantageous. An appreciation of these types of challenges was apparent in the responses of both respondents who answered yes and no to this question - with some arguing that these issues should not impede implementing an explicit statutory prohibition, whilst others stressed that relevant resourcing and planning considerations should be addressed before any implementation of an explicit statutory prohibition takes place.

"Despite relatively small numbers of children currently held within HMPYOI Polmont, we nonetheless recognise that this statutory prohibition could put significant strain on an already stretched secure care estate and workforce and suggest that investment (both financial and leadership) is provided towards alternatives to secure care and custody."

[Case 71, CELCIS]

"We therefore suggest that this step is delayed until related national work around secure provision is concluded, and we have in Scotland the provision able to provide for Scottish need. This includes availability of the level and nature of accommodation required (taking in to account the significant mental health related issues), the range and skill base of staff, and the protection of all those who require to be deprived of liberty."

[Case 25, Social Work Scotland]

For those that did not support an explicit statutory provision, respondents echoed their concerns from Question 10, highlighting that YOIs should continue to be considered in exceptional circumstances; namely, where the offence committed was of a severe nature - for example, murder or serious sexual offences - and/ or where public safety was a significant concern. This was particularly prominent in responses from individuals, and from Victim organisations, where YOIs were considered more appropriate in these circumstances for public safety and victim protection, and to ensure that those who had committed these offences were being held accountable.

"Where the public's safety through crime or harm caused by the child is at risk, then they should be placed in the most appropriate setting to mitigate that risk. There should also be an element of public trust and confidence that they will be protected from those individuals who commit serious harm to others."

[Case 19, Third Sector]

Young People

Most young people who answered this question did not support an explicit statutory prohibition - with six answering no and three answering yes. This was supplemented with two non-standard responses from young people organisations, which did not directly answer this question. One expressed a view that YOIs should never be used for under 18s, whilst the other suggested that some young people might still need to be held in YOIs. The justifications given for these responses reflected much of what was answered in the previous question. Some responses felt YOIs should be prohibited on the basis that they carry significant negative consequences for the child's mental health and rehabilitation. Others argued that in instances of serious crimes, such as murder and rape, YOIs should still be an option, or that older children who have committed these crimes should be placed in a separate secure unit.

Question 12

Should existing duties on local authorities to assess and support children and care leavers who are remanded or sentenced be strengthened?

Yes / No

Please give reasons for your answer

If yes, please provide details of how could this be achieved

Statistical overview

  • This proposal received widespread support, at 90% overall
  • Support was higher in organisations than individuals, at 93% compared to 85%
  • All Hybrid Organisations supported this proposal, as did 96% of Delivery Organisations, 80% of Representative Groups and 67% of Influencer Organisations
  • Across sector groupings, this proposal received 100% support, except Local Government/ Social Work organisations, who supported this at 89%, and Third Sector organisations, who supported this at 83%.

Main themes

In supporting this proposal, respondents highlighted that children who are remanded or sentenced are currently missing out on the level of throughcare support they need. Local Government/Social Work respondents highlighted the inconsistencies in practice across Scotland, with current duties failing to make explicit that this population of children should be considered care leavers, and therefore entitled to the same support afforded to other care leavers. This was also expressed by two Secure Care Centre respondents who highlighted that children in secure care on offence grounds receive less and more inconsistent support for transition into the community, than those on welfare grounds. It was highlighted across responses that this population of children typically had a high level of need and required aftercare to support their desistance, rehabilitation and general wellbeing.

"A strengthening of rights to lifelong support for Care Experienced people would advance equality for Care Experienced people as a community of rights-holders, ensuring equal opportunity to access their human rights in areas such as housing, education, aftercare support, financial support and mental health support."

[Case 64, Who Cares? Scotland]

Responses also, however, argued that existing duties were in principle sufficient to support this population, but that inconsistencies in implementation led to young people often falling through the gaps. This was felt to be driven by a lack of resources that impeded local authorities from complying with their duties. Resourcing was highlighted as a major issue by Local Government/Social Work, Third Sector and Police responses along with being raised by several individuals.

"… the commitment to see all children cared for and supported is already a shared vision and goal of all public bodies, including local authorities. The challenge comes in making available the necessary resources to make such aspirations, commitments, legislative duties or promises a reality."

[Case 22, Police Scotland]

"Consideration of strengthening these duties needs to take into account the additional resources and time required of local authorities that are already under significant pressure. Clarity is required as to specifically what would be required of local authorities in strengthening these duties and what provisions would be made to ensure local authorities are able to do this."

[Case 32, East Lothian Council]

Furthermore, some responses stressed that duties were differentially interpreted by local authorities and that more explicit guidance was needed. A small number of respondents thus stressed that the priority should be on increasing resources and guidance to local authorities to ensure they meet the current duties, rather than introducing new duties that they would struggle to meet.

"Existing provision through corporate parenting duties ought to address this inequality. Whilst strengthening the policy drivers relevant to this aspect of care would be welcome, it is the implementation gap of current policy that creates this precarious situation in the first place."

[Case 68, Children and Young People's Centre for Justice]

"…there are already duties in place, adding to these are unlikely to make any material difference if there are challenges to adhering to the current ones."

[Case 29, Falkirk Council]

Young People

Five young people agreed with the proposal and two did not. Several young people noted that they needed further information about existing duties to answer. Young people stressed that there needed to be earlier interventions for children and young people, before they get to the point of being in custody, and that the education and work-based opportunities available in secure and YOI need to also be made available for those on remand. In addition, young people emphasised that more needs to be done to support young people's mental health both before and during being placed in secure care or a YOI, with local authorities focusing on helping children and young people understand and recover from their trauma, and more opportunities to be referred to counselling services.

One response also highlighted that throughcare and aftercare support is not available to children and young people who are on remand. Without this support, when young people returned to their community, they would be without the resources they needed to rebuild their lives.

Question 13

Do you agree that the three above changes related to anonymity should be made?

(the proposed changes were: 1) further limitations to the circumstances in which a judge can identify a child accused; 2) that anonymity applies from first contact with the justice system and 3) post-automatic 18 identification of children ceases – up until 26 years old.)

Yes to all changes

Yes but only to some changes (please identify which ones)


Please give reasons for your answer

Statistical overview

  • Ninety-six percent agreed that there needed to be at least some change to anonymity for children, with 68% supporting all three proposals
  • Only four respondents felt that none of the proposed changes should be made, including three individuals and one Children's Hearings Systems-related organisation

Main themes

A majority of respondents agreed that all three changes related to anonymity should be implemented. These responses coalesced around several key themes, including the rights of children in this area (e.g., relating to their privacy); the safety of the child causing harm and their family; and the need to allow for their future rehabilitation.

"The changes suggested above would be in line with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child and recommendations from UNICEF that "The Scottish Government should commit to ensuring the anonymity of all children under 18 years of age who come into contact with the law and appear at Scottish courts - regardless of the offence they have committed. This anonymity should not cease at 18 years of age but instead should last a lifetime.'"

[Case 68, Children and Young People's Centre for Justice]

"This would keep these children and their families safe, support their rehabilitation and reintegration, and uphold their rights. It would also be in line with the support from the UK's four Children's Commissioners."

[Case 13, Clackmannanshire Council]

Other responses did however seek further clarification around terminology used within the Proposals; notably in respect of the wording 'protecting the public from serious harm and/or the interests of justice'.

"Social Work Scotland supports all the proposed changes but would underline the importance of clear definitions around 'protecting the public from serious harm' and 'in the interests of justice' as this terminology is open to differing interpretation."

[Case 25, Social Work Scotland]

Not all respondents agreed with all three changes - within these responses, for example, in respect of Proposal 3 there were different views expressed concerning how a child's age factored into anonymity.

"One and two because of their young age. No to three, as by that age, the consequences of decisions made need to be faced up to."

[Case 7, Individual]

"We urge caution against the third change proposed in the context of domestic abuse. Protecting the anonymity of an offender until 26 in the context of domestic abuse may serve to exclude future partners of the perpetrator from information that would be useful to them in assessing risk. This would work against the principles and functionality of established initiatives which seek to protect survivors, including the Disclosure Scheme for Domestic Abuse (Scotland). For this reason we do not support this proposal."

[Case 57, Scottish Women's Aid]

"Option 3 should be amended so that children in conflict with the law can have lifelong anonymity, and so that no decisions about the identification of children are based on arbitrary chronological age thresholds and/or public interest."

[Case 71, CELCIS]

Young People

Five young people supported all changes, four supported some and only one supported none of the proposals in this question. The key reasons given for this were that extending anonymity for children and young people will protect themselves and their families from violence, harassment and being ostracised in their communities, whilst simultaneously supporting their rehabilitation and enhancing their job and educational opportunities.

There were differing views across young people regarding whether proposals should be caveated with concerns for public safety. One response highlighted that this struck a good balance, and where a child or young person reoffends or poses a serious risk then they should lose their right to anonymity. Another young person, however, argued that children should remain anonymous regardless of risk, as this is in their best interests for rehabilitation. A separate respondent also highlighted their concerns regarding who should make these decisions - suggesting that these should be made by juries or panels of experts, as leaving this to individual judges provides them with too much power.


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