9. Concluding Comments
The consultation has captured a broad range of responses, from individuals and organisations across a number of different sectors. Although opinions, perspectives and experiences varied, there was generally a reasonable level of consensus within and across topics. Pillars with high levels of agreement included secure care and residential care. While maximising the use of the children's hearings system received broad support, there were mixed views about whether existing measures required amendment in order to do so. There were also more mixed views in relation to how children should interface with 'criminal' justice settings, such as court or YOI. While there was often support for making these settings more 'child-friendly', others understood the desire for improvement but felt that for under 18s, this was at odds with the aims of the proposed Bill. The potential use of Movement Restriction Conditions for children who did not yet meet the secure care criteria were also divided, with many seeing both potential benefits but also possible consequences of net-widening and up-tariffing.
While, overall, most of the proposed changes received relatively high amounts of support, within this there was frequently an acknowledgement that the proposed changes had implications for other parts of the system, especially in relation to resources, workforce development and skills, or capacity. In addition, there was frequently a reminder that the proposed changes must not unintentionally undermine organisational purpose, culture or values. This was especially pertinent for the expansion of the children's hearings system, and its welfare principles regarding the best interests of the child, and minimum intervention. There was also a recognition of the sometimes delicate balance between meeting the needs of the child who had caused harm, and the person harmed. As such, assessing the impact of the changes on the justice system as a complex whole, as well as on children and young people was seen as being important.
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