COVID-19 Children and Families Collective Leadership Group - short-life group on under-18s in custody: report

The Covid-19 Children and Families Collective Leadership Group (CLG) set up a short-life group to deliver improvements in the experience and reduce the number of under-18s in custody. This is the sub-group's report and recommendations.

Vision. Aims and Priorities for Safeguarding Young People in the Youth Justice System


Safeguard young people in the Youth Justice System, supporting a presumption against under 18s in the Criminal Justice System, keeping them out of YOI where possible and appropriate


Funding will be in place and services will be ready for transformational changes to Secure Care provision and a reduction in the number of under 18s in YOI - (final changes by March 2024)

Services, organisations and children will be ready for the introduction of a Children's Care and Justice Bill which will increase the age of referrals to the Reporter to 18 for all – Subject to Parliamentary process by March 2024 (Commencement)

Priorities to achieve the vision

Meet Scottish need through transformational change to secure care – Supporting no under 18s in YOI (where possible/appropriate) by 2024:

1. Improving community and family support to reduce the use of secure care.

2. Increase capacity in secure care through funding to reduce the need for cross border placements (during financial year 2022-23).

3. Ensure the required capacity, supports and mechanisms are in place to meet the needs of all under 18s in secure care (by Dec 2022)

Implementation of the Youth Justice Vision between 2022-2024. Including increasing the age of referral to the reporter in line with legislation and increasing alternatives to remand

Review and update Legislation through a new Children's Care and Justice Bill - Subject to Parliamentary process


Work with Secure Care providers and SPS to evaluate the needs of the current YOI population and ensure further supports are in place by December 2022

Ensure confidence of Judiciary in alternatives by December 2022

Capacity of Children's Hearings System, Social Work and Secure Care to support an increase in referrals by December 2022

Through the Community alternatives working group - Investigate community initiatives to reduce the number of children who are on remand January-April. Develop a Framework for practitioners by September 2022

Care and Justice Bill team established (December 2021). 12 week public consultation (Expected spring 2022)

Drafting of key policy instructions from February 2022 to enable implementation across the legal system in Scotland.

Investigate the funding requirements with all delivery partners for placing young people in secure care. Talks are ongoing to finalise a new funding model and a new commissioning approach (Incremental with initial funding from summer 2022)

Address the outstanding considerations of the Cross System Group on 16/17 year olds in the hearings system by September 2022. A rapid review group has been established including COPFS, SCRA, CHS, Police Scotland to develop options

Through the Children's Hearing System Working Group, support SCRA and the Children's Hearings System to assess current practices and produce a comprehensive report by December 2022.

Prep for introduction (Expected end 2022 - subject to Parliamentary agreement and process)

Continue to review the Vision action plan and trackers for the Whole System Approach Implementation group and the Children's Rights group, driving forward actions under the group to meet the priorities of the Youth Justice Vision published in June 2021 including consistency of approach to Early and Effective Intervention, extending WSA beyond 18 and supporting raising the age of referral to the reporter to 18 for all children and young people.

Increase public confidence and awareness raising, and ensuring continued partnership buy in and commitment through Ministerial events, media, newsletters, meetings - Ongoing


Number of under 18s:

  • In The Hearings System
  • Prosecuted in court
  • In Secure care
  • In Custody
  • In Community alternatives

Governance and Delivery Leads

Led by Scottish Government Youth Justice and Children's Hearings Unit in partnership with stakeholders including the Youth Justice Improvement Board (YJIB) members, Implementation Groups, Secure Care Group, Children's Hearings Working Group. Governance through the YJIB and the Promise Board



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