Justice for children and young people - a rights-respecting approach: vision and priorities - action plan

This plan sets out the early actions towards achieving the outcomes and priorities within the rights-respecting approach to justice for children and young people – Scotland’s vision and priorities (the vision) between June 2021 and June 2024.

Priorities and Actions – Year One

Priority Action Timescales Responsibility/Interest[1] Outcome and what success will look like
Overarching Commitment
  • We will work in partnership to deliver the vision and priorities in order to meet the asks of the Promise and other review/research pieces
To be completed by June 2024 Scottish Government and Youth Justice Improvement Board members All children and young people who are in conflict with the law will be supported and have better outcomes for the future
Rights and Understanding
Services provided to children and their families uphold their rights, through all aspects of work, in line with UNCRC requirements and Scottish Government legislation, including monitoring services to ensure rights are being upheld
  • Work with practitioners to raise awareness of general rights across the youth justice field through engagement events, fact sheets and other material, in particular through the continued development and use of a multiagency WSA approach
June 2022 All Rights of all children are upheld and they are supported to understand what this means for them and what to expect
  • Consider the gathering of data to monitor whether children’s rights are being protected
June 2022 All
Support to be offered to children and their families to understand and know their rights so they can exercise them
  • Support the development of processes to challenge or complain when children’s rights are not upheld
December 2021 All Families and children and young people understand their rights and know how to challenge when their rights are not being upheld
  • Provide easily accessible advice for all on aspects relating to rights, linking with other work ongoing around rights, enlisting the support of groups such as YouthJustUs
June 2022 All
  • Support children and young people to articulate and realise their wishes and rights
June 2022 All working with children and young people
Provision should be made to ensure professionals/services are taking in to account additional support needs, including speech, language and communication needs, to improve their life chances
  • Develop information for the workforce on recognising undiagnosed SLCN and adapting services to meet those needs
December 2021 SLCN sub-group Children and young people have their needs recognised and action to address those needs is provided
  • Continue to support local areas to recognise and support those with SLCN and work with partners to consider whether therapists should be embedded in local teams through analysis of the benefits of adopting such an approach
Ongoing SLCN sub-group
Participation and Engagement
Improve participation and engagement of children and young people ensuring that they have developmentally appropriate participation opportunities to help shape the decisions, services and supports that affect them; including addressing barriers to engagement providing access to information and processes in language that they understand and taking account of cultural differences or disabilities and any communication needs June 2021 SG Children and young people actively participate and are able to engage in the decision which affect them as outlined in the Promise
  • Work with YouthJustUs to develop a child-friendly version of the standards and vision to ensure young people understand how the standards affect them and what the priorities are for youth justice over the next three years
December 2021 CYCJ participation leads, YouthJustUs
  • Work with practitioners to highlight good practice around ways of working with young people to hear their voices with a view to developing children’s service plans that give prominence to the voice of those with experience of the justice systems, as part of implementation of the standards
December 2021 CYCJ participation leads, local authorities
  • Support practitioners to consider how children can be involved in EEI processes through engagement
March 2022 CYCJ participation leads, local authorities, Police Scotland
Information and support for victims is enhanced, considering good practice, whilst respecting data protection and confidentiality rights; this includes access to restorative justice approaches where appropriate, regardless of the age of the person responsible or the outcome of the case
  • Linking to work to develop a victims centred approach across Scotland led by Victims Support Scotland, ensuring read across for developing a consistent approach to information sharing for child victims regardless of the path or outcome through working with agencies to provide clear, empathetic and trauma informed information and material from first contact and throughout
From August 2021 Police Scotland, COPFS, SWS, third sector, SCRA, CHS, Victim organisations Victims are supported and their rights are upheld
  • Establish current preventative measures being used to minimise community and other contact between victims and person causing harm, gathering good practice examples to be shared across Scotland
From June 2021 Police Scotland, COPFS, SWS, third sector, SCRA, CHS, Victim organisations
Support must be trauma-informed and tailored to the needs of all participants
  • Review current services, practice and learning from the delivery of trauma-informed approaches to ensure specific tailored support is offered to child victims where there are currently gaps, with the view of reducing the need for referral to adult services
Initial phase of gathering evidence during 2021/22 with the view to development of services from 2022 onwards SG, Victims organisations, third sector, LAs Trauma-informed specific approaches for children are available and accessible to all children
Children and young people at risk of criminal exploitation are supported through increased understanding of the nature, scale and extent of the issue and awareness raising with practitioners and communities
  • Develop a definition of CCE to enable those working with children and young people to understand what constitutes CCE
December 2021 SG and Divert 3 workstream Children are at less risk of criminal exploitation and those who are at risk have services available to address their needs
  • Create and share ways in which to respond to CCE which mitigate the potential harm. Learning from other jurisdictions and agencies about how they respond to potential CCE and how they address those exploiting them
June 2022 SG and Divert 3 workstream
Whole System Approach
Continue to deliver a WSA to under-18s, supporting the development of the workforce to deliver effective multi-agency partnerships and creating lasting systems and culture change
  • Publish revised EEI Core elements to continue to support the use of EEI across Scotland
June 2021 SG Children are diverted away from the Criminal Justice System to appropriate alternative supports The whole system approach to preventing offending by young people is embedded in practice offering more holistic supports to children
  • Support a national roll-out of the EEI core elements
June 2022 EEI Forum, SG, CYCJ, Police Scotland, LAs
  • Research EEI approaches across Scotland to understand how effective the process is and highlighting best practice to ensure future consistency of approach around EEI for all under-18s regardless of whether there is a charge or not
December 2021 EEI Forum, SG, CYCJ, Police Scotland, LA
  • Continue work to consider increasing the range of offences that can be referred to EEI in particular for 16/17-year-olds
March 2022 COPFS, Police Scotland
  • Publish FRAME/CARM guidance to broaden the understanding of risk and mechanisms available to support risk
June 2021 SG
  • Deliver training to practitioners and managers on the use of CARM, promoting a risk-based approach across Scotland
Ongoing CYCJ
  • Publish Improving Our Approach to Workforce Development as drafted under the previous youth justice strategy, to support the development of the workforce in Scotland
September 2021 SG
  • Engage with Scottish Government Justice colleagues to ensure youth justice matters are reflected in the development of a new Justice strategy and in particular the inclusion of an expansion of WSA beyond 18
From June 2021 SG, YJIB/Justice board members
To the extent possible, no under-18s should be detained in youth offender institutes, including those on remand, with secure care being used, where therapeutic trauma-informed approaches are required for the safety of the child or those around them and where community alternatives are available for those who require additional support
  • Map community alternatives across Scotland, including alternatives to remand and establish best practice approaches promoting local planning to investment in community alternatives
December 2021 CYCJ and SG Children are diverted away from the Criminal Justice System to appropriate alternative supports
  • Provide details to courts of the availability and efficacy of alternatives to remand, ensuring that decision makers have the information available and confidence in the alternatives in order to not place them in custody
March 2022 CYCJ, SG, LAs, COPFS, SCTS
  • Through research and investigation consider those currently on remand in Young Offenders Institute to understand their needs, identify history and reasoning for remand
August 2021 CYCJ, LAs and SPS
  • Consider options for secure care delivery in the future through workshops and meetings
August/September 2021 SG, secure care providers, LA, COSLA, SWS
  • Consider the findings from the bail and remand research published in December 2020 to inform and support change
December 2021 COPFS, SCTS, Judicial Institute, LAs, SG
  • Work with Scottish Government Community Justice Division to explore electronic monitoring options to reduce the use of remand and/or secure care for 16/17-year-olds and promote their use across Scotland
June 2022 SG, CYCJ, LAs, COPFS
Raise the age of referral to the Principal Reporter to 18 for all children with a presumption against under-18s in the Criminal Justice System, consistent with the Lord Advocate’s prosecution policy. Where this is not possible, they must be treated in a way that is trauma-informed and recognises their age and stage of development
  • Consider future legislative provision around 16/17-year-olds in the hearings system
May 2022 SG All under-18s have the rights afforded to children, with access to the children’s hearings system and where this is not appropriate, supported in a system which recognises their age and stage of development
  • Review the recommendations from the 16/17 cross system working group
September 2021 SG
  • Support implementation of diversion guidance to ensure it remains credible, effective and responsive to the needs of those under-18s referred
December 2021 CYCJ, COPFS, Community Justice Scotland
  • Promote the use of court support for every child that appears in Court through discussion, best practice and production of support materials, highlighting the benefits in delivering such a service to ensure that the child engages, participates and understands the process
June 2022 SCTS, LA
  • For those who do go through the court process, ensure processes are in place so that all cases for under 18 accused are dealt with in quicker timescales and with information shared appropriately
June 2022 COPFS, SCTS
Data and Evidence
Data on children and young people is recorded, gathered and analysed in order to evidence the need for change and guide further improvements in policy and practice and to ensure that improvements are sustained
  • Support the actions of the Children’s Social Work Statistics Steering Group led by the Scottish Government Children’s Analytical Services in order to ensure that data is collected on secure care and CARM
December 2021 SG and CYCJ We have the required data and evidence to better inform policy and practice so that children and young people benefit
  • Establish what data is missing and the barriers which are restricting access to data in order to overcome these issues and ensure we have full information to know what is working well and where the gaps are
March 2022 SG, CYCJ, WSA group members
  • Develop national data sets for youth justice
June 2022 SG, CYCJ, WSA group members
  • Gather data on EEI to establish a baseline, trends and shifts at local or national levels which could then inform specific gaps and needs of areas of effective practice
June 2022 SG, CYCJ, WSA group members
  • Consider the evidence available in order to shift spending at strategic levels upstream and into EEI and Diversion
June 2022 SG, CYCJ, EEI forum, Police Scotland, LAs
Early Intervention and Support
Children and families are supported at an early stage to assess, identify and respond to wellbeing needs, to reduce stigma and improve their life chances and outcomes
  • Improve information sharing across systems to ensure that young people are appropriately supported based on a full picture of their needs
June 2022 SG and CYCJ Stigma is reduced and the life chances of children and families are improved
  • Carry out investigation in to the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people
June 2022 All
  • Learn lessons from the work being delivered through the Family Support Delivery Group
December 2021 SG
  • Engage in plans for further action in the second Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan
Spring 2022 All
  • Develop consistent messages around restorative approaches to be used across the workforce to address harm with a particular focus on restorative approaches in education
June 2022 Education Scotland, LAs, CYCJ, Police Scotland
Relationships are built and access to services to address adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), trauma and other challenging experiences is improved through the delivery of trauma-informed approaches, youth work, gender-based approaches and effective multi-agency partnerships
  • Ensure that children and young people in conflict with the law are including in the future youth work strategy
June 2022 SG Children and young people have strong supportive relationships
All children and young people have timely access to appropriate services to address mental health needs
  • Through membership on the task and finish group reduce barriers by supporting the development of mental health pathways for vulnerable at risk groups, including early interventions
From June 2021 SG, CYCJ, task and finish group More children and young people have their mental health needs addressed
  • Improve understanding and enhance service provision in relation to mental health and trauma through practice development, building confidence to respond to lower level emotional wellbeing
June 2022 CYCJ, third sector, health, LAs
  • Support the work being taken forward by the Scottish Government Improving Mental Health and Wellbeing, Children, Young People and Families unit around the development of proposals for delivery of community services in three care pathways in CAMHS, learning disability (LD), secure and forensic; learning lessons from the Interventions for Vulnerable Youth service
From June 2021 CYCJ, secure care providers, local authorities, SG secondees in mental health
Workforces are supported to develop and continually address the needs of children and young people in Scotland
  • Support for partners across youth justice in the implementation, governance and accountability of the Youth Justice Standards
June 2022 All The workforce are effective and offer services for all children and young people in Scotland


Email: Youth.Justice@gov.scot

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