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 Two Onwards

Although some of these priorities may be under initial consideration in year one, specific actions are likely to progress from June 2022.

Priority Action Timescales Responsibility/Interest[1]
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
  • Support the development of co-produced materials around rights for specific situations such as police custody, attendance at court
CYCJ (Participation workers)
Support children and families to understand and know their rights
Promote public understanding and awareness of the needs and rights of children and young people in conflict with the law and the systems in place to support them
  • Create awareness raising materials, which reinforce positive truths and shift negative perceptions
  • Promote positive media campaigns around rights and building community confidence
  • Engage with communities to raise awareness of youth justice matters
For those who go through the Criminal Justice System their experience should be meaningful and participative, one which educates, improves, understands and upholds the rights of children and young people
  • Consider changes to the system including the production of materials which explain the rights of children and young people and the process they will go through
  • Consider good practice around court support and highlight the benefits of extending support to young people up to the age of 26
  • Develop an understanding of the new Glasgow youth court
All children and young people should be able to access services to address trauma, abuse, neglect and communication needs
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
  • 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
Provide activities and opportunities for children and young people to engage in education, gain employment and to have stable housing options as a necessity
  • Work with Scottish Government to support the ending homelessness agenda
  • Support partners in the review of the Sustainable Housing on Release for Everyone standards, ensuring that the needs of those under the age of 26 are met
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
  • Work with practitioners to develop good practice guidance for writing reports in order to reform the way these are written in the future – this will meet an ask from the promise
June 2023 CYCJ participation leads, local authorities
  • Work with Scottish Government on the development of future policy, legislation, and consultation in relation to youth justice and any future iteration of the vision and priorities and standards within two years of publication
June 2023 SG, CYCJ participation leads, YouthJustUs
  • Create opportunities for a culture shift whereby participation is normal practice and embedded in all aspects
June 2024 CYCJ participation leads
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
  • Engage in multi-agency work to improve the understanding and use of restorative justice approaches across the workforce including education as per the Scottish Government Restorative Justice Action plan
  • Work with Scottish Government to support the development of a future Victims Commissioner
  • Consider appropriate disclosure of children who remain of concern in to adulthood, working with Disclosure Scotland and Independent Reviewer for ACR
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
  • Support the implementation of contextual safeguarding approaches to protect children from extra-familial harm
Whole System Approach
Continue to deliver a WSA to under-18s, supporting effective multi-agency partnerships and creating lasting systems and culture change
  • Refresh practice guide around 16/17-year-olds once there is a move to all under-18s within the hearings system
  • Assess the impact on the workforce following the publication of the workforce development document
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
  • Consider future legislative change to allow flexibility for young people to remain within the secure setting beyond their 18th birthday
  • Provide support to secure care centres to ensure they have the facilities and capacity to support the needs of under-18s
  • Consider a future national approach to secure care
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 a dedicated court space for under-18s to be held when appearing from custody, irrespective of pathway
  • Scope options for a future approach where no under-18s are in an adult court, through development of a child-friendly approach; including gathering data, views from key partners and evidence of good practice from other countries
Extend WSA to those beyond the age of 18 providing access to support up to age 26
  • Research who is delivering WSA beyond the age of 18 and develop best practice to be shared
  • Research numbers of young people between 18 and 26 who would benefit from an expansion
  • Consider what changes would need to be made in order to move beyond 18 including examining joint working and ensure that both thematic areas understand how to support each other, leverage resources and ultimately, improve transitions
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
  • Development of future standards around information sharing
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
  • Develop early interventions for children and young people at risk as part of the Scottish Government’s alcohol and drug Rights, Respect and Recovery Strategy – Action Plan
  • Working with the Promise and those leading on family support, consider what changes are required to ensure children remain with their families
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
Other areas of action
Disclosure Scotland Bill
  • Provide support to individuals and the workforce as changes are made to the disclosure of offences by children
Age of Criminal Responsibility
  • Keep a watching brief on the work of the ACR Advisory Group, linking in with any recommendations in relation to a future age of criminal responsibility


Email: Youth.Justice@gov.scot

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