Scotland and the sustainable development goals: a national review to drive action

This review provides a statement of our pre-COVID-19 ambition on driving progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals in Scotland. It brings together evidence, actions and stories of how we are making progress to meet the Goals.

16 Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

  • Human Rights
  • International

Scotland is a country that values and understands the importance of having strong institutions and a trusted government to benefit the people living here. Goal 16 can only be achieved if we value kindness, dignity, compassion, respect for the rule of law and act in an open and transparent way, as Scotland’s NPF set out. The NPF guide Scotland’s approach to government and public services, with treating all our people with kindness, dignity, and compassion as our core values. These values should be put into practise across public services. We are driving this through an ambitious and wide ranging programme of public service reform and through implementing the policies and practise of open government, across the work of the Scottish Government.

Security and justice (targets 16.1, 16.2 and 16.3)

The Justice in Scotland: vision and priorities sets out the vision for a ‘safe, just and resilient Scotland’ and is focused on improving outcomes for people across Scotland, providing an over-arching and consistent framework to which everyone across the sector can align their efforts.

Scotland has become safer over the past decade. Overall, levels of crime and victimisation have fallen. The 2017/18 Scottish Crime and Justice Survey (SCJS), which includes crimes not reported to the police, estimates that the overall number of crimes experienced by adults in Scotland in 2017/18 has fallen by 42% since 2008/09, and by 16% since 2016/17 to the lowest level ever estimated by the survey. The SCJS also shows that there has been an 11 percentage point increase in the proportion of adults who said they felt very or fairly safe walking alone after dark in their local area between 2008-09 and 2017/18 (target 16.1).

Additionally, recorded crime in 2017-18 is at its second lowest level since 1974. The total number of crimes recorded by the police in Scotland in 2017-18 was 244,504. Over the past ten years crime has decreased and by over a third (35%) since 2008-09 in Scotland.[33] The SCJS also confirms that the proportion of adults experiencing crime in Scotland has fallen from around one-in-five (20.4%) in 2008-09 to one-in-eight (12.5%) in 2017/18.

The Scottish Government reported in 2017 that the number of people under 18 convicted of handling an offensive weapon has fallen by 85% since 2008-2009.[34] Action has been taken to reduce and prevent violence through our ongoing support and investment in the Violence Reduction Unit, and specific interventions including the Mentors in Violence Prevention Scotland Programme, Medics Against Violence ‘Ask, Support, Care’ programme, the No Knives Better Lives Programme and the hospital-based Navigators programme.

Over the past ten years the number of victims of homicide has fallen by 39% from 97 in 2008-09 to 59 in 2017-18. Over the same period the rate of homicide victimisation fell by 43% from 19 to 11 victims per million population. For male victims, this rate fell by 40% from 28 to 17 victims per million population and for female victims the rate fell by 53% from 10 to 5 victims per million population.[35]

The Data Picture: Crime victimisation

In 2018-2019, 12.4% of adults reported being a victim of crime in Scotland. This has been on a downward trend in recent years.

Gaps in the graph reflect the fact that annual data on this question is only available from 2016-17 onwards.

Line graph shows a consistent downward trend in the percentage of adults who report they have been the victim of one or more crime in Scotland from 20.4% in 2008-09 to 14.5% in 2014-15. Following this, the downward trend continues with 12.5% of adults reporting themselves as a victim of one or more crimes in 2017-18.

Percentage of adults who were victims of one or more crimes in the past year

Source: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey

The number of sexual crimes recorded by the police have increased by 97% over the past ten years from 6,331 in 2008-09 to 12,487 in 2017-18.[36] This long term rise is due to a range of factors. Part of this trend of increased reporting may reflect a greater willingness by victims to come forward, including to report crimes which may have not taken place recently. Another component to the increase of total sexual crime in 2017-18 is also due to there being 421 new crimes of disclosing or threatening to disclose an intimate image. These are as a result of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act (which commenced in July 2017) and are new to the sexual crime group. Previous Scottish Government research highlighted that a growth in sexual ‘cyber-crime’ accounts for a significant proportion of the growth in sexual crime in recent years.

The Data Picture: Perceptions of local crime rate

Around three quarters of adults in Scotland believe that the local crime rate has stayed the same or reduced in the last 2 years.

Gaps in the graph reflect the fact that annual data on this question is only available from 2016-17 onwards.

Line graph shows that the percentage of adults who think crime in their area has stayed the same or reduced in the past 2 years has risen from 73.5% in 2008-09 to 74.7% in 2015-15. Following this, perceptions of local crime rate declined to 72.6% in 2017-18 before rising again to 73.4% in 2018-19. The years 2010-11, 2012-13 and 2014-15 are not connected to the trend line to highlight changes in the survey that provides this data.

Percentage of adults who think crime in their area has stayed the same or reduced in the past 2 years

Source: Scottish Crime and Justice Survey

Cyber security (targets 16.10)

Digital technology offers huge opportunities for Scotland as a modern, progressive nation. However, these fantastic digital opportunities are not without risk and that risk is increasing. The National Crime Agency assesses that the cost of cybercrime to the UK economy is billions of pounds per annum.[37]

Safe, Secure and Prosperous: A Cyber Resilience Strategy for Scotland published in 2015 provides a framework for improving Scotland’s cyber resilience. It sets an ambition for Scotland to become a world leading nation in cyber resilience by 2020 and ensure everyone can share in the social, economic and democratic opportunities of the digital world. Cyber resilience is about getting the most out of online technologies while keeping ourselves, our families and our organisations safe and secure, and able to manage the threat.

The Programme for Government 2017-18 committed the Scottish Government to working with the National Cyber Resilience Leaders’ Board (NCRLB) to develop and implement a suite of action plans to help drive Scotland towards our strategic ambitions. The action plans seek to support the development of cyber resilient behaviours amongst Scotland’s population, and to build a skilled and growing cyber security profession. Actions are being taken to ensure that Scotland’s public bodies have in place a common baseline of good cyber resilience practice. The Scottish Government has committed to make £500,000 available to smaller businesses and charities to ensure critical controls in place to defend against the most common cyber threats, while working with Scottish Enterprise and Scottish Development International to promote Scotland’s reputation for robust cyber security products and services, and to provide seed funding of over £350,000 for a Cluster Management Organisation to support the growing number of businesses in this sector with further dedicated funding of £250,000 for a cyber-resilience innovation call, to stimulate fresh thinking in our private sector to meet the future cyber-resilience challenges our public sector will face.

Human trafficking and sexual exploitation (targets, 16.1, 16.2 and 16b)

Scotland is fully committed to tackling the issue of human trafficking and exploitation, including trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation (target 16.2). The Scottish Government, criminal justice agencies and support organisations work in partnership, both to make Scotland a more hostile environment for trafficking and exploitation and to ensure that victims are identified and given the support and assistance they need.

The Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy published in May 2017 identifies three areas of action where the Scottish Government will focus efforts: Identify victims and support them to safety and recovery, identify perpetrators and disrupt their activity, and address the conditions that foster trafficking. Sections 9 and 10 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 places a duty on Scottish Ministers to provide support and assistance to victims of all forms of human trafficking and exploitation and of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour. This duty came into force on 1 April 2018. Support and assistance that may be provided includes but is not limited to:

  • Accommodation
  • Day to day living
  • Medical advice and treatment
  • Counselling, legal advice, repatriation
  • Information about other services available

Following publication and enactment of the National Strategy, in 2018 there were 228 referrals to Police Scotland of potential victims of human trafficking. This is an increase of 10% from the 2017 indicative figure. The rise is indicative of a greater awareness of the issue of human trafficking which is a positive move forward to eradicating trafficking and exploitation in Scotland. The Scottish Government has provided funding of nearly £800,000 between 2017-2018 to support all adult victims of human trafficking in Scotland, including specialist psychological trauma support. The support period offered to adult victims of human trafficking was doubled in April 2018 to at least 90 days.

Trafficking and exploitation of children has long been recognised as child abuse in Scotland and triggers child protection procedures. Ongoing support and protection is provided by local authorities and other partners.

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 has introduced a single offence for all kinds of trafficking and raised the maximum penalty for Human Trafficking to life imprisonment. The act also introduced two new court orders to allow for the disruption of trafficking and exploitation: Trafficking and Exploitation Prevention Orders and Trafficking and Exploitation Risk Orders. The first Orders were imposed in March 2018 and place restrictions and prohibitions on convicted traffickers to limit what they can do. The Act also introduced a presumption against the prosecution of victims of trafficking and exploitation, providing clear support and preventing victims being prosecuted inappropriately. The National Human Trafficking Unit, Police Scotland are working in partnership with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service to maximise all available opportunities to use the Orders to protect individuals from harm and to disrupt trafficking and exploitation activity.

Our vision of a strong and flourishing Scotland is one where all individuals are equally safe and respected, and where women and girls live free from all forms of violence, as well as the attitudes that perpetuate it (target 16.1).

Domestic abuse, however, remains a prevalent issue – latest findings from the Scottish Crime and Justice Survey show that in 2016/18 15.6% of adults report having experienced physical or psychological partner abuse since the age of 16, with women (20.0%) almost twice as likely as men (10.9%) to have experienced such abuse. To tackle this, the Scottish approach is framed by our Equally Safe strategy.

The Equally Safe strategy for preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls was originally produced in 2014, updated in 2016, and further updated in 2018. It focuses on the need for prevention of violence and sets out how we will develop a performance framework to determine whether we are realising our ambitions. The Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 has introduced a ‘statutory domestic abuse aggravator’ to ensure courts take domestic abuse into account when sentencing offenders.

In 2016 the Scottish Government launched a Child Protection Improvement Programme to make improvements in all areas of child Protection, including child sexual exploitation and trafficking (target 16.2). In March 2017 the Child Protection Improvement Programme report was published. This was followed in March 2018 when the Scottish Government published Protecting Scotland’s Children National Policy and Child Abuse Prevention Activity. The Scottish Government are currently working with Evaluation Support Scotland to develop a Child Abuse Prevention Framework.

The Scottish Government has set up a national awareness-raising campaign for parents, carers, and young people in partnership with organisations including Barnardo’s Scotland, the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, WithScotland, The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation, and members of the Public Awareness Advisory Group of Child Protection Committees Scotland. And since April 2017, Rape Crisis Scotland has delivered 372 workshops to 4594 pupils in 47 schools.

Closer Look - Whole community approach to addressing and tackling child sexual exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness raising sessions for retail staff/landlords/licenced premises were delivered by Barnardo’s Scotland with the public protection unit and two community police officers. It was a positive example of a whole community approach to managing this issue. People were able to share their concerns with the police support present and links were made between establishments. The awareness session also highlighted the personal impact that CSE has on those who are taking part in the training. Individuals who were present were keen to talk to Barnardo’s Scotland staff about concerns they have for their own teenage daughters and online dangers. Had they not been part of the awareness event they may not have known or had the confidence to come and talk to Barnardo’s Scotland staff.

Scotland is working to ensure that we are in full compliance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). The Scottish Government is working with partners such as Together and the Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland, to ensure that children and young people’s voices are at the heart of decision making. Together produces an annual assessment of UNCRC implementation in Scotland. The Scottish Government is committed to incorporating the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into domestic law within the current parliamentary term.

In the 2017 Programme for Government the Scottish Government made a commitment to invest in the development of a Digital Evidence Sharing Capability. This will improve how evidence is accessed across the justice system, making it easier to share and for cases to be resolved more quickly. The Scottish Government is working with the Scottish Legal Aid Board, which manages and administers legal aid, and the Law Society of Scotland to streamline and modernise the way criminal legal aid fees are structured. This will improve access to justice by making the system more effective and reducing unnecessary costs.

Justice for all (target 16.3)

The Caledonian System works with men convicted of domestic abuse offences to help them recognise their abuse and take responsibility for themselves and their relationships with others. An evaluation of the Caledonian System, set up to address men’s domestic abuse, shows that women feel safer and that men who complete the Caledonian System programme pose a lower risk to partners and children. The Scottish Government has provided approximately £2.3 million of funding for 2016 and 2017.

Evidence has demonstrated that community sentences are more effective at reducing reoffending than short prison sentences, as these interventions provide better opportunities to address the underlying causes of offending. This underpins the Scottish Government’s ongoing approach to making more effective use of community sentences to reduce reoffending. Local authorities work closely with Community Justice Scotland and Social Work Scotland to promote community sentencing and support rehabilitation and reduce reoffending. In addition planned penal reform includes the extension of the current presumption against short sentences from 3 to 12 months.

In 2015 the Scottish Government published the Serious Organised Crime Strategy, which aims to reduce the harm caused by serious organised crime by ensuring all partner bodies collaborate together (target 16.4). Since then the final provisions of the Criminal Finances Act 2017 have come into force (April 2018), enabling the recovery of the proceeds of crime in Scotland to be maximised.

The Scottish Government is continuing to ensure that public access to information is clear and easy to understand. translates government legislation and policy into clear and easy to understand information for the public. The website is evolving as the single point of access for finding out about public services in Scotland. This includes information regarding civil and criminal justice issues.

A Victims Taskforce has been established by the Scottish Government to improve support, advice, and information for victims of crime. The Taskforce will monitor, support, and facilitate the Programme for Government commitments. These commitment are to:

  • Reduce and, where possible, eliminate the need for victims to have to retell their story to different organisations as they look for help, working with Victim Support Scotland and others
  • Widen the range of serious crimes where the victim can make a statement to the court about how the crime has affected them, informed by consultation
  • Ensure victims and their families have better information and greater support ahead of prison release arrangements
  • Increase the openness and transparency of the parole system
  • Establish a new support service for families bereaved by murder and culpable homicide
  • Improve the experience of victims of rape and sexual assault

The Taskforce will be informed by the direct views of victims and has discussed the best methods for widening public engagement in the initial meetings.

The Scottish Government published a Victim’s Code for Scotland in 2016 which clearly and simply sets out the rights of victims of crime in a single place. An Easy Read version of this code was published in July 2018. Victims and bereaved relatives have been provided with new rights to access information and reasons for the decisions made about their case.

Democracy, public participation, public services, and society (targets 16.6, 16.7, 16a, and 16.10)

Open Government Partnership

The Scottish Government’s membership of the Open Government Partnership, a multilateral initiative, aims to secure concrete commitments from national and subnational governments to promote open government, empower citizens, fight corruption, and harness new technologies to strengthen governance. This is a key example of work between government (national and local) and civil society to rebuild trust in government and institutions. In Scotland this will now be delivered in partnership with COSLA, which represents local authorities across Scotland, and with civil society.

Scotland is a pioneer country at working with members of the Open Government Partnership (OGP), our work with them explicitly supports the delivery of SDG 16, particularly targets 16.6, 16.7 and 6.10. The current Scottish Open Government Action Plan, was developed in partnership between Scottish Government, COSLA and the Scottish OGP civil society network to seek to reach across the system of public services. The Action plan contains commitments in five areas:

1. Financial performance and transparency

2. Providing a framework to support systemic change in Scottish Government to improve the way people are able to participate in open policy making and service delivery

3. Improvements to the way information and data are used

4. Improving the accountability of public services

5. Transparency and participation in Scotland as the UK exits the European Union

The first commitment is to have a specific focus on fiscal and performance transparency. The recently established Scottish Exchequer and the new Scottish National Investment Bank are being developed as effective, accountable and transparent institutions. The Scottish Government’s Scottish Parliament Budget Process Review Group has published a report including recommendations that the Scottish Government budget process establishes a core objective to ‘improve transparency and raise public understanding and awareness of the Budget’. This is supported by the Scottish Government’s agreement with COSLA that 1% of local authority budgets will be subject to participatory budgeting by 2020/21 proactively and transparently involving local people in making decisions for how public money is spent in their community.

The Second and Third commitments of the Open Government Action Plan underline Scotland’s commitment to provide more responsive, inclusive, participatory and representative decision making (target 16.7). Scotland is improving and developing open policy making with a participation framework and a programme to improve access to data and information alongside making the data and information accessible and easily understood.

The Scotland Civil Society Open Government Network is a coalition of citizens and civil society organisations committed to improving how the Scottish Government works for people through enhanced transparency, participation, and accountability. Civic participation is a core element of an open government, as such, the network service as an engine for the generation of new ideas and as a collective voice to collaborate with and challenge government. The Civil Society Network does this by initiating outreach and increasing engagement across society. Membership of the network is open to any individual or civil society organisation.

Freedom of Information

The Freedom of Information (FOI) Act gives the right to access information held by the Scottish Government and other Scottish public authorities. In April 2017, following a dip in performance regarding FOI requests and reviews responded to on time by the Scottish Government, the Scottish Information Commissioner started an intervention process. In July 2019, the Commissioner published a progress report on the intervention. Monthly performance statistics on FOI requests handled by the Scottish Government are published on the Scottish Government website.

Citizens’ Assembly

The Scottish Government has recently convened an independent Citzens’ Assembly. Citizens’ assemblies are a methodology to help societies discuss and better understand significant, complex or divisive issues in an evidence-informed and reasoned manner. The Citizens’ Assembly of Scotland will comprise up to 130 members of the public and will be run independently of government by two co-convenors. It will consider three broad questions:

  • what kind of country are we seeking to build?
  • how can Scotland overcome the challenges we face?
  • what further work needs to be done give people the detail they need to make informed choices about the future of the country?

The Scottish Government will respond to the recommendations of the Assembly within three months.

Local Governance Review

A joint Scottish Government and COSLA review local governance in Scotland is underway. We are committed to Scotland’s different places and diverse communities having a greater, and more direct, say over decisions which affect them. In order to do this the review will recalibrate how power and resources are shared between national and local government and with communities. Any new decision making arrangements required to support this shift and bring democracy closer to people will be rights based and flexible enough to take account of local circumstances. The fourth commitment brings government in partnership with some of the scrutiny bodies to map and deliver improvements to the accountability of public services (target 16.6).

That commitment supports the work identified by the Scottish Government’s Scottish Parliament Budget Process Review Group in its report published in 2018. Scotland is committed to participatory budgeting as a tool for community engagement and for developing participatory democracy in Scotland. Participatory budgeting events are run by public bodies and local communities across Scotland.

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child

Article 12 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children have a right to be listened to and to be taken seriously. There has been clear progression within Scotland over recent years in terms of involving children and young people in policy making. The development of the previous Child Poverty Strategy and the peer led approach to substance misuse education are good examples of involving children within the policy development process. The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 introduces a provision to take account of the views of children in decisions that affect them and has resulted in the introduction of the Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessment (CRWIA).

In 2018 Children in Scotland, with Together (Scottish Alliance for Children’s Rights) supported the development of a Children and Young People’s Panel on Europe to ensure that children and young people’s voices were heard about Brexit. The Panel engaged directly with Cabinet Secretary for Government Business and Constitution, and the Scottish Government’s Standing Council on Europe to ensure that the Scottish Government were able to respond to the views of children and young people.

Closer Look - Together

Together is an alliance of Scottish children’s charities that works to improve the awareness, understanding and implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This is done by:

  • Promoting the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child
  • Helping children’s organisations to integrate the UNCRC into their work
  • Monitoring and reporting on the progress made at a Scottish and UK level

Over 380 members range from large international and national non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through to small volunteer-led after school clubs, academics, professionals and individuals with an interest in children’s rights.

Human rights in Scotland

The Scottish Human Rights Commission (SHRC) was established by The Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act 2006, and formed in 2008. SHRC is the national human rights institution for Scotland and is independent of the Scottish Government and Parliament in the exercise of its functions. SHRC has a general duty to promote human rights and a series of specific powers to protect human rights for everyone in Scotland. SHRC is accredited as an A-Status NHRI within the UN human rights system institutions in compliance with the Paris Principles[38] (indicator 16.A.1). A-Status accreditation enables SHRC to report directly to the UN on human rights issues. It also means it is the only Scottish organisation that can make direct contributions to the UN Human Rights Council on issues affecting people in Scotland.[39]

SHRC has engaged with the SDG agenda since the publication of the Goals in 2015. Their work has focused on bringing international best practice in human rights monitoring, to support alignment with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) reporting. SHRC also contributed a supplementary report[40] to the VNR in July 2019 which focused on monitoring and accountability of the SDGs. SHRC’s forthcoming Strategic Plan 2020-2024 has four strategic priorities, two of which contain focused action on supporting the implementation and monitoring of the SDGs.

In 2013, Scotland became the first and only country in the UK to have a National Action Plan for Human Rights – a key United Nations recommendation for all countries. Led by SHRC and launched with a strong coalition of around 50 in partnership with the Scottish Government, Civil Society, and public authority stakeholders, Scotland’s National Action Plan (SNAP) was an ambitious programme of work across a range of themes that had been identified through a major national research report – Getting it Right?[41] SNAP’s long term 2030 goals made explicit connection with the SDGs.

The first SNAP ran from 2013-2017. A draft proposal for SNAP 2, has been developed by Development Working Group of around fifteen representatives from across civil society and the public sector. The Group has drawn on an independent evaluation of SNAP 2013 – 2017[42], engaged with and analysed the most recent evidence on a range of human rights issues, triangulated with the SDGs targets and analysed the findings from a national participation process designed to inform the future of SNAP. The draft sets out over 60 potential actions across 25 human rights themes, and is being published for wider consultation in the autumn of 2019.

Human Rights are at the core of our NPF stating that our values are that “We are a society which treats all our people with kindness, dignity, and compassion, respects the rule of law, and acts in an open and transparent way.” Scotland’s NPF also has an outcome focused on human rights stating that we respect, protect and fulfil human rights and live free from discrimination.

The First Minister’s Advisory Group on Human Rights was set up Scotland’s First Minister to make recommendations on how Scotland should continue to advance in the field of human rights. The Advisory Group published their recommendations in December 2018. As part of the response to these recommendations, a taskforce has been created to develop a new statutory framework for human rights, to ensure Scotland is a world leader in putting human rights into practice.

Satisfaction with public services (target 16.6)

Satisfaction with public services (local health services, schools and public transport) among people who use those services, is generally higher than that of the whole adult population, and is more stable over time. In 2017, satisfaction with both schools (87%) and public transport (76%) was higher among those who use these services, than the corresponding satisfaction level for the whole adult population. However, satisfaction with health services (83%) among users was similar to the whole adult population. Overall, adults living in urban areas and remote small towns were more satisfied with the quality of public services than those in accessible small towns and rural areas. This is mainly due to differences in satisfaction with public transport in remote and rural areas. Satisfaction with public transport in large urban areas was 79%, compared to only 48% in accessible rural areas.

Overall, the trend in satisfaction in public services has declined to 52% in 2017, from its peak of 66% in 2011, driven by a decline in satisfaction with each of the three public services. Local schools have seen the largest fall, from 85% in 2011 to 70% in 2017. While the number of people who were fairly or very dissatisfied with local schools has remained stable over the period, the decline in satisfaction is due to more people expressing a neutral opinion (neither satisfied nor dissatisfied) which has increased from 11% to 25%. The percentage of people who described the overall care provided by their GP practice as “excellent” or “good” was 83% in 2017/18, and has also reduced over time from 90% in 2009/10

The Data Picture: Satisfaction with local services

Indicator 16.6.2: Proportion of population satisfied with their last experience of public services.

Satisfaction with public services (local health services, schools and public transport) has fallen in recent years to 52% in 2018.

The line graph shows the percentages of respondents who are fairly or very satisfied with the quality of local services has declined almost every year from 61.9% in 2014 to 52% in 2018, though has remained stable at around 52% between 2017 and 2018.

Percentage of respondents who are fairly or very satisfied with the quality of local services (local health services, local schools and public transport)

Source: Scottish Household Survey

Challenges and next steps

To deliver the SDGs and ensure trust our public services need to be more transparent so that the people in Scotland have effective means to see, understand and be involved in decisions that affect them. To do that they need to have access to clear information and data, and to create systems and processes for effective participation for stakeholders and citizens.

There is evidence of levels of participation and engagement of children in policy decision making processes, this is not yet evenly distributed. Older individuals and those from a more advantaged background tend to participate in the process more often. Further efforts are underway to ensure children’s voices are more routinely part of the policy process.

Domestic abuse remains a prevalent issue and disproportionately affects women. Scotland will continue to address this issue through our Equally Safe: Delivery Plan to implement our Equally Safe strategy.

The Scottish Government’s Action Plan for Progressing the Human Rights of Children 2018-2021 includes the development of a Strategic Participation Framework which aims to mainstream the participation of children and young people in decision making across Scotland. There is opportunity for the SDGs to form an integral part of the framework and for the voices of children and young people from under-represented and seldom heard groups to have an active role in informing the development of the participation framework to ensure that the broader outcomes and aims of the Action Plan reflect their needs. The Scottish Parliament is currently considering a Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill, which would contribute to target 16.2, to end all forms of violence against children.

Commitments in the Scottish Government’s 2019-20 Programme for Government that relate to this Goal

  • Deliver the legislation needed to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scotland law by the end of this Parliamentary term
  • Launching a consultation on further improvements to remove the barriers some people face in accessing legal aid, including in cases of domestic abuse
  • The National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership will focus on the development of a new statutory framework – a Scottish Bill of Rights - which will help to safeguard the human rights of everyone in Scotland. It will drive work to give practical effect to the protections provided by other treaties and obligations



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