Publication - Corporate report

Prosecution of young people: report

Published: 27 Nov 2018
Directorate:
Justice Directorate
Part of:
Children and families, Law and order
ISBN:
9781787814011

The Inspectorate of Prosecution in Scotland's thematic report on the prosecution of young people in the Sheriff and Justice of Peace courts.

78 page PDF

971.9 kB

78 page PDF

971.9 kB

Contents
Prosecution of young people: report
Key Findings

78 page PDF

971.9 kB

Key Findings

  • 16/17 year olds were twice as likely to be prosecuted as 16/17 year old offenders subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order (CSO). 53% were prosecuted in comparison to 23% of the offenders subject to a CSO.
  • Of those prosecuted in the sheriff summary and Justice of the Peace courts the sentence imposed in 41% of cases could have been achieved by an alternative to prosecution.
  • Compared to the police reports for the categories of offenders under 16 or 16/17 year olds subject to a CSO, there was a significantly higher percentage of reports where no information was provided on the offender's individual or family circumstances or vulnerabilities for those in the 16/17 year olds category.
  • Delays in reporting or taking decisions when an offender is approaching 16 or has an intervening birthday has the potential to create a different outcome for young people who are older by a few days or weeks.
  • There is a disconnect between the emerging consensus that young people aged under 18 should be treated as a child or young person in the criminal justice context and the current legal framework where, for many, 16 still represents the transition from a child to an adult.
  • There was a high success rate (80%) for the 16/17 year olds diverted as an alternative to prosecution.
  • Diversion only failed in three cases (3.5%) due to a lack of co-operation or further offending.
  • Of the 69 offenders where diversion was completed successfully almost two thirds (43) did not re-offend.
  • For those with complex needs more than one intervention may be necessary to address the causes of the offending behaviour.
  • In 56% of cases, it took more than four weeks to implement the decision to divert the offender.
  • Close proximity between the offence and the commencement of engagement with Criminal Justice Social Work (CJSW) is essential for diversion to be effective and relevant for the offender.
  • The average time between receipt of the police report and the completion of diversion was seven months.
  • Updates on progress from CJSW need to be obtained in a timely manner to ensure final decisions can be taken as swiftly as possible to minimise any adverse impact on the young person.
  • Communication with offenders during the diversion process was inconsistent and often at variance with COPFS guidance.
  • Letters sent to offenders were overly complex and contained legal jargon.
  • Communication was not tailored to offenders' needs taking account of, any known, equality issues.

Contact

Email: Carolyn Sharp