2. The Proposed Standards
It is intended that the draft standards developed will apply to all children (defined as those aged under 18) resident in Scotland. They are also designed to complement the recently published Health and Social Care Standards and the National Performance Framework. The standards outline the minimum expectations for all strategic and operational services delivering youth justice in the community, secure care and young offender's institutions (YOI). There are eight proposed standards, the full details of which are in Appendix A, but are summarised here as follows:
Standard 1: Prevention and Early Intervention
Prevention and Early Intervention is available to every child in Scotland who is involved in or at risk of offending. This includes the availability of Early and Effective Intervention (EEI) in every area, with appropriate multi-agency partnerships to make decisions and provide voluntary supports at the earliest possible opportunity.
Standard 2: Children's Hearing System
Children referred to the Children's Reporter receive support at the earliest opportunity and those who are subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order (CSO) have a Child's Plan in place which is reviewed at regular intervals and supported by appropriate risk assessment tools. This standard includes provisions for assessment of a child's needs and outlines the presumptions that children who are jointly reported will be dealt with by the Children's Reporter and that non-engagement is not a valid reason for termination of an order.
Standard 3: Alternatives to Prosecutorial Action
Where appropriate, children should be dealt with out with formal systems. Where that is not possible consideration must be given to the use of alternatives to prosecutorial action, which includes diversion. The provisions under this standard include that reports submitted by Police Scotland to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) must include all relevant information available to support the Procurator Fiscal to mark the case and make a decision and that decisions made regarding children referred to COPFS should be made timeously.
Standard 4: Court
All children must have access to supports when going through the Court process. To support the delivery of child-centred justice all cases for a child accused should be accelerated through the court process. This standard outlines expectations for supporting all under 18s going through the court process, such as swift processing, as well as the support for children made subject to a Court order.
Standard 5: Secure Care and Young Offenders Institution (YOI)
The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time (UNCRC), this includes Secure Care and Young Offenders Institutions (YOI). This includes exploring all community alternatives and only using YOI as a last resort as well as support and transition arrangements for children in secure care or custody.
Standard 6: Risk Assessment and Care and Risk Management
Risk assessment is a crucial step in Care and Risk Management (CARM) to identify which children require services, the type and intensity of service provision required and in guiding appropriate care planning. Undertaking different depths of assessment in response to different levels of risk presented by children is essential. This standard outlines the protocols and assessments to be followed when children display harmful sexual behaviour and/or behaviour involving violence.
Standard 7: Transitions
Transitions can be stressful and challenging. It is essential that children are supported with their transition between placements, support services and systems to help them prepare and understand the transition. This standard includes information sharing as well as the identification of a named professional contact when children are transitioning to adult services.
Standard 8: Improving Outcomes
To support improving outcomes it is expected that the quality of service provision for children involved in or at risk of offending will be measured using the standards outlined in this document. This standard emphasises mechanisms to measure the impact of supports to children involved in or at risk of offending.