The Scottish Government has launched Scotland’s new Youth Justice Strategy which is to see a continuation of the successful Whole Systems Approach to manage the behaviour of young people offending, or at risk of offending, which has led to a 70% reduction in the numbers of young people in prison and a huge drop in youth offending.
To implement the strategy locally, there will be a transition from Community Justice Authorities to an integrated planning model as part of Community Planning Partnerships, who will be required to strategically implement, develop and improve the Whole Systems Approach to youth offending.
Since 2011 the Whole System Approach (WSA) has provided a clear focus on:
- Early and effective intervention (EEI)
- Opportunities to divert young people from prosecution
- Court support
- Community alternatives to secure care and custody
- Managing high risk, including changing behaviours of those in secure care
- and custody
- Improving reintegration back into the community
Keys statistics published in the strategy show that:
- Crime is at a 40 year low, and offending by young people has halved since 2008-09
- 70% reduction in number of under 18s in custody – Down from 222 in 2007 to 66 in 2014/15
- 83% reduction in children referred to Children’s Hearings System on offence grounds – from 16,229 in 2006-07 to 2,764 in 2013-14
- Care and protection referrals fell by 61% from 44,545 to 17,4766
- 74% reduction in children appearing in court over last seven years
- Estimated saving of at least £2.8 million in court costs
In future there will be a strategic focus on:
- Integration and sustainability as part of Community Planning
- Improving practice aligned with implementation of the 2014 Children and Young People Scotland Act
- Timely and effective interventions to minimise the number of children in the Criminal Justice System and formal processes
- Assessing and managing risk and complexity for the small number of young people posing the greatest risk to themselves and others
The strategy notes that effective integration of youth justice into children’s services planning, community planning and community justice will be a key challenge for all partners concerned and that the age of criminal responsibility remains under active consideration.
Learn more about the new Youth Justice Strategy here