- Children who come into conflict with the criminal law in Scotland, do not currently enjoy the full spectrum of their human rights. We support the incorporation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scots Law.
- The definition of a child should be the one adopted under UNCRC Article 1 i.e. anyone under the age of 18.
- We support the findings of the Edinburgh Study: the greatest predictor of future involvement with the criminal justice system is previous early involvement with the criminal justice system. Early intervention is therefore key.
- In line with the UNCRC, child detention must only ever be used as a measure of last resort and for the shortest period of time.
- No-one under the age of 18 should be held in a Young Offenders Institution. We therefore support the policy intentions of the Children (Care and Justice)(Scotland) Bill, which proposes that all 16 and 17 year olds (not just those subject to a Compulsory Supervision Order) who are in conflict with the law should be dealt with by the Children’s Hearing System, not by the adult criminal courts. This reflects the welfare ethos of the Kilbrandon Report and acknowledges that there is a large overlap between those who offend and those who have been offended against.
- As an alternative to YOI custody, we believe that children in conflict with the law whom it is essential to detain (for their own protection or the protection of others) should be held in age-appropriate secure accommodation.
- We campaigned for the age of criminal responsibility to be increased from the age of 8, and were pleased that it was increased to 12 in the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019. However, this is not high enough: Scotland should follow the UN recommendation that the minimum age of criminal responsibility should be 14.