Consultation on raising age of referrals to children’s hearings

17 June, 2020

The Scottish Government has today (17 June) launched a consultation on raising the age at which a young person can be referred to a children’s hearing from 16 to 18.

Currently only 16 and 17-year olds who are already within the children’s hearing system can be referred or have their order continued until they are 18.

The proposal would remove the bar on new referrals so all young people between 16 and 18 can benefit from the range of protective and supportive measures available to children hearings.

The consultation, which is open until October, also seeks views on whether improvements are needed to the advice and support available for victims of crime.

Kate Wallace, Chief Executive of Victim Support Scotland, comments:

“We welcome the launch of this consultation, and its aims to tackle the root causes of young offending, reducing the number of children and young people entering the criminal justice system. This will enable harmful behaviours involving children below 18 to be addressed on a case by case basis, and will ensure victims receive appropriate support and information.

“Victim Support Scotland believes that victims of child perpetrators must have the same level of protection as victims of adult perpetrators. We hope through this consultation that additional protections, resourcing and practice implications of any age increase would require assessing the needs of victims of crime when the perpetrator has gone through the Children’s Hearing System.

“The voices and experiences of those affected by crime must be at the heart of any proposed changes.”

Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd said:

“We know many vulnerable 16 and 17 year olds currently fall outwith the Children’s Hearings System and we want to ensure all children and young people get the right support, care and protection at the right time.

“Our consultation calls for views on whether all under 18s should be supported in a child centred system. This includes vulnerable young people at risk of exploitation, abuse or harm due to their own behaviour or the behaviour of others.

“The responses to our consultation will be vital in considering the best way forward and I look forward to considering all views.”

The consultation paper and an Easy Read version of the provisions of the Bill have been published on the Scottish Government website.

Whoever you are and whatever the crime, we’re here to help