CYCJ reacts to the passing of the Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill

CYCJ very much welcomes the passing of the Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill by the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 25, April.

Following years of activity and having been a successive Programme for Government commitment, the Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament in December 2022. This landmark piece of legislation contains a number of measures to improve experiences and promote and advance outcomes for children, particularly those who come into contact with care and justice services.

The Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) believe this bill is a foundational step in building a legislative framework that upholds children’s rights under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and helps fulfil Scotland’s pledge to Keep the Promise.

Across our work on policy, practice, research and participation, CYCJ has long advocated for many of the following changes:

  • Recognising all children under 18 as children in respect of care and justice systems;
  • Raising the age of referral to the Principal Reporter to 18;
  • Enhancing the information and support available to people who have been harmed when the case of the child who has caused this harm has been referred to the Reporter;
  • Improved safeguards to children’s rights, safety and welfare throughout criminal justice proceedings from police custody to court processes;
  • Maximising the ability of the courts to remit the cases of children who have pled or been found guilty of an offence to the children’s hearings system for advice or disposal;
  • Ending the use of Young Offender Institutions for children and ensuring any child who requires to be deprived of their liberty has a route to secure accommodation;
  • Increased support to young people where they have required the protection of a compulsory supervision order or where they have been sentenced or remanded in secure accommodation;
  • Requiring the development of standards for secure transport;
  • Additional safeguards and regulation where children are placed cross-border into Scottish care settings.

CYCJ provided evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s Education, Children and Young People  Committee during the consultation and ahead of Stage 2. We supported children and young people to participate in the consultation process, and our Director Fiona Dyer gave evidence at the Education, Children and Young People Committee in April 2023. Debbie Nolan, CYCJ’s Practice Development Advisor, was also seconded to the Bill team and has recently returned to her post at CYCJ

Fiona Dyer, CYCJ Director:

“This is a momentous day for children in conflict with the law in Scotland. It marks the culmination of years of hard work and campaigning from many across the sector, including from children and young people themselves, to rightly recognise all children under 18 in the care and justice systems as children, in need of care and support.

Moving all children from Young Offenders Institutions to secure care accommodation and allowing universal access to the Children’s Hearing System will end the current unjust two-tier system of justice. We also welcome the significant increase in support available for all children who have been harmed.

Nearly all children who harm have also been the victim of significant harm themselves and this Bill guarantees a compassionate, trauma-informed, and rights-respecting approach to ensure they are given the support needed to prevent future offending.

At CYCJ we are currently developing support to aid organisations in preparing for the commencement and implementation of the Bill and are keen to hear from all organisations interested in this.”

For more information please contact

Contact Us

Children's and Young People's Centre for Justice
University of Strathclyde
Lord Hope Building, Level 6
141 St. James Road Glasgow G4 0LT

(0141) 444 8622

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