CYCJ’s response to guidelines on sentencing young people

The Children’s and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ) has submitted its response to the Scottish Sentencing Council’s consultation on guidelines for sentencing young people.

We welcome…

  • recognition that the brain is still developing until mid-late 20’s, which has an impact on culpability
  • the clarity that a custodial sentence should only be imposed on a young person when no other sentence is appropriate

We agree….

  • that a principle-based approach makes more sense than an offence-specific approach, and;
  • cases must be referred to a children’s hearing for advice, and disposal, where it is competent to do so

We suggest…

  • the inclusion of a reference to an appropriate sentence additionally being one that increases the opportunities for the factors known to be linked to desistance to be developed/strengthened
  • restorative justice is further considered and explored as playing a role in the sentencing process, including pre and post sentencing

We believe…

  • that the guideline, in its current form, will increase public understanding of how sentencing decisions are made for children and young people, and;
  • it will result in fewer children and young people receiving custodial sentences, reducing stigmatisation and improving life chances through a greater focus on rehabilitation

Claire Lightowler, Director of CYCJ, says:

“It is very encouraging and timely that the Scottish Sentencing Council are consulting on this. We have always believed that sentencing should take account of compelling evidence that the brain does not fully mature until at least the age of 25 – as is evidenced by this research – and are pleased to see this is being used to inform a more age-appropriate response.

“It is our hope that introducing this guideline will result in fewer children and young people receiving custodial sentences, and through the provision of more effective supports, and more appropriate sentencing and disposals, children and young people will have a greater chance of having their needs met, their rights upheld, of flourishing and in turn of reducing future offending. However, this will only be achieved if there is appropriate resource provision in the community.”

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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