Scotland’s response to children in conflict with the law: What data exists?

Wherever possible children who come into conflict with the law should be kept out of the adult criminal justice system and either diverted from formal systems altogether, or have their needs met through the Children’s Hearings System. However, a large number of children in Scotland do get drawn into the adult criminal justice system.

Due to the dual system approach, as well as the legalities around the definition of a ‘child’ in Scotland, the processes can be complex and difficult to understand. With two separate, albeit linked, systems that children can become involved in, it can also be a challenge to monitor our national response to children who come into conflict with the law and to identify whether we are responding in their best interests and meeting their developmental needs.

A further challenge in accessing information is that within various published reports the age categories used differ and children are sometimes grouped with young people. On occasions the information on children is not contained within the main report but needs to be accessed through additional tables in the supporting files.

In response to these issues, CYCJ has published a recently updated paper by Carole Murphy that collates the regularly published official statistics in Scotland, which are known to CYCJ, in relation to children in conflict with the law. It documents what data exists, where and when it is published, as well as providing the available data for the past five years. We hope this helps to make the information more accessible to individuals and organisations.

This was updated in February 2023.

Download Scotland's response to children in conflict with the law: What data exists?

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

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