Reimagining Justice with Children and Young People

Using a new model, grounded in the principles of the Scottish Approach to Service Design (SAtSD), we’re supporting local authorities and other partner organisations to build rights-respecting services. Drawing upon our expertise in Practice Development, Participation and Research, we facilitate change management processes, with children and young people at the centre of the co-design process. Whether it’s working to encourage the development of Youth Courts, or supporting Local Authorities through a careful redesign process, we facilitate change that is both adaptable and inclusionary. Together we Reimagine Justice to ensure the rights of children and young people are upheld.


Significant legal and policy changes are being introduced in Scotland, including a commitment to #KeepingThePromise and the incorporation of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). These changes will ensure that children, young people and their families are at the core of decisions being made about them, while providing an opportunity for them to shape the delivery of services they receive. Utilising our knowledge of the Scottish political landscape we can ensure that services are rights-respecting and compliant with the latest developments in policy and practice.

What and How?

Thanks to generous support from the Promise Partnership, we have been able to increase this work. We have partnered with Dartington Service Design Lab who bring their own additional expertise in evidence-informed practice, systems change and user-centred design.

Our dedicated team comprises of:

  • Practice Development Advisors
  • Participation Advisors
  • A Service Designer

Tailoring our approach to partner organisations’ aims, objectives and resources we facilitate a 3-phase design process (Discover and Define, Develop and Deliver and Evaluate). To find out more about how Reimagining Justice could support you, download this brochure, or contact

Youth Courts

As part of Reimagining Justice we are supporting the development of Youth Courts in Scotland. We are committed to encouraging a rights-respecting approach to justice for children and young people, in line with Scottish government policy and strategy. This move aligns with wider developments in both the policy landscape (Whole System Approach, #KeepingThePromise) and within the judiciary (e.g. the revised sentencing guidelines which recommended that the maturtity of children and young people under 25 should be taken into account during sentencing). The evidence base is clear:

  • Most children who find themselves in conflict with the law do not go on to offend in adulthood, with many of those engaged in serious offending not known to justice systems (McAra & McVie, 2022).
  • Children who experience a range of adversities are significantly more likely to encounter the Criminal Justice System in adulthood (McAra & McVie, 2022).
  • Children who are economically deprived are 2.7 times more likely to face adversarial police action than more affluent children who commit the same frequency and severity of offence (McAra & McVie, 2010).
  • 1 in 9 young men from the most deprived communities have spent time in prison by the time they are 23 years old (Webster & Kingston, 2014).
  • 81% of children under the age of 12 who were reported to the Children’s Hearing System for displaying a pattern of offending behaviour had parents who were deemed to pose a risk to them (due to domestic violence, substance misuse, mental health issues, criminal behaviours, abuse or neglect).
  • Care experienced children are more likely to be reported to police and to attract a criminalising response, even when trauma related or involving minor offending.

Youth Court in practice

Glasgow Youth Court has been operational since June 2021. Read CYCJ’s independent evaluation by Aaron Brown and Nina Vaswani, published in May 2023 here. Structured Deferred Sentencing Courts operate in Hamilton, Lanark and Airdrie. Evaluated 2018-19 by UWS. The report can be found here.

If Youth Courts are to be a success, and lead to better outcomes for children and young people in conflict with the law, partnership working is required. Utilising feedback from a wide range of stakeholders – including children and young people – our Youth Court Blueprint is designed to support partners and encourage consistency. Read our Youth Court Blueprint, published in November 2023 HERE

To find out more about Youth Courts, or our wider Reimagining Justice work, 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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