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The Children's Panel - life changing

What is youth justice? Reflections on the 1968 Act 06 December 2018

Yesterday, Social Work Scotland held an event celebrating 50 Years of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968.

During the event, Social Work Scotland launched several reports reflecting on the evolution of different areas of social work practice. One of these, What is Youth Justice? Reflections on the 1968 Act,  charts the changing responses to youth justice since the introduction of the Children’s Hearing System. 

The report calls for less punitive treatment of children and young people who come into conflict with the law, and for an evolved approach that focuses on minimum intervention and maximum diversion from formal justice systems which includes children’s hearings and adult criminal courts.

We welcome the report’s conclusions that the youth justice system should respond to young people and their families in a way that maximises children’s inclusion even where their behaviours are challenging and harmful to others. 

Our Practice and Partnership Lead, Jackie McRae, who attended the event said, “The report acknowledges the important contribution the Children’s Hearings System makes to youth justice. It also highlights further work that needs to be done to improve protection and support to children and young people and ensure that our responses are age and stage appropriate.”

Children’s Hearing’s Scotland National Convener, Boyd McAdam was interview for background to the report.  He added, “The types of cases being brought to children’s hearings have changed over time but the founding principles, established by Kilbrandon, have not: children and young people being referred to children’s hearings require support and understanding. 

“We value hugely the commitment and contribution of volunteers in their various roles within the system. They are recruited for their personal qualities, skills and values including a demonstrable capacity for empathy and understanding of children, young people and their families. They undergo comprehensive training which is now being strengthened through our new Children’s Hearings Scotland Learning Academy. Above all, they are focused on putting the child or young person at the centre of their hearing. They are there because they care.

“Everybody with a role to play in the Children’s Hearings System has a responsibility to work together to improve experiences of children and young people in their hearings. With our partners in the Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership, we will do just that.”