Raising the age of referral

Posted on 17th Jun 2020

SCRA has welcomed a consultation issued by the Scottish Government about raising the age of referral to the Principal Reporter.

The consultation focuses on a proposal to raise the age a young person can be referred to a Children’s Hearing to protect them or address their behaviour. It will run until 7 October 2020 and is available at https://consult.gov.scot/children-and-families/age-of-referral-to-the-principal-reporter.

Neil Hunter, SCRA’s Principal Reporter/Chief Executive Officer said: “This is a hugely important consultation. As Scotland moves ever forward in aiming to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and in keeping The Promise of the Independent Care Review, the need for us to have an inclusive and welfare-based approach to the needs of all children, in keeping with the Kilbrandon ethos is more critical than ever.”

Neil continued: “My concern for many years has been that for some young people, who otherwise might be regarded as still in childhood elsewhere – and in other policy and practice contexts – fall outwith the realms of the legal protections and duties of support that they require and which can be effectively delivered within the Hearings System.

“Some continue to be inappropriately dealt with in our criminal justice system, others get access to supports which are not designed for them as children. There may be of course, in a very small number of circumstances, the need for ongoing caveats, safeguards and reassurances in the work we do to protect children and others from harm.

“However this should not stop us from ensuring that those young people up to the age of 18 in Scotland who often urgently need the support and protection of the law should be precluded from receiving this.”

Neil added: “The Scottish Government is to be commended for picking this issue up and attempting to close this gap and anomaly in our approach in Scotland.

“SCRA looks forward to contributing constructively to the consultation and the opportunities that exist to invest in, strengthen and our expand our overall approach to children and young people in Scotland.”

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