26 April 2024

New legislation to strengthen support and rights for young people in Scotland

Scotland’s Children (Care and Justice) Bill has been passed in the Scottish Parliament (25 April 2024) and is set to become law.

The provisions of the new Act are designed to enshrine in law care and justice for young people, with measures to improve children’s experiences of the care and justice systems, whether they have experienced harm and/or have caused harm.

Alongside new provisions to ensure children are kept out of prison - under 18s will no longer be sent to Young Offenders Institutions, with secure accommodation used for detention instead – there are also new measures to support anyone harmed by a child supported by the Children’s Hearing System.

Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise Natalie Don said:

“Scotland is taking a big step forward in embedding UNCRC principles and Keeping the Promise by passing this Bill. It contains wide ranging measures to ensure age-appropriate justice is delivered, ensuring children in Scotland are kept out of prison and supporting safe, proven care-based alternatives.

“The integrated, welfare-based, Kilbrandon ethos of our children’s hearings system is something Scotland can rightly take pride in and all children - whether in need, at risk or in trouble - deserve our concern and support. This Bill will help ensure they get it. It equally provides a robust package of support for victims and their families, strengthened during Stage 2 and Stage 3 of the Bill.

“This landmark Bill is proof of the progress Scotland is making to Keep the Promise by 2030 and will be transformational for the most vulnerable children and young people in the country.”

Claire Burns, Director of CELCIS, welcomed the passing of the Bill and said:

"This new legislation will work to ensure there is better support for children and young people in conflict with the law. It is vital that we respond to children in conflict with law as first and foremost children in need of care and protection and respond to what they have told us has helped or hindered their lives and wellbeing. Scotland must keep its promise to our children and young people and this is a welcome and important step in ensuring we will and can."

Read more

Read the Bill