ESYTC Submits Recommendations to 'Action for Children: Kilbrandon Now!' Panel

The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (ESYTC) has acted as an advisor to the 'Action for Children: Kilbrandon Now!' panel.  In particular Professor Lesley McAra has presented recommendations for keeping 16 and 17 year old offenders out of the adult criminal justice system.

The Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime (ESYTC) has acted as an advisor to the 'Action for Children: Kilbrandon Now!' panel.  In particular Professor Lesley McAra has presented recommendations for keeping 16 and 17 year old offenders out of the adult criminal justice system.

This issue is one of the key proposals made by an independent panel brought together by the charity Action for Children Scotland to consider how best to reform Scotland’s internationally renowned Children’s Hearing system.  The Scottish Government recently published its Children’s Hearings Bill which sets out proposals for strengthening the system. The Bill has been welcomed by the independent panel and by Action for Children but they believe it does not go far enough. The panel, chaired by the former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway, questioned a range of experts on the future of the hearings system at a day long session in November.

One of the key changes that is being sought is to stop putting teenagers through the adult system and, instead, adapt, equip and resource the hearing system to include 16 and 17 year olds. At the moment, anyone of that age charged with an offence appears before the adult courts. There is little evidence, however, that this system is working either for the young people who offend or for wider society. Four out of five young people who are imprisoned before the age of 18 go on to re-offend.

The panel believes the social welfare approach of the Children’s Hearings is much better suited to dealing with these young people than the more punitive approach of the adult courts. This is based on evidence from the Edinburgh University Study of Youth Transitions and Crime, among others, which demonstrates that involvement with the adult system confirms young people in their criminal behaviour rather than helps them to break that cycle. This recommendation would apply to all 16 and 17 year olds, except those charged with the most serious offences.

Further information: Edinburgh Study of Youth Transitions and Crime

Academic Profile: Professor Lesley McAra