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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-11423: Kezia Dugdale (Lothian)

Scottish Labour

Date lodged: 20 September 2017

To ask the Scottish Government how it will reduce the rate of care-experienced young people who end up in the criminal justice system.

Answered by: Mark McDonald 2 October 2017

The Independent Care Review will help shape further improvements as we continue to drive a preventative, whole system approach to offending to improve life chances and help keep communities and young people safe from crime and disorder.

Our priority is to improve life chances for children and young people involved, or at risk of becoming involved, in offending. Implementation of the youth justice strategy Preventing Offending: Getting It Right For Children and Young People will secure further progress for vulnerable groups. It includes a strong focus on supporting young people with complex needs - many of whom are looked after children.

However, we know that care-experienced young people are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, and in custody. The Scottish Prison Service 2015 Prisoner Survey found that of the 327 young men under 21 in HMYOI Polmont who responded, 33% reported being in care as a child, while around 2% of all Scotland’s children are looked after.

  • The number of young people (12-17) prosecuted in Scotland’s courts has fallen by 78% from 9813 in 2006-07 to 2203 in 2015-16;

  • The average number of under 18s in custody has decreased by 77% from 223 in 2006 to 51 in 2016;

Substantial progress has been made over the last 10 years in keeping young people, including care-experienced young people, out of the criminal justice system:

The Scottish Government is committed to keeping as many young people as possible out of the criminal justice system.