Children and the justice system
Involvement in the justice system can be a difficult and upsetting experience for children and young people.
We work to influence legislation and measures in the justice system to ensure that they are child-centred, and that the rights and wellbeing of children are respected at all times.
We have worked with the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the Scottish Court Service to discuss how their policy and practice can be better for child victims and witnesses. Children and young people who use Children 1st abuse and trauma recovery services sometimes are victims or witnesses in a court trial. We use some of their experiences of the justice system as (anonymous) case study examples when we meet with justice organisations, to explain what could be done better.
We were successful in arguing for a number of new procedures to be introduced through the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act that will go some way to ensuring the wellbeing and protection of children in the justice system. But much more can and should be done.
We will continue to work with the necessary agencies to guarantee that the needs of children and young people in the justice system are heard, acknowledged, and acted upon.
Learning from the Barnahus approach
The Scandinavian model of the Barnahus, which literally means 'child's house', demonstrates a way for children's involvement in the justice system to be more efficient and sensitive to children's trauma.
The Child’s House provides all the care and support a child and their family need under one roof. By uniting the care and justice response, a child’s best evidence is captured, without harm and without prejudicing a fair trial.
There are many lessons to be learnt from the Barnahus approach and we have discussed how these can be applied to the Scottish system in the writing below.
Thanks to an award from players of People’s Postcode Lottery through the Postcode Dream Fund, Children 1st is leading a partnership with Victim Support Scotland, the University of Edinburgh and Children England to build Britain’s first Barnahus known as “Child’s House for Healing”.
Consultations and submissions
- Letter to the Scottish Parliament Health Committee - Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill (June 2020)
- Joint briefing on the Stage 1 debate of the Children (Scotland) Bill: protecting children’s rights in the civil justice system (May 2020)
- Response to the Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Bill (January 2020)
- Response to Children (Scotland) Bill (November 2019)
- Written evidence: Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) Bill submission (August 2018)
- Response to the Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill consultation (July 2018)
- Pre-Recording Evidence of Child and Vulnerable Witnesses: Scottish Government Consultation Response (September 2017)
- Briefing for Stage 3 debate on Criminal Justice (Scotland) Bill (December 2015)
- Response to the Draft Victims' Rights (Scotland) Regulations (November 2015)
- Justice for Children evidence for Evidence and Procedure Review (October 2015)
- Children 1st, NSPCC and VSS briefing on child witnesses for SNP Conference (October 2015)
- Standards of Service for Victims and Witnesses - consultation response