Young offenders aged 16 and 17 are set to be referred to the
children’s hearing system rather than the courts and helped
in the community rather than prison, following the recommendations
of a Scottish executive feasibility group.
The feasibility group, set up by the executive to examine the
need to extend the remit of children’s hearings, concluded
that the adult criminal justice service had little to offer young
adults. It said that youngsters should now be referred to the
children’s hearing system unless they had been involved in
the most serious offences.
A series of as yet undefined pilot schemes will be set up to
test the impact on re-offending rates.
Justice minister Jim Wallace said: “Enabling some 16 and
17-year-olds to be dealt with under the children’s hearing
system will ensure those committing minor offences are given
assistance to address patterns of offending with alternatives to
custody which are tailored to meet their needs.”