Action is needed to ensure that children in Scotland’s youth
justice system receive the services to which they are entitled, say
Scottish parliamentary watchdogs.
The audit committee slammed as “disturbing” the number of cases
that were either unallocated or not continuously allocated.
At the end of last year the auditor general for Scotland’s
department reported that one-fifth of the young people it reviewed
did not have a social worker allocated to them continuously.
These figures equate to about 400 children in the Scottish youth
justice system at any one time missing out on the service they need
and are legally entitled to.
The audit committee says in its response, Dealing with
Offending by Young People: “The committee finds the number of
unallocated or not continuously allocated cases in relation to
children’s services very disturbing and believes that the
seriousness of this situation cannot be overstated.”
It makes several recommendations to the Scottish executive to help
local authorities address the issue, including the collection and
publication of data. It also wants the executive to work with local
authorities to produce guidance for safeguards when a case cannot
be assigned to a qualified social worker.
And it calls on the executive to consider “what special attention
is needed to strengthen social work services for children, over and
above improvements relating to social work services
It suggests that the executive reviews whether there are lessons to
be learned from the voluntary sector and adult services in relation
to recruitment and retention issues, and calls for a review of the
way services are funded.
The committee wants multi-disciplinary independent inspections to
be introduced for community youth justice services for young people
Publication of the committee’s report coincides with the passing by
the Scottish parliament last week of a bill to establish a
commissioner for children and young people.
Deputy minister for education and young people Nicol Stephen said:
“Children are at the heart of the executive’s agenda. The
commissioner will champion the rights of all children and young
people but will focus on the most vulnerable and
– Report available from