Hearing system ‘failing offenders’

Persistent young offenders in Scotland are being let down by the children’s hearing system because it is overwhelmed by child protection cases, research claims.

Those referred to the system for their offending were more likely to reoffend than those dealt with in other ways, according to the latest findings from the Nuffield Foundation’s study of 4,380 children in Edinburgh.

The authors said social workers and children’s reporters had to prioritise their time dealing with a growing number of child protection referrals ahead of offending behaviour.

Lesley McAra, co-director of the study, said the hearing system needed to better address the needs of persistent young offenders.

“If you are a social worker and you have a young offender and a child who has been abused, where is your priority going to be?” she asked.

There was a 2 per cent reduction in offending among serious frequent young offenders aged 14 who had attended a hearing, but a 21 per cent reduction among those who had not.


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