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CHS welcomes passing of Care and Justice Bill

Children's Hearings Scotland welcomes the passing in the Scottish Parliament of the Children (Care and Justice) (Scotland) Bill, which enshrines in law age-appropriate care and justice for all young people across the country.

The Bill was approved at Stage 3 on 25 April by 71 votes to 49, after passing through extensive scrutiny and amendments during evidence gathering and its previous stages through parliament.

No more young offenders institutions

As part of wider work to embed the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) in law and to Keep the Promise, the Bill contains a series of measures to improve children’s experiences of the care and justice systems, whether victims, witnesses or children who have caused harm.

It ensures children are kept out of custody; ends the placement of under-18s in Young Offenders Institutions, offering alternative therapeutic secure care; and puts in place enhanced safeguards for children that have their liberty restricted. The Act, for the first time, provides access to the Children’s Hearings System for new referrals for all 16- and 17-year-olds.

“Throughout the parliamentary process it was acknowledged that for Scotland to fully respect the rights of children it was crucial to raise the age of referral to the Children’s Hearings System so all children under 18 receive age-appropriate care and support.”
– Stephen Bermingham, Practice and Standards Manager, CHS

Due regard to trauma

Among several amendments passed at the Bill's final stage through parliament, was the provision that CHS should have due regard to the effects of trauma on children, which has been a long-standing commitment of CHS.

CHS has worked with partners to develop a high-quality training offer for our Panel Community, and will work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure we have the time and capacity to respond to the new requirements of the law.

The Bill will now progress via the parliamentary processes and will proceed to royal assent.