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Youth Justice

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This information is to help you with this general subject. If you have been affected by this issue or would like some further information please contact us.

What is Youth Justice?

When children or young are alleged to have offended, they can be referred to the Youth Justice services in their area. Every Local Authority has a wide range of services. These include police, social work, voluntary agencies and the Children's Reporter. These agencies are supposed to work together to prevent young people from offending, and to help them to stop offending.

Specialist youth justice teams work with young people aged 8-18 who offend, to help them stop offending and to help young people get back on the right track.

I have had a letter that says that I have been referred to Youth Justice. What does this mean?

If you have been referred to a youth justice service, it is because you have committed an offence or that people think that you are at risk of becoming involved in offending behaviour.

Do I have to work with them?

It is your choice if you want to work with a Youth Justice Service or not. However, if you decide not to, the agency who referred to may decide that you should be referred to the Children's Reporter. The reporter will have to decide whether you should be referred to the Children's Hearing (the Panel). The panel is not there to punish you, but they are there to decide what help you need to stop offending.

What will the Youth Justice people expect me to do?

A Youth Justice Worker will meet with you and talk to you about your behaviour. They will put together a plan for you. This should be one that will suit what you need. When they draw this up you will be asked what you think. If there is anything that you think you need you should tell your worker about it. The work could involve one to one work or group work with other young people.

What is Restorative Justice?

Restorative Justice works to enable young people to take responsibility for their behaviour, to understand the affects of their actions on not only those harmed, but themselves, their family and the wider community. It also allows young people and to repair the harm caused by their antisocial or offending behaviour in the best way possible.

This can be done by:

• participating in a face to face session with the person harmed to talk about the incident and to say sorry for what you have done.

• doing some work for the person harmed to make amends.

• participating in a Restorative Justice Conference, involving the person responsible, person harmed, their support person(s) and other affected persons.

• repairing damage caused in the community

• taking part in victim awareness sessions and / or writing letters of apology and explanation to persons harmed

Restorative Justice is not about punishing you. The idea is to help you through working with you to understand the impact of your behaviour on other people, to understand how you can change your thinking, and your behaviour, and to help you to move on to better things.

What is Victim Awareness?

Victim Awareness involves only the person responsible in one-to-one or group-work sessions. It allows young people to consider their actions from the perspective of the person harmed, increasing their awareness of their choices and actions.

© Scottish Child Law Centre

Many thanks to our volunteer Youth Project Worker for providing this information.