Two weeks remain for people to have their say on how young offenders should be sentenced in Scotland's courts.
The Scottish Sentencing Council is keen to hear more views on the principles set out in its draft guideline on sentencing young people – those aged under 25 – on which its consultation closes on 21 August, after being extended due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Up to 17,000 young people are sentenced by criminal courts in Scotland each year, a task the Council describes as "a complex and challenging exercise which requires a more individualistic approach, with a need to take the unique personal circumstances of the young person into account".
It believes a guideline will increase public knowledge and confidence by explaining the process involved in sentencing a young person, and increasing understanding of the factors which are taken into account. It will also assist judges and lawyers and promote consistency in the sentencing of young people.
The Council would especially like to hear from those who have experience of the criminal justice system, including from victims and victims’ organisations, and those with a particular interest in the sentencing of young people.
The guideline encourages sentencers to take account of a young person’s maturity when assessing their blameworthiness for an offence. It also recognises that young people have a greater capacity for change, and that rehabilitation should therefore be given greater emphasis when sentencing young people.
Sentencers would also be asked to take into account factors including adverse childhood experiences such as trauma or bereavement.
The guideline says that an appropriate sentence for a young person should aim to increase the likelihood of reintegration into society; reduce the likelihood of unnecessary stigmatisation; and address the underlying causes of offending behaviour, all of which will help to reduce the likelihood of further offending.
The consultation, and how to respond, can be found at this link.