Ruth Maguire MSP has welcomed the announcement of a consultation on raising the age which young people can be referred to a children’s hearing from 16 to 18.

The Scottish Government’s consultation, which is open until October, also asks whether improvements are needed to the advice and support available for young people who are victims of crime.

Currently only 16 and 17-year-olds who are already within the children’s hearing system can be referred or have their order continued until they are 18.

The proposal is that the bar on new referrals is removed so all young people between 16 and 18 can benefit from the range of protective and supportive measures available through children’s hearings.

The SNP MSP said: “This consultation will ensure that appropriate support, protection and care is provided for young people at a critical time where early intervention can prevent them from entering into the criminal justice system.

“By taking a truly child-centred approach to tackling the roots of young offending, I’m delighted that the Scottish Government is making good on its commitment to implementing the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and in keeping The Promise of the Independent Care Review.”

The 2019-20 Programme for Government made a commitment to consult on enabling joint reporting to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Principal Reporter of all 16 and 17-year-olds ’offence cases.

This consultation goes further and seek views on increasing the age at which children can be referred to the Reporter for care, protection and offence grounds.

Consultation on Raising the Age of Referral to the Principal Reporter

Currently only 16 and 17-year-olds who have a compulsory supervision order or an open referral can be referred to the children’s hearing system. Courts can also make a referral following guilt being accepted or established.