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Parliamentary debates and questions

S5W-10741: Adam Tomkins (Glasgow)

Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party

Date lodged: 14 August 2017

To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking to tackle the recidivism rate for young offenders.

Answered by: Michael Matheson 6 September 2017

Evidence is growing that children involved in a pattern of offending, or who are involved in more serious offences, are almost always our most vulnerable, victimised and traumatised young people. If we are to address their offending behaviour and promote desistance, we must respond to those underlying issues.

Our youth justice strategy is founded on a shared vision of what needs to happen through prevention, diversion and managing and supporting children and young people to change their behaviour and improve their life chances. This includes specific work with partners to advance the Whole System Approach and in relation to 16 and 17 year olds in custody.

The Scottish approach to youth offending has helped achieve substantial reductions in youth crime and brought real results for victims, communities and young people. The overall decline in reconviction rates is largely driven by reductions in youth offending.

An updated version of What Works to Reduce Re-offending: A Summary of the Evidence was published in 2015. The analysis mainly focusses on adult and criminal justice however, it does highlight the specific needs of children and young people who offend.

A key priority is to improve life chances for children and young people involved in offending. That is not to excuse or minimise offending. Dealing with it and supporting young people to move on is the best way of reducing reoffending and minimising the number of future victims.

As part of a preventative, child-centred approach to improving wellbeing and life chances, a particular focus is needed on education, employability and health issues. The quality of relationships young people experience is a key factor in building on their strengths as well as helping to manage risks. It is important for Scotland to recognise the strengths and potential of our young people rather than focusing solely on their problems.