Date lodged: 20 November 2017
To ask the Scottish Government what steps it is taking to address the reported gap in the availability of advocacy or court-based support for children.
Answered by: Michael Matheson 4 December 2017
The Scottish Government commissioned an independent National Scoping Exercise of Advocacy Services relating to the criminal justice system for victims of violence against women and girls in 2016 to identify the gaps in services for all victims of gender based violence. The research, led by the former Chief Executive of Scottish Women’s Aid, Lily Greenan, was published earlier this year and is at http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2017/08/9838 It found a perceived lack of advocacy services for children and young people in their own right and recognised that further work is needed in this area to fully understand what is being offered and by whom.
A working group has been set up, led by the Head of Service of ASSIST to develop recommendations on how criminal justice advocacy services for victims of violence against women and girls can be improved. In relation to cases under section 11 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, on matters such as contact and residence, there will be a consultation next year on the review of part 1 of the 1995 Act and the associated Family Justice Modernisation Strategy. This will consider how best to ensure that the welfare of the child is paramount in these cases.