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Contact us:

Youth Justice Team
Care and Justice Division
Scottish Government
Area 2B(N)
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ

Tel: 0131 244 5443

Email: Youth Justice Team

Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice

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Preventing offending by children and young people


Preventing offending is integral to our vision of Scotland as the best place to grow up - Getting it Right for Every Child in Scotland.

Scotland has a proud record of taking a holistic approach to the needs of children and young people.  Where children are involved in or at risk of offending, evidence and experience tells us that we must remain committed to an integrated approach - tackling deeds while taking account of wider needs.

We take a child-centred preventative approach focused on the following outcomes:

  • helping ensure communities are safe from crime and disorder
  • improving life chances of children and young people involved in or at risk of offending
  • enabling all children and young people to be confident individuals, effective contributors, successful learners and responsible citizens.



We focus on tackling the causes of offending by young people and supporting those who offend to change their behaviour. The aim is to avoid young people entering the criminal justice system unless absolutely necessary.

To prevent offending by young people we:Youth Justice Strategy



The Whole System Approach (WSA) is the Scottish Government’s programme for addressing the needs of young people involved in offending.  WSA has made a significant contribution to the progress made in dealing effectively with youth offending.

The Scottish Centre for Crime & Justice Research were commissioned in October 2014 to carry out an evaluation of the process of implementation in 3 case study areas in Scotland and identify their initial progress towards the intended outcomes of the approach. Their report, Evaluation of the Whole System Approach to Young People who Offend in Scotland, was published in June 2015.

Crime in Scotland is falling and the number of young people causing offences has dropped signficantly: offence referrals to the Children’s Reporter have fallen from 14,209 (2007 to 2008) to 2,995 (2016 to 2017).

The number of young people (12-17) prosecuted in Scotland’s courts has fallen by 78% from 9813 in 2006-07 to 2203 in 2015-16.

Bills and legislation

How Scotland is performing

Scotland Performs measures and reports on the progress of government in Scotland. The National Outcomes describe what we want to achieve over the next 10 years.

National Outcome: We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger

Justice Outcomes