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Children and Young People Who Offend

The Youth Justice Team in West Lothian works with young people aged under 21 years old who offend. This includes young people who are involved in either the Children's Hearing system or the adult Criminal Justice System. On this page, we explain the approaches that we use.

In West Lothian, we use the Whole System Approach (WSA), which targets six areas in line with the nationally-agreed principles for reducing re-offending and preventing offending by young people.

Effective and Early Intervention (EEI):

This allows young people to get the right help at the time they need it to address the causes of their offending and to prevent them from re-offending. Children and Young people who offend often have complex problems; through work to prevent them offending, they can have better life chances and should be much less likely to get involved in the Children's Hearing or Court Systems.

The majority of 8-15 year olds referred for an offence do not re-offend. We have recently extended our EEI work to include 16 and 17 year olds.

We operate an EEI Screening Group in West Lothian, which is attended by a wide range of Youth Service providers. Young people who are discussed at this group will receive a range of supports and interventions to change their offending behaviour and lifestyles.

Alternatives to Prosecution:

Where a young person is charged by the Police with an offence, in some cases the Procurator Fiscal (PF) may refer the matter to the Youth Justice Team. This allows young people to get the help and support they need to address their offending behaviour. If they are willing to work with the service, this may avoid them having to appear in court and acquiring a conviction.

Risk Assessment and Risk Management:

We use specific risk assessment tools to support the risk management of young people who are believed to be at risk of harming others and/or themselves. We work with partners to manage risk, and this is well established in West Lothian.

Community Alternatives to Secure Care, Residential School and Custody:

The Whole System Approach is designed to prevent as much as possible the need for residential school, secure care and custody. There is a range of options available in the community, both through the Children's Hearing and Criminal Justice System. Intensive and robust packages of support can be used if necessary.

Services to Young People in Court:

Youth Justice can provide support during and after any Court appearance.

Re-integration and Transitions:

Youth Justice will support the re-integration into the community of young people released from custody, with the aim of reducing the risk of re-offending. Such supports can include housing, education and employment, substance misuse, and financial advice.