Published on: September 15, 2021 at 13:05 IST
According to the Scottish Sentencing Council, young people have a better capacity for development and that a more “individualistic approach” is acceptable for individuals under the age of 25.
It is thought that providing rehabilitation more attention will reduce reoffending among young people.
While rehabilitation is a primary factor when sentencing a young person, the guideline makes it plain that other purposes of sentencing, such as punishment and public safety, are equally significant.
Following a public consultation on the subject last year, the Sentencing Young People Guideline will be submitted to the High Court for approval this month.
The sentencing of young people, according to Lady Dorrian, Lord Justice Clerk and Chairwoman of the Council, is a complex and challenging exercise that requires a more individualistic approach, with a need to take into account the young person’s unique personal circumstances as well as their intellectual and emotional maturity.
This guidance explains why, as well as the approach that Courts should use when conducting the exercise.
“The views expressed in the consultation echo those expressed by members of the public in independent research that rehabilitation should be a primary consideration when sentencing a young person.” ,the Council said.
The Council stated that their judgement was based on “compelling scientific evidence” on cognitive maturity growth.
The guideline clarifies how the assessment of a young person’s maturity affects responsibility, as well as how the impact on victims should be considered.
It emphasizes the importance of considering variables that are common among many young people who commit crimes, such as trauma, especially traumatic bereavement, and a high level of bad childhood experiences.
However, it makes it clear that when punishing a young child, Courts will have the entire range of sentencing alternatives available to them.
It has also been revised to make it apparent when and why Courts should address specific issues.
Lady Dorrian said: “Courts will consider these factors while also taking account of the harm caused to the victim, before arriving at an appropriate sentence.”