Includem welcomes the High Court of Judiciary’s approval of the Guidelines on Sentencing of Young People in Scotland. These guidelines will ensure that those under the age of 25 will receive a sentenced which prioritises rehabilitation. Respecting young people’s rights and considering levels of culpability and willingness to change is an important step in wider transformation needed in the justice system to improve outcomes for young people and wider society. Considering trauma, living environment (including care experience) and mental health will be key to understanding appropriate sentencing. To further support genuine rehabilitative practice, includem calls on the justice community to consider experiences of bereavement, difficulties in family life and assessing the impact of neurodevelopmental conditions on culpability.
As a critical element to building community-based sentencing and restorative justice, youth services must be adequately funded and resourced across jurisdictions to ensure sentencing doesn’t result in a postcode lottery for young people, already disadvantaged by living in service poor areas. All young people, including those aged 18-25, should have access to youth specific services trained in adolescent brain development and trauma informed practice to support the continuity of relationships and successful rehabilitation.