FOI reference: FOI/17/01765
Date received: 31 July 2017
Date responded: 29 August 2017
a) The protocol that has been established and the steps that have been taken to ensure that juvenile sex offenders with a proven offence disposed of by the Children's Reporter have his or her details entered on ViSOR?
b) The protocol that has been established and the steps that have been taken to ensure that non-registered juvenile sex offenders with a proven offence disposed of by the Children's Reporter are "brought into structured risk assessment and management arrangements".
The answers to your questions are:
a) ViSOR and MAPPA arrangements only apply to those young people who are convicted in the adult criminal justice system through the courts.
All children under 12 who are thought to be responsible for an offence are liable to being dealt with by the children's hearings system as part of Scotland's whole system approach to youth crime. For children over 12, the approach to joint reporting (Crown Office and Children's Reporter) or prosecution is set out in the Lord Advocate's Guidelines on offences committed by children.
In relation to children with a sexual offence ground accepted or established and disposed of through the Children's Hearings System there is a structured approach to risk management as part of a child's plan. The Reporter would refer the matter to the local authority that would follow locally agreed risk management arrangements. These arrangements will be informed by the guidance in the Framework for Risk Assessment and Management (FRAME) and Care and Risk Management (CARM) rather than as a direct protocol to have the child's details included on ViSOR. Children and young people dealt with by the Children's Hearings are treated as children first and foremost, with their needs addressed as well as any concerns about their deeds.
Where offence grounds are established through the Children's Hearings System, these are treated as a conviction for the purposes of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 and the Police Act 1997. Sexual offences are subject to rules on higher level disclosure as set out in the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 (Exclusions and Exceptions) (Scotland) Amendment Order 2016 and the Police Act 1997 and the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 Remedial (No 2.) Order 2015. The Scottish Government funds the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ), who published a paper on Young People and MAPPA in Scotland in 2014. This was jointly produced with the University of Edinburgh and the University of Stirling and is available at http://www.cycj.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Young-people-and-MAPPA-final.pdf
b) In 2014, the Scottish Government published guidance for the assessment and management of young people who present a risk of harm through sexually harmful and/or violent behaviour. The Framework for Risk Assessment, Management and Evaluation (FRAME), which was produced by the Risk Management Authority in conjunction with partners, sets out the standards of risk practice which apply to children and young people involved with offending behaviour as well as to adults who offend. There are key aspects of risk assessment and management practice with children and young people which vary from such practices with adults. The FRAME guidance outlines these fundamental differences in legislation, policy and practice as it relates to each of the 5 FRAME standards. The FRAME guidance, which incorporates Care and Risk Management (CARM) guidance, is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Publications/2014/12/6560
CARM helps promote consistency across Scotland's local authorities, the guidance encourages collective adoption of the term Care and Risk Management (CARM) Meetings. The risk management structure will involve professionals meeting on a regular case-by-case basis to manage, evaluate and monitor risk assessments.
There are only a small number of children and young people who present a serious risk to themselves and others. Some young people charged with serious sexual and violent offences are dealt with by the children's hearings system. In these situations the risk posed by these young people will be assessed, identified and managed through local multi-agency arrangements.
Young people who display harmful sexual behaviours are normally brought to the attention of social work via the channels detailed in the CARM guidance. When the young person has been identified Local Authorities would not wait for offences to be proven by a children's hearing they would act on receipt of the information making use of structured risk assessment tools and risk management protocols based on the Scottish Government FRAME and CARM guidance.
In the most serious of cases which meet the Lord Advocate's guidelines the case would be jointly reported to Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA).
Referrals to the care and risk management process may come via a number of channels:
From the Police on receipt of information about the alleged involvement of a child or young person under the age of 18 in the perpetration of an offence of a serious nature;
From the lead professional who holds case management responsibilities for a child or young person where there are significant concerns about the escalation in the frequency and/or seriousness of a child or young person's offending behaviour which is likely to include violence and/or sexual harmful behaviour;
From the nominated professional coordinating a child protection investigation into the victimisation of a child or young person where harmful behaviour of a serious nature by another child or young person under the age of 18 is identified;
From the nominated professional coordinating an adult protection investigation into the victimisation of a vulnerable individual over the age of 16 where harmful behaviour of a serious nature by a child or young person under the age of 18 is identified;
From the Early and Effective Intervention (EEI) Co-ordinator, multi-agency screening groups or equivalent who have significant concerns about the escalation in the frequency and/or seriousness of a child or young person's offending behaviour which is likely to include violence and/or sexually harmful behaviour.
The Scottish Government's Whole System Approach addresses the offending behaviour of young people. This approach involves putting in place a streamlined and consistent planning, assessment and decision making process for young people involved in offending to ensure they receive the right help at the right time. This approach works across all systems and agencies. It brings together government's key policy frameworks into one holistic approach to deal with young people who offend. In a small number of cases young people will be considered under Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) and the sex offender notification requirements. These will be young people who are dealt with through the courts in the adult criminal justice system.
The Scottish Government's youth justice strategy 'Preventing Offending: Getting It Right for Children and Young People' was published in 2015. This built on the Preventing Offending Framework (2008) and lessons from the implementation of the Whole System Approach (2011). Assessing and managing risk and complexity for the small number of young people posing the greatest risk to themselves and others is a priority area in the strategy. The Youth Justice Improvement Board, supported by Implementation Groups and partners, are driving implementation of the strategy.
I trust you will find this response helpful.
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Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000
The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House