Raising the age of referral to the principal reporter

Closed 7 Oct 2020

Opened 17 Jun 2020

Feedback updated 7 Dec 2020

We asked

We sought views on on the principle of raising the age at which children can be referred to the Children’s Reporter to include all under 18s - whether on care, protection or offence grounds. We also asked about the structural, resourcing, service design and practice implications of the proposed change and whether additional protections would be necessary for victims.

A consultation took place between 17 June and 7 October 2020 and feedback was gathered via:

  • a main online consultation questionnaire;
  • a shorter Easy Read online consultation questionnaire; and
  • a series of qualitative engagement events to canvass the views of children and young people with lived experience of the care and justice systems in Scotland.

You said

We received 277 responses to the consultation.  The majority of responses came from individuals. The organisations who responded included the public sector, the third sector, legal system representatives and academia as well as a number of child and adult care and protection committees.  There were 9 separate submissions including feedback from sessions with children and young people.

There was overwhelming support to raise the maximum age of referral to 18 for care, protection and offence cases, allowing equal opportunities for young people to get the right support at the right time.

The responses identified many challenges in implementing the proposed change, including how operational partners would respond to the increasing demand for support, managing the non-compliant behaviour of older young people and ensuring smooth transitions between child and adult services.

The majority of respondents felt that, if the age of referral was increased, amendments would be required to ensure sufficient access to information and support for victims harmed by children.

We did

KSO Research were commissioned to undertake an independent analysis of all responses.  This report presents the findings from the public consultation and explains the methodology that was used to analyse responses.

Where permission to publish has been provided, the consultation responses are now available to view online.

The response to the consultation has given strong support for change.  It has also highlighted the potential implications of increasing the age of referral for local authorities, police, SCRA, CHS and other service providers.  We will now work with these partners to identify the areas which require improvement and change, including legislation, whilst reflecting the Government’s commitment to UNCRC incorporation and the recommendations of The Promise.

Published responses

View submitted responses where consent has been given to publish the response.


The 2019-20 Programme for Government made a commitment to consult on ‘enabling joint reporting to the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and the Principal Reporter of all 16 and 17 year olds’ offence cases’.

Ministers have since agreed to widen the consultation to seek views on increasing the age at which children can be referred to the Reporter for care, protection and offence grounds. This includes young people at risk of exploitation, abuse or harm due to their own behaviour or the behaviour of others.

Why your views matter

This consultation is a key part of ensuring that the needs of our most vulnerable children are considered and that they have the opportunity to be supported in a child centred system which can address identified needs and risks.

We are also seeking views on the structural, resourcing, service design and practice implications of the proposed changes.

Consideration will also be given to whether additional protections and support are necessary for victims of crime.

Read the consultation paper 

Read the Easy Read paper


  • Children and Families
  • Equality, Welfare and Rights
  • Law and Order