Youth Justice Standards

Closed 23 Jan 2020

Opened 31 Oct 2019


Preventing offending is integral to our vision of Scotland as the best place to grow up – Getting it Right for Every Child in Scotland. Our vision of Scotland as the best place to grow up extends to all of our children. A preventative approach has the best chance of reducing crime, improving life chances and making good use of public resources. Timely, appropriate and effective interventions are necessary to address offending and harmful behaviour and ensure communities and children stay safe from crime.

In Scotland, we have a proud record of taking a holistic approach to the needs of our children. For those involved in offending behaviour we remain committed to tackling the causes and impact of offending behaviour together with addressing wider needs. As far as possible children should be kept out of formal measures, whether that be through the Children’s Hearings System or the Criminal Justice System, with proven alternative interventions utilised to address the behaviour and its causes. Interventions must be timely, proportionate and credible to ensure victims and communities have confidence that unacceptable and harmful behaviour is being challenged.

The Youth Justice Standards are aimed to complement the Health and Social Care Standards which came into effect on 1 April 2018. The Health and Social care Standards are underpinned by five principles: dignity and respect, compassion, be included, responsive care, and support and wellbeing. They are for everyone, irrespective of age or ability. The Care Inspectorate take into account the Health and Social Care Standards when carrying out their inspections and quality assurance functions, and when making decisions about care and health services which are, or are applying to be, registered.

The standards outline the minimum expectations for all strategic and operational services delivering youth justice in the community, secure care and young offender’s institutions (YOI). The standards will influence how services are designed and delivered and will focus on the functions of youth justice rather than processes, thus offering the opportunity for flexibility to meet local needs. These standards are recognised by the Scottish Government, National Youth Justice Advisory Group (NYJAG), Youth Justice Improvement Board (YJIB) and Justice Board and they are to be followed by those to whom they relate.

Why We Are Consulting

The first national standards for Scotland’s Youth Justice Services were published in 2002. In 2007 Audit Scotland published a performance update report which recommended that the Scottish Executive (now Scottish Government) should develop measures that capture performance and outcomes across the youth justice system. In 2012 the national standards for Youth Justice Services were updated and formed the basis of the National Youth Justice Practice Guide, published and up-dated annually by the Centre for Youth and Criminal Justice (CYCJ).

In 2018 the National Youth Justice Advisory Group (NYJAG) highlighted the need for updated standards which provide a framework for the audit of services which support children involved in offending behaviour. It was identified that the standards should include core principles and data sets which support local and national data collection to help monitor progress, service improvement and evidence improved outcomes for children.

Read the consultation paper. 


  • Children and Families
  • Education
  • Equality, Welfare and Rights
  • Health and Social Care