The End of an Era? Youth Justice in Scotland

Published: 2006

Burman, M., Bradshaw, P., Hutton, N., McNeill, F., and Munro, M. (2006) The End of an Era? Youth Justice in Scotland. In: J. Junger-Tas and H.D. Scott (eds) International Handbook of Juvenile Justice. Dordrecht: Springer; 435 - 467.


Scotland is a small jurisdiction, yet it has a distinctive criminal justice system with unique institutional arrangements and certain political and legislative structures, which render it academically and politically interesting. Unlike other jurisdictions which have adopted neo-liberal policies, Scotland remains committed to a welfare state ethos that is expressed in the continuing commitment to social work with offenders and the welfarism of its youth justice system. The Scottish youth justice system is based on a core set of welfarist principles which stem from the work of the Kilbrandon Committee which reported in 1964. A key strength of the Scottish system is that it has thus far managed to avoid the more punitive and incarcerative aspects of other jurisdictions (most notably England and Wales), yet some recent policy and legislative developments that have impacted on the management of young offenders and the delivery of justice can be seen to pose serious challenges to the core Kilbrandon ethos.