Pilot Youth Courts were introduced at Hamilton Sheriff Court in June 2003 and at Airdrie Sheriff Court in June 2004. Although introduced as one of a number of measures aimed at responding more effectively to youth crime (including young people dealt with through the Children’s Hearings System), the Youth Courts were intended for young people who would otherwise have been dealt with in the adult Sheriff Summary Court. The objectives of the pilot Youth Courts are to:
- reduce the frequency and seriousness of re-offending by 16 and 17 year old offenders, particularly persistent offenders (and some 15 year olds who are referred to the court);
- promote the social inclusion, citizenship and personal responsibility of these young offenders while maximising their potential;
- establish fast track procedures for those young persons appearing before the Youth Court;
- enhance community safety, by reducing the harm caused to individual victims of crime and providing respite to those communities which are experiencing high levels of crime; and
- test the viability and usefulness of a Youth Court using existing legislation and to demonstrate whether legislative and practical improvements might be appropriate.