If the offender is a child or young person
If the person who committed the crime is under 16 they can still be arrested, but the rules are different than those for adult offenders.
If there's enough evidence, the police may refer them to the Children's Reporter who will decide what action to take. This could be to arrange a Children's Hearing.
Young people aged 12 or over who have committed very serious offences may be prosecuted in court.
A Children's Reporter is someone from the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration who investigates cases referred to them by the police.
They'll gather information about the child or young person and their background from:
- the child or young person
- their family
- the police
- their school
- the social work department
- any other organisations involved with the child or young person
You may be questioned about your evidence and asked to take part in a restorative process that involves telling the child or young person how the crime has affected you.
The decision of the Children's Reporter
When making the decision, the Children's Reporter will take in to account things like:
- the seriousness of the incident
- any previous offending behaviour
- the child or young person's education progress
- any other concerns about the child or young person's care or behaviour
- the reaction of the child or young person and their parents/carers to the incident
- whether the child or young person and their family will cooperate with support offered
When deciding what to do about a child or young person who has been referred, the Children's Reporter has 3 main options to choose from:
refer the case to the local social work department – so the child and their family can get advice and support to address the offending behaviour
not to arrange a Children's Hearing – this doesn't mean the problems aren't being dealt with, and the Children's Reporter may try to use other methods to help the child or young person
arrange a Children's Hearing – where the Children's Reporter, child or young person, their family and other people meet to discuss concerns about a child or young person which have been agreed or proved at court
Victims don't attend Children's Hearings, as private family information is discussed.
If you're cited as a witness
If people involved in a Children's Hearing don't agree what has happened, or the child is too young to understand, the case will be sent to a sheriff court so the sheriff can decide if an offence has been committed. This is called a Children's Hearing court case.
In some cases, victims may need to be called as a witness to a Children's Hearing court case.
Get support and advice if you've been affected by youth crime
If the child or young person who committed the crime is referred to SCRA, you'll be eligible to get information from its Victim Information Service, which provides information and access to support and advice during a case.
Find out more about support available for people affected by youth crime.