There are a small but significant number of children and young people who present a high risk to themselves and others, and who have complex needs, including mental health and learning disabilities. This includes children and young people involved in sexually harmful behaviour, sexual offences and violence.
These children and young people should have their needs met and the risks they pose managed in order to give them the opportunity to change their behaviour and become positive contributors to society. Care for this group should be high quality, and approaches and programmes should be effective. Those who work with them need to have a high level of expertise.
Young people who present a serious risk of harm also present a serious challenge to society. Not only may they threaten and damage communities and properties, their actions may have a devastating impact on their lives and those of others. At the extreme, people may die, be sexually abused or assaulted.
It is the responsibility of us all to take steps to ensure that risks are managed effectively and that communities and people are protected. Some young people may have to be protected against themselves.
In the most extreme cases, where the child or young person poses a risk of, or has previously, absconding, or poses a risk to themselves or others a children's hearing may authorise the child or young person be placed in secure accommodation or made the subject of Intensive Support and Monitoring.
The Scottish Government aims to:
- Support the development of effective interventions for high risk young people
- Improve the range, quality and effectiveness of provision of residential services for young people who need them, through a strengthened approach to commissioning
- Work to ensure that children do not go to prison, including by abolishing the unruly certificate by which under-16s can be remanded to prison, and that appropriate secure accommodation is available when required
- Develop evidence-based interventions for young people whose offending is linked to substance misuse, building on actions in the Scottish Government's drugs and alcohol strategies
- Identify and disseminate good practice on multi-agency responses to managing high risk
- Strengthen transitions into adulthood, including where that requires continued intervention to meet needs and manage risks.
The Scottish Government has worked with partners to produce a guidance document for those who work with young people who pose a risk of serious harm: Getting it right for children and young people who present a risk of serious harm: Meeting Need, Managing Risk and Achieving Outcomes.