Transforming Children’s Experiences of the Justice System
Children and young people in the justice system will soon be able to benefit from coordinated, comprehensive support under one roof thanks to a £6 million investment in setting up Bairns’ Hoose test sites.
A key action from The Promise, the creation of Bairns’ Hoose test sites will ensure a range of trauma-informed support is available to child victims and witnesses, with the aim of improving their experience of the justice system and reducing stress.
Healthcare including therapeutic support, child protection, recovery and justice services will be available at Bairns’ Hoose such as:
- assessment of protection needs, involving the child in decisions that affect them
- joint investigative interviews led by police and social work, including deployment of the new Scottish Child Interview Model, to ensure vulnerable children are able to share evidence at the earliest opportunity and minimising the risk of further trauma
- health and wellbeing assessments
- counselling services that provide support for both the child and wider family
Children below the age of criminal responsibility, whose behaviour has caused harm, will also have access to Bairns’ Hoose.
Local authorities, health boards, police and third sector organisations will be required to partner together to apply for a share of the £6 million fund in 2023-24 – with further investment proposed in the future. Five multi-agency test sites are expected to be created, with the learning there to provide a blueprint for a full pilot of Bairns’ Hoose in 2025.
‘Barnahus’ is based on the Child Advocacy Model adopted in the US in the 1980s and was first implemented in Iceland in 1998, followed by other Nordic countries. It is now being widely adopted across Europe. Bringing the ‘Barnahus’ model to Scotland has been a long standing and crosscutting policy ambition, as set out in the Programme for Government 2022-2023. It is a key action in the Keeping the Promise Implementation Plan and Best Start, Bright Futures: Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2022 to 2026, in addition to achieving the Vision for Justice.
The Scottish Child Interview Model has been developed and assessed by Social Work Scotland, Local authorities and Police Scotland in a series of pilot projects.
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