Under-18s will no longer be sent to young offender institutions

The Scottish Government is ending the placement of 16 and 17-year-olds in young offender institutions.

Under-18s will no longer be sent to young offender institutions STV News

The Scottish Government is ending the placement of 16 and 17-year-olds in young offender institutions.

The announcement is one of a number of changes introduced with the delivery plan for The Promise – an initiative to improve the lives of people in and around the care system in Scotland.

The Government is also introducing a national allowance for foster and kinship carers and providing a £200 grant each year for 16 to 25-year-olds with care experience.

Ministers want to see a shift away from crisis interventions to early interventions in order to help families.

Other changes include redesigns of the Children’s Hearings system and the governance of the care system.

The Promise was first published in 2020 and its implementation plan was released on Wednesday.

Ahead of the announcement, minister for children Clare Haughey visited a forest school in Edinburgh.

In the secluded area, children referred from local primary schools learn how to play and experience the outdoors.

Ms Haughey said: “We’ve announced the whole family wellbeing fund, which is a fund of at least £500m over the course of this parliamentary term, £50m over the upcoming year, which will help us to shift the focus from crisis intervention to early intervention and prevention, which will help families be supported and stay together.

“We’ve all had to face huge challenges over the last two years and obviously focuses have been on the health agenda and on keeping people safe and well.

“We’re determined and committed to fulfilling The Promise by 2030 and the implementation plan being launched today will help us to do that.”

She said the Scottish Government is “looking very closely” at the Welsh Government’s pilot scheme of a £1600 a month basic income for those who leave care.

Earlier this month, Scotland’s chief inspector of prisons led calls for no-one under the age of 18 to be sent to jail.

Wendy Sinclair-Gieben said the results of a survey of 16 and 17-year-olds at HMP YOI Polmont were “shocking”.

Last month the organisation leading the major revamp of the country’s care system told Scotland Tonight many lives “may have got worse” since it launched.

Seven reports were published in February 2020, including The Promise, which set out plans to radically reform how young people are cared for in Scotland.

At the time, Nicola Sturgeon described The Promise as “one of the most important moments” in her time as First Minister, and the Scottish Government said it was committed to implementing the recommendations within a decade.

However, campaigners claimed that little has changed in the first two years, and said there was a lack of accountability and funding.

Fiona McFarlane, head of oversight at The Promise Scotland, told STV’s current affairs show there was “sustained commitment” to implementing changes.

But she warned: “For so many care-experienced children, young people and care-experienced adults, their lives won’t have improved over the last two years and things will have been really, really hard and may even have got worse.

“That’s heartbreaking and shameful, and it shouldn’t be the case.

“The Promise Scotland is here to drive change, to support collaboration and to bring people on that journey, but that change has to be delivered by a whole range of organisations.”

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