Steps forward for justice system standards of care

Tuesday 6th August 2019

Healthcare, social work, justice, police and child protection representatives have come together to help shape a set of standards of care for children who have been victims of, or witnesses to, violence.

The Care Inspectorate and Healthcare Improvement Scotland – tasked by the Scottish Government with jointly developing a set of standards based on a European model known as Barnahus – have published a scoping report.

Grounded in putting a child’s rights, wellbeing and participation at the centre of service design, the Barnahus standards originate from child advocacy centres developed in the USA in the 1980s.

Currently in Scotland, children and young people who have been witness to, or a victim of violence and are to give evidence may have to tell their story to multiple people from multiple organisations.

The potential for repetition of such experiences to re-traumatise a child and negatively impact their wellbeing is something the Scottish Government has said it is keen to tackle, in part by introducing a set of standards that promotes recovery and prevents children and young people from having to attend court.

Going through a single forensic interview, rather than a child appearing in court and giving their account on multiple occasions is one of the key aims of the Barnahus standards.

In pursuit of this, fifty participants – including representatives from COSLA, Wellbeing Scotland, the West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership, and NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde’s child protection service – attended a workshop, contributing to a direction of travel for Scotland.

A short life working group will now be formed to develop the standards, and will include health, social work and justice representatives who will meet again twice before the end of this year.

A twelve-week consultation period is set to begin in December, giving stakeholders an opportunity to feedback on the standards and offer up ways of ensuring a system is developed where children’s wellbeing is at the core.