A Look At How Scottish Courts Sentence Children In Criminal Courts

By Criminal Defence Practitioner Marie Spenwyn

Published: 17th December 2021

Effective from the 26th January 2022 the Scottish Sentencing Council have produced a sentencing guideline which changes the approach taken to children who find themselves before the criminal courts.

The guideline requires the courts to have regard to rehabilitation as a primary feature of the sentencing process – acknowledging that the capacity for change is greater.  Crucially the guideline will apply to all those who are under the age of 25.

This article looks at whether enshrining these principles for those who are aged 18-25 would consolidate the ‘cliff-edge’ approach to sentencing that has emerged from a number of Court of Appeal decisions notably in R v Clarke and others [2018] EWCA Crim 185.

Marie Spenwyn is a criminal defence practitioner who frequently appears in serious cases involving defendants who are children.  She is a committee member of the Youth Practitioners Association (YPA) and is a member of an ICCA working group tasked with developing a national training course for the bar focusing on representing children in the criminal justice system.


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