Sentencing young people guideline

As well as there being specific statutory arrangements in place, sentencing of younger people often requires a more individualistic approach, taking into account the particular personal characteristics of the young person concerned. For example, depending on the age and maturity of the young person, their culpability in relation to the offence might be lower than that of an adult.

In addition, we recognise that many young people who have committed offences have experience of trauma, including higher than average experience of traumatic bereavement, and we will consider how that should be taken into account in sentencing.


The sentencing young people guideline was approved by the High Court of Justiciary on 09 November 2021 and came into effect on 26 January 2022. 



Currently at stage: 7



April 2017
Sentencing of young people conference report

April 2019
Current sentencing practice and knowledge on youth offending  (Research carried out by Rocket Science UK Ltd)

December 2019
Paper exploring public perceptions of youth offending and sentencing published

February 2020
The development of cognitive and emotional maturity in adolescents and its relevance in judicial contexts (Research carried out by University of Edinburgh)

August 2021

Attitudes of young people to the draft guideline on sentencing young people (Research carried out by the University of the West of Scotland)


Consultation documents

Draft sentencing young people guideline

Consultation paper

Draft impact assessment


Response to the public consultation

Analysis of responses to consultation

Council's report on the consultation 


An interview with Lady Dorrian discussing key aspects of the guideline can be viewed below. This was recorded when the Council announced its final decisions about the guideline in September 2021