Discussing perspectives of justice in Scotland

Young people from across Scotland will meet today, along with leaders of Scotland’s justice organisations, to discuss their perspectives of justice in Scotland and how to reduce fear of crime and make our communities safer.

The event is the culmination of District4, a project run by Young Scot, the national youth information and citizenship agency, and commissioned by the Scottish Government’s Reassuring the Public programme.

Four groups of young people aged 11-18 spent eight months exploring issues ranging from alcohol consumption to online safety from a youth perspective. Based in Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee and Edinburgh, the teams conducted in-depth research amongst young people to understand the various issues influencing fear of crime and safety in their communities.

The event, which will take place at The Hub in Edinburgh, showcases the findings of the project to senior representatives from Scotland’s justice organisations. It provides an opportunity for the young people and justice leaders to discuss the research to consider how to respond to young people’s perspectives on crime and community safety.

Lani Armstrong, 18 from Aberdeen said: “Being part of this project, I have learnt many different things. The main issue that I learnt about was that the laws regarding age and consuming alcohol were not very clear. As a result of this, young people have had various problems with alcohol. From taking part in this project, I now have a different outlook on consuming alcohol and how to stay safe as well as how to look out for your friends.”

Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill, said: “Recent statistics confirm that the risk of being a victim of crime in Scotland is falling, but it is still the case that young people aged between 16 and 24 are the most likely of any age group to be the victims of crime. A key issue is how to improve young people’s understanding of the risks associated with crime, including on-line crime, and how to both be and feel safer.

“The young people from across Scotland involved with this project have worked hard to explore these issues from a young person’s perspective. I am delighted that they are taking the opportunity of this event to share their findings with justice leaders. This will help organisations build on the positive progress already made in both reducing crime and making our communities safe places to live, including for young people.”

Louise Macdonald, chief executive of Young Scot, said: “This project has given young people the unique opportunity to share their personal experiences of crime and safety, and put their ideas and solutions directly to those who can instigate real change to suit their needs. What’s really interesting from the findings of the young people is that their fear of crime is the same as everyone else’s but their perception of feeling safe versus actually being safe in a variety of circumstances is different.

“It is evident that in order to challenge these perceptions we need to ensure young people have the relevant information they need to make informed decisions and choices – no matter what environment they are in. Today is the first step in making this happen and we look forward to seeing how young people can work with current and future decision-makers in justice organisations and in other areas.”