Scotland is experiencing a significant shift in our approach to helping those in the justice system better understand the impacts of early childhood trauma. We have an aim for Scotland to be the safest country in the world, and we believe we can achieve this aim through Smart Justice. Smart Justice includes tackling the underlying causes of crime and offering people who have committed crime a programme of recovery and support, so that they are better able to contribute when they return to their families and communities. It also means a collaborative approach between health, education, social work, policing, and courts.
We have seen the creation of a new group of ‘Trauma-Informed Lawyers’, who aim to raise awareness of childhood trauma across the justice workforce. They have partnered with The Law Society of Scotland to offer a Trauma Informed Lawyer Certification Course to its members. We have also seen the Scottish Sentencing Council (SSC) recommend “that judges take adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) into account when sentencing young people in a bid to break the link between trauma and reoffending”.
The Scottish Prison Services (SPS) – Prisoner Survey 2017 stated that, “Research into ACEs has often made the link between negative experiences during childhood and incarceration. A study examining the impact of ACEs on a sample UK population in 2015 highlighted that, “the odds of having been incarcerated were 20.4 times higher for those who had experienced 4 or more ACEs compared to those who had experienced none” (Bellis).