Scottish Liberal Democrats have today committed to fully incorporating the Barnahus model for child victims and witnesses in the criminal justice system.
The Nordic model involves new child-friendly centres based away from the court around the country. These allow children and young people to be sensitively interviewed following an incident, and support children and young people to provide the best quality evidence possible. This helps reduce the need to repeatedly re-live the experience and further compound trauma.
Every year 12,600 children in Scotland require special support to give evidence in court.
Liam McArthur MSP, who personally visited Norway to see first hand how this approach has been implemented, said:
“Scotland’s justice system is in some ways still grounded in Victorian ideas of crime and punishment, and victims’ best interests often get lost in the process. Children and young people who come into contact with it suffer as a result.
“There can be no justice in a system where victims report experiences worse than the crime itself. There is a desperate need for a child-centred, evidence-based overhaul.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats are committed to this, and fully incorporating the Barnahus model will be a pivotal part of that process. This needs to be nationwide, so that no child or young person has to suffer through old systems.
“The Scottish Government is yet to make any such commitment. Meanwhile, Scottish Liberal Democrats are clear that there should be no further delay.
“Victims and witnesses have been sidelined for far too long. It’s time to put their needs front and centre of how we think about justice.”