Crime screening out for five-year-olds

The Scottish Executive says it has no plans for screening all five-year-olds for early signs of behaviour that might lead to crime, despite suggestions in the media this week that such a scheme was in the offing.

The story emerged following the publication of a new report on youth justice that will inform plans to overhaul services across Scotland. But an executive spokesman told The TESS: "There is no plan for universal screening. What we do recognise is the importance of intervention at an early stage to prevent problems at a later stage."

The response followed the publication of a report from the executive-backed youth justice improvement group. One section suggested that assessment of five-year-olds in school could help steer children away from crime.

But Barnardo's Scotland director Hugh Mackintosh, a member of the group, played down any suggestion that universal screening of children at that age could be introduced. He said the focus should be on pupils with serious difficulties in school that might indicate other problems in their lives, and that teachers should notify other agencies about concerns as early as possible.

The full report's findings will inform the executive's youth justice improvement programme, which aims to reduce youth offending. It was launched by Justice Minister Cathy Jamieson this week.

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