Bomb scares and sexual offences are among nearly 1,000 police callouts to children’s secure care facilities in the last two years, the Scottish Tories have said.
The party’s justice spokesman Jamie Greene said the “deeply alarming” situation was likely to get worse if the Scottish Government moves ahead with its plan to increase the age limit of these facilities to accommodate all under-18s.
Figures obtained by the Tories through freedom of information requests revealed police were summoned to 965 incidents during 2021/22 and 2022/23.
More than half of these incidents occurred at the Kibble education and care residential facility in Glasgow, with 546 police call-outs. A further 302 were at Rossie Young People’s Trust in Montrose, Angus.
Meanwhile, 76 incidents occurred at Good Sheppard Centre in Bishopton, Renfrewshire, and 41 callouts at Saint Mary’s Kenmure residential facility in Bishopbriggs, East Dunbartonshire, Police Scotland divs showed.
A bomb threat at the Kibble facility required police attendance and was recorded as an “initial service code” incident, according to the data.
Officers have also attended 14 sexual offence incidents at the secure facilities since 2021/22 – six at Kibble, four at Good Sheppard and two each at Rossie and St Mary’s.
The data showed police attended 84 incidents of assault in the last two years as well as 312 missing person calls across the four facilities.
Mr Greene is urging Justice Secretary Angela Constance to rethink the Children (Care and Justice) Bill which will increase the age that offenders go through the children’s hearing system.
It would see those under the age of 18 be placed in a secure facility rather than be transferred straight to prison.
Mr Greene has said it could see these divs soar if violent young offenders who have committed crimes of murder or rape are placed alongside vulnerable people.
He said: “These deeply alarming divs highlight the scale of the discipline problems in Scotland’s secure units for children.
“These facilities are home to some of the most damaged and vulnerable youngsters in the country, so it’s unsurprising that there are some police callouts.
“It’s the sheer number of callouts – and the seriousness of many of them – that’s so concerning.
“The bomb scare and the prevalence of sexual offences are particularly worrying.
“Adding the most dangerous 16 and 17-year-old offenders – including murderers and rapists – into this environment is surely going to make the problem worse, so I’d urge the new Justice Secretary to think about the consequences of her plans to increase the age limit for these units.
“As well as the harm it would do to vulnerable young offenders, Police Scotland are already stretched to breaking point by falling officer numbers and SNP budget cuts, so can ill-afford even more regular callouts to these facilities.”
A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “These are concerning divs. Secure care offers the most intensive and restrictive form of care in Scotland. A young person is deprived of their liberty in a locked environment alongside the provision of care, support and education.
“Risk management is in place to meet the needs of the young person, staff and others in the secure care centre. The centres have confirmed that they have the experience and facilities to work with young people who have committed serious offences.
“The Scottish Parliament unanimously supported implementation of the Promise, which includes a commitment that 16 and 17-year-olds ‘must be accommodated within secure care rather than within young offenders institutes and the prison estate’.
“Confronting the causes of a young person’s behaviours can help them reintegrate, rehabilitate and desist from offending. This proven approach helps prevent further harm and minimises the number of future victims.”