McArthur praises the establishment of Scottish “Bairns’ Hoose”

13 Sep 2023

Orkney MSP Liam McArthur today praised those who have worked towards the establishment of Scotland’s first “Bairns’ Hoose” for young victims and witnesses of crimes, and called for work to be done to bring the principles behind it to island settings.

Mr McArthur was speaking in a Members’ Debate in the Scottish Parliament to mark the establishment of the trial facility in North Strathclyde. Based on the Icelandic Barnahus model, the “Bairns’ Hoose” brings together child protection, justice, health, and recovery services under one roof. The aim of the Bairns’ Hoose is to reduce the number of times children have to re-tell their potentially traumatic experience in unfriendly settings, in particular by facilitating the pre-recording of court testimony.

Commenting afterwards, Mr McArthur said:

“It’s now widely accepted that the old-fashioned approach our courts system takes towards witnesses simply does not work when it comes to children and young people. Barnahus is the gold standard for meeting the needs of vulnerable young people, and I am very pleased to see the beginnings of its rollout in Scotland.

“Having visited Norway with the Justice Committee in the last session of parliament, I’ve seen first-hand how the Barnahus model works there. Interestingly, they were able to talk about the different challenges faced in delivering in rural and urban areas. The needs of children and young people may be the same, but how those needs are met can be very different. I am determined, however, that early action is taken to explore how the Bairns’ Hoose might be made to work in our island communities.

“The Scottish Government has committed to extending Bairns’ Hoose principles across the whole country, so all children have access to such a space if they need it. I look forward to this, and invite them to engage with island stakeholders to make sure the rollout is done right.”