Data on Children in Judicial Proceedings in EU28

This site presents an online database containing the results of a study commissioned by DG Justice of the European Commission to collect data on children's involvement in judicial proceedings in the EU. The study supports the implementation of the Commission Communication of 15th February 2011 ‘Agenda for the Rights of the Child’ that pointed to a lack of reliable, comparable and official data on the situation of children in judicial proceedings in the Member States.

This is the first time that such an in-depth study has been conducted for EU28 and the results include:

  1. Contextual narrative overviews on legislation and policy on children's involvement as suspects/offenders, victims, witnesses and subjects in judicial proceedings;
  2. EU28 summary reports;
  3. Available international data (2008-11);
  4. Available national data (2008-11); and
  5. Masterlists of structural, process and outcome indicators, with traceability to EU legislation and international standards.

The study is of children (persons aged less than 18 years) in judicial proceedings in the EU. Judicial proceedings are those taking place in court as a part of the justice systems in Member States or proceedings that are alternatives to judicial proceedings. The study concerns the child in different roles, such as suspect/offender, witness, victim, plaintiff or otherwise the subject of judicial proceedings. Information has been collected from all EU28 Member States. In the UK, where possible, information has been collected for three jurisdictions: England and Wales; Scotland; and Northern Ireland.

When complete the site will contain information on children in criminal, civil and administrative judicial proceedings. To date (November 2013) the website has only been populated by the study findings with respect to children in criminal judicial proceedings.

The Council of Europe Guidelines on child friendly justice provided the framework for the definition of indicators and have helped to structure the various study deliverables.

Data on children’s involvement in criminal judicial proceedings

The contextual narrative overviews for criminal justice describe, for each Member State, the legislation and policy governing children's involvement in judicial proceedings as at 1 June 2012. Information is differentiated by the child's role (victim - suspect/accused - witness) and also covers general aspects (e.g. national structures, training, multidisciplinary cooperation and coordination). These documents (30-60 pages each) provide an insight into the legal and policy provisions for children's involvement in criminal justice in each Member State. The contextual overviews for all Member State can be downloaded here: European Union Open Data Portal

The findings of the contextual narrative overviews are synthesised in a EU28 summary report which describes the child-friendliness of criminal justice in the EU.

The available international and national data (2008-2011) collected provide both contextual information on the nature and scale of children’s involvement in criminal judicial proceedings and information concerning the existence and application of rights and measures affecting children in justice. The information derives mainly from ‘official’, publicly available sources at national and international level.

The Masterlist of indicators reflects obligations to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights, as defined by existing international standards for Child-friendly justice (safeguard indicators). The Masterlist of indicators also contains contextual indicators, which provide background information on the situation of children involved in criminal judicial proceedings.

Users of the database are able to access the information compiled for each Member State by selecting one of eighteen themes in the Masterlist of indicators, or a specific indicator. Information from Member States is organised in datasets which are arranged according to theme and to which indicator from the Masterlist they are equivalent, approximate or related to. The sources of information and the characteristics (metadata) of each dataset are given.

Data availability for children in criminal judicial proceedings

Out of the 290 Masterlist indicators for criminal judicial proceeding, there are two fully populated indicators, 172 indicators that are partly populated, 94 indicators for which there is no data, 17 indicators with only approximate data and a further five indicators that contain very limited data. For the three roles of children in criminal justice, the bulk of the available data concerns suspects/offenders, there is less data on victims and for witnesses there is no comparable data whatsoever. In a limited number of cases where the provision of data was subject to payment, we excluded that data also.

As there are different systems, definitions, reference periods, age groups and procedures in each Member State, gaps were anticipated at the outset of the study. This study can serve as a starting point against which future efforts to improve the availability of comparative information and the progress on the development of child friendly justice can be measured.