Byline: GRAHAM GRANT
SCOTLAND'S sheriffs were on a collision course with social work bosses last night over plans to ban them from locking up young criminals.
The social work chiefs are recommending that teenage yobs should be freed rather than being held on remand because it is too expensive to detain them.
They are urging sheriffs to bail under-16s to reduce pressure on secure accommodation places - meaning those awaiting sentence for serious offences would be on the streets.
The recommendation came from social work bosses in Glasgow who claim more than [pounds sterling]1million a year is being spent on remanding young offenders.
But the plan sparked a revolt among sheriffs last night. One told the Scottish Daily Mail: 'Nobody is remanded into custody without careful consideration of all the facts and circumstances in a case, not least of which is the need to take into account public safety'.
A senior judicial source said: 'This is totally ridiculous and will completely fail to win any support among the public or among the judiciary.
These people are detained for a reason. The whole point is to protect the communities young offenders are terrorising.' Glasgow City Council social work chief David Comley urged sheriffs to opt for bail rather than detaining young criminals.
He said: 'In some cases, we believe sheriffs are remanding young people to secure care when that is not an appropriate action. We would certainly like to meet sheriffs to discuss other options, including bail.' Between April and November last year, 24 people aged 16 or under in Glasgow were placed in secure care by the courts on remand before a hearing or while awaiting sentence.
Their offences included murder, sex crimes, theft, violence, drugs, carrying offensive weapons, breach of curfew and bail and breach of the peace.
Although the council is not involved in the decision, it has to pay for their care while on remand. The Scottish Executive meets the cost once they have been sentenced.
By April, it is expected 30 young people will have been remanded at a cost of [pounds sterling] 1. …