Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal and Vice-Chancellor,

invites you to the


19th Kilbrandon Lecture


Dr Claire Lightowler, former Director of the Children and Young People's Centre for Justice (CYCJ)


A rights-respecting approach for children who offend: building on Kilbrandon's vision


Thursday 27 January 2022


The experiences of children in conflict with the law demonstrates that we need urgent action of a scale not seen since the Kilbrandon Report (1964). Children in conflict with the law are exposed to significant trauma, adversity, stigma, and injustice. These issues are often exacerbated by contact with the very systems and services intended to support them.


For children in conflict with the law responses to the Covid-19 pandemic have compounded pre-existing issues, whilst also hiding some children from view. One group particularly affected are the children locked up in Scotland’s Young Offenders Institution, 80% of who are there awaiting trial, have either not been found guilty or have not been sentenced to custody.


In the 19th Kilbrandon Lecture, Dr Claire Lightowler will demonstrate the transformative change that could be achieved if Scotland viewed children in conflict with the law as rights-holders and devoted greater attention to upholding their rights.


Claire was the Director of the Children and Young People's Centre for Justice (CYCJ) for seven years, from 2013-2021. During this time she published a major report- Rights Respecting? Scotland’s approach to children in conflict with the law. This report explored whether Scotland was complying with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and what it would look like if children’s rights formed the basis of Scotland’s approach to children who are in conflict with the law.


Through this work Claire became increasingly aware of the need for children and young people accused of offending to benefit from specialist legal representation, which acknowledges their rights and legal status as children or young people; and is informed by knowledge about child development and trauma. To help her make a contribution to this work Claire has recently started a law degree at the University of Edinburgh and is planning to go on to practise law.  


Twitter: @C_Lightowler 

Please register here by Friday 14th January

The lecture will be opened by Professor Sir Jim McDonald and

chaired by Professor Jennifer Davidson, Executive Director, Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures


Joining instructions will be sent closer to the event.

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