This article explores debates concerning the methods and styles used by the police service in its dealings with children and young people in post-war Scotland (in comparison with England). Study of the implementation of Police Juvenile Liaison Schemes is used to consider shifting points of tension as well as cooperation between the police and other occupational groups engaged in work at the nexus of youth justice-welfare. Whilst often characterized as contradictory tendencies, the article demonstrates that a social welfare ethic and a criminal justice ethic were coexistent within the rhetoric and practice of policing, but that they operated in a state of flux. It also argues that styles of policing were subject to change, particularly as the use of discretionary and informal methods was increasingly challenged, as physical violence was increasingly seen as an outmoded recourse for the institutions of criminal justice, and as the policing of youth was increasingly politicized. The post-war period can be characterized in terms of greater levels of public scrutiny, the formalization of processes previously undertaken through informal or semi-formal mechanisms, and attempts (not always successful) to systematize procedures nationally in terms of the Scottish state.