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The Children's Hearing System
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The Children's Hearing System


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  • 1.  
  • 2.
    • “ Needed to decide what action is needed in the welfare interests of those under 16 who have commited offences or are in need of care and protection”
    • Kilbrandon Commitee – Lord Kilbrandon believed that the needs of child offenders and child victims were the same
    • Various welfare and Childrens Acts lead to the establishment of the Children’s Hearing system in place today
  • 3.
    • The legal reasons for bringing a child or young person before a hearing are set down in section 52(2) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and include that the child:
    • is beyond the control of parents or carers
    • is at risk of moral danger
    • is or has been the victim of an offence, including physical injury or sexual abuse
    • is likely to suffer serious harm to health or development through lack of care
    • is misusing drugs, alcohol or solvents
    • has committed an offence
    • is not attending school regularly without a reasonable excuse
    • is subject to an antisocial behaviour order
  • 4.
    • Children’s Panels are in each local authority area
    • Referrals are made to a CHILDREN’S REPORTER from a TEACHER/SOCIAL WORKER or have been made necessary due involvement of the police
    • CHILDREN’S REPORTER investigates the child’s case and can decide not to arrange a hearing, to refer the young person and family for support from the local authority or arrange a children’s hearing
    • In just over 11% of children referred would a hearing take place (03-04)
    • Grounds of referral have to be established as true ( SHERIFF becomes involved)
    • PANEL MEMBERS discuss the circumstances surrounding the case and the report presented by the CR
    • The Hearing should come to a decision based on the best interests of the child and his/her needs and decide whether supervision is required, whether to defer the hearing or discharge it completely
    • Appeals within 21 days
  • 5.
    • Welfare of the child/young person is most important
    • Children should be given the opportunity to express a view
    • Hearings are conducted in private but open to public scrutiny
    • Have the right to accept/deny grounds for referral
    • Parents are usually the best people to bring up their children so should be encouraged to do so
    • Children should remain in their own community wherever possible
  • 6. Representative Voluntary community members Make decisions in child’s best interests Undergo intensive training and selection Panels must be mixed gender ‘ gatekeeper’ Investigates referrals of children Gives advice Keeps a record Decides who should attend Have to attend if discussing if a young person should be in secure accommodation Helps child take part in hearing Solicitor with experience in children/young people Acts to arrange another hearing if facts are true Decides whether grounds for referral are true Judge who sits at the sheriff court Tells CR about children who they are concerned about Writes a report and discusses it at hearing Supervision requirement Can refer to CR Writes report and discusses it at hearing Friend/relative/solicitor Assists child in discussion Not appointed by hearing appointed by hearing Safeguarder Looks after child’s interests at the hearing Reporter Legal Representative Sheriff Social Worker Teacher Panel Members
  • 7.
    • Children’s voices can sometimes be ignored
    • As Children’s Hearings are a last resort it can sometimes be too late to make effective decisions about the child
    • Can get lost in the revolving door
    • In Clackmannanshire, Glasgow and West Dunbartonshire, more than one in 10 of the child population was referred. (related to poverty/social class – perhaps that is a more demanding problem that needs to be tackled)