Children and young people can be referred to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration by agencies like social work, schools, police or health services. Referrals are made if an agency has a concern about a child.
The Reporter investigates and decides whether a Children’s Hearing should be held.
The Children’s Hearing is made up of three panel members who are volunteers from the community. Various agencies will be invited to the Children’s Hearing along with anyone who has parental responsibilities and parental rights in respect of the child. In addition, any other person who the Children’s Hearing think is a “relevant person” to the child will be invited. The term “relevant person” is used in the Children’s Hearing to describe someone who fits a particular legal definition set down in law. Children have a right to attend the Children’s Hearing and will be expected to do so unless the Children’s Hearing thinks that the child should be excused from attending.
Children’s Hearings deal with all children in the same way. The Children’s Hearing will try to ensure that the best interests of the child are met and that they receive the most appropriate intervention and support. This is the case, no matter what the child’s age or circumstances or the particular type of concern there is about a child. So if a child or young person is referred to the Children’s Hearing because it is alleged they have committed an offence, Children’s Hearings will try to help them rather than punish them.
Families and children may not accept what is alleged in the grounds of referral to Children’s Hearings and they are entitled to deny the allegations. If the Children’s Hearing want to know whether the grounds are correct the Children’s Hearing will then send the grounds to the sheriff court to be heard by the sheriff and for a decision to be made about whether the grounds should be established or not. If the Children’s Hearing does not send denied grounds to the sheriff for a decision, then they cannot take any further account of those grounds.
The Children’s Hearing can decide to make a compulsory supervision order on a child and shorter term orders such as “interim compulsory supervision orders”. These orders may require that a child receives social work intervention and particular treatments, such as medical treatment. On occasion the Children’s Hearing will decide whether the child needs to stay with other carers for a time, or to be in a residential unit or secure accommodation. The Children’s Hearing can also make orders about what contact a child has with family members and other people.
Children’s Hearings can have a significant impact on children’s and families’ lives.
We have extensive experience in representing children, parents, and other relevant persons at Children’s Hearings. We can give you advice and help guide you through the whole process. You may be entitled to Legal Aid for legal representation by us at the Children’s Hearings. We have conducted a large amount of cases which have been referred to the Sheriff Court by the Children’s Hearing as well as appeals to the Sheriff Court from Children’s Hearings decisions.