Children’s Hearings – route map out of the Coronavirus pandemic
We note the First Minister’s comments today on Children’s Hearings resuming during the first phase of lockdown restrictions being lifted.
We welcome the recognition that Children’s Hearings form a key part of Scotland’s community and public service response to children and young people in our country. Having Children’s Hearings back to some kind of increased functioning is critical to ensure children and young people who need legal measures to secure their care and protection, can swiftly benefit from them.
The First Minister has made it clear that the basis on which we will move to each phase is dependent on meeting stringent criteria. No dates or timescales have yet been set. The next review of lockdown by the Government is Thursday 28 May and we will know then whether the intention is to move to phase 1.
SCRA supports this approach and traditional, face to face Hearings will only be able to take place with strict social distancing measures in place.
We have started to work on our plans to make this happen safely and we will work as quickly as we can to ensure we have all the correct measures in place. We will need to carefully consider what other requirements or adaptations are required in all of our Hearing centres.
The safety of children, young people, families, our staff, Panel Members and everyone attending Hearings is paramount, and we will adopt a careful and cautious approach in consultation with our Trade Union partners.
We have been holding virtual Hearings for the most urgent cases since lockdown was introduced on 23 March. Virtual Hearings will continue as we develop our plans to re-introduce traditional style Hearings in what will be a phased approach across the country.
As we develop our plans, we will be working closely with the Scottish Government, Children Hearing’s Scotland and all our partners in the Hearings System.
More information will be available in due course on our website. If you are due to take part in a Children’s Hearing soon, the Reporter will be in touch with you.