Information for Professionals

The aim of this section of our website is to provide information for social workers, teachers/education staff and health visitors – particularly those who have recently qualified or are new to the system.

The Children’s Hearings System is the legal system for children and young people in Scotland who are either at risk or who have allegedly committed an offence.

Children/young people and their family or carers can become involved in the Children’s Hearings System for a number of different reasons. For example, if the child or young person is getting into trouble with the police, there are concerns that they are being abused, they are taking drugs or alcohol, or they are not attending school.

The Children’s Hearings System makes decisions on what to do to help children, to protect them and to address their behaviour.

Please click on the arrow to the right of ‘Information for Professionals’ to view individual sections containing more detailed information for social workers, teachers and health visitors.

Our Online Statistical Dashboard is a useful statistical resource containing information about children and young people who have been involved in the Children’s Hearings System.

Guidance on Referral to the Reporter

SCRA has published a guidance document providing partners with information about making a referral to the Reporter. The document ‘Guidance on Referral to the Reporter’ has been developed as part of the work of the Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership GIRFEC sub group.

This guidance is aimed at giving practical advice to any professional who is considering making a referral to the Reporter. It does not aim to give a complete description of the Children’s Hearings System – more detailed information about the system and the role of the Reporter is available elsewhere on our website.

Any person may refer a child or young person to the Reporter and this document is intended to assist anyone considering making a referral. It covers a range of points, including criteria for referral, information to provide in a referral and information about informing the family of the referral.

Pre-Hearing Panels

A Pre-Hearing Panel can be arranged to consider certain preliminary issues in advance of a Children’s Hearing.

– whether to deem someone to be a relevant person;
– whether an individual currently deemed to be a relevant person should continue to be so deemed (be “undeemed”);
– whether to excuse a child or young person or relevant person from attending the Children’s Hearing;
– whether it is likely the Children’s Hearing will consider making a Compulsory Supervision Order with secure accommodation authorisation.

• A Pre-Hearing panel arranged for any of the above purposes may:

– appoint a safeguarder;
– identify that the child or a relevant person requires legal representation to be able to participate effectively in the hearing and that the child or relevant person will be unlikely to arrange this for themselves.

The following people have a right, but not a duty, to attend the Pre-Hearing Panel: the child or young person, relevant persons, safeguarder, any person who appears to the reporter to have (or recently have had) significant involvement in the upbringing of the child, and any person who has requested to be deemed to be a relevant person. They may provide reports to the Pre-Hearing Panel.

The Pre-Hearing panel must take place before the day of the Children’s Hearing. Where this is not practicable, the Children’s Hearing must consider the Pre-Hearing panel matters at the beginning of the Children’s Hearing.

Children and young people have the right to have their views considered at a Pre-Hearing Panel whether they attend or are excused. They can record their views on a ‘Your Views‘ sheet.

Non-disclosure Requests at a Children’s Hearing and Pre-Hearing Panel

When arranging a Children’s Hearing or Pre-Hearing Panel, the reporter will provide the members of the Children’s Hearing with copies of reports and other documents about the child or young person. The reporter will send the same papers to the child (if they are old enough to understand the papers) or young person and the relevant persons. Unless one of the other Non-disclosure provisions apply (see the good practice guide below), the reporter is only able to withhold any information in the papers from someone if a Non-disclosure request has been made.

A Non-disclosure request may be made by any person. The request must specify what information within the Hearing (or Pre-Hearing Panel) papers is to be withheld from whom, and why. The reporter must withhold the specified information from the specified individual and refer the request to the Children’s Hearing (or Pre-Hearing Panel). The Hearing (or Pre-Hearing Panel) will decide whether to agree to the request.

SCRA has published a guidance document providing partners with information about making a Non-disclosure request.  This is available here.

If making a Non-disclosure request in relation to information, partners should use the SCRA Non-disclosure Request Form – Form 3. Partners should also provide the Full Details of Information Form – Form 4.

The Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership has produced a good practice guide to Non-Disclosure of Information in the Children’s Hearings System.  A copy is available here.

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