Questions and Answers
On this page you will find lots of questions and answers about Hearings. To read them you will need to scroll down the page.
What is a Children’s Reporter?
The Children’s Reporter is the person who will decide if you need to go to a Children’s Hearing. To help them make a decision they will get some information about you. They might speak to a social worker if you have one, or your teacher or the people who look after you at home. Anyone who is worried about serious problems that you have can tell the Children’s Reporter.
What is a referral?
A referral is when information about a child is sent by the police, social work or school to the Children’s Reporter, because they think that a child needs help to sort out some problems in their life.
Below are some reasons why a child might be referred – these reasons are also known as the ‘statement of grounds’:
- If they are having problems with going to school
- If they have been getting into trouble
- If people are worried that they are not being properly looked after at home
- If people are worried about their safety
If I have been referred to the children’s reporter, do I have to go to a hearing?
Most children referred to the Children’s Reporter do not have to go to a Hearing. If you have been referred to the Children’s Reporter, you will get a letter. Your parents or carers will also get a similar letter. It will explain why you have been referred to the Children’s Reporter.
The Children’s Reporter might then ask for some more information about you from your school or from social work. Once they get this information they will decide if you need to go to a Hearing. The Children’s Reporter will write to you again to let you know what they decide.
If I have been referred what could happen to me?
There are a few different things a Reporter can decide to do:
- They can decide to arrange a Children’s Hearing
- They may decide that you don’t need help from the Children’s Hearing because you are managing to sort your problems out with help from your family
- Or they may decide that you need some help from somebody else like your local council
Why have I been asked to go to hearing?
You have been asked to go to a Hearing because the Children’s Reporter has decided this is the best way to help you. The Children’s Reporter will write to you and the people who look after you to tell you when and where the Children’s Hearing will be. The Children’s Reporter will also tell you why you are going to a Children’s Hearing.
Children are asked to go to a Children’s Hearing for lots of reasons, for example:
- If you are having problems with going to school
- If you have been in getting into trouble
- If people are worried that you are not being properly looked after at home
- If people are worried about your safety
Do I have to go to the children’s hearing?
Yes, unless the Children’s Reporter has told you that you do not have to go. The Children’s Hearing is about you. It is important that you are there to let the people at the Children’s Hearing know what you think.
What information will I get before the hearing?
Children over the age of 12 years normally receive the same reports as the Panel Members and their parents or carers. Children between eight and 12 years may get the reports, if they want to see them.
If you are about to go to a Hearing and haven’t had any information, please get in touch with your local Children’s Reporter office or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Who will be at the hearing?
- You, unless you have been told by the Children’s Reporter that you do not need to be there
- The people who look after you
- Three people called Panel Members who will decide what to do next
- The Children’s Reporter who will write down what has been decided
- A social worker
- There may be a person called a Safeguarder – they are there to help the Panel Members make the right decisions for you
If you want to, you can bring someone with you like a friend or your teacher. They can help you talk to the Panel Members.
Where will the children’s hearing be held?
Children’s Hearings can be in different kinds of buildings. Usually there is a waiting room and you can bring a game or a book to use when you are in the waiting room. Then you go into the Children’s Hearing room and meet the Panel Members.
Will I be there a long time?
Most Hearings take less than an hour – that is about the same time as your lunch break at school. Sometimes Hearings last longer than expected and you may have to wait a while for your Hearing to start. If you miss some school, then that’s OK. You are allowed to miss school to go to a Children’s Hearing
What will happen at the children’s hearing?
Remember that you will be the most important person there. The Panel Members will explain to you why you have been asked to come to the Children’s Hearing. The Panel Members will tell you who everyone is and what their names are. Everyone will get a chance to speak. But people will be really interested in the things you want to say.
If you have something you would like to say at your Hearing, please complete an All About Me form. Your parents or carers can help you to fill out the form if you need some help. You can send it back to the Children’s Reporter who wrote to you about your Hearing, or you can bring it with you to the Hearing.
What if I don’t agree with the decision of the children’s hearing?
If you don’t agree with the decision that the Hearing makes about you, tell someone straight away, either the person who looks after you, your social worker or the Children’s Reporter. They will help you talk to someone about why you don’t like the decision and help you decide if you would like to go to court to appeal the decision.
If you want to appeal the decision of the Hearing, you must do this within 21 days of the date of the Hearing.
What does it mean to go to Court?
At your first Hearing, the statement of grounds (the reason for you being at your Hearing) are read out and you or your parents or carers have to say whether you all agree or not.
If you don’t agree with the reasons, or if you can’t understand them, perhaps because you are too young, or because they are complicated, the Panel Members can’t make a final decision. The Panel Members might ask the Children’s Reporter to send the matter to a Sheriff Court so that a Sheriff can decide if the reasons are correct.
In Scotland a Sheriff is a judge in a court. The Sheriff will listen to what is said about the reasons.
If the Sheriff decides that the reasons are correct, then another Children’s Hearing will be arranged for you to decide what would be the best way of giving you whatever help or support they think that you or your family need.
If the Sheriff decides the statement of grounds are not correct, then there won’t be another Children’s Hearing.
Do I have to go to court?
Children have the right to go to court. The Sheriff may decide you don’t have to go as it might make you upset, or you might be too young to understand. If you do need to go, courts do everything they can to make children feel comfortable.
What if I need some help?
Going to court can seem worrying and complicated, so you should talk to someone about it.
You can take someone like a friend, parent, a teacher or a social worker with you, or you can ask a solicitor/lawyer to go with you. They can also tell you about what will happen at court and try to answer any questions you have about it.
You can also talk to the Children’s Reporter. Their name and contact details will be on the letter which was sent to you asking you to come to your Hearing.
The Scottish Government has produced a booklet to help children who have to go to court to be a witness because of a Children’s Hearing. To read the booklet click on the link below.