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 to the Children’s Reporter by someone who is concerned about them. For example, this could be the police, the social work department or a school.
There are lots of different reasons why a child might be referred to the Reporter. These include:
- If people are worried that they are not being properly looked after at home,
- If people are worried about their safety,
- If they are having problems with going to school,
- If there is police involvement in the child’s life.
If I have been referred to the children's reporter, do I have to go to a hearing?
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 to go to a Children’s Hearing because you are receiving help and support and it is working well for you, or you no longer need help.
- Or they may decide that you need some help from somebody else, like your local social worker or supporting agency.
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 people are worried you are not being properly looked after at home,
- If people are worried about your safety,
- If you are having problems with going to school,
- If there is police involvement in your life.
Do I have to go to the children's hearing?
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 email@example.com
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
- A teacher
- 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, a trusted person, an advocacy worker or a lawyer. You can bring a lawyer as well as a trusted adult or advocacy worker if you would like. They can help you talk to the Panel Members.
You are the most important person at a Children’s Hearing. Sometimes the Panel Members can ask some people to leave the Children’s Hearing for part of the Hearing if this would help you say how you feel and speak to the Hearing.
Where will the children's hearing be held?
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.
Then the Panel Members will decide how best to help you. This might mean that there are changes for you at home or at school.
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, like the Children’s Reporter, your advocacy worker or a lawyer. 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.