Information for Researchers and Students


Research access to SCRA and Children’s Hearings

SCRA receives requests from those who wish to undertake research about the Children’s Hearings System and those involved in it.  These requests can be from academic researchers, undergraduate students, school students, analysts from other public bodies, consultants, etc.

SCRA’s experience is that such requests are for data on children and young people involved in the Children’s Hearings process, access to information on children and young people’s cases, interviews with Children’s Reporters, surveys, observations of Children’s Hearings, or access to children, young people, and families attending Hearings.

SCRA would like to monitor applications for research access to ensure that the research will be carried out to accepted ethical standards, reflects the ethos of the Children’s Hearings System and does not place excessive demands on SCRA staff and those involved in Children’s Hearings.  As such, SCRA may ask that researchers submit an application for the approval of SCRA’s Research Ethics Committee.  This is more likely for larger research projects and/or those of sensitive subject matter, and those where direct access to Hearings is requested.


General principles

  • SCRA values the contribution that research makes to influence practice and policy to improve the experiences and outcomes for children and young people involved in the Children’s Hearings System.
  • SCRA asks that researchers make contact at an early stage in their research plans to explore what is possible.  Please contact SCRA’s Information & Research Manager at Gillian.henderson@scra.gsi.gov.uk
  • SCRA expects that researchers have the necessary expertise to carry out the research, and that they have (or will obtain) authorisation and/or ethical approval from their university or funding body.

Any research should not adversely impact on the operation of SCRA or Children’s Hearings, and must not cause inconvenience or distress to any children, young people, or their families.  SCRA will not take part in research or, if started, will withdraw from the research or terminate access for researchers if it has concerns about either.

SCRA carefully regulates and is unlikely to allow access to children and young people’s case files whether held as paper files or in its electronic Case Management System (these include Children’s Hearings papers, records of proceedings, and statutory documents). This is because SCRA has a duty to treat such sensitive personal information under data protection legislation In addition, Children’s Hearings records of proceedings are exempt from access to information under section 37 of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002.  However, it may be possible for anonymised or aggregated data to be provided, and SCRA is happy to explore this in discussions with researchers.


What to consider when planning research involving SCRA and Children’s Hearings

SCRA also requests that researchers consider the following when planning or carrying out research involving SCRA and/or Children’s Hearings.

SCRA

  • Is the information you require already available?  Our Resources section contains SCRA’s Official Statistics, research reports, Annual Reports, and information materials on the Children’s Hearings System. We also have an Online Statistical Dashboard which provides data on children and young people who have been involved in the Children’s Hearings System.
  • SCRA staff should not be quoted or identified in any reports or publications unless they have given their consent for this.
  • SCRA staff who take part in the research are sent draft reports before publication, so that any errors or misrepresentations can be corrected.
  • SCRA should be given appropriate acknowledgement of its data or staff involvement in any research reports or publications.

Children’s Hearings

  • Children’s Hearings are private proceedings.  It is for the Chair of the Hearing to decide who should be present.  It is very rare for researchers to be observers at Children’s Hearings.  If researchers are permitted to be present, they must not record proceedings in any way.
  • Identifiable information on children and young people involved in the Children’s Hearings process must never be reported or published (even if there is consent). Under Section 182 of the Children Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011, it is a criminal offence to publish any information either intended, or likely to identify any child or young person concerned or connected with the case, the proceedings, or any appeal. It is also a criminal offence to identify the child or young person’s address or school.
  • Researchers must have appropriate ethical approval for any research involving children, young people and families.  If researchers wish to recruit children, young people and families attending Hearings for research they must contact SCRA first to discuss how to do this and/or for permission for access to Hearings Centres.

Children’s Panel Members

Researchers should contact Children’s Hearings Scotland about research involving Children’s Panel Members.


Contacting SCRA about research

SCRA
Information & Research Team
Ochil House
Springkerse Business Park
Stirling
FK7 7XE

Email: Gillian.henderson@scra.gsi.gov.uk

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