A Day in the Life – Children’s Reporter
If you are interested in applying for a role as a Children’s Reporter, this section provides you with more detail about the role. Please note, during the pandemic, the role of the Reporter has some different elements as many Hearings are being held virtually.
A Children’s Reporter is the person who decides if a child or young person needs to come to a Children’s Hearing. Reporters receive referrals about children and young people where there are concerns for the child or young person’s safety, welfare and wellbeing. Children or young people can be referred to Children’s Hearings for various reasons, most often because they are in need of care and protection, but sometimes because they have been involved in offending, or on occasion, both.
The Reporter, after receiving the referral, investigates the case. In order to find out more about what is happening in the child’s life, and to identify what the concerns are the Reporter may request reports from the child or young person’s school, the social work department, health visitor or any agency involved with the child or young person.
When the reports requested are received, the Reporter then has to decide whether to bring the child or young person to a Children’s Hearing. The Reporter can only bring a child to a Children’s Hearing if they believe that there is sufficient evidence that one of the grounds for referral are met. The grounds for referral can be found here. The Reporter also has to consider whether even though there is sufficient evidence that one of the grounds of referral are met that it is necessary to bring the child or young person to a Children’s Hearing.
A Reporter’s schedule is extremely varied. As well as receiving and investigating referrals, they arrange and attend Children’s Hearings. Attending court is another significant element of the Reporter’s role. For example, if the statement of grounds are not accepted by the child or young person and their parents, then the Reporter may need to go to court to present evidence before the sheriff. The Sheriff will hear the evidence, listen to witnesses, and decide if the statement of grounds are established. If so, they will pass the case back to a Children’s Hearing. The Reporter may also have to go to court if the child or young person, or their parents or carers appeal a decision made by a Hearing.
Excellent attention to detail, preparation and communication skills are required to ensure that everyone involved in the process receives the right information at the right time. Many Reporters have legal training or social work backgrounds and will generally bring an experience of working with children and young people, or families, in either a legal or welfare setting, to what can be a challenging, but rewarding career.
A Typical Day of a Children’s Reporter
The Reporter arrives at work. They have Children’s Hearings that they have scheduled which will begin at 9.30am. They ensure that all of the papers are in order and they are familiar with the cases.
The Reporter attends the Children’s Hearings that they have scheduled. The Reporter is there to support fair process and to record the proceedings. The Reporter takes no part in the Panel Members’ deliberations and decision making. Instead the Reporter records the decision of each of the Hearings and waits for the Panel Members to write their reasons for their decisions for each child.
After lunch the Reporter prepares papers for the court Hearing due to commence at 2.00pm at the local Sheriff Court. They have two cases calling. Both are cases where the statement of grounds are not accepted by the child or young person and their parents.
The Reporter attends at the local Sheriff Court. At court they speak to the solicitors present to represent the parents and children in their cases. Through discussions with them they manage to resolve their cases that day. The Sheriff agrees that because parties have reached an agreement they do not need to hear evidence in the cases. The Sheriff establishes the grounds and passes the case back to the Children’s Hearing.
The Reporter returns to the office and records the outcome of the court hearing and sends the necessary notifications to the child/young person and their parents or carers. Sometimes, court cases may take several days or even weeks – on this occasion the Hearing was only for the afternoon.
There are new referrals to deal with and the Reporter spends the rest of the day reading those referrals, and identifying the level and nature of investigation necessary for each case. The Reporter also contacts colleagues in social work and police departments to request background information on the referrals received, which will help them decide whether or not that child or young person should be called to a Hearing at a future date.