Childrens Panel

Thursday 5 October

Trish gave a very informative talk about her 10 years experience as a Panel member for Children’s Hearing Scotland. Children’s Hearing Scotland was established in 1971 and provides a system to support both those in need of care and protection and offenders through the same process.

The hearing process is a legal tribunal where a panel of three volunteer members, all from the local community, will make legal decisions on the care and protection of infants, children and young people. Currently this covers all children under 16 years of age but changing legislation will increase this to 18 in 2025.

The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) receive referrals from many sources where individuals have concerns for a child, these include the police, education and social work. Where the supporter believes there is a risk to the child they will gather relevant reports and will arrange a hearing where necessary.

The panel members will receive any relevant reports ahead of the meeting so they can understand the circumstances of the child. Hearings can be held in person or virtually. The hearing itself offers an opportunity for the panel to listen to the child’s views and any additional facts from other participants, this could include social workers, solicitors, health and or education professionals. The participants will discuss the issues in the reports and ask questions as necessary so the Panel can agree the best approach before the hearing is concluded. Each of the three panel members will give their decision and reasons within the hearing to ensure transparency. These decisions will be reached based on sound knowledge of the case, clear evidence provided and the child’s views. Each hearing will be chaired by one of the panel members to manage the meeting and ensure that all legalities are adhered to. The panel may put a Compulsory Supervision Order in place to help look after the child’s best interest, this will be terminated then it is no longer needed. There is also a process for reviews and appeals if required.

Panel members need to show empathy, compassion, trust and have great listening skills. Members are appointed for three years and receive comprehensive training from West Lothian College to achieve a Personal Development Award qualification within two years. Each volunteer commits to being available for 2 sessions per month.

They desperately need new Panel Members and Trish asked anyone interest to apply via the website by midnight on Sunday 8 October Children's Hearings Scotland ( Interviews will be held in November and successful applicants will start five weeks of training, four sessions in Inverness and one virtual, on Saturdays from 13 January. Applicants should ensure they have time to for the initial and ongoing training and sufficient time to prepare ahead of hearings.

This is a hard and challenging role and the training can be intense but Trish describes it as incredibly rewarding as you can have a considerable impact on the lives of local children.

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