The Children’s Hearings System is Scotland’s unique care and justice system for children and young people. It aims to ensure the safety and wellbeing of vulnerable children and young people through a decision making lay tribunal called the Children’s Panel.
Children and young people who face serious problems in their lives may be asked to go to a meeting called a children’s hearing. The Children’s Panel makes decisions at a hearing about the help and guidance necessary to support the child or young person. Decisions are made in the best interests of the child or young person to help and protect them.
A number of different agencies work together within the Children’s Hearings System to deliver care, protection and support services to the children and young people involved. These include social work, police, education, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) and Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS).
One of the fundamental principles of the Children’s Hearings System is that children and young people who commit offences, and children and young people who need care and protection, are dealt with in the same system – as they are often the same children and young people.There has been a decrease in referrals to the Reporter in the last six years but it is difficult to make sense of the trend. Have budget cuts had something to do with this? And why are more babies being taken into care? From the SCRA website:
In 2012/13 there was a decrease in the number of children and young people referred to the Reporter.
"Although there was a slight reduction this year, we continue to see considerable numbers of young children with Child Protection Orders – 743 in 2012/13, with more continuing to be granted for very young children, especially newborn babies, than any other age. Out of the 743 children and young people with CPOs, 160 were aged under 20 days and 344 were aged under two years.These statistics can be compared with children on supervision orders as reported in the Daily Record: These show more state interference in family life, not less.
In 1987, just over 10 out of every 1000 children required support in their own homes or with other family members, foster carers or in residential homes.
But that number has risen steadily to just under 16 per 1000 in Scottish Government statistics from 2011/12.
In 2000, there were 2050 kids on the child protection register. By 2012, that number had risen to 2706 under-16s.