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Children's Hearings

A Children's Hearing is a legal tribunal that decides what's best for a child or young person who has a problem, such as:

  • they're not being looked after properly
  • they've been in trouble with the police or at school

You might need to go to a Children's Hearing so you can talk about your problem (or the person you look after's problem). A Children's Hearing can make the legal steps needed to help you.

 

Going to a Children's Hearing

Why Children's Hearings happen

The Children's Hearing System aims to help children and young people under 18 who have problems in their life. For example, they may need care and protection, or be in trouble with the police or at school.

When a young person needs help, they'll be referred to a Children's Reporter. They'll contact a social worker, teacher or the young person's parents and decide what help they need to sort their problem out. This may mean sending the young person to a Children's Hearing to decide what to do next.

How the Children's Hearing System works – Children's Hearings Scotland

Before the hearing

If you (or the person you look after) need to go to a Children's Hearing, you'll get a letter from the Children's Reporter to tell you when and where it is, and why the Children's Hearing is happening.

Find support before a hearing for children and young people, including visiting the Hearing Centre to see what it's like.

At your hearing

The hearing will take place at a Hearing Centre, usually near where you live. People at the hearing will include:

  • you (or the person you look after if you're a parent or carer)
  • a Children's Reporter – they organise the hearing
  • 3 panel members – they are specially trained to decide what happens next
  • a social worker

The young person may want to bring a family friend or professional who is in their life. For example a teacher.

The hearing may appoint a 'safeguarder' who helps the panel members make the right decision.

The young person may be asked some questions so they have their say. The panel members will listen to everyone and make the best decision for the young person.

Find support for children and young people at a Children's Hearing.

Words you might come across

Some of the words used in the Children's Hearings System can be difficult to understand. The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) website explains what some of these words mean.

Jargon buster – SCRA

Help and support

If you're a child or young person

You can bring a friend or representative to a Children's Hearing for support.

You'll find information on the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) website on things like what happens at a hearing, who will be there and what kinds of decisions can be made.

Information for children and young people – SCRA

If you have a problem and want to talk about it, phone Childline on 0800 1111. It's free to call and the person you speak to will not tell anyone you rang them. The website also has online chat and message boards where you can get support from other young people in a similar situation to you.

Childline

If you want to talk to someone about a legal issue, phone the Young Scot LawLine on 0808 801 0801 for free, confidential, 24-hour legal advice.

Young Scot LawLine

If you have questions about the law or a Children's Hearing, the Scottish Child Law Centre gives expert legal advice through a helpline, email and website.

The Scottish Child Law Centre

You might feel you need some support explaining your opinion at a Children's Hearing.

Find advocacy services near you with Who Cares Scotland and Children 1st, or see if your local council has a children's rights officer who can help you.

Visit Aberdeen City Council Visit Aberdeenshire Council Visit Angus Council Visit Argyll and Bute Council Visit Clackmannanshire Council Visit Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) Visit Dumfries and Galloway Council Visit Dundee City Council Visit East Ayrshire Council Visit East Dunbartonshire Council Visit East Lothian Council Visit East Renfrewshire Council Visit Edinburgh Council Visit Falkirk Council Visit Fife Council Visit Glasgow City Council Visit The Highland Council Visit Inverclyde Council Visit Midlothian Council Visit Moray Council Visit North Ayrshire Council Visit North Lanarkshire Council Visit Orkney Islands Council Visit Perth & Kinross Council Visit Renfrewshire Council Visit Scottish Borders Council Visit South Ayrshire Council Visit South Lanarkshire Council Visit Shetland Council Visit Stirling Council Visit West Dunbartonshire Council Visit West Lothian Council

If you're a parent or carer

You can bring a friend or representative to a Children's Hearing for support.

The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) gives information on what happens if your child has to go to a Children's Hearing, including:

  • the decisions that can be made
  • what you and your child's rights are
  • what you can do if you're not happy with the decision

Information for parents and carers – Scottish Children's Reporter Administration

If you're worried about a child or young person

If you have concerns about the wellbeing of a child, report it to your local social work department. Call 999 if a child is in immediate danger.

Visit Aberdeen City Council Visit Aberdeenshire Council Visit Angus Council Visit Argyll and Bute Council Visit Clackmannanshire Council Visit Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles Council) Visit Dumfries and Galloway Council Visit Dundee City Council Visit East Ayrshire Council Visit East Dunbartonshire Council Visit East Lothian Council Visit East Renfrewshire Council Visit Edinburgh Council Visit Falkirk Council Visit Fife Council Visit Glasgow City Council Visit The Highland Council Visit Inverclyde Council Visit Midlothian Council Visit Moray Council Visit North Ayrshire Council Visit North Lanarkshire Council Visit Orkney Islands Council Visit Perth & Kinross Council Visit Renfrewshire Council Visit Scottish Borders Council Visit South Ayrshire Council Visit South Lanarkshire Council Visit Shetland Council Visit Stirling Council Visit West Dunbartonshire Council Visit West Lothian Council

If you're a victim of youth crime

Find support and advice if you're the victim of a crime committed by a young person, including information on the Children's Hearing System and how you'll be kept informed about a case.

Youth crime: support

If a case goes to court

Children's Hearing court cases

Sometimes, decisions cannot be made at a Children's Hearing. The case will be sent to the sheriff court so the sheriff can decide what happens next.

Find out more about Children's Hearing court cases.

The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA) website has a video for young people about going to court as part of a Children's Hearing case.

Going to court – SCRA

If you're a witness

You may be asked to be a witness in a Children's Hearing court case, because:

  • the case is about you and you need to tell the court what you know
  • you have important information about a child's welfare

Find out more about being a witness at court.

If you have to appear at court as a witness, you may be entitled to claim some expenses for things like travel costs and loss of earnings.

Claim court expenses.

Legal help

If you need legal advice or representation

Find out more about using solicitors for legal advice and supporting you at a hearing.

If you're a young person and want to talk to someone about a legal issue, you can phone the Young Scot LawLine on 0808 801 0801 for free, confidential, 24-hour legal advice.

Young Scot LawLine

If you have questions about the law or a Children's Hearing, the Scottish Child Law Centre gives expert legal advice through a helpline, email and their website.

The Scottish Child Law Centre

Help with legal costs

Legal aid can help with the costs of using a solicitor if you cannot afford it, for example:

  • legal advice about a Children's Hearing – eg a solicitor can tell you what to expect, what decisions can be made and how to appeal
  • representation at a Children's Hearing
  • representation at a Children's Hearing court case

Find out more about Children's Hearing legal aid.

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