Each Children’s Hearing is made up of 3 panel members who are specially trained members of the public. A child can be referred to the Children’s Reporter for many reasons, such as not attending school or getting into trouble with the police. More commonly, children are referred due to concerns around parental care, exposure to domestic abuse, neglect and abuse. The Children’s Reporter will receive details of the concern(s) and will instruct the local social work department to provide them with a full report on the child. The Children’s Reporter will then decide if it is necessary to convene a Children's Hearing. The purpose of any hearing is to consider whether a child is in need of compulsory measures of care.
At the first Children’s Hearing, or at the 8th working day Hearing in the case of Child Protection Orders, the child, parents and a representative from the social work department will be present. Parents fall into the category of ‘relevant persons.’ Relevant persons have a right to attend hearings, to receive any paperwork which the Hearing will be considering, to appeal decisions of the Children’s Hearing and to have a legal representative present.
A relevant person can also be someone who, while not a parent, has had significant care of the child, given them guidance and made decisions about their upbringing and welfare, such as arranging medical appointments. A family member who has been caring for the children, is likely to be regarded as a relevant person. Such a person can ask the Children’s Hearing to deem them to be a relevant person.
At the hearing, "grounds of referral" will be put to the parents, along with statements of facts which the reporter seeks to prove are true. The Statement of Facts will narrate the factual circumstances giving rise to the concerns brought to the attention of the Reporter. If the parents, relevant persons or the child do not accept the statement of facts and grounds of referral, the case will be referred to the local Sheriff Court for the facts to be determined. An evidential hearing called a Proof will be assigned, and witnesses will be called to give evidence. The court will then decide if the grounds of referral have been established. If they are not established, that will be the end of the case. If they are established, the case will return to the Children’s Hearing, at which hearing, it will be determined whether or not a Compulsory Supervision Order is required. If granted, a Compulsory Supervision Order will last for 1 year. Compulsory Supervision Orders can dictate where a child will live, what contact a child will have with a parent, and other measures required to safeguard the wellbeing of the child.
Decisions of the Children’s Hearing can be appealed, to the local Sheriff Court within 21 days. If you do not agree with a decision of the Children’s Hearing, it is important to take legal advice. We can provide you with advice on whether you have a stateable appeal, or whether the decision was justified in the whole circumstances of your case.
A relevant person can also ask for a review of the Compulsory Supervision Order every 3 months.
It is important that you seek legal representation, as any decision of the Children’s Hearing could have significant consequences for you and your family. Millen Solicitors have extensive knowledge of the Children’s Hearing system and our solicitors appear regularly at Hearings and at Court representing clients in these proceedings. We will treat your case in a non-judgemental fashion and be sympathetic to your needs and well as providing straightforward advice.