Views & experiences of the Children’s Hearings System

Date: 16th July 2014
Category: Child justice system, Special protection measures, General principles

Children's Hearings Scotland (CHS) published new research on the experiences of children, young people and adults of the Children's Hearings System on 16th July 2014.

The aim of the research, carried out by ScotCen, was to capture an in depth view of the lived experiences that lay behind the survey findings.

Twenty children and young people and sixteen adults from across Scotland participated in the research. One of the main focuses was the participants' views of panel members. This included their perceptions of the panel members they had encountered, the qualities they believe panel members should possess and how they believe their experiences of contact with panel members could be improved.

Other areas of the research looked at pre-hearing information and preparation, the children's hearing, the decision and after the hearing, knowledge and experience of rights.

Participants were generally very positive about panel members and their experiences of interacting with them. They felt panel members were professional, courteous and friendly; all qualities participants deemed to be important for panel members to possess. Typically, participants said that panel members made them feel comfortable and at ease.

Chapter 7 of the report 'Knowledge and experience of rights' highlights that knowledge of rights and the requests that can be made to a hearing amongst adults, young people and children was extremely patchy. Where individuals were aware of their rights, this information had usually been obtained via their experience of the system and attending hearings over time and not through printed materials or websites.

The research states that "It is essential that all those attending understand what their rights are."

A second report has been produced titled 'What children, young people and their carers think about children's hearings' which takes on the main themes from the research and presents them in a format produced specifically for young people.

A short animated film has been created which also highlights some of the key findings from the research.