Blog: Children’s Hearings Scotland turns 50!
Date: 23rd April 2021
Category: Children in conflict with the law
The very first children’s hearing was held on the 15th of April 1971! Deputy Director of the Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (CYCJ), Fiona Dyer, looks back and explores the hearing system and child-friendly justice.
The blog explores why the hearings system was developed and how Panel Members now can ensure they are safeguarding children’s rights.
Children’s hearings protect the safety and wellbeing of infants, children and young people in Scotland’s care and justice system. They are designed to ensure all decisions have the welfare and rights of the child at the centre. This is crucial as once a child enters the adult justice system, many struggle to understand what’s happening, with 60-70% identified as having speech, language and communication needs, and many with learning difficulties or mental health problems. This means they are unable to participate in a process that makes little exception for their position as children.
Entering the adult justice system early can also result in longer-term negative impacts on children, their development, and future prospects by having a criminal record that stays with them throughout adulthood.