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The Children's Panel - life changing

CHS publishes new research on the Children's Hearings System 16 July 2014

Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) has today published new research on the experiences of children, young people and adults of the Children’s Hearings System.

This is the first time that CHS has commissioned such research and follows a joint survey carried out with the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration in 2012/13, where CHS asked those taking part if they would be willing to participate in this piece of follow up qualitative work. 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.

In the main, suggestions for improvement concerned the behaviour and approach of panel members. Two specific suggestions for recruitment and training also emerged. The first was to recruit panel members who had experiences and backgrounds to those attending hearings and a preference for younger panel members. The second was to provide training for panel members to enable them to be more assertive in situations where those attending become aggressive, including how to remove people from a hearing if they are upsetting others.

Boyd McAdam, National Convener and Interim Chief Executive of CHS said: “This research reinforces many of the views that children, young people and adults have already expressed about their experiences of the Children’s Hearing System. It is crucial therefore to ensure that we learn as much as we can from this valuable piece of work and that we act on the findings.

“We have already been studying the findings from this research closely. Later this year we will publish a plan to see how we can address issues and suggestions arising from the report. This will ensure we prioritise any changes required to improve the experiences of those attending hearings. We will also share the research with our partners in the hearings system. We want to demonstrate to the children, young people and families who attend children’s hearings that we are listening to and acting on their feedback.”

CHS has published the following:

Please click on the links above to access either of the reports or the animated film.