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The Children's Panel - life changing

Children's Hearings Scotland Response to The Herald Complaints Enquiry 23 January 2020

“We investigate all complaints thoroughly using a fair and robust procedure which always allows exploration of the complaint with both the subject, and those who have made the complaint.

“No volunteer has been removed as a consequence of a complaint. In some cases, volunteers have been asked to step back from their duties whilst complaints are being investigated, which is standard practice.

“Our Panel Members are incredibly committed volunteers, giving significant time and energy to supporting infants, children and young people in Scotland.

“However, the Children’s Panel is a legal tribunal and our volunteers are required to abide by national standards in terms of their knowledge, skills and conduct, hence it is essential we monitor those standards carefully and consistently.

“Our complaints process is a vital part of upholding standards and to make sure it is fair and robust we have rigorously followed guidance set by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO).

“Our complaints process aims to ensure everyone involved has the opportunity to learn from what happened, and that measures are put in place to prevent something similar happening again.

“Despite the challenging nature of the role, there are very few complaints made about our Panel Members.

“In financial year 2018/19 41 complaints relating to Panel Members in a hearing were made. In that same year there were 31,653 hearings. This means that complaints were made in relation to 0.13% of the hearings which took place.

“We strive to be a learning organisation and as such we value feedback from our volunteers and through a thorough consultation and engagement process, we have enhanced our complaints policy and procedure.

“We have updated the language used, and clarified guidance for  any member of the CHS community who are the subject of a complaint. We have also introduced an internal right to review process. Notwithstanding that, members of the CHS community retain the right to seek a review of their case by SPSO.

“Dealing with complaints can often be a complex and sensitive procedure and there have been very occasional cases where, while the process was correctly followed, it has led to people feeling upset and frustrated.

“However, this does not affect the legitimacy of the process, which is fair and robust, and vital to ensuring our Panel Members can effectively support infants, children and young people.”

Elliot Jackson, CEO and National Convenor