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The Children's Panel - life changing

What happens?

Remember, the hearing is all about you! You will have the chance to tell panel members how you are and what you would like to happen. It is important the panel members hear what you have to say.

Here are some questions and answers which might help you to understand whatr happens at a hearing. We try to use language that is not complicated to help you understand, but we also have a Jargon Buster which might help.

What happens at the beginning of a hearing?

One of the panel members will introduce everyone in the room and will then read out the legal reasons for the hearing (these are called the ‘grounds for referral’). You will be asked whether you accept that these reasons are correct. The panel member will also ask your parents or carers if they accept that these reasons are correct.

If these reasons are accepted by you and your parents/carers, the panel members will go on to have a discussion about you with everyone present. The panel members will already have read the reports about you and your family.

What if the grounds for referral are not accepted by me or my parents or carers?

Where the legal reasons for the hearing (the grounds for referral) are not accepted by the young person, their parents or carers or the young person does not understand them, the panel members cannot make a final decision.

If this happens, the panel members have two options:

  • They can decide not to take the referral any further and that would be the end of the hearing. You would not have to go to another hearing unless you were referred again.
  • If they wanted to find out if the grounds for referral were true or not, the panel members could ask the Children’s Reporter to send the grounds for referral to court so that a Sheriff can decide if they are true or not. This is sometimes called sending the grounds to proof. You will have to go to court unless the Sheriff decides that you do not have to go. The Children’s Reporter will be able to tell you more about this if this happens at the hearing but it is nothing to be worried about.

What happens during the hearing?

Everyone will get a chance to speak. But the panel members will be really interested in the things you want to say. Remember that you will be the most important person there. If you find it easier you can tell the panel members what you think using the ‘All About Me’ form. This will be sent to you by the Children’s Reporter. The panel members can ask people to leave to talk with you if this makes you feel more comfortable. However, they do have to tell your parent or carer what has been talked about when they are not there.

You will be asked some questions like....

  • Do you like where you are staying?
  • How are you getting on with the people you live with?
  • What things do you like doing?
  • How is school?
  • Do you have any worries or problems?
  • Do you get to spend time with everyone who you want to see?

The panel members will ask you these questions to make sure you get the right help. 

What decisions can a children's hearing make about a young person?

It is the three panel members and not the Children’s Reporter, who decide what action should be taken to help a young person at a children’s hearing. The panel members will consider all the information, and then make a decision about what is best to help you or to keep you safe.They can decide:

• That they don’t need to do anything about the grounds for referral and decide not to take it any further. This is called discharging the case. This might be because things have improved for the young person at home or school and the panel members don’t feel that the young person needs to come back to another hearing.

• That more information is needed to help them make a decision about what is best for the young person and they can decide to defer (delay) the hearing until a later date.

• If panel members are worried about you, they might make what’s called a compulsory supervision order. This is a legal document which means that social work or the local authority must be involved in your life and that they are responsible for looking after and helping you.

• Most young people on a compulsory supervision order stay at home, but if the panel members are very worried about your safety, they might decide that you need to stay in another place for a while to keep you safe from danger.

What happens at the end of the hearing?

The panel memebrs will make their decision and they must give reasons for their decision. They will tell you what is going to happen and why. You will also be sent a copy of the decision and reasons for the decision in writing.

How long will the hearing last?

Most children’s hearings should take less than an hour. Sometimes hearings last longer than expected and you may have to wait a while for your hearing to start. You are allowed to miss some school to go to a children’s hearing.