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About the Children's Panel

How does it work?

The grounds on which a child or young person may be brought before a Hearing are set down in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and are as diverse as:

  • is beyond the control of parents or other relevant person;
  • is exposed to moral danger;
  • being the victim of an offence including physical injury or sexual abuse;
  • is likely to suffer serious impairment to health or development through lack of parental care;
  • is indulging in solvent abuse;
  • is misusing alcohol or drugs;
  • has committed an offence;
  • failure to attend school without reasonable excuse.

(The full list is given in section 52 of the act.)

Children under 16 are only considered for prosecution in court where serious offences such as murder or assault to the danger of life are in question or where they are involved in offences where disqualification from driving is possible. In cases of this kind the Procurator Fiscal has to decide if prosecution is in the public interest. If not, it is by no means automatic that prosecution will occur and where the public interest allows, children in these categories can be referred by the Procurator Fiscal to the Reporter for decision on whether referral to a Hearing is appropriate.

Where the child or young person is prosecuted in court, the court may refer their case to a Hearing for advice on the best method of dealing with the child. The court on receipt of that advice, or in certain cases without seeking advice first, may remit the case for disposal by a Hearing.

The Reporter

The Reporter is an official employed by the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration. All referrals must be made to the Reporter on children and young people who may need compulsory measures of supervision. The main source of referrals is the police and other agencies such as social work or education and indeed any member of the public may make a referral to the Reporter.

The Reporter then must make an initial investigation before deciding what action, if any, is necessary in the child’s interests. The Reporter must consider whether the evidence is sufficient to support the grounds for referral and then decide whether compulsory measures of supervision may be required.

The Reporter has a statutory discretion in deciding the next step and the Reporter may:

  • Decide that no further action is required. The child or young person and parent or other relevant person is then informed of the decision. The Reporter may convey this decision in person when the child may be warned about his future behaviour, especially if offending is involved.
  • Refer the child or young person to the local authority to arrange for such advice, guidance and assistance as may be appropriate for the child on an informal voluntary basis. This usually involves the social work department.
  • Seek further information from relevant Agencies in order to decide whether the child is in need of compulsory measures of supervision and Hearing requires to be arranged.

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