CHILDREN’S HEARING SYSTEM CHILDREN’S HEARINGS Need to know: • • • • • Why a child may appear before a hearing How the hearings system works Actions that can be taken Strengths and criticisms of hearings Why young people offend - Youth Hearings - Young Offenders Institutions • How to keep young people out of trouble Unique Scotland has a unique Children's Hearing System which is different from juvenile justice systems elsewhere in the UK and the world. In Scotland, children (those under the age of 16) are only considered for prosecution in court for serious offences such as murder, assault which puts a life in danger or serious road traffic offences which can lead to disqualification from driving. Think WHY MAY A CHILD BE REFERRED? WHY A CHILD MAY BE REFERRED • • • • • • • Beyond the control of their parent/guardian Exposed to ‘moral danger’ Victim of an offence e.g. abuse Neglect from parents Involved in drug or alcohol abuse Has committed an offence/broken the law Failure to attend school HOW CHILDRENS HEARING SYSTEM WORKS STEP 1 Referral to the ‘Children’s Reporter’ STEP 2 Initial investigation is carried out - 3 possible outcomes STEP 3 Referred to a hearing in front of the ‘Children’s Panel’ - One of 3 decisions will then be made Who attends the Hearing? • Use the handout to write a short summary of the key people at a children’s hearing. – The Children’s Reporter – The Children’s Panel Member – A social worker – The Education Staff – Safeguarder – Representative – Sheriff At the Hearing... The purpose of the hearing is to decide on the measures of care which are in the best interests of the child. • The people who sit on Children’s Hearings are known as the Children’s Panel. They are volunteers and come from a wide range of occupations and backgrounds. All have experience of and an interest in children. Members are trained for their work with the Children’s Panel, and over the whole country there are around 2000 panel members. STRENGTHS OF THE SYSTEM • The focus is on helping the child by providing care, protection and rehabilitation , rather than on the law and punishing them. • Can prevent the child from becoming criminal in later life. • Provides safety and supervision where it is needed for the child. CRITICISMS OF THE SYSTEM • 60% of cases are to do with the welfare and care of children which are better dealt with else where. • Some see this as a ‘soft’ way of dealing with criminal behaviour and it does not prevent crime in later life. • There are a lot of changes in staff on the Children’s Panel and some children feel intimidated by having to appear in front of one. Children’s Hearings Scotland Recent Changes June 2013 • To try and combat some of the criticisms the role of National Convener was created. They will act as a figurehead for Scotland’s 2,700 volunteer panel members. • A national body was created, Children’s Hearings Scotland, to support the National Convener with the recruitment, selection, appointment, training, retention and support of panel members. RECAP Discuss the answers to the following questions with your partner – get ready for questions! 1. Why may a child be referred to a hearing? 2. How does the hearings system work? 3. What are the strengths & criticisms of hearings? Case Study 1. Read the Children's Hearings papers that you have been given. 2. Decide who you think will attend the Children's Hearing. Each person in the group should then choose a role. (Remember that the group of three panel members has to be made up of both sexes.) 3. In the role that you have chosen, prepare for the Children's Hearing: the child/young person and family should think about what they want to tell the panel members the panel members should think about the issues that they would like to discuss and the questions they would like to ask any professionals should think about what they want to tell the panel members. 4. Hold your Hearing in class. At the end, the panel members must decide which decision they will make. Think • Why do young people offend? Youth Offenders • In 2012, 74% of the referrals for boys were for alleged offences. • The remainder of the referrals to SCRA are for reasons other than committing an offence. • Boys feel obliged to live up to their reputation for aggression and to show that they can ‘stick up for themselves’. • In cases of family breakup there is evidence to suggest that boys react with aggression, delinquency and crime, whereas girls are likely to react quietly. PROPOSALS FOR CHANGE The Scottish Prisons Commission has recommended YOUTH HEARINGS for 16 and 17 year olds. • These would deal exclusively with criminal cases • 16 and 17 year olds are old enough to account for their actions • Focus on giving the appropriate punishment • There would also be support to tackle the causes of crime and prevent youngsters from reoffending. Questions • Give two reasons to explain why some people have criticised the Children’s Hearing System in Scotland. • Describe in detail ways in which the Children’s panel deals with some of the problems faced by young people. Punishment • Polmont is Scotland's national holding facility for Young Offenders aged between 16 - 21 years of age. • The prison functions as a national resource, accommodating sentenced prisoners from all over the country. • The contracted numbers are 760, with a maximum space for 830, making Polmont arguably the biggest Young Offenders Institution in Britain. • Sentences range from 6 months to Life. The average sentence length is between 2 - 4 years.