The Children's Hearing System

The Children's Hearing System has been in operation in Scotland since 1971.

It deals with children and young people under the age of 18 whose situations may require intervention. This could be because they have offended, or because they have been offended against. It has taken the majority of children out of the court system. Hearings are held in front of members of the Children's Panel.


Anyone who is concerned about a child or young person (including themselves) can refer them to the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA). In 2016/17, 26,840 referrals were made to SCRA. Most referrals are made by the police (75% in 2016/17), social work departments and education.

Children's Reporter

The Children's Reporter decides what should happen next. This could be:

  • a children's hearing is not needed
  • a children's hearing is not needed but a referral should be made to the local authority to provide support and advice for the child
  • a Children's Hearing is needed to look into the child's situation

Children's Hearing

At a children's hearing, three trained but unpaid volunteer panel-members speak to the child or young person involved, find out about their situation and make a judgement on what action should be taken in their best interests. A social worker will also be present. The panel may decide to do one of the following:

  • that a Compulsory Supervision Order is needed
  • that judgement is 'deferred' as the panel needs more information before it can make a decision
  • that a Compulsory Supervision Order is not needed

Compulsory Supervision Order

A Compulsory Supervision Order sets out what should be done in the best interests of teh child/young person. The local authority is given the duty of making sure gives the local authority the duty to put this into place. This will involve the social work department and can involve the child's school.

Most often the child will remain at home but they could be removed and placed in alternate care for some time, for example with foster carers or a relative

The child/young person's case must be reviewed again within a year by another Hearing.