The First Minister’s spoke about Children’s Hearings restarting during the first phase of lockdown restrictions being lifted.
Having Children’s Hearings back to some kind of increased functioning is really important to ensure children and young people who need legal measures to secure their care and protection, can quickly benefit from them.
However, traditional, face to face Hearings will only be able to take place with strict social distancing measures in place.
We have started to work on our plans to make this happen safely and we will work as quickly as we can to ensure we have all the correct measures in place.
In the meantime, we know you will have some questions if you are due to take part in a Children’s Hearing soon, so we hope this information helps…
I have heard that face to face Children’s Hearings are happening again. Are they starting after 28 May? If not, when will they start?
Children’s Hearings will not start face to face immediately. The Scottish Government recognises that Children’s Hearings are a key service so must start as soon as possible with safety measures in place, like social distancing. SCRA and partner organisations will work together to plan safe face to face Hearings in a few weeks’ time.
Why are Children’s Hearings resuming when other services are still closed?
Because the Children’s Hearings System is focussed on children and young people most at risk, the Scottish Government recognises that Children’s Hearings are a key service, sometimes called a critical public service, so they need to start again as soon as possible.
Are you stopping virtual Hearings?
No, we are not stopping Virtual Hearings at this time. We will continue to provide the option of Virtual Hearings until we can safely introduce face to face Children’s Hearings. We may continue to offer both options in the future.
Are you putting in extra measures so face to face Hearings are safe?
Yes; we will be putting in extra safety measures. These are still being explored, but they will include things like limiting the number of people attending the Hearing, spacing the times of Hearings well apart, social distancing measures, cleaning the rooms, and the provision of sanitising hand gel.
I am worried about my health and catching the virus, do I still have to attend a face to face Hearing?
No, at the moment we are still providing Virtual Hearings as an option to attend your Hearing. It is likely we will still offer Virtual Hearings as an attendance option in the future; we will keep our website updated with the changes as they develop. Unless you have been directed by a Children’s Hearing or a Sheriff to attend the Hearing, you don’t have to attend if you don’t want to.
I don’t want to attend a virtual Hearing or a face to face Hearing, can I still have my views heard?
Unless you have been directed by a Children’s Hearing or a Sheriff to attend the Hearing, you don’t have to attend if you don’t want to. You can submit your views to the Children’s Hearing in a variety of ways. You can email them to the Reporter, or telephone the Reporter who will take a note of your views and share them with the Hearing. You can also ask a representative (for example, an advocacy worker) or a solicitor (lawyer) to reflect your views at a Hearing on your behalf.
Remember, if you have any questions or concerns, you can always contact the Reporter. Email addresses and telephone numbers for local teams are available on our website and the information will be also be in the Hearing notification letter sent to you. You can also contact an advocacy worker here or a legal representative here. You can contact Parentline on 0800 28 22 33 or via their website.