We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

The Children's Hearings System in Scotland 2003: Training Resource Manual - 2nd edition

DescriptionA resource manual for the training of panel members
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateDecember 17, 2003


The Children's Hearings System in Scotland 2003
Training Resource Manual
2nd edition

This document is also available in pdf format (1.3MB)

Content of the Manual

The Manual is divided into two parts.

Section 1
History and Principles
A brief account of how the system developed and the principles on which it is based.
Section 2
Law and Procedure

The legal framework of the hearings system, incorporating the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 and the associated Rules.
Section 3
At a Hearing

Advice to panel members about implementing best practice regarding the conduct of hearings.

Section 1
Child, Family and Society
Information about child development and the needs of children as well as background material about the lives of children and families in Scotland today. Discussion of issues relating to children's rights, offending, child protection and permanency.
Section 2
Roles, Responsibilities and Resources

Description of the roles and responsibilities of the people and agencies involved in the hearings system. An introduction to the range of resources and services available for children and families.
Section 3
Analysis of the complex communication processes which take place in hearings.
Glossary and Abbreviations


Children's panel members play a crucial part in the children's hearings system. They make decisions that are very important in the lives of children and their families. It is for this reason that great care is taken over their appointment and it is essential that they should be provided with first class training and good reference material that will enable them to do their job confidently and well.

In 1996, in view of all the developments over the preceding years and the forthcoming implementation of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 in April 1997, The Scottish Office commissioned a complete revision of the existing guidance manual for panel members. Since then other legislation has been introduced which has had an impact on the work of hearings and best practice guidance has been developed in the light of experience. In view of these changes, the Scottish Executive decided in 2001 that there should be a revision of the manual.

This is the second edition of that manual. It contains reference to the recent legislative changes and revised best practice guidance as well as reflecting changes to work with children who need care and protection and children who offend. It can be used not only as a resource for the training of panel members but also for the training of members of Children's Panel Advisory Committees and safeguarders.

The manual is not only about the legal framework, important as that is. It is primarily about children: the problems that some of them face, the environment in which they live, their needs, the services that are provided to meet those needs as well as how best to communicate with them and the adults who are present at hearings. The panel member's task is not only to make decisions fairly and in accordance with the statutory requirements but also to take full account of the individual needs of every child who comes to a hearing. This manual aims to provide information to widen the understanding of panel members and enable them to make sound, well-informed decisions at hearings.

It is hoped that all who read this manual will find it a valuable supplement to their training and as a source of constant reference during their service.

Carole Comben, University of St. Andrews
Joy Gillies, University of Aberdeen
Barbara Reid, University of Glasgow
Joan Rose, University of Edinburgh

December 2003.