Children's hearings

The Children’s Hearings System is Scotland’s unique approach to care and justice decision making for children and young people. The philosophy of the system was established in the Kilbrandon Report of 1964 and the Kilbrandon principles remain relevant today. The most fundamental principle being that children and young people who offend and those who require care and protection are equally deserving to be considered as children in need - the system takes an integrated, holistic approach to care and justice, with the child’s best interest as the paramount consideration.

In the years since Kilbrandon, the Children’s Hearings System has been modernised and strengthened through the introduction of new legislation, the most recent being the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (the 2011 Act).
Find out more about the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011

The Children’s Hearings System is administered through 2 Non-Departmental Public Bodies, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) and Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS). SCRA was formed under the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1994 and continued under the 2011 Act. It became fully operational on 1st April 1996. CHS was formed under the 2011 Act and became fully operational on 24 June 2013.

CHS and SCRA are funded by the Scottish Government. Each body is governed by a Board of non-executive members, which is accountable to Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament. The Scottish Minister with responsibility for the Children’s Hearings system is the Minister for Children and Young People. Within the Scottish Government, responsibility for both bodies rests with the Children and Families Directorate, Care & Justice Division.


Safeguarders are appointed by children's hearings or sheriffs when they think there is a requirement to safeguard the interests of the child in the proceedings. The Safeguarder provides the hearing or court with an independent assessment of what is in the child's best interest.
More about safeguarders

Find more about how the Children’s Hearings System works at:
Children’s Hearings Scotland
Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration

Contact Us:


Write to:

Children’s Hearings Team
Care & Justice Division
Area 2B (North)
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh EH6 6QQ