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

The Evaluation of Children's Hearings in Scotland: Volume 4 - Where do we go from here? Conference Proceedings



The purpose of the Children's Hearings System Research Programme was to provide systematic information about the way in which the Hearings system operates, and to examine ways in which it can be improved. This major programme of research funded by the Scottish Office was launched in 1993 and involved three related studies. The first was conducted by Professor Christine Hallett and Mr Neal Hazel at Stirling University and set the work of the Children's Hearings system in an international context through a review of research on comparative systems for child welfare and justice. A related study, conducted by Professor Christine Hallett and Ms Cathy Murray with Ms Janet Jamieson and Mr Billy Veitch, explored the factors involved in decision making in the Hearings system. The reports for these two studies were published in September 1998.

The third study in the programme was a three-year longitudinal study that examined the backgrounds and personal circumstances of a cohort of children referred to Reporters in 1995 and examined the outcomes for these children and young people one and two years on. The interface between the Children's Hearings and criminal justice system was also considered. Professor Lorraine Waterhouse, Ms Janice McGhee, Mr Bill Whyte, Ms Nancy Loucks and Ms Helen Kay undertook this research at the University of Edinburgh. A summary of findings from this study was provided for the conference and a fuller report has been published.


On behalf of the Social Work Services Group, the Central Research Unit organised a conference about the Children's Hearings Research Programme, which was held in March 1999. The conference aimed to promote discussion of the implications of the programme's research findings and to stimulate debate about ways of improving the effectiveness of the Hearings system. The two research teams who undertook the studies gave presentations that focused on key research findings and their implications for the future of the Hearings system. Representatives of lay members of, and professionals working in, the system gave prepared responses to the presentations of findings. The conference also included workshops that aimed to generate discussion of the issues raised by the presentations. The conference closed with a Ministerial address.

This report of the Conference Proceedings includes the research papers presented at the conference, together with records of the lay and professional responses and the Ministerial address. It also draws together the key points arising from the workshop group discussions. In addition, the report includes summaries of the research findings from the two main studies in the programme, together with details of other publications in the Children's Hearings research programme series. It is hoped that the report will reach a wider audience than those who were able to attend the conference and that its publication will stimulate further discussion about the future development of the Children's Hearings system.

Gillian M Stewart
Conference Chair
Head of Children and Young People's Group

The Scottish Executive is grateful to the speakers and respondents who prepared and delivered presentations. Our thanks go to:

  • Professor Christine Hallett, Deputy Principal (Research) and Professor of Social Policy, University of Stirling
  • Ms Cathy Murray, Senior Research Fellow, Department of Applied Social Science, University of Stirling
  • Mrs Penny Simpson, Chairman of Aberdeen City's Children's Panel and Chairman of the Children's Panel Chairmen's Group
  • Professor Harriet Dempster, Director of Social Work, Highland Council, and chair of ADSW Children and Families Committee
  • Professor Lorraine Waterhouse, Head of the Social Work Department, University of Edinburgh
  • Mr Bill Whyte, Lecturer in Social Work, University of Edinburgh
  • Ms Janice McGhee, Lecturer in Social Work, University of Edinburgh
  • Mr Alan D Miller, Principal Reporter in the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration
  • Professor Kenneth Norrie, Professor of Family Law, Strathclyde University, and a member of Glasgow South East's Children's Panel.

The Scottish Executive is also grateful to the workshop chairs:

  • Mrs Marion Pagani, Children's Panel Chairman
  • Mrs Sue Peart, Children's Panel Chairman
  • Mrs Carole Comben, Children's Panel Training Organiser
  • Mrs Rosemary Gierthy, Children's Panel Training Organiser
  • Mrs Barbara Reid, Children's Panel Training Organiser
  • Mrs Joan Rose, Children's Panel Training Organiser
  • Mrs Joy Gillies, Children's Panel Training Organiser.

We also wish to thank all those who attended the conference and contributed to the discussions. Representatives attended from the following organisations:

  • Children's Panel Chairmen's Group
  • Children's Panel Advisory Group
  • Scottish Association of Children's Panels
  • Association of Children's Reporters
  • Scottish Children's Reporter Administration
  • Scottish Safeguarders Association
  • Children's Panel Training Organisers
  • Reporter Managers.

Sheriffs, Police, Crown Office and Procurators Fiscal represented Criminal Justice Interests.

The following voluntary organisations were also represented: Barnardos; NCH Action for Children; APEX; SACRO; Who Cares; Children 1st; Children Scotland; and Aberlour Trust.

Other agencies that were represented included: COSLA; ADSW, Education; and the Scottish Child Law Centre.