1 General Duty of Panel Members
'The procedure at any children's hearing or pre-hearing panel required to be held by virtue of the Act or any other enactment unless provided for under the Act or Rules, is to be determined by the chairing member' (Rule 7(1))
The chairing member of the hearing or pre-hearing panel and the other panel members have a legal obligation to follow the procedures laid down in the Act and Rules but where the Rules are non- prescriptive, the chairing member will be able to determine the procedure.
If a children's hearing or pre-hearing panel is arranged and a chairing member for that children's hearing or pre-hearing panel has not been selected by the Area Support Team ( AST), immediately before beginning to hear the case, the members of the children's hearing or pre-hearing panel must decide who is to chair the hearing. Only a panel member who has successfully completed the chairing training can be selected to chair a children's hearing. (Rule 4)
Security of papers and confidentiality of information
A panel member must keep securely in their own possession any documents given to them for any children's hearing or pre-hearing panel and at the end of the children's hearing or pre-hearing panel return them to the reporter. (Rule 5(1))
A panel member must not disclose any information that they have obtained as a result of their involvement in the children's hearing or pre-hearing panel out with a children's hearing. (Rule 5(2))
Duties of the chairing member are to:
- Take reasonable steps to ensure the child and each relevant person understand the proceedings.
- Take reasonable steps to ensure the child and each relevant person are able to participate in the proceedings.
- Identify whether the child wishes to express a view.
- Make reasonable arrangements for the child to express their views in a manner preferred by the child.
- Ensure that a record is made of the decisions of the children's hearing or pre-hearing panel.
- Ensure a record is made of the reasons for the decisions.
- Sign and date the record of the decision.
- Explain the substance of any report, document and information to any children's hearing the exception being where information has been withheld. (Rule 6)
The children's hearing or a pre-hearing panel may adjourn the children's hearing or the pre-hearing panel either on their own initiative or at the request of any person in attendance if they consider it appropriate to do so. Any adjourned children's hearing or pre-hearing panel must be reconvened on the same day as the adjournment was made and should consist of the same membership of the original hearing. (Rule 7(3))