2 Work on receipt of paperwork
Every panel member will have their own individual way of preparing before a hearing when the papers have been received. However, good and thorough preparation is essential and means that every child and family should receive as fair and well conducted hearing as possible.
It is important to note that when the notification of a children's hearing is received and the panel member knows or has knowledge of the child or a family member, they should make contact with the AST immediately. If the knowledge or familiarity is likely to be seen to be prejudicial to the conduct of the hearing, the panel member should withdraw. The panel member should also take on board that the hearing may be uncomfortable for the child/family and also the panel member. The National Convener will provide guidance to the AST in relation to such circumstances.
Some questions that a panel member should ask themselves when preparing for the hearing are:
- What is the purpose of the hearing?
- Who is likely to be present and in what capacity?
- How old is the child?
- Is this the child's first hearing?-If it is, more care will be needed to explain the purpose of the hearing and what will be happening.
- Are there new section 67 grounds and how might these be explained to the child and family?
- Do I have a copy of all the reports available?
- What are the main issues or topics from the reports which need to be discussed in the hearing?
- How will the issues being discussed impact on the child?
- What is the best way to find out the views of the child?
- Are there likely to be any sensitive issues and, if so, how might they best be raised?
- Are there any areas of conflict or contention which might arise at the hearing?
- Is there is a compulsory supervision order in place, if so when will this expire?
- Are there any measures attached to the compulsory supervision order which need to be reviewed? Panel members will be able to check this by referring to the previous compulsory supervision order contained in the paperwork
- Is there is an interim compulsory supervision order in place, if so when will this expire?
- Is there an interim variation of a compulsory supervision order, if so when will it expire?
- Is there a non-disclosure request to consider?
- Are there any pre-hearing panel issues to be discussed?
- What options are available?
- Do I have all the necessary information I need to enable me to make a decision at the children's hearing?
- Is there any legal or procedural matter I need to research or request advice on before coming to the hearing?
Preparing in this way will allow the panel member to be fully conversant with the circumstances of the case, the issues that are likely to arise and how this case will be best managed to ensure that the child's views are taken and a decision is made in the best interests of the child.