Children’s hearing system seen as “soft option”

An inquiry into the children’s hearing system heard
compelling evidence that the system is viewed as a soft option in
the field of youth justice, and is in danger of being sidelined by
the Scottish executive’s policies to tackle youth crime,
writes Maggie Wood.

The inquiry organised by NCH Scotland last week in Stirling
heard that the founding principles of the hearing system, based on
welfare of the child, have stood the test of time, but that lack of
investment, a rise in the number of referrals and staff shortages
in social services departments, mean the system is seen as
ineffective in some areas.

Experts gave evidence to an independent panel chaired by former
bishop Richard Holloway.

Young people who gave evidence said the system required
updating, with greater attention given to agencies that can help
young people avoid offending behaviour. The principles of the
children’s hearing system were supported by everyone, but
many people expressing concern about the Scottish executive’s
proposals to introduce anti-social behaviour orders.

The results of the inquiry are to be published at the end of the

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