Scots hand more power to hearing system in crackdown on under 16s

The children’s hearing system is to be given more powers to tackle
antisocial behaviour in Scotland under new laws.

The Scottish executive says retaining the involvement of the system
addresses concerns that it would be undermined by the Antisocial
Behaviour (Scotland) Bill, which was published last week.

The bill would pave the way for restriction of liberty orders to be
imposed by the hearing system on under-16s to allow electronic
monitoring. It is intended that these will be used only as part of
an intensive programme of supervision and support or as an
alternative to secure accommodation.

Children’s hearings would also be allowed to direct the reporter to
apply for a parenting order.

Controversially, the hearing system would also be given new powers
to ensure that local authorities comply with the terms of
supervision requirements.

The Children’s Panel Chairmen’s Group supports the proposal to hold
local authorities accountable for non-compliance with the decisions
of the hearing system.

But local authorities say the crisis in social worker recruitment
and retention has affected their ability to implement supervision
orders recently.

The new bill would also increase the police and court powers to
deal with antisocial behaviour, and particularly youth crime.

Proposals include extending antisocial behaviour orders (Asbos) to
12 to 15 year olds, greater police powers to disperse groups of
young people, and increased use of electronic tagging and parenting

Sheriff courts would be able to require the reporter to convene a
hearing to look at a child’s circumstances, including their
welfare, when making a full or interim Asbo.

Maggie Mellon, head of policy for children’s charity NCH Scotland,
said antisocial behaviour was a problem but it was “worrying” that
the executive could find resources for unproven initiatives, such
as Asbos and electronic tagging.

She said: “We need to do more to support families and prevent
problems developing than punish them when things go wrong. We fear
these new powers will increase conflict between police and young
people and are not the best solution.”

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