Scottish executive has second thoughts over hearings reforms

Scotland’s children’s hearing system has long been held up as a model of good practice. Dealing with under-16s, and some under-18s, who commit offences or are in need of care or protection, its emphasis on a non-punitive approach has been the envy of many countries.

But it is toppling off its pedestal. Figures leaked to The Herald newspaper reveal that the system is on the verge of collapse after receiving almost 55,000 referrals last year.

Apparently, referrals rose by 10 per cent in 2005-6, following another 10 per cent rise the previous year.

Perfect timing then for the Scottish executive to reveal the Children’s Hearing and Integrated Services Bill, except it has delayed it until at least May 2007 – four years after a review of the system was announced.

Meanwhile, the 140 front-line children’s reporters each make on average 385 decisions a year about children, giving them less than a day to assess a child’s life.

That can’t make for safe, sound decisions and will store up more problems for later – for children and the hearing system.

See Scottish executive has second thoughts over hearings reforms

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