Scotland: New body to regulate children’s courts proposed

Scotland’s children’s care and justice system for vulnerable children and young people will be regulated by a new national body, Children’s Hearings Scotland, if a bill is approved by the Holyrood parliament.

Published yesterday, the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Bill will authorise the new body to recruit, support and train local panel members and monitor implementation.

Since the 1960s, Scotland has dealt with young offenders and children in need of care and protection similarly. A reporter investigates the need for state intervention and presents the evidence before a panel of voluntary, specially trained members of the child’s local community who decide the outcome.

Adam Ingram, Scottish minister for children and early years, said the bill would modernise and reinforce the system, ensuring better support for the professionals and volunteers who deliver it.

The bill was published on the same day as the Children Looked After Statistics for 2008-9 were released. They showed a 3% rise in the number of looked-after children, which Ingram said emphasised the importance of the new bill.

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