How is Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impacting Children's Hearings?

Last updated 21/05/2020 at 16:19

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is impacting young people all over Scotland, from schools closing, exams being cancelled, and nobody being able to go see their friends over the school holidays. Some young people might have been waiting to have a Children's Hearing. If you were meant to have a hearing, here's what has changed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak. 

Are Children's Hearings still going ahead?

The people who are in charge of Children's Hearing have had to decide which hearings are essential and which are non-essential. If they have decided yours is non-essential, it will have been cancelled. It may take place at a later date.

If your Hearing is essential it will take place online, if this is the case you will receive information about how to use a laptop or tablet to attend your meeting safely and securely. You will also be asked to test how it works before your Hearing, so you're comfortable with how it works. More information about virtual hearings can be found on the Scottish Children's Reporter website

While face-to-face hearings were cancelled and all essential hearings moved online because of the coronavirus, the Scottish Government is expecting to resume face-to-face hearings during Phase One of its plan to exit lockdown. This first phase is set to begin on Thursday 28th May if progress continues.

If you attend a face-to-face hearing, you'll have to follow physical distancing rules. This might include things like sitting further apart from people.

If you have a question about your Hearing or want to pass on information to Panel Members, you can get in touch by emailing your local team mailbox (the information will be in the letter you received about your Hearing) with the date and time of your hearing as well as your initials or by calling the Reporter (these details will also be in your letter) and leaving a message.   

What else has changed?

Usually, Children's Hearing has to have three Panel members, who are made up of different genders, who together will make the decision on how best to look after you.

Because of the outbreak, it might mean that Children's Panel Members may need to self-isolate because they have symptoms, or may have to care for an unwell relative, meaning they can't be a panel member for a while. 

The safety of young people is really important, which is why the rules have changed to make sure that Children's Hearings still take place. This means that there may be less than three Panel Members at your hearing and they might be all of the same gender. 

What about appeals?

If you don't agree with the decision the Panel has made at your hearing, you usually have 21 days to put in an appeal. You now have 42 days to appeal the decision. 

Why have things changed?

The Scottish Government put in a new law called The Coronavirus (Scotland) Act 2020. This gave the Scottish Government emergency powers to deal with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic - both making sure people are safe from the virus and at the same time trying to keep essential services running. This law will automatically expire six months after coming into force - but they can be extended to last for 18 months altogether. 

In terms of Children's Hearings, it is this law that has allowed things like the number of Panel Members, your attendance at the meeting, and how long you have to appeal your decision to change.

I still have a question. 

We've put together a list of places you can go to for further information:

More information from Young Scot on Coronavirus (COVID-19).