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Call to rethink children's hearings

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The Scottish Government has been urged to reconsider changes to the children’s hearing system described by one children’s panel chair as “unwelcome, unwanted and unnecessary”.

One report claimed many panel members were threatening to resign in protest to the plans announced by the Scottish Government in May, under which some of the present 32 local advisory panel committees would disappear.

Instead a new national body, the Scottish Children’s Hearings Tribunal, will be created to oversee the country`s 32 panels, and will carry out the training and recruitment at present provided by local authorities.

At the same time the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration will remain in place and continue to make decisions on whether children should be referred to a hearing, and on what grounds.

But Karen Whitefield, Labour’s spokeswoman on children, is against both the proposals in the Children’s Hearing draft Bill and those put forward by the Scottish Children’s Reporters Association to significantly change the role of the reporter at children’s hearings.

She said: “If implemented, these changes would remove totally the support and input that the reporter currently provides to the children’s hearing process and also means the panel members will be denied the provision of legal advice currently provided by the reporter.”

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