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Feedback report on Compulsory Supervision Orders calls for better data to improve outcomes

A report by Children’s Hearings Scotland on the implementation of Compulsory Supervision Orders (CSOs) highlights the need to improve data collection and sharing across Scotland's children’s care system.

The 'Feedback Loop' report covers CSO implementation over three years from 2020 to 2023. The report is intended to feed back to Panel Members and the Scottish Government on the effectiveness and impact of decisions being made for children.

CSOs are made at children's hearings when compulsory measures are required to protect and support children. They impose duties on a local authority to supervise a young person, and if a local authority does not implement the specified actions, then a breach of the CSO is deemed to have taken place and should be reported.

Questions over scale of breaches

The report shows that nearly 8,000 decisions about CSOs were made in 2020-21, and more than 11,000 in both 2021-22 and 2022-23. These decisions either created new CSOs or made changes to existing CSOs, such as the period for which they apply or details of the measures contained in the orders.

Only five breaches of CSO implementation duties were reported to the National Convener of Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS) over the three years, from three local authorities. The report highlights this low number and raises questions about the true scale of breaches of implementation of children’s orders in Scotland. It calls for more robust oversight and accountability of CSOs to protect children's rights.

Access to data

A key challenge identified is the lack of data on whether CSOs improve outcomes for children, and a lack of direct access to data by CHS. Information on the wellbeing of children is not collected in a uniform way across Scotland, while data on hearings’ decisions is held by the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and data on CSOs by local authorities.

National Convener Elliot Jackson states in the report that better data collection, sharing and linkage is needed across the care system. This would help close the feedback loop by tracking the impact of CSOs on children's wellbeing.

The report echoes ambitions set out in the Independent Care Review of 2020 and the Hearings for Children report published in May 2023 that local authorities tasked with implementing CSOs must be held to account to ensure children and families get the support intended by Panel Members at hearings.

Reporting breaches 'essential'

Reporting breaches of CSOs remains “an essential part of the legislative toolkit to protect the rights of children”, according to the report.

It states: “CHS remains committed to achieving a more meaningful data set for Scotland’s care system – one that allows us to understand how effectively our systems work by capturing not just the elements of process, but the outcomes and impact on the wellbeing of children.”

Read the Feedback Loop report.