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Putting children's rights at the heart of the hearings system

Children's Hearings Scotland has published its Progressing Rights report outlining steps taken from 2020 to 2023 to uphold children's rights across Scotland's unique hearings system.

The report comes as proposed legislation to incorporate the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) progresses through the Scottish Parliament.

Progressing Rights at Children’s Hearings Scotland 2020-2023’ details how CHS has embedded children's rights in all aspects of its work, from recruiting and training volunteer Panel Members to influencing government policy. It is structured around the Articles of the UNCRC, mapping CHS’s progress on children’s rights against the convention.

A short video summarises the highlights of the report.

Promise and Redesign Report

The launch of the Promise in 2020 provided a landmark moment, pushing Scotland's care system to further embed children’s rights.

CHS was part of the Hearings System Working Group that was formed to implement the Promise, which extensively consulted care-experienced children and young people. This work culminated in the Redesign Report, published in May 2023, which recommends changes to the hearings system currently being considered by the Scottish Government.

Ambitious programme

CHS has undertaken an ambitious programme of work to embed children’s rights. The report highlights a range of activity from mandatory trauma informed practice for all Panel Members to creating a new child-friendly feedback and complaints system to amplify the views of children and young people that are involved in children’s hearings.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, CHS rapidly transitioned hearings online to ensure this vital service continued despite lockdown restrictions – protecting the right of children to be heard. Digital devices were provided to Panel Members and CHS worked with the Scottish Government to secure legislative changes to ease pressure on volunteer capacity.

Elliot Jackson, CHS National Convener at CHS, said: “This period was exceptionally challenging due to the pandemic, but our determination to champion children’s rights never faltered. We made huge strides engaging young people with lived experience to shape our strategies and train new recruits.”

Upholding rights is 'core purpose'

Jackson said CHS is determined the progress must continue. “Our core purpose is upholding children’s rights. Through collaboration and continued focus on this goal, the hearings system will provide a nurturing, inclusive space for Scotland's children.”