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The Hearings System Working Group exists to bring change to the Children's Hearings System.

The Hearings System Working Group — or HSWG — is a partnership between:

  • Children's Hearings Scotland, or CHS,
  • The Scottish Children's Reporter Administration, or SCRA,
  • The Promise Scotland.

The Scottish Government also plays a critical role.

Arrows pointing forwards and upwards, suggesting progress.

Hearings System Working Group: Emerging Issues Report

Hearings System Working Group: Emerging Themes Report

This report shares some of the HSWG’s early thinking, which will form the basis of the recommendations sent to the Scottish Government next year.

Emerging Themes Report: Easy Read Version

Download the easy read version of the Hearing System Working Group's Emerging Issues report.

Hearings System Working Group: Reports and minutes

Download the easy read version of the Hearing System Working Group's Emerging Issues report.

This report shares some of the HSWG’s early thinking, which will form the basis of the recommendations sent to the Scottish Government next year.

The Issues List is a document with 56 questions across 5 categories. It will guide conversations and deliberation around the Children’s Hearings System.

Minutes for the fifth meeting of the Hearing System Working Group.

Minutes for the fourth meeting of the Hearing System Working Group.

Minutes for the third meeting of the Hearings System Working Group.

Minutes for the second meeting of the Hearings System Working Group.

Minutes for the first meeting of the Hearings System Working Group.

Hearings System Working Group: Events

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Hearing System Working Group webinar
Tuesday, 10 May 2022

The Hearing System Working Group hosted a webinar around its Issues List for Hearing System redesign.
Hearing System Working Group webinar

About the Hearings System Working Group

This Working Group exists to redesign the Children's Hearings System

The Working Group will allow redesign to happen in a way that:

A smile beneath a stylised image of a family.

What will the Working Group do?

The Working Group will:

  • Produce clear and detailed proposals backed by every organisation in the group. These will redesign The Children’s Hearings System, and will set out what needs to change in law to make this redesign possible.
  • Make sure lived experience of The Children’s Hearings System is at the centre of what this set of changes to the law will look like.
  • Make sure the Chairs of the Working Group, Children’s Hearings Scotland, the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration and The Promise Scotland meet twice a year to track progress.
  • Update The Promise Oversight Board on the Working Group’s progress.
Dominoes falling over, suggesting impact.

The Working Group has created a list of issues which matter to the Children's Hearings System

The 56 questions in the Working Group's Issues List have been created to help redesign the Children's Hearings System.

They will:

  • help shape conversations as the Working Group and others discuss the redesign process.
  • help the Working Group deliberate about what the redesigned system will look like.

This will help the Working Group create detailed proposals, so that redesign can begin to get underway.

Hearings System Working Group members

Sheriff David Mackie - Hearings System Working Group Chair

Sheriff David Mackie

Hearings System Working Group Chair

After working as a solicitor, then as an Advocate, David became the resident Sheriff in Alloa: a position which he held for 15 years. He has also worked with charities supporting disadvantaged and marginalised young people in:

  • Scotland,
  • Malawi, and
  • Nepal.

Through this and his work as a Sheriff, he developed a strong belief in the power of redemption and a compassionate approach to sentencing. He has an interest in restorative justice as a means of addressing the needs of victims of crime.

Now retired, he continues to support many charities, does a little teaching, and still serves part-time as a Sheriff.

Alistair Hogg - Head of Practice and Policy, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration

Alistair Hogg

Head of Practice and Policy, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration

Alistair is the Head of Practice and Policy at the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA).

He started his working life as a solicitor, specialising in criminal defence work. In 2000, he decided to change direction and to work on behalf of children and young people. First working for SCRA as a Children’s Reporter, since 2007 he has held many roles within the organisation.

Alistair has always believed in providing the best service possible for children and young people, and contributes to many partnership groups which focus on improvement. The work of the HSWG will take this work to a new level, and Alistair is fully committed to the exciting journey that lies ahead.

Beth-Anne Logan - Board Member, Children's Hearings Scotland

Beth-Anne Logan

Board Member, Children's Hearings Scotland

Beth-Anne is Scotland’s youngest public appointee, being appointed to the board of Children’s Hearings Scotland when she was 19. She has experienced almost every aspect of care since birth, her first children’s hearing happening when she was only 6 weeks old.

Beth-Anne has held many consultancy positions and full-time roles in the care sector. These have included work for:

She was also a co-chair for the Independent Care Review, working on the “Best Place” workgroup.

As well as these roles, Beth-Anne has done a considerable amount of work with the secure care sector.

She's been influential in the creation, design, and implementation of the Secure Care National Standards.

And she's also the founder and chair of STARR, Scotland’s only space for secure care experienced people.

Beth-Anne currently works for North Lanarkshire Council as a promise development worker. She is wholeheartedly committed to keeping the promise.

Lorraine Moore - Board Member, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration

Lorraine Moore

Board Member, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration

Lorraine joined Edinburgh Napier University in 2018, where she set up – and now manages – the HUB for SUCCESS. The Hub is a collaborative initiative, aimed at supporting people with care experience into tertiary education.

Lorraine is a fully qualified and registered Social Worker. She brings over 30 years of working with children, young people, and their families in various community settings.

She spent 9 years advocating for children and young people attending children’s hearings. As well as this, she was a board member of the “Stop Go Group” of the Independent Care Review.

Lorraine has her own experience of childhood trauma, care experience and adverse childhood experiences. She uses this experience to influence and develop her work. She is also committed to keeping the promise.

Carol Wassell - Head of Area Support and Community Improvement, Children's Hearings Scotland

Carol Wassell

Head of Area Support and Community Improvement, Children's Hearings Scotland

After starting out as a social worker focused on child protection, Carol has worked:

She knows the promise represents the greatest opportunity to make a real difference to children and young people— where they need support and protection.

And as a person with lived experience of care – and part of the workforce of a “care system” that needs to change – she’s committed to that promise. She believes we must realign what Scotland does to make sure we’re a country who upholds and protects children.

Fiona McFarlane - Head of Public Affairs
Photo credit: Sarah Maclean

Fiona McFarlane

Head of Public Affairs

Fiona works with colleagues and partners across Scotland to ensure that organisations understand their role, responsibility, and purpose in work to #KeepthePromise.

She makes sure The Promise Scotland is well positioned to tell this story of change, and to elevate, support and influence all those who are part of this work.

She also works with The Promise Oversight Board to help them in their public reporting role.

Tom McNamara - Scottish Government Youth Justice and Children's Hearings Unit

Tom McNamara

Scottish Government Youth Justice and Children's Hearings Unit

Tom is Unit Head for Youth Justice and Children’s Hearings in the Scottish Government, where he's been working since 2000— when it was still the Scottish Executive.

His first post included responsibilities around:

  • Children’s Panel Advisory Committees, and
  • Children's Panels,

with these responsibilities including:

  • appointments advice,
  • policy, and
  • administration issues.

After this, he worked in other policy areas, including youth justice, children’s rights and community engagement.

Since 2013, he has held responsibility for:

  • Scottish Government sponsorship of public bodies involved in children’s hearings,
  • managing relationships with safeguarders and advocacy partners, and
  • hearings system policy development, legislative reform and current system improvement.

Other functions within his Unit are:

  • youth justice policy,
  • secure care placement management,
  • Care and Justice Bill development, and
  • age of criminal responsibility reforms, along with Child Interview Rights Practitioners allocation.

Hearings System Working Group Secretariat

Christina Spicer - Policy and Public Affairs Manager
Photo credit: Sarah Maclean

Christina Spicer

Policy and Public Affairs Manager

As Policy and Public Affairs Manager, Christina’s main role is programme management and secretariat support for the Hearings System Working Group (HSWG).

She is also:

  • The primary support for the HSWG’s Chair, and
  • The Project Manager for the Collaborative Redesign Project, which is developing redesign proposals to be submitted to the HSWG.
Fionnuala Contier-Lawrie - Governance Projects Officer
Photo credit: Sarah Maclean

Fionnuala Contier-Lawrie

Governance Projects Officer

Fionnuala supports the Public Affairs Team’s projects to make sure they run smoothly, whether they're for:

  • internal stakeholders, who have a direct relationship with The Promise Scotland, or
  • external stakeholders, who are affected by the work of the organisation.

She also supports the Promise Oversight Board.