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The Issues List exists to help redesign the Children's Hearing System.

It asks 56 questions

across 5 different areas

with human rights at their heart.


The heart-shaped logo of the promise.


These 56 questions will:

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

Through doing this, the questions will help the Working Group create detailed proposals, so that redesign can begin to get underway.

Issues List

The Issues List was created to guide conversations and deliberation around the Children’s Hearings System.

What was the thinking behind these 56 questions?

These questions were created with a commitment behind them— when Scotland’s children, young people and families engage with the Hearings System:

  • they should be able to fully participate in decisions that impact their lives, and
  • their human rights should always be upheld.
A smile which contains a stylised picture of a family.

There are five groups of questions in the issues list:

Scaffolding of the Hearing System
A teal square containing a question mark.
Avoiding the need for compulsory measures of supervision
A pink square containing a question mark.
Children and their hearings
A blue square containing a question mark.
Meeting the needs of children after a hearing takes place
An orange square containing a question mark.
Relationships between the Children's Hearing System and the Criminal Justice System
A dark yellow square containing a question mark.

Scaffolding of the Hearings System

This group of questions covers the principles which the Children’s Hearings System is founded on.

These include:

  • the Kilbrandon Report , which continues to be relevant today,
  • the duties of the Hearings System around children's rights, and
  • the general principles which govern the approach of the Hearings System.

Together, these questions cover:

  • the extent of the Hearings System's powers to make decisions around the lives of children and families,
  • the approach the Hearings System takes to making these decisions, and
  • how consistent it is in making these decisions.

As well as structural matters like:

  • how the Hearings System is governed,
  • how it links with courts and tribunals,
  • how organisations should operate within it,
  • professional standards, and
  • wider considerations around legislation.
A question mark.

Avoiding the need for compulsory measures of supervision

If things were different in Scotland, fewer children and young people would end up in the Hearings System.

This series of questions covers some of the ways that things could change, such as:

  • how children and young people's experiences could be different, and
  • how professionals approach early intervention.

It covers everything that could be different up to the point the children's reporter decides to refer a child to a hearing.

That includes:

  • changes that mean children are never referred to the reporter,
  • changes around the process of a child's referral to the reporter, and
  • other changes up to the point the reporter decides to refer a child to a hearing, including their decisions around voluntary disposal.
A question mark.

Children and their hearings

This category covers everything that's relevant to hearings:

  • after the reporter decides that one is necessary, and
  • before the hearing either makes an order or discharges the referral.

In other words, it covers everything between the point it’s decided a hearing will happen, and the point that the hearing ends.

A question mark.

Meeting the needs of children after a hearing takes place

This category includes everything that happens after a hearing makes an order, including:

  • duties around the order,
  • how the order is implemented,
  • how the order is enforced,
  • realising the rights of children and families,
  • feedback processes,
  • reviews,
  • appeals, and
  • continuous improvement of the workers involved.
A question mark.

Relationship between the Children’s Hearings System and the Criminal Justice System

16 and 17-year-olds can be convicted in Scotland's adult criminal justice system. Sometimes, they are referred to the Children’s Hearings System after this.

These questions look at how to address the needs of the people this happens to.

A question mark.

A note on language

The Issues List deals with concepts that have specific definitions in law, and so some of the language it uses may feel alienating.

For example, the phrase looked after is one which care experienced children and young people have often said they don’t like. But it’s also one with a specific definition in law. Where the legal definition is being referred to, there might be no choice but to use the term— even if it’s not one the Working Group approves of.

However, the Group is committed to avoiding language like this where it can. It cares deeply about the impact that language can have on the people whose lives it describes.

Arrows pointing forwards and upwards, suggesting progress.

What happened next?

The Hearings System Working Group programme was made up of three parts:

  • research,
  • engagement, and
  • working group input.

Together, the work of these three parts allowed the Working Group to make decisions around the questions the Issues List poses. They produced a report around this in May 2023.

The Scottish Government’s Office of the Chief Designer were been commissioned by The Promise Scotland to help with:

  • the redesign of the Children’s Hearings System,
  • engaging with people and organisations around the Issues List, and
  • the Working Group’s final report and recommendations.