The Children’s Hearings System
If the offender is under the age of 16 (or, in certain circumstances, under 18 years old), the police will decide whether to report the child only to the Children's Reporter or jointly to the Reporter and Procurator Fiscal (PF), who will consider the case and decide what action to take. This decision is made by the police in accordance with the Lord’s Advocate’s guidelines.
If the case is jointly reported it will be discussed by the PF and the Reporter with a view to the PF deciding whether the child should be prosecuted or dealt with by the Reporter. They may ask you questions about your evidence to help make this decision. The Reporter will decide whether no formal proceedings should take place, or if the case should be referred to the local authority, or the Children's Hearings system. The Reporter will decide whether or not a Children's Hearing needs to consider compulsory measures of supervision. Victims do not attend Children’s Hearings as private family information is discussed. The Reporter can also decide to take action with the young offender to address the offending behaviour without holding a hearing.
A Children's Hearing will make decisions on the needs of the child or young person and can impose a wide range of conditions. For example, it can require the child to:
- be supervised by the local authority;
- stay away from certain locations or individuals;
- live away from home, sometimes in secure accommodation; or
- attend and co-operate with specialist programmes to address his or her offending behaviour.
Police Officers can also issue Police Restorative Warnings to young people aged between 8 and 15. The Police Restorative Warning is an early formal recorded intervention to reduce the likelihood of re-offending amongst youth offenders. This type of warning is carried out by officers specially trained in restorative warning methods and takes full account of the wishes of the person who has been harmed.