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Draft Childrens Hearings (Provision of Information) Order 2003, 16/06/03 [S]

The Draft Childrens Hearings (Provision of Information by Principal Reporter), (Prescribed Persons) Order 2003 has been issued for consultation. The draft Order deals with the definition of the third parties that could be entitled to receive information about the processing and outcome of a referral to the hearings system.

Consultation period: 16/06/03 to 28/08/03
Purpose

Enclosed for consultation is a copy of a draft Order that is to be made under section 53 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, which received Royal Assent in March 2003.

You are invited to comment on the implications of the draft Order which sets out those agencies and third parties with whom the Principal Reporter may share information on offence cases, the uses they can make of that information and the conditions attached to its use

The letter sets out the background to the draft Childrens Hearings (Provision of Information by Principal Reporter) (Prescribed Persons) Order 2003 and explains what the Order is intended to do.

The Order identifies Victim Support Scotland, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and insurance companies as being entitled to receive certain information from the Principal Reporter regarding offence cases referred to him.


4. You are invited to comment on the implications of the draft Order which sets out those agencies and third parties with whom the Principal Reporter may share information on offence cases, the uses they can make of that information and the conditions attached to its use.



Background to policy development

The Scottish Strategy for Victims provided the
framework for work in relation to victims of young people being dealt with through the criminal justice system. Scottish Ministers intend to achieve the same objectives in a different way for the childrens hearings system, reflecting the fact that the hearings system is primarily focussed on identifying and addressing the needs and deeds of children and young people referred to it.

Although the ethos of the childrens hearings system is distinct from the criminal justice system, Ministers have considered how relevant information might be imparted to victims and relevant persons within it. Unlike the court process, which takes place in public, childrens hearings take place in private with the focus being on the welfare of the child. By their very nature, discussions in hearings can often be confidential and involve personal details of family life that go wider than the offending behaviour itself. Confidentiality is therefore needed partly to protect often vulnerable children from undue attention and to create an atmosphere in which private matters can be properly discussed. Because of this, information about what is happening hadhas been limited to only a few individuals and agencies and victims, in particular, have been excluded from this process.


Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003

Ministers consider that the almost absolute bar on the disclosure of information can no longer be justified. and Tthe Executive has been engaged in discussion with representatives of the childrens hearings system and with Victim Support Scotland since January 2002 to explore what might be done to open up the system and provide information to individual victims and their families. A number of options were developed, considered and evaluated. Section 53 of the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003 (""the 2003 Act"") was the product of those deliberations - it has been approved by the Scottish Parliament, and will enable the Principal Reporter to divulge certain information to victims, relevant persons and others natural persons who have been affected by the actions of children referred to him on offence grounds. The relevant section is attached at Annex A. In order to facilitate this, it is also necessary to identify other persons and agencies with whom the Principal Reporter may share information.


Consultation

The draft Order deals with the definition of the third parties that could be entitled to receive information about the processing and outcome of a referral to the hearings system. At present, the Scottish Childrens Reporter Administration (SCRA) deals administratively with enquiries from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority and insurance companies, attempting to balance the confidentiality of the child referred against the needs of the victim to gain suitable compensation. Information regarding the receipt of referrals and the decisions taken in certain cases need to be confirmed directly by SCRA to enable compensation claims to be progressed.

The Executive proposes to define those persons entitled to receive information, including those persons who make determinations as to whether to pay compensation to the victim in respect of any loss injury or damage suffered by the victim arising from the offence, and those offering information, advice , counselling and support to victims.

Only natural legal persons against whom offences
are committed will be entitled to receive case-specific information. It is not intended to include companies and other legal persons suffering loss as a consequence of child offending. A 12-month pilot project is planned commencing Autumn 2003 in Forth Valley.

Further copies or alternative versions of this paper
may be obtained by calling 0131 244 1676 or by emailing Scott Wood at scott.wood@scotland.gsi.gov.uk. Alternatively, the consultation paper will be available in the ""Consultation"" section of the Scottish Executive website.

Further Information

  1. Draft Childrens Hearings (Provision of Information by Principal Reporter)