Question-mark over hearings

PROCEDURES in children's hearings will have to be reviewed under the European Convention of Human Rights to ensure that children get adequate access to information and fair representation. The Executive has already invited suggestions for renaming the hearings system, since it will have to cover the full range of children and young people up to 18.

Alan Miller, principal reporter of the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration, told an Edinburgh seminar on youth justice that children already "have clear rights in the hearing system, but there is a question mark on how ral and effective, in the terminology of the European Court, these rights are".

He went on: "Parents get copies of background reports for a children's hearing but the child does not. Sensitive information is not shared with the child - yet there is no hiding place for sensitive information he or she gives. The hearing is for the child, who should be able to understand what that hearing is about."

The current limited availability of legal aid for children would be reviewed after the incorporation of the ECHR into domestic law in October, Mr Miller predicted.

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