Children’s Panel complaints group claims system violates human rights

Children’s Hearings Scotland Scandal alleged lives and careers are “being ruined” 

By Lucy Ashton

A campaign group has demanded a root-and-branch probe into the way Scotland’s children’s hearings are conducted, according to the Daily Record.

The organisation – made up of former Children’s Panel members and volunteers – claimed the current system is responsible for “human rights violations”.

Children’s Hearings Scotland Scandal alleged lives and careers are “being ruined” and that ­something must be done.

Spokesman Mike Brady, from Glasgow, was a Children’s Panel member for 18 years but resigned last year after Children’s Hearings Scotland “failed to uphold human rights” for its workers.

Volunteers Helen Cadden, who served for 19 years, and Pauline Casey also quit over the way they were allegedly treated.

The Children’s Hearing System, which operates in West Dunbartonshire from an office near the Sheriff Court in Church Street –  is unique to Scotland and combines welfare and justice for children and young people. I makes frequent appeals for volunteers to serve on its panels.

It is used as an alternative to court-based decision making and sees volunteers giving up time to make decisions for children and families at legal tribunal hearings.

Now past and present panel members are calling for change, claiming the system has caused numerous miscarriages of justice.

Helen, 52, told the Record a “secret” complaint was made against her. She said: “I was required by Children’s Hearings Scotland to accept a complaint determination which I knew nothing about until after the investigation had been carried out.

“I was not allowed to see the nature of the complaint or put forward a defence. I was not allowed to appeal the determination.”

And Pauline Casey, 46, said: “I was forced to resign as a panel member after false ­allegations were made against me following a secret report.

Katharina Kasper

“I was told by Children’s ­Hearings Scotland that, to remain as a panel member, I would have to accept their findings. Volunteering for Children’s Hearings Scotland is not safe.”

Brady, 73, said: “Every citizen of Scotland is protected under the Human Rights and Scotland Act. Children’s Hearings Scotland thinks it is above the law and has said panel members are exempt from human rights.”

One former panel member, who did not wish to be named, said: “Politicians of all political persuasions have been made aware of our concerns, including former first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her successor, Humza Yousaf.

“It is about time Children’s ­Hearings Scotland is investigated independently for victims to finally get justice after many years”.

Another anonymous ex-panel member said: “Children’s Hearings Scotland is part of the justice system but it is quite happy to deny justice to volunteers.”

The group has written to Katharina Kasper, chair of Children’s Hearings Scotland, which is responsible for recruiting, training and supporting Scotland’s ­volunteers.

But they claim she has refused to meet them and believe she has not taken the complaints seriously.

A Children’s Hearings Scotland spokesperson said: “Despite the ­challenging nature of the role there are very few complaints made about panel members. No volunteer has been removed as a consequence of a complaint.

“In some cases, volunteers have been asked to step back from their duties while complaints are being investigated, which is standard practice.”


  1. As a long serving panel chair I would add that up until I resigned, families were not allowed to submit reports to the panel.
    All other professional bodies were allowed. I never supported this at it was unfair as well as biased to families.
    Panel members who professionals complained about were suspended under investigation.
    This was at times abused, as members who didn’t like other members handling of case reported them as a punishment, knowing members would be taken off the rota.
    Even when members’ handling of cases were correctly followed.

    There are many other areas of decision-making /suitability of members/members absolutely not “from all backgrounds & walks of life.” Instead, concentration is on selecting middle class & above as members with little or no knowledge of children’s circumstances/backgrounds.
    Pursuing a good CV rather than child’s interests.
    There are many other areas that need highlighted, as too many decisions are not made in the best interest of the children /outcomes & expectations not considered.
    If anyone reading this knows how I can contact this new group please submit online or contact me.

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