Scotland

Children's hearings reform pass key vote

A planned overhaul of Scotland's children's hearings system has been backed in principle by MSPs, despite concern over the reforms.

The Children's Hearings Bill creates a national body to oversee the 40-year-old system, presently run by councils.

The volunteer-led system aims to stop youngsters going onto a life of crime by addressing offending outside the criminal court system.

Concerns have been raised over a lack of detail in the legislation.

The bill now goes forward to the next stage of parliamentary scrutiny.

Holyrood's local government committee, which scrutinised the bill, said it was still in the dark over the powers of the new post of national convener, which the legislation would establish.

The timescale to bring forward the reforms had been delayed after some current children's panel members have threatened to resign over the proposals.

But ministers say modernising Scotland's unique children's hearing system will lead to more consistent standards and better support for vulnerable young people.

The new national Scottish Children's Hearings Tribunal would oversee the 32 local panels and carry out training and recruitment.

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