What sort of decisions does a hearing make?

The hearing has to decide on the measures of supervision which are in the best interests of the child or young person. It receives a report on the child and his/her social background from a social worker in the local authority, and where appropriate from the child's school.

Medical, psychological and psychiatric reports may also be requested. Parents, and in general the child if s/he is over 12, are provided with copies of the reports at the same time as the panel members.

The hearing discusses the circumstances of the child fully with the parents, the child or young person and any representatives, the social worker and the teacher, if present. As the hearing is concerned with the wider picture and the long term well-being of the child, the measures which it decides on will be based on the welfare of the child.

They may not appear to relate directly to the reason that were the immediate cause of the child's appearance at the hearing. For example, the hearing may decide that a child or young person who is not receiving adequate parental care should not be removed from the home, because suitable support is available within their home area.

Alternatively, a child who has committed a relatively minor offence may be placed away from home for a time if it appears that the home background is a major cause of the child's difficulties and the hearing considers that removal from home would be in his/her best interests.