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Children's Hearings Bill receives royal assent

7 January 2011

The Children's Hearings (Scotland) Bill has received royal assent.

The measure, which modernises the children's hearings system and its administration, will be brought into force inthe course of this year, Children's Minister Adam Ingram announced today.

Scotland's 32 local children's panels, will be replaced with a single national panel, supported by a new body, Children's Hearings Scotland, which will be responsible for the recruitment and training of the 2,500 local panel members. This should deliver greater national consistency and lead to better informed decisions for children.

Mr Ingram said: "To help ensure a smooth transition from the current arrangements to the new system - both for new and existing panel members and importantly our children who rely on the system - I've decided that we should seek to implement the new legislation, including the replacement of the local panels with the new national panel, by December this year.

"In doing so, we can be certain that implementation is right and not rushed – a key consideration given the future of vulnerable children is at stake here."

In 2009-10, 42,532 children were referred to the children's reporter. Over the same period 43,614 children's hearings were held.

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