« Les besoins avant les actes »: le Children’s Hearing écossais et l’héritage durable de Lord Kilbrandon

Translated title of the contribution: "Needs not deeds": the Scottish Children's Hearing and the enduring heritage of Lord Kilbrandon

John Sturgeon, Elodie Leygue-Eurieult

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Downloads (Pure)


The Scottish Children’s Hearing System began its work in 1971 and has survived very much as it was first outlined by Lord James Kilbrandon in his report Children and Young Persons Scotland in 1964. Children in Scotland will be referred to a Children’s Hearing when compulsory measures of care or supervision are considered necessary due to the child being at risk from their own behaviour, from the behaviour of others, or where the child is offending. Hearings are convened by a paid figure called the “Reporter” who identifies children who appear to be in compulsory need of care and protection or who have offended and cites them and the significant adults in their lives to attend a Children’s Hearing. A Children’s Hearing, unlike a traditional Court does not have a judge, and legal assistance for those attending occurs in a minority of cases. The Hearing takes place away from traditional Court buildings in settings that are designed to encourage informal discussion between the child, the significant adults in the life of the child, and the three trained, unpaid, volunteer members of the local community who form the Children’s Panel. Decisions made by the Children’s Panel are made in the interests of the child, are legally binding and can include placing the child under state supervision, at home, or by separation from their parents, in a care setting.

This article traces this unique system of dealing with children who offend or are in need of care and protection from its original formulation by Lord Charles Kilbrandon to the current workings of the Children’s Hearing. The five principles upon which Kilbrandon established the Hearings in 1964 will be identified and discussed and then revisited to see whether, forty years later, they have stood the test of time.

At the conclusion of the article, the writers will argue that, beyond the enduring practice of the Children’s Hearing in meeting the needs of the minority of children who need compulsory state intervention in their lives, Kilbrandon’s legacy can be clearly seen in “Getting it Right for Every Child” the national approach to all children, and the “Whole System Approach” to children involved in persistent offending, and in the new approaches to adult offenders that are based on “needs rather than deeds”.
Translated title of the contribution"Needs not deeds": the Scottish Children's Hearing and the enduring heritage of Lord Kilbrandon
Original languageFrench
Number of pages26
JournalCriminocorpus: Histoire de la justice, des crimes, et des peines
Publication statusPublished - 30 Mar 2020


Dive into the research topics of '"Needs not deeds": the Scottish Children's Hearing and the enduring heritage of Lord Kilbrandon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this