Children's hearings shake-up backed

A PLANNED shake-up of the children's hearings system has won the backing of Holyrood.

The Children's Hearings bill creating a national body to oversee the 40-year-old system, presently run by councils, was approved by the Scottish Parliament yesterday - the final stage of the legislation.

Children's Hearings Scotland will be responsible for setting standards and monitoring their implementation, and for the recruitment, support and training of Scotland's 2,500 local panel members.

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Scotland's children's minister Adam Ingram said: "It's quite a considerable achievement to have got to this stage, after all the debates surrounding this issue.

"Scrutiny of the bill has helped shape the legislation and we've worked together to resolve the issues along the way.

"The difficulty with the system before was that there was no united voice and the bill brings changes to the system.

"The protection of children must continue to be paramount and we need to improve this."

The bill won cross-party backing during yesterday's debate, with Labour's Holyrood spokeswoman for children Karen Whitefield welcoming the move towards a system that "focuses on the needs of people".