The Lost Generation; Children's Panels Reveal Soaring Family Neglect and Youth Crime

By Barnes, Eddie | Daily Mail (London), March 11, 2003 | Go to article overview

The Lost Generation; Children's Panels Reveal Soaring Family Neglect and Youth Crime


Barnes, Eddie, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: EDDIE BARNES

A RECORD number of young people had their cases heard by Children's Panels last year in a grim reflection of child neglect and soaring youth crime.

In all, 36,820 children were sent before hearings, where volunteers listen to the cases of youngsters who need care or have committed a crime.

The figure is the highest since records began 30 years ago.

Shockingly, the number of first-time offenders under 16 has increased by 20 per cent in just two years.

Only youngsters under the age of 16 are sent to Children's Panels u last year, the Scottish Executive ditched its plan to let 16 and 17-year-old offenders attend such hearings.

Ministers caved in to critics who said cases involving older children should always be heard in an adult court.

The number of children brought before panels as a result of parental neglect has risen by 247 per cent since 1991 and accounts for one in five hearings.

Of all the cases, two-thirds dealt with instances where children were found to need care as a result of family neglect or abuse.

The remaining third dealt with cases where children had committed a crime.

Of those, 3,357 involved girls, which was also the highest since records began.

There was a 35 per cent rise in the number of children referred to panels as a result of drug and alcohol abuse.

The disturbing figures were disclosed in the latest report from the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration, published yesterday.

Principal reporter Alan Miller said: 'In its 30-year history, there has never been a time when there has been such public focus on Scotland's children's hearings system.

'Equally, the demand for a fully resourced and effective system of care and justice for Scotland's most vulnerable children has never been greater. …

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