Working Title of PhD: Decision Making in Children’s Hearings
Year commenced PhD study: 2015
Institution/Organisation: University of Stirling
Full or part-time: Full-time
PhD Supervisors: Dr. Paul Rigby, Duncan Helm
Judy’s research is looking at how Children’s Hearing’s in Scotland make decisions about the lives of children and young people. Scotland prides itself on its welfare approach to child and youth justice but an examination of the literature in recent years highlights a number of tensions within the system. For example there are tensions between the agency of the child and the need to protect them, between their right to have their wishes listened to and the need to act in their best interest, and the best interest of the child may be held in contention with the allocation of scarce social service resources. There is a need to balance the rights of the child and the rights of parents and of society and there is also tension between the Kilbrandon desire that panels should be made up of lay members of the community to which the child belongs and the need for the panel to understand complex arguments and make difficult judgements. Using theories of judgement and decision-making, the research seeks to unpack some of these tensions by examining the decision making process and the theatre in which the decision is made. It is hoped that a greater understanding of how Children’s Hearings make decisions and the factors that influence them will lead to improvements in the quality of decision making about the futures of vulnerable children and young people in Scotland and a reduction in delays.
Keywords: Juvenile justice, youth justice, Children’s Hearing system.