Frequently asked questions

A safeguarder is someone appointed by a children’s hearing, or sheriff, to help them make the best decision for a child or young person.

 Safeguarders are independent. They are not connected to others involved with the child and they are free to give their view of what they think is in the child’s best interests. Safeguarders always do what they think is best for the child, even if the child or others involved with them do not agree with this.

A children’s hearing or sheriff can appoint a safeguarder for a child involved in the Children’s Hearings System. They do this when they think a safeguarder will help them in making the best decisions for a child.

Whether a safeguarder is needed is individual to each child’s needs and circumstances. For example, the child’s views may be difficult to access. When a safeguarder is appointed, they assist the children’s hearing or sheriff by gathering information.

Safeguarders assist the children’s hearing or sheriff by gathering information.

They listen as the child tells them what they would like to happen and do their best to answer any questions the child has. The safeguarder can help the child to understand why they have been brought to a children’s hearing and support the child to take part in the hearing.

They may ask other people in the child’s life, such as parents, carers and teachers what they think is best for the child.

They may be asked by the children’s hearing or sheriff to write a report.  In it they say what the child wants to happen, and give their view as to what they think is best for the child.

They speak to the children’s hearing, or sheriff.  They tell them what the child wants to happen, and give their view as to what they think is best for the child.

Knowing the child’s view and having heard from the safeguarder and others, the children’s hearing, or sheriff make a decision. 

Further information

Further information on the safeguarder role is available here.

The role description gives more detail about the safeguarder role’s responsibilities and requirements.

The Practice Standards for Safeguarders and Practice Notes on the Role set out what is expected from the role in more detail.

No. The safeguarder helps those making decisions: the children’s hearing and sheriffs. If the safeguarder does not agree with decisions made by the children’s hearing or court, the safeguarder can usually appeal the decision so that another court can decide if the decision appealed against was justified.

Safeguarders gather information about the child they have been appointed to.  By law, they have to make sure that this information is kept safe and shared only with people who have a right to know this. 

If a safeguarder receives information about a child or adult not being safe or about a crime, it is their duty to report this.

If a safeguarder writes a report, the Safeguarders Panel Team may ask to read this. They would do so only to check that the safeguarder is doing their job well and would not share information with anyone else. If you have any worries about this, please let the safeguarder or the Safeguarders Panel Team know.

The Data Management Policy and Guidance for Safeguarders provides information on the responsibilities of every safeguarder to keep information secure.

If you have any comments, good or bad, about how a safeguarder is carrying out their role, please contact the Safeguarders Panel Team.

Please see the Feedback and complaints section of our website for more information.

Safeguarders belong to the national Safeguarders Panel. This is made up of all the safeguarders across Scotland.  Each safeguarder has agreed to follow national standards to make sure they do the best job they can. You can read the national standards here.

Any child or young person, who a children’s hearing or sheriff decide should have a safeguarder, will have a safeguarder appointed to them from this national Panel.

Children 1st is contracted by the Scottish Government to manage and operate the national Safeguarders Panel. The role of the Safeguarders Panel Team, who are based at Children 1st, includes recruitment, training, managing appointments, complaints and monitoring performance of safeguarders across Scotland.

The Children’s Hearings System is the care and justice system for Scotland’s children and young people. A fundamental principle is that children who commit offences, and children who need care and protection, are dealt with in the same system, as these are often the same children.

The hearing system aims to ensure that the best interests of the child are met and that the child receives the most appropriate intervention and support.

The child along with parents or carers are central participants, although discussion may also include the local authority social worker, a teacher and other key professionals as necessary. Hearings normally take place in the child’s home area.

A children’s hearing is a lay tribunal made up of three children’s panel members who are unpaid, trained volunteers from local communities. The hearing listens to the child’s circumstances and then decides if any measures are required. The child may require a particular type of intervention, such as being placed with foster carers, in a residential unit or in secure accommodation. The hearing may decide that the child should remain at home with support from other agencies, such as the local authority social work department.

More information about the Children’s Hearings System can be accessed on the Scottish Government’s website and SCRA’s website.