The Office of the Children’s Convenor (the “OCC”) and the Child Youth and Community Tribunal (the “CYCT”) were established as part of the Children (Guernsey and Alderney) Law 2008 (the “Law”).
The existing legislation affecting children had been in force for over 40 years and no longer fitted with the reality of family life today. Moreover, it had become increasingly important to comply with internationally agreed standards, such as those set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Law was introduced following seven years of research into different systems and consultation with many groups. These included professionals, families, children and the community.
The welfare of children is at the heart of the Law. The CYCT provides the opportunity for children in need or in trouble to be heard outside a court environment. The system is based on the Children’s Hearing system that has been operating successfully in Scotland since 1971. This system followed the report of Lord Kilbrandon and his committee in 1964 which found that children and young people appearing before courts, whether they had committed offences, or were in need of care and protection, had common needs. There are, however, some significant differences, which make the CYCT uniquely suited to the Bailiwick.
The basic principles which underpin the system are:
The local community is in the best position to decide what should happen to children.
Children who offend almost always have the same needs and background as children in need of care and protection.
Children’s needs and deeds must be tackled together if they are to be dealt with effectively.
Children and their families should be active participants in finding the solutions to their problems.
Following the approval of the Billet setting out the new proposals in October 2004, the Law was drafted and approved by the States of Deliberation in January 2008. The task of setting up the OCC and recruiting and training the members for the new Tribunal was completed during 2009. Those parts of the Law that relate to the OCC and the CYCT came into force on 4 January 2010.