IPA Effectiveness Awards 2004: Bronze Award - Children's Hearings


Campaign: Recruitment 2000-2003

Client: Scottish Executive

Agency: Barkers

Principal author: Michael Kemsley, Barkers

Media used: Print, radio


Scotland's Children's Hearings system, established in 1971, is a unique set-up. Not only does it work with offenders but also with children and young people who have been neglected or abused.

Its structure and remit allow it to concentrate on the welfare of the child rather than on how they should be punished, and puts the decisions into the hands of a panel of children whose local insights, the authors argue, ensure better choices for each case. Selecting the panel is difficult, but making sure they are committed and willing to sacrifice free time and expose themselves to upsetting situations without pay is even tougher.

The first task was to reverse the decline in numbers of respondents, which threatened to bring about the system's demise. The second was to make the panel broader, recruiting a wider cross-section of the community.

In 2002, a new creative solution was devised. While the advertising of old tried hard to portray the seriousness and importance of the role, it had inadvertently created new barriers. The black-and-white images used were more akin to a sense of depression and helplessness than to hope. The new work had to appeal to new people, and it had to grab their attention in a deeply emotive but positive way.

Between 2001 and 2002, a fresh, more caring and accessible approach to creative led to response growth of 374 per cent, and has revitalised recruitment to the Children's Hearings system.

The judges' view

This paper demonstrates that the right insight can make even the smallest budget work hard. Scotland's Children's Hearings legal system demands the ongoing recruitment of the right calibre of volunteers; this campaign drove response with great efficiency.


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