Age assessment: practice guidance

This document provides practice guidance for social workers and their managers involved in undertaking age assessments in Scotland.

Important notice

Throughout the document, the definition of a child is someone who has not yet reached the age of 18 years. This is reflective of the definition of a child in Section 40 of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015.

Age assessment sits within a framework of immigration and child welfare law and this continues to evolve. The case law referred to in this guidance is intended to illustrate cases that are relevant to age assessments at the time of drafting this guidance. This is a developing area of law, therefore, the case law is subject to change and the cases referred to in this guidance should be used for reference only. In using this guidance, consideration should be given as to how any new case law will have a bearing upon the practice that is suggested here. Should you encounter a similar legal issue, we would recommend that you seek up to date independent legal advice.

With respect to any comments made within the Guidance which relate to information sharing and retention, it is important to ensure that action is in line with the General Data Protection Regulation as well as relevant data protection and human rights legislation. At the time of writing, The Data Protection Act 1998 remains in force although is due to be repealed. The EU General Data Protection Regulation has already been passed and it is anticipated that a new Data Protection Bill will replace the existing legislation. We would recommend that you seek specialist advice with respect to data protection. The Information Commissioners Office can provide further information.

The responsibility for ensuring that an age assessment is legally compliant remains with the relevant local authority. The Guidance is not statutory and should not be taken in any way as constituting, or as a substitute, for legal advice. In all undertakings, it is important that action is compliant with relevant data protection and human rights legislation, including children's rights as set out in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child [1] .


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