Age of Criminal Responsibility programme board minutes: March 2022

Minutes from the meeting on 10 March 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Donald Henderson (Chair), Scottish Government, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice Division
  • Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
  • John Trainer, Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Child Care and Criminal Justice, Renfrewshire Council
  • Sharon Glasgow, Social Work Scotland representative
  • Lynne McMinn, Disclosure Scotland
  • Martin MacLean, Police Scotland
  • Davy Hill, Police Scotland
  • Wendy Dalgleish, Scottish Legal Aid Board
  • Nicola Anderson, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services
  • Anna Donald, Scottish Government, Victims and Witnesses UnitGraham Thomson, Scottish Government, Police Division
  • Sarah Meanley, Scottish Government, Police Division
  • Denise McKay, Scottish Government Legal Directorate


  • Lynsey McKean, Scottish Government, Police Division
  • Joanna McDonald, Scottish Government, Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser,
  • Rod Finan, Scottish Government, Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser
  • Graeme Welsh, Scottish Civil Justice Council

Supporting officials

  • Lucy Smith, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice Division
  • Kenzy Thomson, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice Division
  • Lisa Hay, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice Division

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting and apologies were noted.

Minutes, actions and matters arising

The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed with no changes. There had been no outstanding actions from the previous meeting.

In relation to matters arising, training had been planned in February for solicitors who were unable to attend the initial ChIRPs training in September, but the number of available participants was too low for this to be progressed.

The Minister for Children and Young People has agreed for a second expression of interest exercise to take place, to recruit additional ChIRPs to the register. This will be a Scotland-wide exercise. Firm dates have not been yet agreed, but the expectation is that the advert is likely to issue in late spring / early summer.

Implementation – outstanding issues

An update was provided on the ongoing implementation work for Part four of the Act, namely:

  • consideration of an out of hours service for the provision of court orders authorising certain police investigatory powers
  • work on court rules (led by the Scottish Civil Justice Council)
  • development of a set of regulations on the reporting of use of the s28 power
  • options to advise a child of their right to legal representation and of their right to appeal
  • development of health pathways in relation to the taking of forensic samples from under 12s
  • operational issues (which will be considered as they arise)

The following points were made during discussion:

Police Scotland welcome the provisions of an out of hours service for the seeking of court rules. There is an operational working group working on this. This will be submitted to the ACR Advisory Group once final comments are received.

Members are keen to see what SCJC might consider including in a child-friendly forms to inform children of their right to legal-aid. Ongoing work for court rules – input is welcome from members on what else might be needed for this work.

Ongoing consideration of operational matters. Since commencement Police Powers have only been used once. It will be helpful to consider operational issues as and when they arise.

Future of programme board

The Chair reflected that programme board had previously agreed to discuss the future and its next steps. Two papers had been provided to support this agenda item: a draft closure report, and a governance paper explaining the separate roles of programme board and advisory group.

During discussions, the following key points were made:

It would be premature to close the programme board given that the Act is newly commenced, and the systems and processes put in place for commencement have not yet been fully tested;

A number of important matters remain outstanding (as discussed during agenda item three);

Testing of systems and processes will be crucial to help inform discussions and work by others in relation to a higher age of criminal responsibility;

The need for a clear governance structure, setting out the membership and responsibilities of programme board and advisory group, with the potential for a formal agreement between the two strategic bodies, setting out how they will work together.

All agreed that it would be wise to meet again (in June 2022) to discuss progress on the outstanding issues and consider ongoing governance structures.

Action: SG to develop new governance structure setting out roles and responsibilities of programme board and advisory group, for discussion at next meeting.

Any other business 

Programme board discussed the timing for a learning event, and agreed that it would be best to hold this towards the end of 2022 or in early 2023, to learn from a the Act being in force for a full year, as the expectation is that numbers of incidents involving under 12s are likely to be low.


  • Secretariat to schedule the learning event for December 2022/January 2023
  • Secretariat to schedule a date for the next meeting in June 2022.
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