Attendees and apologies
- Lesley Sheppard (Chair), Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division
- Tom McNamara, Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division
- Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
- Gerard Hart, Chief Executive, Disclosure Scotland
- Graham Thomson, Scottish Government, Police Division
- Sam McCluskey, Police Scotland
- Denise McKay, Scottish Government Legal Directorate
- Joanna MacDonald, Scottish Government, Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser
- Rod Finan, Scottish Government, Office of Chief Social Work Adviser
- John Trainer, Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Child Care and Criminal Justice, Renfrewshire Council
- Jim Thomson, Scottish Government, Police Division
- Sharon Glasgow, Social Work Scotland representative
- Clare Hicks, Scottish Government, Police Division
- Iona Colvin, Scottish Government, Chief Social Work Adviser
- Judi Heaton, Police Scotland
- Anna Donald, Scottish Government, Victims and Witnesses Unit, Criminal Justice Division
- Lucy Smith, Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division
- Kenzy Thomson, Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division
- Athena Lynch, Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division
Items and actions
Welcome, introductions and apologies
The Chair welcomed board members to the meeting introducing new members to the meeting. Apologies were noted of those who were unable to attend.
Minutes, actions and matters arising
The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 4 March 2021.
An update was provided on the actions from the last meeting. There were three outstanding actions:
- board members were asked to submit mitigating measures to help manage the risk of the gap between full commencement of the Act and the section 104 Order coming into force
- feedback was still to be received from Police Scotland in relation to the minutes from the meeting held on 2 February
- feedback was still to be received from Police Scotland regarding the cut-off date for decisions to enhance the police estate (following the discussion on places of safety)
The Chair informed the board that a consultation was ongoing with Local Authorities, seeking their input to the list of places of safety, responses had been requested to be submitted by 6 May.
The Board considered the updated Chirps policy paper and draft code of conduct, and the updated s57 guidance, both of which had been revised following consultation.
Chirps policy paper and draft code of conduct
Key comments from board members included that:
- the roles and responsibilities of the Chirp were clear
- the fact that the investigative interview is not a criminal process is embedded throughout the document
- reference to NES trauma informed training is appropriate
Officials described the consultation that had taken place with the legal profession as the policy and draft Code of Practice were being developed, and explained how the learning from the child advocacy scheme (particularly in relation to training) had informed the paper. Next steps were outlined to the Board, including a final consultation with the legal profession to help shape the final products, in order for officials to finalise regulations, which need to be laid in Parliament in June (in order to meet the October commencement).
In relation to the training, board members stressed the importance of all parties involved in the investigative interview understanding the role of the Chirps.
Board members were asked to provide any final comments on the Chirps document as soon as possible.
Revised section 57 guidance
The revised section 57 guidance was presented to the Board, and an update was provided in relation to operational guidance, which is being co-designed by Police Scotland and Social Work Scotland. The Board was informed that much of the detail that had been included in the initial section 57 guidance had been removed to the operational guidance.
Board members stressed the importance of ensuring that the operational guidance links to the national child protection guidance, and to make clear that an investigative interview is not a criminal interview. Board members also commented that it is important to help children understand the processes that are involved and the support available.
Board members were asked to provide any final comments on the guidance in advance of the next meeting.
Communications and engagement
Officials described the content of the draft communication and engagement planner, which had been circulated prior to the meeting, explaining the approach followed, to ensure that organisations, groups and individuals are engaged with at the right time, and the importance of using consistent language and messages. Officials explained the links with the Advisory Group on the messaging, and how they wish to work with Board members to develop relevant products, such as supporting colleagues in Police Scotland develop relevant literature for children and young people.
Board members were asked for initial comments on the planner, and also to send in additional comments and actions to the secretariat (for inclusion to the document).
Board members were very positive about the planner, and made the following points:
- that the messages are generally strong
- some of the messages could be strengthened and made more positive, such as explaining the complexity of the work, recognising that the changes being brought about by the Act are a significant shift in working, and the recognition of partnership work
- that the messages provide a strong message of what we’re trying to do, whilst recognising that behaviour is symptomatic of trauma
- the importance of layering the messaging
- to be confident about what has been achieved so far
- to reflect on how messaging needs to look for rural and urban areas
Board members agreed that the focus of our communications are key, especially as the Advisory Group looks to beyond 12. Suggestions were made in relation to making the most of conversations that are ongoing in communities around trauma and adverse childhood experiences, and that officials link with their SG colleagues in Community Justice, and consider the learning from the Violence Reduction Unit in bringing victims and communities with them.
Discussion on places of safety
The Chair raised the issue of places of safety with the board, highlighting that officials consulting with local authorities, seeking input for the list of places of safety. There was a brief discussion about the potential places of safety that may be suggested by local authorities, including:
- retained foster homes across Scotland that would be ready to receive and care for children who require to be taken to a place of safety
- the possibility of shared accommodation across boundaries, particularly when considering rural vs urban areas
Police Scotland shared with the board that they are seeking information at a local level regarding places of safety currently being used.
AOB and date of next meeting
The Chair provided an update on progress regarding the UNCRC Bill, following the completion of the parliamentary process, and referral of specific provisions to the Supreme Court. The Chair highlighted that, subject to confirmation with incoming ministers, this is likely to have no impact on ministers’ desire to commence the ACR Act in October this year.
The Board agreed that it would next meet towards the end of May.
board members to submit mitigation actions for measures to help manage the risk of the gap between full commencement of the Act and the section 104 Order coming into force
Police Scotland to provide the secretariat with feedback in respect of the meeting held on 2 February
Police Scotland to provide the secretariat with the cut-off date for decisions regarding enhancing the police estate for the purpose of places of safety
secretariat to issue date for the next meeting at the end of May
secretariat to share the draft list of places of safety obtained from local authorities at the next meeting
board members to provide final written comments on the Chirps document as soon as possible, and on the draft section 57 guidance in advance of the next meeting
board members to provide written comments on messaging, and additions for engagement events in advance of the next meeting
officials to update key messages on communications planner, and link with colleagues in community justice
secretariat to forward the s28 guidance to Police Scotland
secretariat to issue date of next meeting
Time and date of next meeting as issued to Programme Board members, 10:00am to 11:00am on 25 May.
SG: DCAF: CPJ
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