Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board minutes: August 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board, held on 13 August 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Tom McNamara (Chair), Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice
  • Bill Scott-Watson, Scottish Government, Deputy Director, Care, Protection and Justice 
  • Denise McKay, Scottish Government Legal Directorate, Deputy Director 
  • Gerard Hart, acting Chief Executive, Disclosure Scotland
  • Clare Hicks, Scottish Government, Deputy Director, Police Division
  • Samantha McCluskey, Police Scotland, Public Protection
  • Jim Thomson, Scottish Government, Police Division
  • John Trainer, Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Child Care and Criminal Justice, East Renfrewshire Council
  • Neill Mitchell, Practice Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration 


  • Anna Donald, Scottish Government, acting Deputy Director, Criminal Justice Division 
  • Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration 
  • Judi Heaton, Police Scotland 
  • Iona Colvin, Scottish Government, Chief Social Work Adviser 

Supporting officials 

  • Lucy Smith, Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice
  • Kenzy Thomson, Government, Care, Protection and Justice 

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions; minutes, actions and matters arising 

The Chair welcomed Board members to the meeting.

The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 30 June 2020, subject to minor revision. 

The Chair noted that actions from the previous meeting had been completed.

Draft ministerial guidance 

Lucy Smith spoke to the update paper about Ministerial guidance, and shared the following points:

Guidance on s28

  • the draft has been revised, taking into account comments received by Programme Board, and is being considered by SG legal colleagues
  • the Minister is content for there to be a focused consultation, with partners and those who raised issues as the Bill progressed through Parliament
  • the list of places of safety will be included in the guidance. We will engage with children and young people in relation to what their requirements from a place of safety
  • current plans are for the guidance to be finalised by end-October 2020

Guidance on s57

  • flowcharts for the investigative interview have been developed; supporting text is in draft form
  • informal consultations required within partner organisations to help finalise text and flowcharts
  • increased resources are being secured within SG to finalise work on the child interview rights practitioners (ChIRPs), such that the ChIRP role can be included within the s57 guidance
  • current plans are for the guidance to be finalised by end-November 2020

The following points were raised by the Board, in relation to the s57 guidance:The usefulness of existing tools for assessing risk and harm that could be used as a checklist operationally (such as Stable and Acute 2007, or other RMA-developed tools). 

The original advisory group had considered CARM, and this could be imported or adapted to refine what’s being developed. Gerard Hart agreed to provide input to this work

Other key points raised during the meeting:

  • the Board recognised the usefulness of face-to-face meetings, particularly for this forum and for the work on the investigative interview process and procedures. Police Scotland offered to assist with identifying venues for face-to-face meetings for both
  • reference was made to language and terminology, and for clarity for operational partners 

AOB and date of next meeting 

The following points were made during AOB:

  • Social Work Scotland is committed to delivering this agenda within the revised timescales, particularly as there are good examples within offender management and CP that can be utilised
  • Police Scotland will link the internal offender management team with the ACR implementation team

Given intended delivery dates for guidance, the Board agreed to next meet at end-September/early-October.  


  • Secretariat to publish the minutes for the meeting held on 30 June; (2) Secretariat to circulate a date for next meeting; (3) Police Scotland to provide SG with additional comments on guidance

August 2020

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