Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board minutes: January 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board, held on 30 January 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Lesley Sheppard (Chair), Scottish Government, Deputy Director, Care Protection & Justice 
  • Clare Hicks, Scottish Government, Deputy Director, Police Division 
  • Anna Donald, Scottish Government, Head of Victims and Witnesses Unit 
  • Denise McKay, Scottish Government Legal Directorate, Deputy Director 
  • Duncan Sloan, Police Scotland, Temporary Assistant Chief Constable
  • Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (video link)
  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser to the Scottish Government (telecon)
  • Gerard Hart, Director of Protection Services and Policy, Disclosure Scotland
  • Ben Farrugia, Director, Social Work Scotland

Supporting officials 

  • Lucy Smith, Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice
  • John McCutcheon, Scottish Government, Care, Protection & Justice
  • Melissa Thomas, Scottish Government Care, Protection & Justice
  • Jim Thomson, Police Scotland (on secondment to SG)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed Board members.

Minutes, actions and matters arising

The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 26 November 2019. 


  • Secretariat to publish the minutes of the second meeting

The Board noted that all actions on the Action Log had been completed and that no matters had arisen since the Board meeting on 26 November. The Secretariat agreed to circulate comments received in relation to risks, and proposed actions prior to the next meeting.


  • Secretariat to circulate comments received in relation to risks, and proposed actions stemming from these

Implementation timeline

The Board discussed and noted the concerns expressed by Police Scotland.

Action: Police Scotland to continue working with the SG ACR implementation team to identify pragmatic solutions to issues raised.

Draft guidance

The Board was provided with an overview of potential timings for agreeing and consulting on guidance. The Board agreed to submit comments on the draft section 31 guidance  to the Secretariat by 19 February 2020. The Secretariat agreed to clarify the length of consultation required for the guidance, and to minimise timescales for revising and finalising draft guidance as much as possible. 


  • Board members to send the Secretariat comments on the draft guidance by 19 February 2020
  • Secretariat to clarify length of time needed for consultation on draft guidance

Progress to date: update from implementation group

The Board noted the progress on implementation and the plans for future commencements during 2020.

The Secretariat provided an update from the recent meeting of the investigative interview delivery group. That group highlighted:

  • the need to ensure that the interface between child protection and the ACR Act is clear and referenced in the national child protection guidance
  • the need for clearly defined expectations in relation to the role of the child interview rights practitioner, to ensure that a child experiences a similar approach to well-planned and coordinated, trauma-informed processes
  • the need for common language, acronyms, and existing practices to be used for investigative interviews (section 57), in particular to use the term ‘interagency referral discussion’ (IRD), to follow joint investigative interview (JII) practices, and for this to form the basis for guidance and training

The Board noted the update from the investigative interview meeting, and agreed that the IRD and JII approaches and languages should be used.

Any other business and date of next meeting

The Chair provided an update from the Advisory Group meeting held on 9 January 2020. 

The next meeting is scheduled for 10:00-12:00 on Tuesday 31 March, in Victoria Quay.

Post meeting note: the meeting scheduled for 31 March was cancelled, due to the Covid-19 situation. The next meeting will be held by teleconference on 26 May 2020.

April 2020

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