Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board minutes: June 2020

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

Attendees and apologies


  • Tom McNamara (acting Chair) Scottish Government, Youth Justice and Children’s Hearing Unit
  • Bill Scott-Watson, Scottish Government, Deputy Director, Care, Protection & Justice
  • Anna Donald, Scottish Government, acting Deputy Director, Criminal Justice Division
  • Denise McKay, Scottish Government Legal Directorate, Deputy Director
  • Jim Thomson, Scottish Government, Police Division
  • Alison Melville, Scottish Government, Youth Justice and Children’s Hearing Unit
  • Samantha McCluskey, Police Scotland, Public Protection
  • Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration


  • Clare Hicks, Scottish Government, Deputy Director, Police Division
  • Gerard Hart, acting Chief Executive, Disclosure Scotland
  • Bel McEwan, Social Work Scotland

Supporting officials

  • Lucy Smith, Scottish Government, Care, Protection & Justice
  • Leah Wilkie, Scottish Government, Care, Protection & Justice

Items and actions

1. Welcome and introductions; minutes, actions and matters arising

1.1 The Chair welcomed Board members to the meeting.

1.2 The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 26 May 2020.

1.3 The Secretariat provided an update on actions from the previous meeting:



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

Action closed – risk register to be reviewed following initial response to COVID-19 pandemic, and Programme Board’s consideration of revised timeline (30/06/2020)

Police Scotland to continue working with the SG implementation team to identify pragmatic solutions to issues raised

This is an ongoing commitment during implementation.

Secretariat to clarify length of time needed for consultation on draft guidance

Action closed. Due to the sensitivity of ACR we expect to consult for 3 months. This will be reduced if Ministers are content. The secretariat will seek confirmation about this within 2 weeks.

Board members to submit comments on the draft s28 guidance to the Secretariat by close on 25 June 2020

Action complete. Comments received from Police Scotland, SCRA and Disclosure Scotland. Apologies received from Social Work Scotland.


2.Timeline and resources

2.1 An updated timeline was shared with the Programme Board. The timeline includes dependencies: the Act cannot be commenced in full in the absence of (1) changes to court rules, and (2) cross-border cooperation on use of police investigatory powers. For the former, the secretariat is in regular contact with the secretariat of the Scottish Civil Justice Council; for the latter, legal and policy colleagues across UK administrations are working through policy scenarios and any wider implications these may have.

2.2 For Part 2 of the Act, the original plan had been to commence within 12 months of Royal Assent. This has been delayed, due to the health pandemic. The current intention is to bring into effect at the end of November 2020.

2.3 For Part 4, the secretariat thanked Board members for their comments on the draft s28 guidance. Scottish Government policy colleagues will weave these into the next iteration of the guidance, with a view to sharing with legal colleagues, before seeking agreement from the Minister for Children and Young People to consult.

2.4 In discussion, the Board made the following points:

  • The links between investigative interviews and the JII pilots need to be considered;
  • Concern about the length of time needed for consultations, and the impact that will have on the overall timeline, particularly when considering internal timelines for operational colleagues, and the overall ambition of the timeline.
  • It would be helpful to include the list of Places of Safety within the s28 guidance, to provide clarity for operational professionals who will be using these powers.
  • The importance of input from social work professionals on the s28 guidance, for identifying a suitable place of safety, and to help set out how the process would work in practice.

2.5 The Chair provided an overview of some of the development work on CHIRPS, including informal consultation with legal professionals who routinely work with children.

3. AOB and date of next meeting

3.1 No  AOB points were raised. 

3.2 Board members agreed to hold a catch-up call in advance of the next meeting of the Advisory Group (currently scheduled for 26 August),focusing on the s28 guidance and investigative interview guidance, and to hold a full meeting at end-September.

Actions: (1) Secretariat to publish the minutes for the meeting held on 26 May; (2) Secretariat to circulate a date to Programme Board during mid-August.

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