Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board minutes: November 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board, held on 18 November 2020.

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, acting Chief Executive, Disclosure Scotland
  • Jim Thomson, Scottish Government, Police Division
  • Graham Thomson, Scottish Government, Police Division
  • Judi Heaton, Police Scotland 
  • Richard Cockbain, Police Scotland
  • John Trainer, Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Child Care and Criminal Justice, Renfrewshire Council
  • Anna Donald, Scottish Government, Victims and Witnesses Unit, Criminal Justice Division 


  • Denise McKay, Scottish Government Legal Directorate
  • Clare Hicks, Scottish Government, Police Division
  • Iona Colvin, Scottish Government, Chief Social Work Adviser 
  • Sam McCluskey, Police Scotland

Supporting officials:

  • Lucy Smith, Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division
  • John McCutcheon, Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions and apologies

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

Minutes, actions and matters arising

The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 29 September 2020, subject to two amendments. 

The Board was updated on actions from the last meeting. 

Linked with the actions from the last meeting, the Board discussed further definitions of key terms and work that had been taken forward on developing a matrix to support operational decision-making. The Board agreed this was very promising work which should be continued as a priority, and that this could be considered by correspondence, rather than await the next Board meeting. 

Implementation update (from Scottish Government)

Status of section 28 guidance - Draft guidance was issued for comment on 17 September 2020 with a closing date 30 October 2020. Eighteen responses have been received and are currently being worked through. The Board agreed for the SG team to complete an analysis of the consultation responses. If there are contradictions in comments that require input, these will be raised with the Chair. The Board agreed to review the revised guidance in correspondence in advance of seeking Ministerial sign-off. 

Status of section 57 guidance – The draft guidance had been shared with SCRA and Police Scotland, and is being updated to reflect comments received. The Board agreed for this to issue for consultation as soon as possible, with a closing date of mid-January.

Status of the list of places of safety (section 29) – Identification of suitable places for inclusion in the list is ongoing, following discussion with relevant policy colleagues/organisations. The Board discussed the need for suitable places of safety for forensic examinations, and agreed to discuss this at the next meeting

Child Interview Rights Practitioners (ChIRPs) – Final comments were requested in relation to the papers that had been circulated at end-September, and the Board agreed for these to be submitted by close of play, 25 November.

Social work support for implementation of the Act – A social worker has been identified, and the on-boarding process is in progress, for a planned start date of 1 December.

Commencement regulations – The third set of regulations was laid on 12 November and will come into force on 30 November. The regulations will commence all of the provisions in Part 2 (Disclosure of convictions) not already in force. This represents a significant milestone in that it completes the undertaking (albeit 5 months later than intended as a result of the Covid-19 emergency) given by the Minister for Children and Young People at Stage 3 of the Bill process.

Section 104 Order – As previously commented, discussions with UK Government colleagues regarding the cross-border operation of the provisions have reached a satisfactory conclusion, and we are waiting for the draft Order from our legal colleagues. This will be shared with UK Government colleagues for their sign-off as soon as possible, in order to help us keep to the timetable set out by Scotland Office.

Court rules – The Scottish Civil Justice Council Secretariat advised that a paper for Council consideration had issued for clearance by the Lord President. Once cleared, the paper will be circulated to Council members, with comments requested within a two week period.

AOB and date of next meeting 

There was no AOB. The Chair thanked everyone for their contributions over the past six months. It was agreed that the Chair would review the date of the next meeting in early December in the light of progress with the operational matrix and other matters which may have arisen requiring the Board’s urgent attention.


  • development of operational matrix (and associated definitions) to be taken forward as a priority
  • Secretariat to draft an analysis of responses to the section 28 guidance consultation
  • Secretariat to proceed with consultation on the section 57 guidance
  • Board members to provide feedback on the papers relating to ChIRPs by close on 25 November
  • Secretariat to circulate a date for next meeting

November 2020

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