Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board minutes: November 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 30 November 2021.

Attendees and apologies

Scottish Government

  • Michael Chalmers (Chair) (MC), Director for Children and Families
  • Simon Stockwell (SS), Family Law Unit Head
  • Rod Finan (RF), Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser
  • Graham Thomson (GT), Police Division
  • Lynsey McKean, (LMcK), Police Division
  • Sarah Meanley (SM), Police Division
  • Anna Donald (AD), Victims and Witnesses Unit
  • Denise McKay (DMcK), Legal Directorate
  • Neil Hunter (NH), Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
  • John Trainer (JT), Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Child Care and Criminal Justice, Renfrewshire Council
  • Sharon Glasgow (SG), Social Work Scotland representative
  • Lynn McMinn (LMcM), Disclosure Scotland
  • ACC Judi Heaton (JH), Police Scotland
  • Sam Faulds (SF), Police Scotland
  • Jo Crowther(JC), Police Scotland
  • Graeme Welsh (GW), Scottish Civil Justice Council
  • Wendy Dalgleish (WD), Scottish Legal Aid Board
  • Nicola Anderson (NA), Scottish Courts and Tribunal Services


  • Lesley Sheppard, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice Division, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies 

The chair welcomed members to the meeting followed by introductions from additional attendees.

Minutes, actions and matters arising 

The minutes from the previous meeting were agreed, with no amendments.

The chair highlighed that ministers had agreed upon a date of full commencement of the Age of Criminal Responsibility Scotland Act 2019. This was conveyed to the Scottish Parliament by way of a givernment inspired question and a letter to the Equalities, Human Rights and Justice Committee on 18 November.


Update on court rules

GW provided an update on court rules, notably that the Scottish Civil Justice Council SCJC had developed an initial set of bespoke court rules, including specific forms for applications for orders, which would be in place for commencement. The Family Law Committee FLC will progress work on child-friendly forms in the new year. The court rules will be amended as implementation progresses and issues are identified. Provisions to support out-of-hours applications for orders would not be in place for commencement. 

Police Scotland raised concerns around the lack of capacity to request court orders on an out of hours basis, and the operational challenge this presented. LM outlined the approach that officials were wishing to take in relation to engaging with the judiciary on what an out of hours service could look like.

Update on Child Interview Rights Practitioners register ChIRPS

LS provided the board with an update: the Minister had agreed to appoint fifteen applicants; letters of appointment have issued, and officials are awaiting confirmation of acceptance.

Whilst not every local authority in Scotland has a dedicated ChIRP, all are all willing to travel. Officials will determine whether ChIRPs will be willing to extend the areas they are willing to cover, particularly for the period immediately after commencement.

Regarding ChIRP availability, the expressions of interest exercise had provided that ChIRPs would normally be required to be available between 9am and 8pm Mondays to Thursdays, and 9 am and 5pm on a Friday. Although weekends and public holidays had been excluded at the time of the recruitment exercise, officials will determine availability of ChIRPs over the festive period, including over extended public holidays.

Once the Act has commenced, officials will have a better understanding of about the need for ChIRPs, and will consider undertaking a second recruitment exercise.

Officials will write to local authorities to inform them of the appointment of the ChIRPs and the process that will be in place for contacting a ChIRP. 

Action: SG to continue developing plans for coverage and availability of ChIRPs.

Other areas of commencement

GIQ and letter to Committee

Both issued on 18 November.


Two sets of regulations have been laid to help implement Part four of the Act: one sets out the jurisdiction for application of orders; the other sets out reporting requirements in relation to use of the s28 power. 

The commencement regulations will be signed on 1 December 2021 and will be laid in Parliament on 3 December.   

Section 104 Order

The House of Lords debate took place on 23 November; the House of Commons debate will take place on 1 December. The Order is due to come into effect on 17 December 2021.

Linked with the s104 Order, regulations for the functions of the Independent Reviewers were considered by the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee on 30 November and were approved by that Committee. These regulations enable the cross-border powers that are being provided by the s104 Order.

List of places of safety

Information from each local authority has been used to populate the high level list of Places of Safety, which the Minister is content to publish. Officials will contact local authorities on a quarterly basis, to ensure that the information in the list is current.

Action: Officials to circulate final iteration of list to programme board

Any other business and date of next meeting

The following points were raised as any other business:

A meeting to discuss operational readiness and risks is to be held on 9 December – officials will seek suitable level representation from partner organisations.

Clarity required over premises for the taking of forensic medical samples from under 12s – officials provided a brief update; a list of appropriate premises has been compiled, and how to best communicate this with health boards is being considered. 

Date of next meeting

The secretariat will issue a meeting for January 2022.

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