Age of criminal responsibility programme board minutes: October 2022

Minutes from the programme board meeting on 4 October 2022.

Attendees and apologies

Tom McNamara – (Chair) -  Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice Division, Scottish Government (SG)

Lynne McMinn, Disclosure Scotland

Anna Donald, Head of Victims and Witnesses Unit, SG

Neil Hunter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration

Nicola Anderson, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service

Wendy Dalgleish, Scottish Legal Aid Board 

Kevin Wilkie, Police Powers Division, SG

Lynsey McKean, Police Powers Division, SG

Samantha Faulds, Police Scotland

Denise McKay, Scottish Government Legal Directorate

John Trainer, Social Work Scotland 


Lucy Smith, Youth Justice and Children's Hearings Unit

Gita Sharkey, Youth Justice and Children’s Hearing, SG

Graeme Welsh, Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service

Iona Colvin, CSWA

Sharon Glasgow, Social work Scotland

Martin Maclean, Police Scotland

Supporting Officials

Mel Parkinson, Youth Justice and Children's Hearings, SG

Athena Lynch, Youth Justice and Children's Hearings, SG

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies

The chair welcome members to the meeting and apologies were noted. The Chair provided an update to group members that Gita Sharkey who is the new Unit head for Youth Justice and children’s hearings will chair future meetings.

Minutes, actions and matters arising

The chair provided an update on the actions from the previous meeting.

Future meetings

  • secretariat will issue date for the meeting November and for the date for the learning event

ToR and membership of advisory group

  • the next advisory group meeting is taking place on 27 October. It was noted that SG are actively considering this as the work of the advisory group, particularly as the sub groups are considering their work plans and ToR

Opportunities from children’s care and justice bill

  • the analysis from the consultation is complete and a link to this report was issued to programme board as part of the updated meeting request

Implementation – ongoing implementation work, and use of police      investigatory powers to-date

Lyndsey from Police Powers team in Scottish Government provided an update on the ongoing implementation work.

Out of Hours

It was noted that up to now the use of the powers in the age of criminal responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 have been limited. This means there has been no opportunity to use the out of hours service. Although it is great that the powers have not been required it also means are unable to review if the provisions we have in place work. It is likely that an out of hours service will be required if the age is increased.


The SSI prescribing the particulars of reports to Parliament on use of the power in section 28 of the Act (to take a child to a place of safety) was laid on 9 June with a commencement date of 10 October. The SSI was scrutinised by the equalities, human rights and civil justice committee on 20 September and approved.

Advising a child of their rights to a duty solicitor

It was noted that the Scottish Legal Aid Board currently does not have a protocol for advising a child of their rights to a duty solicitor, and to appeal. Work is ongoing to identify a solution. As part of this work, we are considering issues around intimation, the right to appeal, the requirement for a dedicated age of criminal responsibility duty scheme and the mechanism for understanding how a child can be directly informed of their right to legal assistance. 

Health pathways

Work is ongoing across government to consider the best method for exploring of health pathways where an order is issued authorising the taking of physical data and samples from a child. It was noted that input from health colleagues will be critical to successful establishment of any pathway.

The Chair thanked Lynsey for her update, then welcomed members to ask questions/provide comments.

It was noted that the operational implications subgroup of the advisory group is taking forward the matter of an out of hours service. The sub group will consider the requirements and functionality of an out of hours service in light of the possibility of an increased age of criminal responsibility. The sub-group will engage members of the part 4 working group, and are currently considering how best to do this. Part 4 working group members will receive a communication on this matter in due course. A further discussion will take place at the next sub group meeting on 12 October.

It was agreed that there will be a further update on the ongoing implementation work at the next programme board meeting

It was noted that there the pre-registration training session took place on 27 September for solicitors who had expressed an interest to be on the ChIRPs register. Following this training, Scottish Government will provide Ministers with the outcome of the training and then solicitors will be invited to join the register. Separate to this, refresher training for the whole ChIRPs cohort is taking place today (4 October).

Planning for learning event in January 2023

A discussion took place regarding the co-design of the learning event that will take place early next year. A hold in diary date will issue shortly for the week commencing 23 January.

It was noted that the feedback received so far that the event would cover pre and post commencement with a particular focus on part 4 of the Act and the impact of the legislation and Identify amendments needed (2019 Act) and what lessons learned and what we would require to do for a future age of criminal responsibility.

There is an appetite for the event to take place in person and over the course of 1 day. It was agreed that at the next meeting in November the focus will be on the learning event in more detail. Group members had sight of suggested stakeholders to invite to this event and no objections were made.

Group members were asked to submit interest to Mel Parkinson by 12 October if they wish to take part in the designing this event or have any specific ideas of topics to cover etc.

Any other business and date of next meeting

The chair provided an overview of the future Governance arrangements and consideration for the programme board to meet on a 6-monthly basis, and if required to reconvene on an emergency basis between meetings. The chair outlined that by spring time there may be more data and information about the Act in general and that there would be progression on some of the outstanding implementation matters. Group members agreed with this approach but to have a meeting in November with specific members to support the co-design of the learning event.


  •  secretariat will issue date for meeting in November to focus on co-design of the learning event
  •  (MP) will be in touch with members with date for January’s learning event
  •  action – Police Powers team to provide a detailed paper for next meeting on options for advising a child of their rights to a duty solicitor
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