Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board minutes: September 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board, held on 29 September 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Tom McNamara (Chair), Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division
  • Gerard Hart, acting Chief Executive, Disclosure Scotland
  • Clare Hicks, Scottish Government, Deputy Director, Police Division
  • Jim Thomson, Scottish Government, Police Division
  • Judi Heaton, Police Scotland 
  • Samantha McCluskey, Police Scotland, Public Protection
  • John Trainer, Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Child Care and Criminal Justice, Renfrewshire Council
  • Anna Donald, Scottish Government, acting Deputy Director, Criminal Justice Division 
  • Iona Colvin, Scottish Government, Chief Social Work Adviser 


  • Denise McKay, Deputy Director, Scottish Government Legal Directorate
  • Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration

Supporting officials:

  • Lucy Smith, Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division
  • Kenzy Thomson, 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 13 August 2020. 

The Board was updated on actions from the last meeting. 

Matters arising included an update on resourcing for implementation (in particular for policy development for child interview rights practitioners, for training for the practitioners, and for additional social work support). The Board was updated about plans for consulting on revised national guidance on child protection, and alignment of this piece of work with implementation of the ACR Act. 

Implementation update (from Scottish Government)

Child interview rights practitioners - A policy paper for child interview rights practitioners and a screening tool had been issued to Board members in advance of the meeting; Board members were asked to provide feedback by 9 October, after which the papers will be revised and shared more widely with stakeholders.

Draft s28 guidance - The draft section 28 guidance is now out for consultation, which closes at end-October. 

Section 29 - The list of places of safety is still to be developed, and take place following the consultation on the draft s28 guidance. 

Draft 57 guidance – Discussions are ongoing regarding the level of detail required. Still on-track for consulting at end-October, with a view to finalising the guidance in December. 

Section 104 order – Discussions have been ongoing with UK Government. There has been some slippage in the timetable. Officials hope time will be recovered  later in the timetable. 

Court rules – No change. 

Disclosure – Part 2 of the Act (the disclosure provisions) are scheduled to be commenced at end-November 2020, alongside regulations that set the time period for specific parts of the procedure to review.

The Board briefly discussed the level of detail needed in the Ministerial guidance, stressing the importance of clarity and consistency in relation to definitions. The Board also discussed the development of a tool to help assess risk on arrival at an incident, such as a checklist that officers would find easy to follow, and which would provide a good support for defensible decision-making. 

AOB and date of next meeting 

 The next meeting will be mid-November. 


  • Secretariat to publish the minutes for the previous meeting
  • Board members to provide feedback on the papers relating to child interview rights practitioners
  • SG to provide updates on s104 Order and expected timings for court rules
  • SG to invite additional participants to the investigative interview delivery group (for development of the operational tool)
  • Secretariat to circulate a date for next meeting

September 2020

Post-meeting note

Section 104 Order - The policy position is now agreed with UK Government and instructions have been sent to the drafting team. 

Court rules – SG officials expect their request for changes to court rules to be circulated to SCJC in mid-November.

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