Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board minutes: September 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the Age of Criminal Responsibility Programme Board, held on 16 September 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Lesley Sheppard (Chair), Scottish Government, Care, Protection and Justice Division
  • Lynsey McKean (LM), Police Division
  • Sarah Meanley (SM), Police Division
  • Graham Thomson (GT), Police Division
  • Denise McKay (DM), Legal Directorate
  • Anna Donald (AD), Victims and Witnesses Unit, Criminal Justice Division
  • Kate Neal (KN), Directorate for Legal Services
  • Neil Hunter (NH), Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
  • Gerard Hart (GH), Chief Executive, Disclosure Scotland
  • Judi Heaton (JH), Police Scotland
  • Samantha Faulds (SF), Police Scotland
  • Sharon Glasgow (SG), Social Work Scotland representative


  • Tom McNamara, CRPJD
  • John Trainer (JT), Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Child Care and Criminal Justice, Renfrewshire Council
  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser
  • Rod Finan (RF), Office of Chief Social Work Adviser

Supporting official

  • Lucy Smith (LS), CRPJD
  • Kenzy Thomson, CRPJD

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Chair welcomed board members to the meeting and noted the apologies. She outlined the purpose of the meeting: to take stock of progress since the last meeting and to provide updates on implementation, particularly in relation to:

  • commencement of the ACR Act
  • progress with development of court rules
  • the child interview rights practitioners (ChIRPs) register
  • publication of the list of places of safety
  • the section 104 Order

Minutes, actions and matters arising

The Board approved the minutes of the meeting held on 19 August 2021 subject to insertion of an amendment requested by Police Scotland on their view that court rules should be finalised and associated IT changes and processes in place including for out of hours provisions in order for the Act to be commenced.

Actions noted from the previous meeting were be discussed at this meeting.

The Chair provided a brief update on commencement of the Act, which would not take place in October 2021. She explained that further discussions would be held with ministers on this. 


Update on court rules

GT reflected that it had not been possible to develop a work-around for an out-of-hours service in the absence of court rules. Once court rules are agreed, discussion on out-of-hours service would follow.

​​​​​​​GT proposed taking forward option three from the update paper, to explore views from the judiciary on their expectations for an out of hours service.

​​​​​​​The following key points were made during the board’s discussions:

  • the importance of having a clear timeline for when the court rules will be agreed, which will be crucial for operational planning by partners
  • that the scoping of an out of hours service would include all of the order-making provisions under Part four of the Act
  • that the need for court rules to be in place is being explored at Director level within SG

​​​​​​​The Board was content for option three in the paper to be taken forward.


  • GT to seek clarity on timescales for court rules; option three to be taken forward as much as possible in the absence of court rules

Update on places of safety

​​​​​​​LS provided an update on work to develop and publish the list of places of safety, setting out that officials will write to local authorities for some additional information to include, and will then provide an appropriate signposting to the list on the Scottish Government website.

 The Board agreed that the approach proposed would meet requirements, that plans for places to be included in the list and subsequent publication were pragmatic and would also ensure that children who were taken to the specific places of safety would be kept safe.

Update on child interview rights practitioners

​​​​​​​LS provided an update on the establishment of the ChIRPs register, explaining that training for potential ChIRPs will take place over the next two weeks, due to be completed by the end of September. The Minister will confirm appointment to the Register (or to a reserve list) once the training is complete.

Following appointment to the register, SG officials will know whether further work is required in targeted areas to ensure appropriate geographical coverage.


  • geographical coverage of the ChIRPs Register and next steps to be discussed at the next meeting

Other areas of implementation

​​​​​​​The Board was updated about:

  • publication of ministerial guidance which took place on 2 September
  • the section 104 Order, this is progressing as planned, and is on track to be in force in mid-December
  • secondary legislation to support the Act, regulations amending the children’s legal assistance scheme, enabling children who are the subject of an order under Part four of the Act to access legal aid, have been laid in Parliament and will be discussed at Committee week commencing 20 September, work is underway to develop regulations for reporting on the use of places of safety

AOB and date of next meeting

​​​​​​​The following AOB items were raised:

  • in relation to the regulations for reporting on the use of places of safety, SF commented on ICT requirements to support this
  • it was agreed that discussions would continue with Police Scotland in relation to proportionate delivery of reporting requirements
  • membership, the board agreed that SCTS should be invited to attend future board meetings, since they are a key operational partner for commencement of the Act, and for the secretariat to consider other partners whose presence may add value to the work of the board over the coming months
  • progress on the Supreme Court’s ruling of the UNCRC Incorporation (Scotland) Bill, the Supreme Court is in recess until October, and there was no indication as to when the Court might publish its response, officials are continuing to progress implementation work, whilst waiting for the ruling

​​​​​​​Date of next meeting: the board agreed to meet in four weeks time


  • secretariat to issue calendar request for next meeting

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