Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019: child interview rights practitioners application guidance

Expressions of interest are being invited for children’s solicitors to support children in investigative interviews by the police when instances involving serious harmful behaviours and circumstances have happened.

Delivery criteria

The solicitor shall have the capacity and flexibility to manage delivery to accommodate these operating times: 

  • the ChIRPs provision shall normally be available from 09:00 to 20:00 Monday to Thursday and 09:00 to 17:00 on Friday, not including public holidays
  • in order to meet the needs of children and young people, the provision shall be made available outwith school hours, on Monday to Thursday evenings

The ChIRP provision shall normally be provided on a local basis at appropriate venues identified by the multi-agency meeting.

A ChIRP should preferably be identified during the planning phase to offer views to the police and local authority. A ChIRP will be given a copy of the child’s interview plan.

A ChIRP should make arrangements to speak with the child in person prior to the interview, ideally at a date and time not immediately prior to the commencement of the interview. This may be at the same location designated for the investigative interview. A ChIRP may also consult with a child at their home, at a carer’s home, at school or within a young person’s centre, where it can be demonstrated that the child’s best interests would be better served in doing so. 

In all cases, investigative interviews shall be provided at locations conducive to encouraging the child or young person to discuss what happened with the police and social worker. Such locations may include the child/young person’s family home or place of care, office premises, schools, hospitals and venues for formal review meetings, including Children’s Hearings. Please note this is not an exhaustive list.

The ChIRP employed by a firm to provide support shall be based at a location(s) with ready access to all parts of the local authority area in which the service is to be provided.

The provision may include any of the following requirements. Please note that this list is not exhaustive:

  • building rapport and trust with the child and explaining the role of the ChIRP in the interview, the purpose of the interview, and the potential consequences which could stem from it
  • communicating with the child/young person taking part in an investigative interview
  • supporting the child/young person or to speak or engage at the investigative interview

The ChIRP shall ensure adequate provision for communication with:

  • children and young people with profound and complex learning disabilities, mental health problems or incapacity
  • children and young people from minority ethnic or other cultural groups
  • children and young people with other communications issues, such as hearing or speech impairment
  • competence in the child/young person’s preferred language 

The ChIRP shall use a “case management”, auditable approach, showing effective case management and closure processes, for monitoring and evaluation purposes.

The ChIRP shall maintain a clear process of recording consents along with accurate and current details of the child/young person’s case and all associated documentation, including case management records in line with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requirements.

The ChIRP shall maximise the efficient use of available public resources by terminating cases when the investigative interview process has concluded, or where requested to do so by the child/young person, or where no further action can be taken. 

The ChIRP will develop a range of communication routes for children and young people to engage with them safely and privately including access by telephone, email, and other digital applications.

Demand for this service

We cannot guarantee any specific quantity of work and the numbers provided are for guidance only.  Some factors that will affect levels of demand are beyond the control of the Scottish Government, such as the number of children and young people whose behaviour becomes subject to police investigation.

Statistics and research shows that children under age 12 tend to commit minor to moderate “offences”, in small and reducing numbers, and that of those referred to formal systems, eight out of ten of these children had previously faced multiple significant disadvantages that may have contributed to their behaviour.

Evidence supporting the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Bill as it progressed through the Scottish Parliament showed that that, on average, three under 12s each month were being referred to the Principal Reporter for more serious offending concerns. If an investigative interview were required to find out what happened for each incident that would previously have been referred to the Reporter, this would be a total of 36 investigative interviews in Scotland per year. We do not expect all incidents to require an investigative interview, since there will be occasions where there is sufficient evidence for the police to investigate what happened, without the need to seek to interview the child. This projection is simply illustrative and we need to be prepared to add to the cohort of initial registrants if greater demand presents once the 2019 Act is fully commenced.

The timescale from receipt of referral to completion and closing of cases will depend on a number of factors, such as the urgency and nature of the issue involved and schedules of any related interviews. It is recognised that the timescale may also be impacted by the complexity of the issue(s) and the availability of resource allocation.

The ChIRP shall use an electronic management information system to manage and retain information about referrals, the nature of the cases and service users to ensure that resources are used efficiently and effectively and that throughput is maximised.

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