Bairns' Hoose: project plan

This project plan sets out the steps we will take to meet our Programme for Government Commitment which aims to ensure that all eligible children in Scotland will have access to a ‘Bairns’ Hoose’ by 2025.

Scale of ambition

The timetable to achieve the Programme for Government commitment by 2025 is hugely ambitious, in particular given the level of consultation and detailed policy development that will be required; the scale of potential legislative change, potential identification, purchasing and repurposing of physical sites, scale of change in service delivery and workforce resource required and the need to pilot before national delivery.

It will be a challenging journey requiring total commitment, careful planning, extensive collaborative working, potentially new legislation, and appropriate resource.

For children who are likely to be witnesses in the criminal justice system, the model will be more closely aligned with the framework that already exists in Scotland, for example through the Vulnerable Witness (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019 and the use of pre-recorded evidence of child witnesses in the most serious of criminal cases. Our aim is to create a child-friendly and trauma-informed Bairns' Hoose, which, as far as possible, we would also look to develop in line with related initiatives, such as the recommendations from the Evidence and Procedure Review.

For children who are victims or witnesses of matters relating to child protection (sometimes as well as being witnesses in the criminal justice system), Bairns' Hooses will be equally as important.

We are already considering if the developing Standards would require a statutory underpinning, and what that would mean in practice, as a means of ensuring consistency of approach across Scotland, or whether that policy aim would be better achieved through collaboration and consensus, such as an agreed Protocol. A consultation on the standards will be held in late summer 2022 and consideration will be given to whether there is significant benefit in looking to place the standards on a statutory footing.

Delivery of the model within rural and island settings "Under one roof" is likely to present specific localised challenges. In response, pathways may need to be developed for island and rural locations, which would include putting significant contracts in place between local authorities or health boards. A full range of impact assessments will be conducted, including the Island Communities Impact Assessment. Significant work will be required to ensure 'consistent' services across the country to reflect the findings (including flexibility to tailor to locality, situation etc.) to make sure the service is fit-for-purpose.

Whilst there are significant benefits of having all services under one roof, there are, a number of challenges that require to be overcome to reach the point where this is possible. These include the carrying out of forensic medical examinations outwith Health Board facilities and this may not be an appropriate model for Scotland. Further work will be required with the health sector to explore this area.



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