Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill implementation group minutes: February 2020

Minutes from the February 2020 meeting of the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill implementation group.

Attendees and apologies


  •  Umar Ansari, One Parent Families Scotland
  • Claire Armes, NHS Lothian; Sarah Canning, Welsh Government
  • Richard Cockbain, Police Scotland
  • Karen Cornish, Welsh Government
  • Steven Dehn, Office of John Finnie MSP
  • Maria Gray, Scottish Government
  • Alistair Hogg, Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration
  • Sarah Meanley, Scottish Government
  • Chloe Riddell, Children 1st
  • Charles Rocks, East Ayrshire Council (Social Work Scotland)
  • Christopher Russell, Scottish Government
  • Clare Simpson, Children in Scotland
  • Simon Stockwell (chair), Scottish Government
  • Matthew Sweeney, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
  • Wendy Wilson, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service
  • Andrea Kinver and Rachael Vassallo-Watson, both Scottish Government, also attended for part of the meeting


  • Megan Farr and Maire McCormack, Children and Young People’s Commissioner
  •  Jack Dudgeon MSYP
  • Angela Latta, Social Work Scotland

Items and actions


1.The chair welcomed the group to the meeting and introduced the attendees from the Welsh Government.  Group members introduced themselves.

Minutes of previous meeting

2. The group discussed and agreed the minutes of the previous meeting. 


3. Group members provided updates for their respective areas.

  • Police Scotland advised that they are developing a policy approach on how to respond to calls which will support a proportionate response. 
  • Children 1st explained that Parentline had experienced a spike in calls immediately after the Act passed.
  • COPFS advised that work on the Lord Advocate’s guidelines was progressing. 
  • COSLA advised that they had received correspondence from a third party expressing concerns about the Act and had responded by reiterating their support for it.
  • The Office of John Finnie MSP advised that they’d been contacted by a senator in Canada looking for information on how the Bill had passed in Scotland.
  • One Parent Families Scotland advised on the need for support for their workers closer to implementation time.
  • Social Work Scotland advised that they are currently considering how to handle an increase in questions about physical punishment, and how to engage with partners at a local level.
  • Children in Scotland talked about familiarisation with the legislation and about going to local partners on this.
  • NHS Lothian said that they were considering what the impact of the change in the law might be.
  • Children 1st mentioned links to points raised in the recent Care Review with family support being at the forefront of the Scottish Government’s response to that review.

4. Colleagues from the Welsh Government provided an overview of the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill and implementation plans for Wales.  Key points were:

  • The Welsh Government are planning an awareness raising campaign over the next two years
  • The Welsh Government intend to consider tourism and visitors to Wales as part of that
  • The Welsh Government  have also formed a strategic implementation group, with a similar membership to the Scottish group
  • Four task and finish groups feed into this covering: out of court disposals and a diversion scheme; operations, training and guidance; parenting support and communications; and data collection and monitoring. 
  • Next steps for Wales include: developing the approach to monitoring the impact of the legislation on social services, and advising on the breadth of issues to be considered as part of a post-implementation review: operations, guidance and training: clarifying information, training and guidance needs based on mapping, including for third sector and faith groups; and communications.

Awareness-raising: marketing campaign

5. Colleagues from marketing providing an update on development of a marketing campaign for Parent Club on positive parenting and coping with being a parent.

Discussion paper: awareness raising paper (v2.0) and draft circular (v2.0)

6. The group discussed the awareness raising paper and the need to cascade information relating to the Act, with the GIRFEC strategic leads network being suggested as an option for this, along with universal pathways for health visitors, and veterans teams.

 7. On the circular, the chair set out the approach for the draft and explained the intention to send this out shortly. 


8. On monitoring, Police Scotland said this might not be straightforward, but a flag on the central system might be possible.  SCRA mentioned they are still considering this, but noted that they may receive information from the police or in social work assessments.  Children 1st said they would able to apply flags to review calls but would need to manually check call records. 

9. Scottish Government reported on an action from the last meeting (to see what Ireland had done on monitoring).  The Irish Government had advised that the Child and Family Agency keeps data on child protection (abuse) referrals and child welfare protection referrals which it receives, but not chastisement specifically.  In general terms there has been an increase of abuse referrals from 2017 to 2018 (both in number and in proportion), which might be linked to the introduction of mandatory reporting at the end of 2017.


  1. Welcome and introductions
  2. Draft minutes of meeting held on 28 November 2019
  3. Accuracy
  4. Points arising
  5. Updates from group members
  6. Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Bill
  7. Awareness-raising: marketing campaign
  8. Discussion paper: awareness raising paper (v2.0) and draft circular (v2.0)
  9. Monitoring the effect of the removal of the defence
  10. Information from Ireland
  11. AOB




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