Children (Equal Protection From Assault) (Scotland) Bill implementation group minutes: February 2021

Minutes from the 10 February 2021 meeting of the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill implementation group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Clare Armes, NHS Lothian
  • Steven Dehn, Office of John Finnie MSP
  • James Devoy, Police Scotland
  • Megan Farr, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland (CYPCS)
  • Lindsay Laird, Police Scotland    
  • Alisdair MacLeod, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • Sarah Meanley, Scottish Government (SG)
  • Chloe Riddell, Children 1st
  • Charles Rocks, Social Work Scotland (SWS)
  • Claire Simpson, Parenting Across Scotland
  • Simon Stockwell, Scottish Government (chair)


  • Umar Ansari, One Parent Families Scotland
  • Richard Cockbain, Police Scotland
  • Jack Dudgeon MSYP
  • Maria Gray, Scottish Government
  • Alistair Hogg, Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration (SCRA)
  • Christopher Russell, Scottish Government
  • Rachael Vassallo-Watson, Scottish Government
  • Rachel Watson, Scottish Government
  • Wendy Wilson, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service

Items and actions


Updates from bodies represented round the table

Police Scotland advised that the implementation period had been tight, especially as much of it had coincided with the pandemic. The “four Es” approach taken on enforcement of the pandemic restrictions had provided some useful learning. Implementation date itself had been smooth.

Children 1st advised that Parentline has received four calls this calendar year in which physical punishment was mentioned (among other factors). Children 1st also mentioned the need to further highlight support available to parents and carers as part of Equal Protection. 

Parenting Across Scotland advised that they have received no calls relating to physical punishment across the four different helplines they operate. 

CYPCS advised that they have heard nothing on the Act via their phone lines, but noted that there is interest in the Act from other jurisdictions. 

COPFS noted that there have been no negative implications stemming from the Act coming fully into force. COPFS also noted that monitoring in this area continued to be challenging as assault is a broad offence, covering a wide range of areas. 

Steven Dehn noted that Mr Finnie’s office is not aware of any issues arising from the Act coming fully into force. 

NHS Lothian noted that information on the Act has now been disseminated to health visitors, who are one of the few groups to continue to visit families during the pandemic. They further noted that they have not noticed any negative impacts from the Act, but there are general challenges in providing support for families during the pandemic

SWS noted that the Act appears to have had a minimal impact on both Inter Agency Referral Discussions and child protection activities nationally but some areas have advised an increase in protection activity. SWS also suggested that the pandemic is resulting in children generally becoming less visible to the community and universal services, as more time is spent at home and schools have been largely closed at various times. This makes measuring the impact of Equal Protection for children, young people and services challenging.

SCRA were not able to attend the meeting but provided an update before the meeting indicating that implementation had had few implications for them.

SG provided an overview of outcomes from: 

  • Stage 2 of the positive parenting marketing campaign and 
  • SG communications around 7 November

Children 1st highlighted the importance of the statutory duty to raise awareness in the Equal Protection Act. 

SG raised the number of following points on next steps: 

  • focus groups - SG explained its intention to run focus groups later in the year that would examine the impact of the Act on various sectors and groups of people.
  • Police Scotland noted that it can be challenging generally to translate law into operational guidance for the Police. [Action for SG: (i) to consider how these challenges could be overcome in the future and (ii) the particular challenges of having to consider implementation work while working remotely]
  • monitoring generally
  • messaging for children and young people, and how the SG will explore options for embedding information about the Act in existing sources used by this audience. The group noted the challenges and pressures generally on education due to the pandemic [Action for SG: to contact Education Scotland colleague to explore options]


The Scottish Government advised that: 

  • it would be attending a roundtable being held by the Welsh Government
  • the Welsh Government have expressed an interest in any process maps prepared by Scottish stakeholders. SG advised that they would pass on that request to group members for them to consider for their own interests. [Action for SG – to email group members]
  • it will make arrangements for the next implementation group meeting in around three months

Annex - agenda


Updates from bodies represented round the table

Outcomes from: 

  • Stage 2 of the positive parenting marketing campaign and 
  • SG communications around 7 November

Next steps: 

  • focus groups
  • monitoring generally
  • messaging for children and young people


Scottish Government
February 2021

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