Children (Equal Protection From Assault) (Scotland) Bill implementation group minutes: February 2024

Minutes from the meeting of the Implementation Group on 21/02/2024.

Attendees and apologies

  • Jennifer McKee, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • Gavin Fergie, NHS/staff side
  • Charles Rocks, Social Work Scotland
  • Alistair Hogg, Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration
  • Megan Farr, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland
  • Amy Woodhouse, Parenting Across Scotland
  • Simon Stockwell, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Beata Kaczmarek, Scottish Government
  • Leona Solley, Scottish Government



  • Stephanie Stirling, Police Scotland
  • Sharon Glasgow, Social Work Scotland
  • Holly Owens, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Umar Ansari, One Parent Families Scotland
  • Lily Humphreys, Children 1st

Items and actions


The Chair welcomed the attendees and those present introduced themselves. 

Minutes of last meeting

The Chair advised that the minutes of the last meeting have been published and are available on the Scottish Government website.

Updates on Equal Protection from bodies represented round the table

NHS/staff side stated that there are no major concerns to report. One possible issue is general work pressures on health visitors who are struggling to cover the full remit of their work at the moment. Therefore, there is a concern that any issues that are raised as a consequence of the Equal Protection legislation may be missed or may not be properly reported.

The Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland said that there is nothing to report. The issues emerging for them at the moment are on restraint rather than physical punishment.

The Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration (SCRA) noticed a minor positive impact of the legislation for them. The removal of the defence of reasonable chastisement had made the legislation in this area clearer.   SCRA advised that there are no noticeable increases of referrals as a consequence of the Equal Protection legislation.

Parenting Across Scotland said that there were no issues to report.

Social Work Scotland advised that there is a level of maturity with the Act now in terms of implementation. There is some good local guidance in some areas. However, there are still some challenging issues arising for Social Work. It can be difficult sometimes when parents need support to establish how best to provide them with that support. When a matter is reported to the Police it has to go through the usual procedures that the Police have to follow in relation to a criminal offence. There are issues about the boundary between supporting parents and about child protection. It is still uncertain how well aware some families are of the legislation.

The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said that the changes in legislation have not had any particular impact on their area of work. COPFS are reviewing their policies generally to ensure that they are in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).  As a consequence, COPFS guidance on Equal Protection would be reviewed, along with guidance in other areas.  COPFS also noted the lack of awareness of the legislation in some instances.

Police Scotland were not able to attend the meeting but provided an update by email

stating that they are not aware of any specific issues relating to Equal Protection arising since the last meeting.

Updating awareness raising material.

The Chair advised that: 

  • The Scottish Government would update some of the online resources produced on the Equal Protection legislation. After drafting revised material the Scottish Government will send it round the group for comment.
  • The Scottish Government noted that the implementation of the UNCRC may give an opportunity to raise more awareness of the Equal Protection legislation. The Scottish Government will speak to UNCRCcolleagues about what work they are planning now the UNCRC legislation has received Royal Assent.
  • In terms of translating the leaflets into other languages, the Scottish Government advised that this may be not possible at the moment as resources are very tight.  Members of the group said that there was no one obvious language to translate leaflets into.

The Group discussed other possible ways of raising awareness. The following points were made:

  • the need to do more in terms of getting information out to front line services such as the NHS and health professionals;
  • an article in a professional health journal might be helpful;
  • the importance of raising awareness of the change in the legislation with children;
  • any further information provided should be practical;
  • there was an argument for hard copy material as well as material on line;
  • there may be opportunities to put more information on Parent Club as that is reviewed.

The Chair noted that the Scottish Government will consider if there is anything more that can be done on raising awareness of the legislation.

Focus Groups – oral update from SG.

The Chair provided brief update on the planned focus groups. The Scottish Government will update the current paper on running focus groups and send it out to Police Scotland, Social Work Scotland and NHS with an aim to set up the focus groups later in the year.  

Frequency of Implementation Group meetings.

The group agreed that less frequent meetings remained appropriate but the meetings remained useful.

The Scottish Government advised that it will make arrangements for the next Implementation Group meeting to take place around November 2024.


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