Children (Equal Protection From Assault) (Scotland) Bill implementation group minutes: September 2022

Minutes from the meeting held on 7 September 2022.

Attendees and apologies

  • Yolande Love, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • James Devoy, Police Scotland
  • Martin MacLean, Police Scotland
  • Lorrette Nicol, Social Work Scotland
  • Clare Simpson, Parenting Across Scotland
  • Gavin Fergie, NHS/staff side
  • Megan Farr, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland
  • Leona Solley, Scottish Government
  • Simon Stockwell, Scottish Government (Chair)
  • Beata Kaczmarek, Scottish Government
  • Welsh Government Officials (provided an update on implementation of the  Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act 2020)


  • Kirsty Morrison, Scottish Youth Parliament
  • Umar Ansari, One Parent Families Scotland
  • Charles Rocks, Social Work Scotland
  • Alistair Hogg, Scottish Children’s Reporters Administration
  • Louise Hill, Children 1st

Items and actions


The chair welcomed the attendees and welcomed in particular the new member of the Implementation Group, Gavin Fergie. Those present introduced themselves.  

Matters arising from the last minutes 

The Chair went through matters arising from the minutes of the previous meeting:

  • the Welsh Government have been invited to this meeting
  • the Scottish Government have been in touch with the Scottish Commission for Learning Disability and then with Aberlour, in relation to public facing information on Equal Protection for parents with learning disabilities. The feedback received from Aberlour on some of the material the Scottish Government produced will be taken into account when updating material on physical punishment of children
  • there has been nothing further on the possible research by the NSPCC on the implementation of the 2019 Act. [Note:  NSPCC subsequently confirmed they do not intend to proceed with this particular piece of research]
  • the Scottish Government is still planning focus groups with key bodies to discuss the implementation of the 2019 Act.  In subsequent discussion, the meeting noted that multi-disciplinary focus groups were preferred

Updates from group members

Police Scotland advised that there have been no significant changes since the last meeting. Only one area had reported some local issues but the implementation of the Act is generally working well in most areas most of the time.

Social Work Scotland advised that the implementation of the Act is still presenting challenges in some local areas in terms of interpretation of the legislation. It was noted that the proposed focus groups could be very helpful to improve the shared understanding of the implications of the Act.

COPFS advised that the implementation of the Act is going well and there has not been any issues arising.

Other group members stated that there were no issues to report.

Discussion on raising public awareness of the legislation on Equal Protection

The chair advised that: 

  • the Scottish Government is working with digital colleagues to improve public facing information on family law. One part of that is to review the content on physical punishment of children on Scottish Government website. The planned updates may also include some changes to the information on Parent Club. After drafting new material the Scottish Government will send it round the group for comment
  • the Scottish Government is still actively seeking to have a discussion with the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland to talk about raising awareness of the legislation on Equal Protection in schools

The group discussed other ways of raising awareness raising including:

  • an article in a professional health journal by the Children’s Commissioner
  • conferences and events
  • a webinar

Presentation by the Welsh Government

The Welsh Government provided a presentation on the implementation of the Children (Abolition of Defence of Reasonable Punishment) (Wales) Act which came into force on 21 March 2022. The presentation covered topics such communications and engagement campaign; data collection and monitoring; work around processes and guidance; and support for parents.

After the presentation there was a Question and Answers session. Points raised were:

  • there was a question about the baseline to track attitudes towards physical punishment of children and monitor awareness of the legislation

The Welsh Government indicated that to establish a research baseline on public attitudes towards physical punishment of children and monitor public attitudes and awareness of the legislation, questions on attitudes and awareness of the legislation have been asked in an annual survey since 2018 (pre commencement). The reports from the surveys can be found on the Welsh Government website.

  • there was a question about representation from the staff side such as professional associations and trade unions on the Welsh Government working groups

The Welsh Government indicated that from the beginning of the process there was an intention to bring people together from a range of disciplines. The Welsh Government engaged and met with trade unions and other representative bodies and interested organisations.

  • there was a question on how easy it was for the Welsh Government to obtain data on the specific consequences of the new legislation

The Welsh Government advised that data collections have been set up, but the data is not yet available to share. The Welsh Government have been working very closely with the police, social services and the Crown Prosecution Service to set up processes to collect data and information about the impact of the Act on those services.  New approaches to collect data that relates to the change in the law were introduced for each of these public services. The social services data may  be used to establish if there has been any increase in referrals from health, education and other sectors.

  • there was a question about the diversion from prosecution scheme in Wales

The Welsh Government advised that it has worked closely with the police and local authorities to set up an out of court parenting support scheme to divert people from prosecution where the police decide it is appropriate to offer an out of court disposal.There is no data on number of referrals yet but it will be collected, and the Welsh Government expect that this information will form part of the post implementation review reports.

Any other business

The Scottish Government advised that it will make arrangements for the next implementation group meeting in March 2023.

No other business was raised.

Back to top