National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group minutes: August 2023

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 22 August 2023.

Attendees and apologies


  • Val de Souza, National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group Chair
  • Laura Buchan, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Services, Crown Office
  • Anna Donald Deputy Director, Criminal Justice Division, Directorate for Justice, Scottish Government
  • Mary Glasgow, Chief Executive, Children 1st (joined meeting at 10:12am)
  • Jane Connors, Detective Chief Constable, Police Scotland
  • Alistair Hogg Principal Reporter, Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration
  • Jillian Ingram , JII National Implementation Coordinator, COSLA (deputising for Laura Caven)
  • Sally Ann Kelly, Chief Executive, Aberlour, CCPS representative
  • Chantelle Lalli, Justice Lead, Bairns’ Hoose Unit, Directorate for Justice, Scottish Government
  • Louise Long, Chief Executive, Inverclyde Council, SOLACE representative
  • Henry Mathias, NCS Strategic Lead - Care Inspectorate (deputising for Jackie Irvine)
  • Joanna McDonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Advisor, Office of the Chief Social Work Adviser
  • Lesley Swanson, Head of Bairns’ Hoose Unit - Directorate for Children and Families, Scottish Government
  • Andrew Watson, Director of Children and Families, Scottish Government
  • Sharon Glasgow, Protecting Children Policy and Practice Advisor, Social Work Scotland (deputising for John Trainer)


  • William Griffiths, Bairns’ Hoose Unit, Directorate for Children and Families, Scottish Government (observer)
  • Tricia Lang, Bairns’ Hoose Unit, Directorate for Children and Families, Scottish Government (secretariat)
  • Angela Latta, Professional Social Work Adviser, Directorate for Children and Families, Scottish Government (presenter)
  • Don McIntyre , Design Director, Innovation School, Glasgow School of Art (presenter – joined meeting at 11:49am)
  • Jennifer Morrison, Social Work Team Manager, National Joint Investigative Interviewing Training & Practice Development Team (presenter)
  • Julie Mullen, Detective Inspector, National Joint Investigative Interviewing Project (presenter)
  • Catherine Sturrock, Bairns’ Hoose Unit, Directorate for Children and Families, Scottish Government (observer)


  • John Burns, Chief Operating Officer, NHS Scotland, Scottish Government
  • Laura Caven, Chief Officer, Children and Young People Team, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • Justine Craig, Chief Midwifery Officer, Directorate for Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government
  • Jackie Irvine, Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate
  • Jack Murray-Dickson, Bairns’ Hoose Unit, Directorate for Children and Families, Scottish Government
  • Moira Price, Head of Victims and Witnesses Policy Team, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Policy and Engagement Division
  • John Trainer, Chief Social Work Officer and Head of Childcare and Criminal Justice

Items and actions

Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Chair welcomed attendees to the meeting including DCC Jane Connors, Police Scotland as a new board member replacing DCC Malcolm Graham. The chair also introduced and welcomed new Scottish Government Bairns’ Hoose staff members - Will Griffiths as Programme Manager and Tricia Lang as Secretariat. Apologies were noted.

Minutes of last meeting, matters arising and action register

The Chair invited any comments on the Minutes of the previous meeting held on 25 April 2023.  An issue was raised highlighting an error with a group member's job title and an action taken to rectify.

An outstanding action from Jan 23 meeting was highlighted whereby COPFS requested to add text around extending the model to include children in conflict with the law over the age of criminal responsibility. This was agreed and inserted into the minutes.

The Chair summarised the open and ongoing actions from the previous meeting:

  • once the new children and young people engagement arrangements have been established members to consider how they would best like to introduce themselves to children and young people
  • Children 1st to coordinate a meeting between Chair and Changemakers Group
  • Children 1st to request update from Sheriff Mackie on his work to share with the Group
  • Children 1st to share additional pictures of the Wee Bairns’ Hoose and depictions of the Big Bairns’ Hoose with Group
  • Children 1st to share slides and impact report once finalised
  • National Bairns' Hoose Governance Group members to consider how to use the learning provided by the presentations to maintain group focus and connection with children’s experiences, as well as to share more widely with partners
  • SG Justice, COPFS and Children 1st to meet to discuss the circumstances outlined in Children 1st presentation


  • secretariat to amend job title for Louise Long
  • NBHGG Chair to liaise with Children 1st on open actions
  • Anna Donald to speak to SCTS in relation to open action

Children and young people 

  • Scottish Government updated the group on a range of documents published on 1 June 23 in relation to the Bairns’ Hoose programme including the Participation and Engagement Plan for Children and Young People, describing the approach to engagement with children and young people which will continue into the pathfinder phase
  • grant funding has been agreed with Children 1st for the continuation of the Changemakers group. The project involves a group of children and families, who have experienced care and justice processes, in the design of the North Strathclyde Bairns’ Hoose. Included in the grant objectives are for the Changemakers to consider how they wish to engage with this Governance Group. Grant funding has been agreed with Healthcare Improvement Scotland for the continuation of the link worker model
  • engagement with children and young people in a meaningful and supported way, is part of the essential criteria to be a Pathfinder. Children, young people and their families should be involved in the design and development of the Pathfinder Programme from an early point. As Pathfinder Partnerships are established the intention is to establish mechanisms for engagement
  • each Pathfinder will be supported to share their learning from children and young people with other Pathfinders through the community of practice. HIS will work with the Pathfinders to share learning from children, young people and families with the National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group in a way that is right for the children and young people who shared their ideas and experience
  • a poem was shared to the group written by a young person, Lydia, who has had experience with the justice system


  • NBHGG members to feedback on Lydia’s poem

New National Bairns' Hoose Governance Group (NBHGG) Members

  • the Chair announced details of two additional members proposed to be invited to join the Group. They are Dr Mary Mitchell, Senior Lecturer in Social Work, The University of Edinburgh and Shawna Von Blixen, European Barnahus Network Co-ordinator
  • these additional members were viewed positively by the Group and it was agreed that both new members bring differing experiences relevant to the work being undertaken – including from an international perspective. All members fully supported adding the new members to the Group

Scottish Child Interview Model (SCIM)

There was a presentation on SCIM given in partnership with COSLA explaining the new approach to joint investigative interviewing (JII) of children in Scotland:

  • the key driver behind the development of the SCIM is the same key driver behind the development of Bairns’ Hoose in Scotland
  • SCIM is a new approach to JII which is trauma informed and, by maintaining the focus upon the needs of the child in the interview, seeks to achieve best evidence through improved planning and interviewing techniques
  • making these important changes means highly skilled specialist child interviewers and a system that sufficiently supports the child and the interviewers
  • new training programme has some significant changes which include application of trauma informed principles throughout interviewers' engagement with the child; application of evidence-based interview techniques; skilful use of question types; improved focus on ensuring essential evidential information gathered; informed and confident use of recording equipment; attention paid to location/environmental factors
  • the impact of the new model means: needs of the individual child now central to planning process; younger children can now take part in interviews; children with additional needs are meaningfully supported to take part; improved engagement - children stay in the interview; improved engagement with young people experiencing significant additional vulnerability and/or adversity; competence of interviewers increased; confidence of interviewers increased; Better evidence gathered – more detail, increased credibility; improved multiagency partnership working; improved links between JII and other parts of the child protection process
  • 4,200 children have experienced this new approach since it was introduced in 2020
  • there was discussion around the progress already made which is impressive, however more is required. Key components of the model need attention, including continued investment and proper technical equipment
  • it was shared that evaluation of some interviews reported an enthusiasm from the child to talk and/or return to talk further if required to do so which shows we are heading in the right direction
  • a question was raised around how we take this complex process forward from a quality assurance point of view and how this relates to ongoing development for interviewers. Reference was made to the data framework and quality standards which sit across 5 components. It was also pointed out that there will be a wealth of data and evidence, after implementation, to be utilised for ongoing evaluation and professional development
  • the importance of getting the right people with specialised skills was highlighted and it was confirmed that this could include staff in third sector, noting the need for further discussion on this
  • the discussion around recruitment and retention focused on the high turnover of skilled staff within the police (and other organisations) after 2/3 years which can be challenging. This has been recognised during implementation and one way to mitigate might be to continue to utilise trained staff as interviewers (even after they have moved on to other positions) to preserve that experience. Recruitment and retention varies across the country and remains a concern
  • an issue around terms and conditions for social work staff was raised and an option to introduce a new grade was mentioned. It was agreed that a radical approach is needed with different models tested to see what works best


  • Joanna to take lead on how we contribute sustainability to this model as we move forward and invite Ian Ramsay to NBHGG meeting in January to link with action below
  • another session with the Group on SCIM to be held in January 2024, including a particular focus on soical work/police pressures in relation to turnover of staff

Scottish Government Bairns’ Hoose policy update

Scottish Government provided an update of main points:

  • the 3 new members of staff in BHU has given the team the capacity required to drive forward the Pathfinder phase
  • Impact Funding Partners (IFP) announced as Fund Administrator to undertake the administration of the “Bairns’ Hoose Fund.” Inception meeting scheduled and the Group will be updated further at next NBHGG meeting
  • the deadline for Pathfinder applications has now passed and the assessment process will continue through August and September. Recommendations to Ministers expected in October
  • the Pathfinder Introductory Workshop is scheduled in November where the focus will be around data, learning and improvement, and how we will work together as we commence the Pathfinder phase
  • a question was raised on activity outside the Pathfinders and how to gain evidence from across all areas in Scotland from a governance perspective. It was explained that SG has capacity to support five Pathfinders in terms of improvement advisor/service design school support, and data and analysis. However, the intention is to exchange learning beyond that with the development of a Community of Practice (closed group for Pathfinders) and a knowledge exchange programme open to all partnerships across Scotland. Partnerships outwith the Pathfinders will also be eligible to bid for funding from the Development and Thematic funding strands of the Bairns’ Hoose Fund to support their development and participation
  • in terms of governance, it was noted that the Scottish Government Project Team comprises a wealth of expertise and will continue to report to the Bairns’ Hoose Pathfinder Programme Board as we move into the Pathfinder phase of the programme. The Programme Board links with this Group via its shared membership
  • The Bairns’ Hoose Unit will continue to update the Group on this at future meetings

Chair’s report

  • the Chair spoke to her report. A challenge was identified by the Chair around a lack of awareness of Bairns’ Hoose. This related to feedback after a presentation at the CYCJ national conference 15 June 2023
  • the Chair advised of a presentation at the next NBHGG meeting from Neil Hunter, as the Chair of Children in Conflict with the Law Short Life Working Group. The purpose of the working group is to identify recommendations on a way forward for Children in Conflict with the Law to the NBHGG for its consideration

The Chair concluded her update by thanking BHU staff for ongoing work and highlighting important dates:

  • 21 August 2023: Closing date for Pathfinders
  • 19 September 2023: Ministerial led Health Seminar
  • 11 October 2023: Collaborative Intelligence Workshop 
  • 12 September 2023: Health Improvement Scotland (HIS) to lead a one-hour session on “Implementation Issues.” This is a follow up from the Standards Consultation exercise – where there was extensive national feedback, notably approx. 30% of comments were related to implementation

Exploring the rationale for the Bairns’ Hoose - output from regional and sector engagement

There was a presentation from Don McIntyre which was supported by Angela Latta and Chantelle Lalli on process mapping for Bairns’ Hoose and what the customer service/client interaction should look like once the Standards are implemented. The discussion following the presentation included:

  • feedback from the sessions identified people at various stages on journey in terms knowledge and understanding of BH and what it should look like. Some parts elements of the Bairns’ Hoose were better understood such as SCIM, which felt familiar to statutory partners. Across all three areas, the support around recovery and the health room in the Bairns’ Hoose was the least developed
  • the recovery space and how this will look going forward was an area of interest to the partnerships who engaged in the conversations, particularly the interface with health and family support
  • leadership across all Bairns’ Hoose services was a consistent theme for partnerships, leadership buy in, funding and resource was a key feature
  • a key feature in discussions with SCRA, Scottish Courts and COPFS colleagues was the technology issue. It was identified as an ongoing concern during the sessions and a question was raised on specifications required of recording equipment with more clarity needed. It was noted that there is ongoing work being carried out by criminal justice improvement group, part of which links into what is needed for courts including specifications. The opportunity to engage a small number of justice professionals in a de-brief of the session and identify any future work was recommended
  • DCC advised of a Police Scotland focus on the issue of technology and will look to the improvement group for feedback. Mary Glasgow also highlighted some concern that they required a bit more clarity about what is needed for the North Strathclyde area and agreed to link with police colleagues around this


  • Professional advisors to engage and study the material from this presentation and the SCIM presentation and report back to the Group on what this means for NBHGG organisations

Any Other Business

The next meeting is scheduled to take place on 14 November and the group was notified this will be held in person in Glasgow


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