National Child Protection Leadership Group minutes: June 2022

Minutes from the 22 June 2022 meeting of the National Child Protection Leadership Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Children and Young People (Chair)
  • Cathie Cowan, Chief Executive, NHS Forth Valley
  • Alison Gordon, Chief Social Work Officer, North Lanarkshire and Social Work Scotland
  • Brian Houston, Head of Support, The Promise Scotland
  • Neil Hunter, Principle Reporter/Chief Executive, Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA)
  • Elliot Jackson, National Convenor of the Children’s Panel and Chief Executive of Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • SallyAnn Kelly, Chief Executive, Aberlour
  • Joanna Macdonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government 
  • Lindsay MacDougall, Head of Child Protection, Scottish Government 
  • Peter MacLeod, Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate
  • Moira Price, Head of Victims and Witnesses Policy, Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS)
  • Angela Scott, Chief Executive Aberdeen City Council. Strategic Lead for Children and Education, including Child Protection, Society of Local Authority Chief Executives (SOLACE)
  • Ruth Sills, Child Protection Programme Lead, Centre for Excellence for Children's Care and Protection (CELCIS)
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood, Edinburgh University 

New members

  • Caren McLean, Head of Protection and Permanence, CELCIS (replacing Claire Burns)
  • Tom McNamara, Deputy Director, Children’s Rights, Protection and Justice, Scottish Government (replacing Lesley Sheppard)


  • Jillian Ingram, JII National Implementation Coordinator, attending on behalf of Laura Caven, Chief Officer, Children and Young People, Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)
  • DSU Martin Maclean attending on behalf of DCS Samantha Faulds, Head of Public Protection, Police Scotland
  • Lorna Aitken, Senior Education Officer, attending on behalf of Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive, Education Scotland
  • Stephen Bermingham, Head of Practice and Policy, attending on behalf of Elliot Jackson, National Convenor of the Children’s Panel and Chief Executive of Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • Helen Bauld, Professional Adviser, Strategy and Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) Hub, attending on behalf of Professor Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government
  • Cara Cooper, Unit Head, GIRFEC attending on behalf of Jane Moffat, Deputy Director for Strategy, GIRFEC and the Promise Division, Scottish Government
  • Tam Baillie, Vice Chair of Child Protection Committees Scotland, attending on behalf of Alan Small, National Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland (CPCScotland)
  • Dr Eddie Doyle, Senior Medical Advisor for Paediatrics, attending on behalf of Professor Sir Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government
  • Colin Grant, Professional Development Officer, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES), attending on behalf of Michael Wood, General Secretary of ADES and Professor of Education at the University of Dundee


  • Alistair Lauder, Policy Officer, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Fiona Marshall, Senior Policy Advisor, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government
  • Robert Scott, Team Leader, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government
  • Jenny Stenton, Policy Lead Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation and Child Criminal Exploitation (Secretariat)


  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Liz Levy and Shona Spence, United Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) Bill Team, Children’s Rights, Scottish Government
  • Lesley Swanson, Bairns Hoose Unit Head, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government


  • Laura Caven, Chief Officer, Children and Young People, COSLA
  • DCS Samantha Faulds, Head of Public Protection, Police Scotland
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive, Education Scotland
  • Mairi MacPherson, Deputy Director, Improving Health and Wellbeing, Scottish Government
  • Professor Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government
  • Jane Moffat, Deputy Director for Strategy, GIRFEC and the Promise Division, Scottish Government
  • Alan Small, National Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Professor Sir Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government
  • Carolyn Wilson, Unit Head, Supporting Maternal and Child Wellbeing, attending on behalf of Mairi MacPherson, Deputy Director, Improving Health and Wellbeing, Scottish Government
  • Michael Wood, General Secretary of ADES and Professor of Education at the University of Dundee

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The chair welcomed all members to the meeting. New members and delegates were introduced, guests were welcomed and apologies were noted.

Update – Arrivals from Ukraine - Iona Colvin

Iona Colvin presented an update regarding refugees arriving from Ukraine. There have been 13,862 visas with Scottish sponsorship issued. 10,000 of these have been sponsored as part of the Scottish Government Super Sponsor scheme, while the rest have been the remit of the Homes For Ukraine scheme. Most of these cases have been handled through Edinburgh at the Welcome Hub, but many other Local Authorities are assisting. Significant work is ongoing as part of the Matching Scheme, with 2,500 people triaged at the Welcome Hub so far.

Most of the refugees are women with children, who make up about two-thirds of the numbers, and the rest are older adults. There is a significant flow of people to manage and there are still large numbers in hotels. The UK Government is bringing in additional safeguarding checks to ensure that people are matched to suitable host homes. The issue of exploitation is present. There have been cases of older children aged 16 or 17 arriving outwith the standard routes. All of the cases which have been identified have since been settled and connected to appropriate sponsorship homes.

Today the UK government will announce a scheme for unaccompanied minors to come to the UK. There are approximately 1,000 children and young people who have been waiting to travel. Most are with grandparents or other relatives, but some are travelling with no relatives. Some are coming to live here with adults who may not be a parent or a relative. A matching scheme ensures that all checks must be complete and the match approved before a visa is issued.

There are approximately 80 children on the waiting list to come to Scotland and Scottish Government have been working with Social Work Scotland and COSLA to look at the national matching scheme, and the capacity of frontline social work, foster care, and residential care. The logistics and various issues are being worked through, prior to bringing in the third sector.

National Care Service discussion

The Chair noted that the National Care Service Bill (NCS) has been published after a series of bilateral meetings with stakeholders. Discussions are now taking place at the Collective Leadership Group this afternoon. All members of the National Child Protection Leadership Group have been invited to attend. For those who are unable to join there will be further discussions on the NCS at future meetings of the National Child Protection Leadership Group. 

SOLACE have established an NCS Public Protection Working Group to consider how proposals for the NCS will impact on public protection. The group will be chaired by Angela Scott. It has been announced that Professor Brigid Daniel will be appointed as the independent Chair of the steering group which will consider the developing evidence base for the inclusion of children's services in the NCS. Brigid is an expert in child protection and chaired the National Child Protection Guidance Steering Group. Taken together, this means that public protection issues will be front and centre in the consideration of the future children's services landscape.

Children, Young People and Families Outcomes Framework

It was noted that discussion about the Children, Young People and Families Outcomes Framework has been postponed due to unforeseen circumstances. This matter will be tabled at a future meeting.

Minute and actions from the last meeting

The Chair presented the minutes of the last meeting which were agreed by all members. It was noted that the actions from the last meeting have all been completed or are in progress.

The Chair invited Ruth Sills to provide an update regarding the 2022 Chief Officers’ Leadership Event (COLE). Joanna MacDonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Advisor, and Chair of the National Child Protection Guidance Implementation Group has been confirmed as Chair of the event which will take place on the morning of 28 September. Joanna is well placed to Chair the event as she has a national overview of policy and the legislative landscape around child protection.

The remit of the event has been expanded to include public protection. Joanna will be supported by Alan Small, Chair of CPCScotland and John Paterson, Chair of the National Adult Protection Committees Convenors Group who will join a panel session at the end of the event. There are three thematic areas for consideration which will be covered as part of three sessions:

  • self–evaluation and learning from the pandemic led by Gregory Colgan, Chief Executive of Dundee City Council
  • Bairns’ Hoose standards and wider developments led by Val de Souza, Chair of the Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group, and the Scottish Government Bairns’ Hoose unit
  • making sense of headline and statistical data, led by Dr Alex McTier, Evidence and Evaluation Lead at CELCIS, and Alison White, Director of West Lothian HSCP and Convenor of Social Work Scotland

Ruth noted that this is an online event which may limit networking, however there will be opportunities for Chief Officers to use the chat function during a break. In addition to Q and A at the end of each thematic session, breakout rooms will be used in some sessions and there will be a panel session at the end of the event. Feedback will be welcomed at the end of the event and Chief Officers are encouraged to share their thoughts for future themes and formats. The planning group will take the opportunity to review and think about the remit and membership of the group.

Professor Kay Tisdall asked if it was possible to include UNCRC as a theme throughout the event. Ruth said that this is an underpinning value across all of the work. The event session leads, Joanna, Alan and John will pull themes together in order to promote children’s rights and will feed this back to ensure that UNCRC is front and centre. Joanna MacDonald added that she will make overt and explicit reference to this theme.

National Child Protection Guidance implementation – paper 3

Joanna MacDonald presented Paper 3 on the National Child Protection Guidance Implementation Group. She noted that it has been nine months since the revised National Childcare Protection Guidance was published and she is proud of the contributions and work of the group. There has been significant work undertaken behind the scenes by a number of newly established subgroups and existing groups. The Implementation Group continues to meet every two months and attendance has been consistently high.

At the last Implementation Group meeting in May, members agreed with Alan Small’s suggestion of establishing a community of practice for implementation leads. This would be a space for the sharing of information and learning, and provide leads with a support network. The community of practice will be a subgroup of the Implementation Group.

Joanna highlighted that as we move into the second year of implementation, the group is starting to look into some of the wicked issues around child protection.

The subgroup leading on the development of a child protection resource for children, young people and families will shortly agree the content which will be used during direct engagement with children, young people and families. The subgroup are working with third sector organisations and there will be direct engagement over the summer to inform the development of the resource.

There has been huge engagement from all professionals in the development of the NHS Public Protection Accountability and Assurance Framework. Sign off from Board Chief Executives will be sought at their meeting on 26 August.

The IRD subgroup has focused on a more standardised approach to IRD practice across the country. The subgroup has been working on and made significant progress towards, the delivery of an updated IRD course by October. This is a huge task and the subgroup has made sure that the process is inclusive and engaging.

The National Education Safeguarding Leads network representing the 32 local authorities and the independent schools sector met for the second time on 9 May and agreed the Terms of Reference for the group.

A new national Learning and Development post will be funded by the Scottish Government and will sit within CELCIS. A work plan is being developed and engagement sessions with the Implementation Group and CPC Scotland have been held to inform the plan.

Joanna asked if members of the NCPLG had suggestions for ways in which the Implementation Group can continue to be proactive. She will be holding 1:1s with all members of the group over the summer to inform the work of the group over the next year. Joanna added that she can be contacted directly by email. (Action 1 – all).

Professor Kay Tisdall said that she was in favour of the energy and proactive approach of the Implementation Group. She asked about the remit in terms of the initial practitioner training. She holds a BA in Childhood Practice and offered her expertise. Joanna said that the group was not yet at this stage but they would welcome a discussion (Action 2 – Kay Tisdall and Joanna MacDonald to connect).

Horizon scanning/emerging risks

The chair asked attendees if there were any contributions in regards to horizon scanning. There were no responses.

Update on UNCRC

The Chair invited Shona Spence to provide an update on UNCRC. Following the Supreme Court judgement in October 2021, which found some of the provisions to be outside of the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Government have been considering how UNCRC can be incorporated to the maximum extent possible. The Deputy First Minister updated Parliament on 24 May on the proposed next steps for the UNCRC (Incorporation) (Scotland) Bill.

As part of planning for the Parliamentary Reconsideration Stage, Deputy First Minister committed to three weeks of engagement with key stakeholders, including with children and young people, to ensure that they understand the changes that are being made and why they are being made. The engagement will also help the Scottish Government understand any concerns that need to be aired during the Reconsideration Stage. 

To support this engagement, a paper has been sent out to NCPLG members to test views on the impact of amendments on the policy objectives of the UNCRC Bill and identify any issues that stakeholder foresee as a result of these fixes. Comments have been sought on this by members by 17 June. 

Tam Baillie asked what the response from stakeholders has been so far. Shona said that the response from stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive, with stakeholders recognising the limitations on what Scottish Government can do in light of the judgement. Engagement has been useful and has allowed stakeholders to flag concerns particularly about application in practice.

Tam also asked about the timetable for the reconsideration process and what the reconsideration process will look like. Shona said that in regards to timescales there is a balance between scrutiny and speed. The Scottish Government will engage with the UK Government over the summer. At the same time, we will look at amendments. There is no set timetable, but we are anticipating it will happen after the summer recess. The Chair noted that this is new ground for the Scottish Parliament (Action 3 – Secretariat to invite Shona back to September meeting for an update).

Workstream tracker – paper 1

Members raised no questions or comments on the workstream tracker.

Covid – 19 Children and Families Collective Leadership Group (CLG) role and remit – paper 2

Paper 2 was presented by Neil Hunter. The Collective Leadership Group was established in response to the pandemic The group’s main priorities for 2022-23 include:

  • oversight of the CLG Sub-Groups on Family Support and Workforce Development
  • development of the Wellbeing Outcomes Framework
  • maintaining momentum on work to Keep The Promise
  • National Care Service

The Group receives updates from a range of partner agencies. It is a dynamic forum which looks ahead at trends, common issues, and deep dives covering child poverty, child welfare, and protection, and good mental health services for children. The group will start to lose the COVID-19 association.

Joint Investigative Interview (JII) and Bairns’ Hoose – paper 4

Lesley Swanson introduced Paper 4 and noted that a background had been provided in March regarding the development and implementation of a national Bairns’ Hoose model. This model would see services brought together with a coordinated approach to ensure that children who are victims of or witness to abuse and violence are supported within a trauma-informed recovery, support and justice model. Bairns’ Hoose standards will create a framework for health, justice, children’s services, and third sector partners and will be a road map towards a national model. There will be an 8-week consultation running from mid-August, and the plan is to publish the standards by the end of the year. The consultation period is now 12 weeks, ending 4 November 2022 and standards will be published in spring 2023.

Val de Souza was appointed as Chair of the Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group in February by the Scottish Ministers and has since been carrying out extensive stakeholder engagement. There have been requests from a range of stakeholders to broaden the scope of Bairns’ Hoose to include all children under 18, including those whose behaviour causes harm. Lesley noted that the Scottish Government has taken a pragmatic approach and will focus on broadening the scope incrementally.

An online survey was circulated to key stakeholders the week prior to the NCPLG meeting to gather information about how existing and planned multi-agency settings will operate, as well as opportunities and challenges to becoming Bairns’ Hoose ready.

DSU Martin Maclean raised concerns about some of the language used around Age of Criminal Responsibility (ACR) text in the Bairns’ Hoose update paper for the NCPLG in relation to Section 39 of the Age of Criminal Responsibility Act about interviews. Lesley noted DSU Maclean’s point and confirmed that the language had subsequently been updated in forward documents after further, recent consultation with Police Scotland, notably DCI June Peebles.

Alison Gordon queried the purpose of the survey and expressed concern from local areas which have not identified resource for this and the lack of clarity for the Chief Officer’s Group in terms of timescales and funding. She also asked about further engagement on this. Lesley replied that the survey was intended for recipients who already have existing multi-agency settings. The survey was circulated more widely with a covering email intended to clarify its relevance for participants. The intention of the survey is to gather information from those in the early planning stages of preparing the Bairns’ Hoose model.

SallyAnn Kelly asked about the relationship between Bairns’ Hoose and Children 1st House for Healing. Children 1st has been one of the main champions of the Bairns’ Hoose model. The initiative has been part of their approach and the paper should reflect this. Lesley confirmed that there is considerable ongoing engagement with Children 1st and that they are part of the evaluation and learning. Val recently met with Mary Glasgow, the Chief Executive of Children 1st. The team is looking at different partners and pathfinder sites, including in rural areas.

SallyAnn noted that she found it confusing that the Paper on Bairns’ Hoose presented Bairns’ Hoose and Children 1st’s House for Healing as two different things.

Lesley replied that House for Healing is a part of the Bairns’ Hoose model considerations but there are other settings that the Bairns’ Hoose Unit is also engaging with. House for Healing will be one of many Bairns’ Hooses across Scotland and Lesley clarified that Children 1st is recognised as a key stakeholder in establishing a Bairns’ Hoose with many lessons to be learned from their experience and is one of many stakeholders the Scottish Government is engaging with. Children 1st has commissioned an evaluation through the University of Edinburgh. The Scottish Government is in liaison with the University of Edinburgh and hopes to link in with this evaluation. The Chair suggested that SallyAnn and Lesley could pick this matter up offline. The Chair noted that Val de Souza will be attending the September NCPLG meeting.

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) - paper 5

Lindsay MacDougall presented Paper 5 and the work of Scottish Government and COSLA in relation to unaccompanied asylum seeking children. She provided further details on the Afghan Resettlement Scheme and the Nationality and Borders Act, which gained royal assent in April. There are ongoing concerns about how provisions of the Act will operate in Scotland. The Scottish Government wrote to the Home Office in May setting out its concerns and asking for further detail.

The Home Office has shared draft guidance on the National Age Assessment Board (NAAB) and how it will operate with the Scottish Government. The draft guidance is complex and long, and there are questions about how it will operate within the Scottish context, with the possibility that bespoke Scottish guidance will be required.

The NAAB, as currently proposed, could place significant pressure on local authority resources in relation to the volume of paperwork. When the NAAB is in operation there needs to be assurance that NAAB workers operating in Scotland fully understand Scottish systems.

NAAB age assessments where instructed by local authorities are binding and there is a risk that the decision of a local authority to refer an age assessment to the NAAB could also be judicially reviewed. 

There are ongoing concerns about the proposed use of scientific techniques. SallyAnn Kelly asked about age assessments and raised serious concerns about the approach around validity. She asked if health colleagues are still refusing to get involved at a UK level. Lindsay said that RCPCH Scotland and a number of other organisations have set out their concerns publically, indicating their concerns about NAAB age assessment proposals.

SallyAnn asked if we could get a position from health at a UK level to help conversations in social work. Lindsay said that it was something to explore and she is hoping that when we get more detail, this can be scrutinised further. The group will continue to be advised of further developments (Action 4 – Lindsay MacDougall to keep NCPLG group informed with further updates).

Online Safety Bill/child sexual abuse and exploitation – paper 6

Jenny Stenton provided an update on online safety and child sexual abuse and exploitation. The second Reading of the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill took place on 19 April and the Bill is now at Committee stage. Evidence is being heard until the 30 of June. No date has been set for the House of Lord’s reading. The Cabinet Secretary for Justice gave evidence to the Criminal Justice Committee on the Legislative Consent Motion on 8 June. This was uncontroversial and it is expected that the Committee will report to the Parliament recommending support for granting legislative consent. This LCM will give the Scottish Ministers the power to amend the list of child exploitation offences and to amend the list of educational and childcare establishments exempt from the terms of the Bill. The Bill would also make changes to existing communications offences, as recommended by the Law Commission. These offences currently only apply in England and Wales, but the UK and Scottish Governments are considering whether these provisions should be extended to Scotland.

A national online safety public awareness campaign ran in February and March, aimed at parents and carers of children aged 8 to 11 and with a focus on helping to keep children safer online. Evaluation shows that the campaign reached 92% of parents and carers of children in this age group. A survey conducted with 206 participants showed that campaign recognition was high and impactful and the advertisements were successful. User testing is being carried out and is looking at the Parent Club website in order to determine whether the content is appropriate and engaging is underway. We should know more in early July and will provide a further update over the summer.

Child protection data – paper 7

Ruth Sills noted areas of progress including the review of the child protection data work plan and six key priority areas which will be progressed in 2022 and beyond:

  • provide data support for implementation of the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021
  • explore and enhance data on children with disabilities
  • develop options for measuring the participation and experience of children and families subject to child protection processes
  • develop a suite of national Neglect Indicators
  • explore and encourage data linkage opportunities across social work, health, education and other datasets
  • continue to strengthen data and analytical connections at the national level

The annual Children’s Social Work Statistics have been reviewed and amended to align with the Guidance. Version 2 of the National Minimum Dataset was launched at the CPCScotland meeting on the 15th of June. CELCIS will again provide support to CPCs to adopt version 2.

A new Monitoring and Evaluation subgroup has been established as part of the implementation of the National Child Protection Guidance. It will be co-chaired by Franca MacLeod, Principal Researcher, Scottish Government Children and Families Directorate, and Alex McTier, Evidence and Evaluation Specialist at CELCIS. The subgroup will focus on the development of outcomes and measures for implementation of the Guidance.

Ruth asked members how best to capture indicators of children and young peoples’ participation noting that it is a particular area of challenge. Is there is a need for a pan-UK or international research study on children’s voice and participation?

Angela Scott asked a question in relation to priority 5 on the work plan. It was noted in the paper that, “While there is no specific study currently focused on the lives and outcomes of children subject to child protection processes, the learning from SCADR’s studies can be applied to future child protection-focused work.” Professor Brigid Daniel is going to chair a group looking at different models of delivery for NCS. Angela asked what data the group will rely on, and if there is scope to revisit a study on this. Ruth said that she cannot answer this at present but there are forthcoming opportunities to think this through.

Angela asked in regards to the interconnection between the NCPLG data work and the Collective Leadership Group refreshing integrated Services Plans and the integrated Outcome Framework, and whether we are managing to synchronise all of the work sitting between these two groups. Ruth noted that the group want to look at linkages while avoiding duplication wherever possible. Alex McTier has previously attended the Collective Leadership Group as part of this effort and the group welcome any opportunities to work jointly or even just update one another. Angela offered her support if required – (Action 5 - Angela Scott and Ruth Sills).

Angela asked how we get to positioning proxy measures around Family Support measures without waiting until the end of a child’s journey. Chief Officers' Groups (COGs) are working on the family support model through Children’s’ Services planning, and wanted to know what the metrics are that family support is having an impact, asking of there was potential for the data subgroup could support this work. Angela also mentioned the balance of attention of the NCPLG on child protection data and wondered if there could be more attention on whole family/family support data. Ruth replied that the data group focusses on child protection processes but that they would like to look at early stages of child protection. Ruth noted Angela’s questions and comments, and will return to them in due course following discussion with the data subgroup (Action 6 – Ruth Sills to feedback to NCPLG following discussion with data subgroup).

Lindsay MacDougall noted that it is important that we join up our efforts and avoid work being taken forward in silos. There are lots of interconnected strands as part of our focus on child protection. She noted that Alex McTier had produced a blog that looked at interdependencies and connections. Lindsay said that this could be circulated to the NCPLG (Action 7 - Secretariat to circulate Alex McTier’s blog to NCPLG).

In regards to the NCS there is a real opportunity to bring in Professor Brigid Daniel and Lindsay suggested that Brigid and Angela could have a meeting. The focus of the NCS work is on child protection in a wider context. The data presents a good example and an opportunity to join the dots.

In regards to the development of version 2 of the minimum data set for Child Protection Committees, there is more of a focus around universal services and we are looking at things more holistically. We must continue to engage directly and it is helpful to hear practice methodology and challenges.

Tam Baillie said that the participation of children and young people in processes is measurable. However, he asked how do we include children and young people in strategic development. We need to understand what we mean by participation. Involving children and young people in strategic processes is difficult. Tam suggested the possibility of funding research in Scotland rather than necessarily looking to the rest of the UK or internationally. He said that hard data is needed but so too is qualitative information. He said that one of the big gaps in our knowledge is the state of play with participation across Scotland. He said that there are things we can measure quickly and things we can work on. Additional research would give us a baseline.

Ruth said that she would feed Tam’s points back to the data subgroup for consideration. She said that it is important to think about how we define participation. These are complex matters with connections to the Implementation Group. Ruth said that a lot has been written about participation research in theory, but how do we support implementation practice?

Any other business

Tom McNamara noted that the deadline for the Children's Care and Justice Bill is today. He said that members should get in touch with him if they need to discuss or would like more information to help finalise responses.

It was noted that Wednesday 21st of September will be the next meeting and topics for the agenda can be shared with the secretariat.

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