Progressing the human rights of children in Scotland: 2018 report

The report sets out the progress made in relation to children's rights since June 2015.

4. Violence Against Children

Relevant UNCRC Articles: 19, 24(3), 28(2), 34, 37(a) and 39

This cluster focuses on violence against children including abuse and neglect and the right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

“Being hurt can make us feel alone and make us lose our confidence.
All adults should keep children safe from harm, not just parents, carers
and teachers.”

Member of the Children’s Parliament, Rights Event, 2018

4.1 Child Protection Improvement Programme

In February 2016, the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning announced a Child Protection Improvement Programme (CPIP). This programme includes commitments on child sexual exploitation; child trafficking; and internet safety, along with: a review of practice in the Children’s Hearings System; agreeing steps to promote and support leadership; refreshing the role of inspection agencies; improving data and evidence; and agreeing further action to address the impact of neglect on children and young people. As part of the CPIP, a Systems Review was also commissioned to look at the operation of the formal child protection system.

The CPIP and System Review reported to Ministers in December 2016, and reports outlining the recommendations and actions as a result were published in March 2017.[46] The CPIP report sets out 35 actions covering children’s hearings, leadership and workforce development, inspections of children’s services, neglect, data and evidence, child sexual exploitation, child internet safety, and trafficking. The Systems Review report makes 12 recommendations, covering Initial and Significant Case Reviews, Child Protection Committees, the Child Protection Register, and matters of leadership, governance and accountability. All CPIP and System Review recommendations have been accepted by Scottish Ministers and are being taken forward as part of phase ii of the Child Protection Improvement Programme.[47]

4.2 Child Sexual Exploitation

Scotland’s National Action Plan to Prevent & Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation Update (2016) reported on progress made since the publication of the first National Action Plan in 2014 and outlined 44 actions to be taken between summer 2016 and 2019, many of which are now complete. This is a Scotland wide Action Plan, developed and agreed in collaboration with statutory, voluntary and third sectors. A specific action being progressed through the Action Plan is focused on data collection. Other actions include:

  • the development of a national definition of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) to aid identification among professionals, published in October 2016;
  • the publication in March 2017 of specific guidance on CSE for medical practitioners to outline their role in identifying and responding to a child or young person who may be at risk of, or affected by, CSE;[48]
  • the delivery in September 2016 of a SnapChat campaign targeted at young people, to help them become more aware of the signs of sexual exploitation; and
  • funding to third sector organisations to support victims and those identified as vulnerable and for those which work with perpetrators.

A second annual progress report was published in April 2018 providing an overview of all actions within the National Action Plan.[49] A range of preventative activity has taken place, including the development and delivery of prevention programmes, specific tools and opportunities to support local Child Protection Committees, and to strengthen national policy framework. The Scottish Government continues to work with the National Child Sexual Exploitation Group on the implementation of long-term, intermediate and contributory outcomes to tackle child sexual exploitation which are identified within the National Action Plan to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation.

4.3 Internet Safety

The National Action Plan on Internet Safety for Children and Young People (April 2017) links child protection with the digital participation and cyber resilience strategies and work being taken forward in schools. Developed with support from the Young Scot 5Rights Youth Commissioners and informed by extensive consultation with children and young people, the National Action Plan has children’s rights at its core, and aims to ensure that children are protected from harm online and are fully aware of their rights. Other actions in the plan include continuing to work with digital and social media providers to ensure children are not exposed to harm and deterring potential perpetrators from committing abuse online.

4.4 Child Safety and Wellbeing in Sport

The Scottish Government is also working with partners, including all Scottish sport governing bodies, to further strengthen systems for protecting children and young people in sport. In December 2017, sportscotland introduced new Standards for Child Wellbeing and Protection in Sport which are wholly rights-based and child-centred. The new standards were developed by Safeguarding in Sport, a partnership between sportscotland and Children 1st, to enable sports organisations to adopt best practice, values and behaviours. The Scottish Government is working with sportscotland and other partners as the new standards are implemented by April 2019.

4.5 Neglect

The PfG 2017-18 included the commitment to consult on revising the criminal offence of abuse and neglect of children to ensure it reflects a modern understanding of such terms. A formal consultation on the proposed amendments took place during 2018 and the Scottish Government’s response to the consultation is due to be published in early 2019. As part of the consultation exercise, the Scottish Youth Parliament were consulted on the proposed amendments.

As a key part of CPIP, the Scottish Government funds the pilot programme ‘Addressing Neglect and Enhancing Wellbeing’ which is being delivered by the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children (CELCIS). The programme is looking at how education, health and children’s services work together to tackle neglect in order to influence practice change to better address neglect and enhance wellbeing for children experiencing neglect.

4.6 Physical Punishment of Children

“A change in our culture is necessary if we seek to end violence inflicted onto children by their parents or guardians.”

Josh K. MSYP, Rights Review Event, 2018

The Children (Equal Protection from Assault)(Scotland) Bill (Equal Protection Bill) was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 6 September 2018. This is a member’s bill that would remove the existing defence of justifiable assault in relation to the physical punishment of children by parents or people in charge of or caring for children. The Scottish Government supports the removal of this defence, which will provide children with the same protection from physical assault as adults. The physical punishment of children by shaking, hitting on the head or use of an implement is already unlawful.

In the National Parenting Strategy (2012), the Scottish Government committed to “... commission new work to develop comprehensive, practical advice on different approaches to assist parents in managing their children’s behaviour”. This commitment will support implementation of the Equal Protection Bill, if approved by Parliament. The Scottish Government is also continuing to support parents and carers in applying positive methods of parenting their children. This is discussed in more detail at section 5.1.

4.7 Trafficking and Exploitation

The Human Trafficking & Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 (2015 Act) strengthened significantly the criminal law against those who traffic or exploit both adults and children and improves protection, support and assistance for victims.

In line with provisions in the 2015 Act, the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy was laid before the Scottish Parliament in May 2017. Key elements of the Strategy are to identify victims and support them to safety and recovery, identify perpetrators and disrupt their activity, and address the issues that foster trafficking and exploitation. Specific measures to protect children and young people are outlined in the Strategy. All child victims of trafficking or exploitation are provided with support and protection through Scotland’s child protection system. Eligible child victims are also assisted by an Independent Child Trafficking Guardian. The Strategy, which was developed in consultation with stakeholders, including victims of trafficking and exploitation, will be reviewed every 3 years. Implementation of those actions within the Strategy specific to children are being supported and overseen by the Child Trafficking Strategy Group (CTSG).[50]

The Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy – First Annual Progress Report was published in June 2018, setting out the progress that had been made during the first year of implementation of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy. Key developments from the CTSG’s work, referenced within the annual progress report, included the publication of revised age assessment guidance and commissioning research looking at the presence of children and young people who have been trafficked and their routes into Scotland.

Scotland is currently part of the UK wide National Referral Mechanism. In 2017, there were 213 referrals to Police Scotland of potential human trafficking, a 42% increase from 2016. Of the 213 referrals, 61 (29%) involved children. The rise indicates greater awareness of the issue of human trafficking after the launch of the Strategy.[51]

Under section 8 of the 2015 Act, the Lord Advocate’s instructions for prosecutors state that, where there is sufficient evidence that a child aged 17 or under has committed an offence and there is credible and reliable information to support the fact that the child is a victim of human trafficking or exploitation, and the offending took place as a consequence or in the course of being a victim of human trafficking or exploitation, there is a strong presumption against prosecution of that child for that offence.

In addition to this, in March 2018, the Scottish Government published age assessment guidance[52] to support professionals in fulfilling their obligations under Part 2 (section 12) of the 2015 Act, which states that where a relevant authority has reasonable grounds to believe that a person may be a victim of human trafficking and may be a child, the authority must assume that the person is a child for the purposes of exercising its functions until an assessment of the person’s age can be carried out or the person’s age is otherwise determined.

The Scottish Government continues to take forward measures to tackle child trafficking as a specific work stream arising from the Child Protection Improvement Programme.

4.8 Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children

Unaccompanied asylum seeking and possibly trafficked children are deemed looked after children in Scotland and as such are eligible for all measures of protection and assistance to aid their safeguarding and recovery. The 2015 Act made the provision of independent child trafficking guardians statutory for eligible children. Expertise has been drawn from across Government, the current Scottish Guardianship Service, COSLA and others working with unaccompanied children across Scotland to develop a draft consultation to define the role, responsibilities and functions of the Independent Child Trafficking Guardian in Scotland, which will be issued in early 2019. The Scottish Guardianship Service, delivered jointly by Aberlour Child Care Trust and the Scottish Refugee Council, will continue to be funded by the Scottish Government until the new service is in place.

We expect one of the functions of the independent guardian will be to work with those young adults who have been declined asylum by the Home Office and are deemed fit to return home, in terms of preparation and to ensure that the voice of that young adult is heard by the authorities where decisions about their future are being made.

Immigration is a reserved issue, and new statutory powers were introduced by the UK Government by way of the Immigration Act 2016. Scottish Ministers wrote in critical terms to the UK Government on a number of occasions regarding the Bill and the policies underpinning its content. It is likely that Scottish Ministers would support any review of the Act to protect children and families. However, the Scottish Government is working with the Home Office on the roll‑out of the Immigration Act 2016 in Scotland to ensure that, where there is crossover between reserved and devolved areas of policy responsibility, there is proper scrutiny of how this will work.

The Transfer of Responsibility for Relevant Children (Extension to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland) Regulations 2018 came into force on 7 February 2018. These regulations enable all local authorities to transfer legal responsibility to a second UK local authority. This is a voluntary scheme and local authorities are in discussion with the Home Office regarding funding.

4.9 The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry

The Scottish Government announced in December 2014 its intention to establish an independent statutory public inquiry into the abuse of children in care. The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry formally began work on 1 October 2015. The Inquiry, which is chaired by Lady Anne Smith, will report to Ministers with recommendations for the future to improve the law, policies and practices in Scotland.[53] In June 2018, Scottish Ministers revised the terms of reference for the Inquiry to allow more time for evidence to be taken from victims. The revised terms of reference removed the requirement on the Inquiry to report to Ministers within four years and instead it will report “... as soon as reasonably practicable”.

The Inquiry’s first phase of public hearings began in May 2017, hearing evidence from expert witnesses, Scottish Government, survivor groups, care providers and academics. Phase 2 hearings began in November 2017, examining evidence relating to residential child care establishments. Phase 3 of the Inquiry began in October 2018, hearing evidence relating to its investigations into residential child care establishments run by non-religious and voluntary organisations.

4.10 Gender-Based Violence

Violence against women and girls is a fundamental violation of human rights. Equally Safe, Scotland’s Strategy for Preventing and Eradicating Violence against Women and Girls (2014) seeks to work with stakeholders, to prevent violence from occurring in the first place, build the capability and capacity of mainstream and specialist services to support survivors and those at risk, and strengthen the Justice response to victims and perpetrators. The Strategy was updated in March 2016 to correctly reflect the experiences and desired outcomes for children and young people who experience gender based violence.

A public consultation and pilot participation project involving children and young people with lived experience of gender based violence informed the development of the Equally Safe – A Delivery Plan for Scotland’s Strategy to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls, which was published in November 2017. The Delivery Plan seeks to ensure that the ambitions of the Equally Safe Strategy are rooted in practical delivery that makes a tangible difference to the lives of women, girls, children and young people. Relevant actions within the Delivery Plan include those relating to tackling Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), violence prevention and improving understanding of consent within school education, promoting the ‘whole school’ approach to gender-based violence, tackling gender stereotypes and unconscious bias, promoting the Equally Safe in Higher Education toolkit, better supporting child and adult victims of gender-based violence, etc. The Delivery Plan also includes the commitment to collect evidence and to monitor and report on progress.

Both the Strategy and the Delivery Plan complement and contribute to a range of other Scottish Government initiatives, including the Action Plan for a Fairer Scotland, the Justice Vision and Priorities, and the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy.

In addition, the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Act 2016, which came into effect in July 2017, created a specific offence of sharing private intimate images without consent. An awareness raising campaign alongside the implementation of the offence emphasised the serious consequences of sharing intimate images or films of a current or former partner without their permission.

Domestic Abuse

The Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2018 (2018 Act) creates a specific criminal offence of domestic abuse, recognising coercive control and the psychological and emotional forms this abuse can take beyond the physical. During the development of the legislation, groups representing children who had experienced domestic abuse highlighted the importance of recognising the harm caused to children who are exposed to domestic abuse in the new offence.

The Scottish Government worked with those groups to develop a statutory aggravation concerning children, recognising that children are harmed by growing up in an environment where domestic abuse is taking place and ensuring that where children are exposed to, and harmed by, the domestic abuse of their parent or carer, this is formally recorded. The 2018 Act provides for the statutory aggravation where the perpetrator uses a child in committing the offence; directs behaviour at a child in committing the offence; where the child sees, hears or is present when the abuse is taking place; or where a child is likely to be adversely affected by the perpetrator’s behaviour. Where the aggravation is proven, the court is required to take account of this in sentencing the offender. Where a person is convicted, the 2018 Act also provides for the court to impose a non-harassment order, including with reference to the protection of children.

The Scottish Government is working closely with children’s organisations to ensure the effective implementation of provisions within the 2018 Act, currently scheduled for early 2019, including ensuring the training of 14,000 police officers and staff. The Scottish Government is also working to develop a public awareness campaign to accompany the 2018 Act coming into force next year. Consultation during 2018 on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 has also sought views on how to improve the interaction between the criminal and civil justice systems in dealing with the impact of domestic abuse for children and young people, including on ensuring that civil courts are provided with information about domestic abuse ahead of the planned Family Law Bill.

The Scottish Government continues to fund services supporting women and children affected by domestic abuse across Scotland as part of the £11.8m allocated to tackle violence against women and girls. In addition, the £20m Violence Against Women and Girls Justice Fund (2015-18) has been used to fund a range of measures to tackle violence against women and girls and put in place better support for victims. This funding has continued into 2018-19, primarily to support a number of existing funding allocations committed over the initial three year period. For example, previously time-limited funding for the Scottish Courts and Tribunal Service and Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) has been mainstreamed to ensure that waiting times for domestic abuse cases are kept down. A further £1.1m fund was announced by the Cabinet Secretary for Justice, committing £0.3m and £0.8m to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service and COPFS respectively in 2018-19 to assist in bringing sexual offences cases to court at the earliest opportunity and to improve communication with victims. Capital funding has also been secured for forensic examination facilities and investment in pre-recorded evidence facilities for child and other vulnerable witnesses. The remainder of the funding will be used for other initiatives focused on prevention and early intervention and to help to ensure that gender based violence is reduced and prevented from happening in the first place.

4.11 Council of Europe

The Scottish Government fully supports the role of the Council of Europe in promoting human rights throughout Europe and beyond, and is resolute in its insistence that the UK must remain a member of the Council. The UK signed the Council of Europe (Istanbul) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence in 2012. The 2017-18 PfG reaffirms the Scottish Government’s commitment to ratification of the Convention. Officials have provided a high level overview on compliance to UK Government following the passage of the Preventing and Combating Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence (Ratification of Convention) Act 2017.

The Scottish Government considers that Scotland is compliant with the Council of Europe (Lanzarote) Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse. Indeed, the Convention formed the basis for the later 2011 EU Directive on Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse. The Scottish Government is working with the UK Government regarding the practical arrangements for a possible ratification.

4.12 Honour-Based Violence

So-called “Honour-Based Violence” covers a range of behaviours including forced marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Honour-based violence is directly referenced in the Equally Safe Delivery Plan, published in November 2017, in recognition that these practices abuse the human rights of women and girls and are a form of gender based violence.

The Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011 introduced a civil Forced Marriage Protection Order, the breach of which is a criminal offence. From 30 September 2014, section 122 of the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 made it a criminal offence to force a person into marriage in Scotland. The Scottish Government strengthened the Forced Marriage etc (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011 through secondary legislation which came into effect in the first part of 2018. This brought Police Scotland within the coverage of section 3(1) of the 2011 Act. Doing this allows Police Scotland to apply directly to a court as required, without first having to seek permission before making the application. In addition, in January 2017, the Scottish Government published the research: Understanding Forced Marriage in Scotland, which has informed work to develop and deliver further training and awareness raising in 2018

FGM has been unlawful in Scotland since 1985. Section 70 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 amended the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005 to extend the reach of the extra-territorial offences in the 2005 Act to habitual (as well as permanent) UK residents.

Scotland’s National Action Plan to Prevent and Eradicate Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) 2016-2020 sets out an agreed range of actions and associated activities to be taken forward by the Scottish Government and its partners to prevent and ultimately eradicate FGM. Progress against actions from the National Action Plan is being monitored by a Multi-Agency Implementation Group. The FGM National Action Plan Year One report was published in October 2017.[54]

In addition, as part of its approach to strengthen preventative and protection measures to address FGM, the Scottish Government has also taken steps to improve systems for the collection of data. Healthcare professionals in Scotland have been asked to record the diagnosis and types of FGM, together with any corrective procedures, in the appropriate clinical records, including the hospital discharge summary. New codes for recording different aspects of FGM, which were introduced in NHS Health clinical settings from April 1st 2016, promote national consistency in the collection of such data. In addition, Responding to Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in Scotland – Multi Agency Guidance, which was published in November 2017, sets out how agencies, individually and together, can protect girls and young women from FGM, and respond appropriately to survivors.

The PfG 2018-19 commits the Scottish Government to bring forward a Bill on FGM, which will seek to introduce protection orders for women and girls at risk, and place guidance for professionals on a statutory footing. A consultation on the Bill and associated issues was launched on 4 October 2018.[55]

The Scottish Government is mindful of the need to continue to raise awareness of FGM. In July 2016, it published research to help inform thinking in how to promote understanding and to challenge FGM in affected communities, with Phase 2 published June 2017.[56]

Funding is provided to a range of organisations which support the rights of children and young people who are affected by or may be at risk of so called Honour-Based Violence, through the Equally Safe Violence Against Women and Girls Funding. Support to children and young people includes providing information on their rights and protection available under the law through outreach support services which are child centred and confidential. In 2017-18, up to £0.7m was provided to a range of specialist support organisations across the violence against women sector who are able to offer advice and support to those affected.

4.13 Children with Variations of Sex Characteristics

The Scottish Government has added intersex equality to its approach to sexual orientation and gender identity equality. This was to recognise the specific issues people with variation of sex characteristics (intersex people) and their parents may face in areas such as health and education, and to better support the inclusion of this community in Scotland.

The Scottish Government has provided £45,000 each year since 2015-16 to the Equality Network to facilitate engagement between public bodies and intersex people and the development of best practice. The PfG 2017-18 commitment to consult on reforming gender recognition legislation is discussed at section 3.1.

4.14 Use of Conducted Energy Device (CED(Taser))

In Scotland, just over 2% of police officers have authority to carry firearms. Police Scotland Authorised Firearms Officers (AFOs) are also trained in the use of Tasers as a Less Lethal Option to be used in support of armed operations. This training is delivered in line with current national UK practices and procedures.

In December 2017, Police Scotland announced plans to recruit and train 500 Specially Trained Officers (STOs) in the use of Tasers. Training for STOs is delivered in line with College of Policing National Police Firearms Training Curriculum. The STOs equate to around 3% of total officer numbers. The roll-out of the STOs began in June 2018 and is expected to be completed by autumn 2018. They will be a local policing resource across all of Police Scotland’s 13 Divisions. Police Scotland will continue to assess deployment figures and monitor any Police Investigations & Review Commissioner (PIRC) referrals and action associated learning.

There is a wide range of scrutiny measures and oversight arrangements in place with reference to Police Scotland. These checks and balances include oversight by the Scottish Police Authority (SPA), which reports annually to the Scottish Parliament, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS), the PIRC and the Parliament’s Sub-Committee on Policing. The Chief Constable of Police Scotland is required to report any incident where any person serving with Police Scotland has used a firearm to the PIRC. The PIRC will then carry out an independent assessment and decide if a full investigation is required, making recommendations as necessary. The PIRC publishes its reports on its website. In Scotland, there has been no Taser discharge on a person under 16 over the period of this report.

4.15 Restraint

Individual guidance and training is in place for staff in education, custody, mental health and care settings with reference to controlling and limiting the use of restraint. Any use of restraint must be carried out with regard to the welfare of the child. Restraint is acknowledged as an extreme form of intervention and should never be seen as the norm. The use of restraint should always be a last resort.

The Scottish Government published Holding Safely, A Guide for Residential Child Care Practitioners and Managers about Physically Restraining Children and Young People (2005).[57] This was updated in 2013 with guidance on minimising the use of physical restraint in Scotland’s residential childcare establishments,[58] including the monitoring and collection of data on any occasions where children and young people have been physically restrained. Alongside this, a pamphlet was specifically developed for looked after children themselves.[59] This guidance, however, goes wider than residential child care, covering all schools and establishments.

Young people in secure care will only be physically restrained by trained care staff when: they are behaving in an unsafe or dangerous way; there is a serious risk of harm to themselves or another person; and there is no other effective way of keeping the young person or others safe. If it is necessary to physically restrain a young person, they will only be restrained for the shortest time possible, using as little force as necessary.

After a physical restraint, and when the young person is ready, care staff will speak to the young person about the restraint, taking account of the young person’s view to try to better understand why it happened and minimise the need for restraint in the future. Full written details of the incident, including the young person’s comments, will be recorded by the unit and copied in to the young person’s care plan. The young person will receive help to contact an advocacy worker (for example a children’s rights officer or a Who Cares? Scotland worker) or to make a complaint, if they wish. Young people in secure accommodation are never held in solitary confinement.

Guidance on the use of restraint and seclusion for all schools (mainstream and special school settings) was included in the refreshed Included, Engaged and Involved Part 2: a positive approach to managing school exclusions (IEI2), (June 2017). The guidance, which is for all children, including children with complex additional support needs, including those arising from learning disabilities, is clear that the use of physical intervention and physical restraint should be seen within the context of early intervention, positive relationships and behaviour and used only as a last resort, in line with the UNCRC’s recommendations. The guidance requires that any incident where a decision is made to physically intervene must be formally recorded and monitored in line with the local authority’s policy on de-escalation, physical intervention and restraint.

The IEI2 guidance also makes clear that seclusion of a child or young person within a separate space should only be used as a last resort to ensure the safety of a child or young person, or others. The use of this form of physical intervention should be included in an agreed plan for the individual. Where seclusion is used it must be in a place that is safe; it should be managed under supervision; it should take into account the additional support needs of the child or young person; and it should be time limited.

Inspection arrangements across individual establishments and bodies, for example through the Care Inspectorate and Mental Welfare Commission, require establishments to demonstrate that they are minimising the use of physical restraint and are following the relevant guidance. In certain settings, for example community-based mental health services, the use of restraint is explicitly prohibited.

Staff within the Scottish Prison Service (SPS) are required to demonstrate competence on the use of restraint on an annual basis. SPS staff will, wherever practical, use communication skills and other non-physical techniques to enlist the cooperation of young people and de-escalate the situation. The use of force will only be considered when all other means have been exhausted. In all cases where force has been used a ‘Use of Force Report’ is required to be completed and submitted. Records are monitored by managers, audited and examined by HM Inspectorate for Prisons in Scotland.

Spit hoods are not used in either secure accommodation services in Scotland or the SPS. The Scottish Government supports the need to protect police officers’ safety, but considers that this must be done in a way that respects the rights of individuals who come into contact with the police. The use of spit hoods is classified by Police Scotland as a use of force. Like any use of force against individuals, there is a strong onus on Police Scotland to ensure this is proportionate and appropriate in the circumstances. A robust framework governs the Service’s use of spit hoods. Police Scotland has carried out a full Equality and Human Rights Impact Assessment on the use of officer safety equipment, including spit hoods. The service introduced a revised protocol and recording system in early 2017 which requires all uses of hoods to be recorded to ensure more consistent recording and improved analysis of use.

Although powers over immigration, including asylum, are reserved issues, Scottish Ministers believe that asylum seekers and people with insecure immigration status should be treated with respect and dignity at all times and consider that children should never be detained for immigration purposes. The Scottish Government understands that children are not held in immigration removal centres in the UK, including in Scotland, so there are likely to be limited instances of restraint being used. However, the Scottish Government understands that families with children who are being removed from the UK may be detained in ‘pre-departure accommodation’. There is no pre-departure accommodation in Scotland.


Email: Rights and Participation Team

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