Publication - Minutes

UNCRC Implementation Guidance Reference Group minutes: May 2021

Published: 8 Jun 2021
Date of meeting: 17 May 2021

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 17 May 2021.

Published:
8 Jun 2021
UNCRC Implementation Guidance Reference Group minutes: May 2021

Attendees and apologies

In attendance:

  • Nicola Hughes (Chair), Scottish Government – NH 
  • Luiza Leite (Minutes), Scottish Government – LL
  • Lawrence Mearns, Scottish Government – LM 
  • Deborah Davison, ADES – DD 
  • Jillian Gibson (on behalf of Jill Laspa), COSLA – JG 
  • Julie Williams, CCPS – JW 
  • Joanne Glennie, CCPS – JG 
  • Darren Little, Dumfries and Galloway Council – DL 
  • Elaine Sutherland, Law Society of Scotland – ES 
  • Morag Driscoll, Law Society of Scotland – MD 
  • Colin Convery, Police Scotland – CC 
  • Deborah Wason, Public Health Scotland – DW
  • Alison Sutherland, Social Work Scotland – AS 
  • Kenny Meechan, SOLAR – KM 
  • Nicola Hogg, SOLAR – NHO 
  • Suzanne Brown, SCRON – SB 
  • Juliet Harris, Together – JH 
  • Lucinda Rivers, Unicef – LR  
  • Dragan Nastic, Unicef – DN 

Apologies:

  • Kavita Chetty, Scottish Human Rights Commission

Items and actions

Welcome and introduction

NH welcomed and thanked members for joining the first Guidance Reference Group meeting. Introductions followed. 

Scene Setting and aims for reference group

NH gave an update on the UNCRC Implementation Programme and provided an overview of the 3 strands of work, emphasising the links across all of them.

  • first strand: Leadership. NH confirmed this is where the Strategic Implementation Board will sit and oversee the Implementation Programme
  • second strand: Empowered children and young people
  • third strand: Embedding children’s rights in public services. This will have a large focus on guidance, capacity building, innovation, shared leadership across public services, etc

Evaluation will sit across all 3 strands. 

Action:

  • LL to share the driver diagram for the Implementation Programme

MD asked about the Children’s Commissioner’s role in all of this – NH confirmed that conversations are ongoing, CYPCS have been approached to sit on the Strategic Implementation Board but they are still exploring how the Commissioner may contribute and what his role is. 

LM provided an update on the Supreme Court case and confirmed a 2 day hearing has been scheduled for 28th and 29th June.

General discussion followed including a query as to whether the SG is able to comment on who will be at the hearing. LM confirmed it will be the Lord Advocate who will represent the SG, and legal colleagues are coordinating a response. NHO noted that updates will be available on the UKSC website. 

NH agreed to keep members updated as this develops, but urged members to continue to check the UKSC website for immediate updates. 

Terms of reference 

DN asked about whether this should go beyond a short term working group – and if the group could the group be involved in further implementation duties beyond just the guidance. NH noted each strand will have a working group to oversee each strand, so there is a potential this group could evolve to take on that wider remit, following a review of membership. 

DN asked about decision making process – how will the group reach an agreement as to what will be in the guidance? Members were in agreement that it would be good to expand on that. NH noted the Board will be providing governance, however the board hasn’t met yet so definitive decision-making processes are still to be finalised. NH agreed to take this back to the board.

Action:

  • NH to ensure governance and accountability arrangements for working groups and sub-groups is on Board agenda

JH highlighted the importance in involving children and young people for effective implementation of this Bill, and in the development of guidance but recognised the limitations of arranging direct or new consultation. JH suggested there could be a line in the terms of reference that commits members to bring in the existing views of the children and young people. NH agreed to include this. 

Action:

  • LL to amend the terms of reference to include bringing in views of children and young people

JH asked whether materials relating to the Guidance Reference Group could be published, NH agreed to clarify although it should not be an issue as long as members are in agreement. All agreed that the minutes of this meeting should be published.

Action:

  • LL to explore whether materials from the group can be published

SG approach to guidance

It was noted that we currently don’t have anyone to represent the views of ethnic minority groups in this group – NH welcomed suggestions as to who could play this part.

CC highlighted challenges around all public authorities applying the same approach, particularly those in the criminal justice setting where a balance must be struck. Members were in agreement that a national approach would ensure consistency. 

NH reiterated the importance to take a holistic approach to this guidance as practice changes. We want to ensure the guidance is appropriate for all levels, for directors, practitioners, etc. DD noted that ADES is happy to be involved in this work longer term.

There was general discussion on sector specific guidance (i.e., police, judiciary, etc.), however NH confirmed the SG won’t be in a position to deliver this given the number of potential variations. Public Bodies may develop and deliver targeted guidance if they wish but this is not statutory. NH also confirmed that reading the guidance is not intended to be a guarantee to meeting UNCRC requirements and should be considered one aspect of a wider approach to implementing a rights-respecting approach. 

What must be included in Phase 1 guidance?

Overall, members recommended that Phase 1 should include the following suggested topics:

  • background to the UNCRC and optional protocols 
  • a conceptual framework for public authorities to review their compatibility (such as by considering the rights thematically)
  • an introduction to children’s rights and wellbeing impact assessments and how to undertake these (including training for public authorities). 
  • best practice case studies of undertaking a rights based approach (in particular in relation to the participation of children and young people)
  • key themes and summaries of sources of interpretation (such as those listed in section 4 of the Bill)
  • sign posts to additional resources (international and domestic)
  • an outline of the intended approach for future guidance and support materials
  • communications/messaging

Some members also spoke in detail of the importance of including the following to ensure the guidance is meaningful and would help public authorities to take steps to more fully implement the requirements of the UNCRC:

  • support for public authorities on how to implement child friendly complaint mechanisms
  • there was a preference for SG to publish the refreshed CRWIA within Phase 1 guidance
  • limit to resources when interpreting rights (i.e., Article 4) - some articles are absolute rights, where does limit to resources have a part to play? Further interpretation is needed
  • guidance around reserved and devolved functions
  • child’s rights approach to budget-making

Members recognised that child friendly complaints and children’s rights approach to budget-making were originally considered as part of Phase 2 guidance, but there was a consensus in suggesting that these were key processes for public authorities to have guidance on in their readiness preparations. 

DN asked about whether the SG is still looking to review the CRWIA, and possibly combine the impact assessments as it was highlighted in a previous PfG commitment. NH confirmed the officer responsible for this work is currently on maternity leave, however this work is still ongoing. Members expressed an interest in reviewing the revised materials.

  • a lot of public authorities don’t have this on their radar yet, guidance should be issued as quickly as possible whilst ensuring the elements above are included. Exploring additional content may be more useful for phase 2
  • a yearly review/evaluation of the guidance would be useful to ensure new tools and information and being captured, and to check how meaningful it has been for public authorities 

Action:

  • NH to link in members of this group with CRWIA work once someone is in post

DN highlighted that it might be useful to see where we are at with Phase 2 guidance –  and the framework to identify risks could be better embedded in phase 1. NH asked for members who would be interested to work on phase 2 and be involved in that planning, some members in agreement, NH agreed to explore this further. 

LM invited members to be in touch with himself or LL if they’re interested in this work.

Action:

  • NH to add Phase 2 items to the end of future agendas for this group to enable on-going consideration

Next meeting

As of the date of this meeting we are still awaiting ministerial appointments. 

Members agreed that meeting fortnightly would be preferable. 

NH agreed to share live documents to members via Objective Connect and welcomed direct edits/ suggestions/ comments from members.

NH encouraged members to get in touch if there are any organisations that should be included in this group.

Action:

  • NH to share live documents for members to review and add suggestions
  • MD to find contact for Ethnic Minority Law Centre to share with NH to invite to this group

NH thanked members and closed the meeting. 

Annex: list of actions 

  • LL to share the driver diagram for the Implementation Programme
  • LL to amend the terms of reference to include bringing in views of children and young people
  • LL to explore whether materials from the group can be published
  • NH to ensure governance and accountability arrangements for working groups and sub-groups is on Board agenda
  • NH to link in members of this group with CRWIA work once someone is in post
  • NH to add Phase 2 items to the end of future agendas for this group to enable on-going consideration
  • NH to share live documents for members to review and add suggestions
  • MD to find contact for Ethnic Minority Law Centre to share with NH to invite to this group