The Safeguarding Specialists
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Scotland Children

Legislation, Statutory Guidance, Good Practice Guidance and Advice

In Scotland the Scottish Government holds responsibility for child protection. It sets out the legislation, outlined in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. Also statutory guidance and policy for safeguarding children in all settings and situations.

Child Protection Committees (CPCs) are responsible locally for multi-agency policy, procedures guidance and practice for safeguarding and protecting children

To find your Council Report Child Abuse to Social Care

or dial 999 in an emergency

Disclosure Scotland



Current Bills

All Legislation


Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Act 2020 (

Disclosure (Scotland) Act 2020

Coronavirus Act 2020

Children (Scotland) Act 2020

The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019

Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019

This Act raises the age of criminal responsibility from 8 years to 12 years old

Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019

Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019

Data Protection Act 2018

Historical Sexual Offences (Pardons and Disregards) (Scotland) Act 2018

Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017

Digital Economy Act 2017

Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016

Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2016

Includes duty of the police to consider a child's wellbeing

Modern Slavery Act 2015

Serious Crime Act 2015

Part 5 of this Act is about Protection of Children etc

Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

An Act to make provision about the rights of children and young people; to make provision about investigations by the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland; to make provision for and about the provision of services and support for or in relation to children and young people; to make provision for an adoption register; to make provision about children’s hearings, detention in secure accommodation and consultation on certain proposals in relation to schools; and for connected purposes.

Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014

Freedom of Information (Amendment) (Scotland) Act 2013

To amend provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 relating to the designation of authorities, the effect of various exemptions and the time limit for certain proceedings.

Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

An Act to provide for the destruction, retention, use and other regulation of certain evidential material; to impose consent and other requirements in relation to certain processing of biometric information relating to children; to provide for a code of practice about surveillance camera systems and for the appointment and role of the Surveillance Camera Commissioner

The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) (Scotland) Regulations 2012

Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012

Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011

Forced Marriage etc. (Protection and Jurisdiction) (Scotland) Act 2011

Makes provision for protecting persons from being forced into marriage without their free and full consent and for protecting persons who have been forced into marriage without such consent.

Domestic Abuse (Scotland) Act 2011

Equality Act 2010

Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009

The Act reforms the current law on sexual offences and creates a range of new statutory offences. It criminalises a range of sexual conduct which takes place without consent. The Act defines consent as "free agreement" which may be withdrawn at any time.

Children and Young Persons Act 2008

Legislates for the recommendations in the Care matters white paper (DfES, 2007) to provide high quality care and services for children in care. It also places a duty on registrars to notify the Local Safeguarding Children Board of all child deaths.

The Mental Health Act 2007

Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007

Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007

Scottish Commission for Human Rights Act 2006

Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006

Includes control of sex offenders

Family Law (Scotland) Act 2006

Amongst other things amend the law relating to the domicile of persons who are under 16 years of age; to make further provision as respects responsibilities and rights in relation to children

Protection of Children and Prevention of Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2005

To make it an offence to meet a child following certain preliminary contact and to make other provision for the purposes of protecting children from harm of a sexual nature, including provision for implementing in part Council Framework Decision 2004/68/JHA; and to make further provision about the prevention of sexual offences.

Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005

The Children Act 2004

A legislative framework for cooperation between agencies working to safeguard children for England and Wales but for Scotland the setting up of a children's commissioner

Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 (in part)

Closes a legal loophole, (whereby defendants in murder and manslaughter cases could escape conviction by claiming each other had killed the child), by creating a new offence of causing or allowing the death of a child or vulnerable adult. The offence establishes a new criminal responsibility for members of a household where they know that a child or vulnerable adult is at significant risk of serious harm.

Vulnerable Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2004

Amongst other things to make provision for the use of special measures for the purpose of taking the evidence of children and other vulnerable witnesses in criminal or civil proceedings.

Sexual Offences Act 2003

Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003

The Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003

Sets out measures to prevent unsuitable adults from working with children.

Local Government in Scotland Act 2003

Commissioner for Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2003

Communications Act 2003

Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

An Act of the Scottish Parliament to make provision for the disclosure of information held by Scottish public authorities or by persons providing services for them; and for connected purposes.

Adoption and Children Act 2002

Section 120 amends the Children Act 1989 by expanding the definition of "harm" to include witnessing domestic violence.

Protection from Abuse Act (Scotland) Act 2001

Human Rights Act 1998

Data Protection Act 1998

Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

An Act to protect individuals who make certain disclosures of information in the public interest; to allow such individuals to bring action in respect of victimisation; and for connected purposes.

Children Act Scotland 1995

The Act centres on the needs of children and their families and defines both parental responsibilities and rights in relation to children. It sets out the duties and powers available to public authorities to support children and their families and to intervene when the child's welfare requires it.

The Children Act 1989

Brought many different laws together and is now the law on which the current child protection system is based mostly for England and Wales

Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968


Education (Scotland) Act 2016

Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) Act 2004

Education (Scotland) Act 1980

As well as local authority education providers this act places a statutory duty upon the managers of independent boarding schools to safeguard and promote the welfare of children resident in their schools, or another place under arrangements made by their schools.


Health and Care (Staffing)(Scotland)Act 2019

Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991

Part 2.4: A person under the age of 16 years shall have legal capacity to consent on his own behalf to any surgical, medical or dental procedure or treatment where, in the opinion of a qualified medical practitioner attending him, he is capable of understanding the nature and possible consequences of the procedure or treatment.

Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968


Gambling Act 2005

Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010

Statutory Guidance


National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 - updated 2023

Protecting Vulnerable Groups Scheme: Guidance for individuals, organisations and personal employers June 2010 Issued under section 84 of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007

Good Practice Guidance


Creating Safety: child protection in the arts 2019

Protecting Children and Young People: Child Protection Committee and Chief Officer Responsibilities 2019

Enhanced Due Diligence: Safeguarding for external partners published October 2018 (UK)

Indecent images of children: guidance for young people March 2018

Responding To Female Genital Mutilation In Scotland Multi-Agency Guidance 2017

Child abuse and neglect: NICE guideline [NG76] Published date: October 2017

Whistleblowing: Prescribed persons guidance 2017

Child Safety Online: A Practical Guide for Providers of Social Media and Interactive Services 2016

National Referral Mechanism (NRM): guidance for child first responders 2016

Guidance on how to identify and refer children who may have been the victim of trafficking and provide a cohesive response for appropriate agencies

Victims of modern slavery – frontline staff guidance 2016

Information sharing Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers July 2018

Essential reading for anyone involved or working with children and young people, including practitioners working in adult services with parents and carers.

Responding to Forced Marriage: Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines January 2013

Working with children and adults who may be at risk of self-harm; practice guidance on information sharing, protection and confidentiality 2012


Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competencies for Healthcare Staff 2019

Criminal Exploitation of children and vulnerable adults: County Lines guidance 2017

Child Sexual Exploitation - A Guide for Health Practitioners 2017

GMC Confidentiality: good practice in handling patient information (2017)


For Education

Education Scotland

Standards in Scotland’s Schools etc. Act 2000

Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy Education Scotland February 2021

For Health and Social Care

Care Inspectorate

Regulatory Reform (Scotland) Act 2014

Health and Care Standards 2018

For Charities

OSCR Scottish Charity Regulator

Section 66 of the Charities and Trustee Investment (Scotland) Act 2005

Safeguarding Guidance: Keeping vulnerable beneficiaries safe

Guidance and good practice for Charity Trustees

TOP TEN Practical Safeguarding Steps 2018 from the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)


Research and Reports