Scotland Children

Legislation, Statutory Guidance, Good Practice Guidance, Action Plans



Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019

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

Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019

Data Protection 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 welbeing

Education (Scotland) Act 2016

Modern Slavery Act 2015

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

The Sale of Alcohol to Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2013

General   -   earliest to latest

Prevention of Cruelty to, and Protection of, Children Act 1889

An Act for the Prevention of Cruelty to, and better Protection of, Children. ..... Section thirty-seven of the Poor Law Amendment Act, 1868

The Children and Young Persons Act of 1933

Provides for the punishment of a person who treats a child "in a manner likely to cause him unnecessary suffering or injury to health (including injury to or loss of sight, or hearing, or limb, or organ of the body, and any mental derangement)".

Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982

Foster Children (Scotland) Act 1984

An Act to consolidate certain enactments relating to foster children as they have effect in Scotland

The Foster Children (Private Fostering) (Scotland) Regulations 1985]

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.

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

Human Rights 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.

Freedom of Information Act 2000

Gives the right to request any recorded information we hold that isn’t about you personally.

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.

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002

To make provision about nationality, immigration and asylum; to create offences in connection with international traffic in prostitution; to make provision about international projects connected with migration; 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.

Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003

The Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003

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

Commissioner for Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2003

Communications Act 2003

127 Improper use of public electronic communications network

(1) A person is guilty of an offence if he—

   (a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network a message or other matter that is grossly offensive or of an indecent, obscene or menacing character; or

   (b) causes any such message or matter to be so sent.

(2) A person is guilty of an offence if, for the purpose of causing annoyance, inconvenience or needless anxiety to another, he—

   (a) sends by means of a public electronic communications network, a message that he knows to be false,

   (b) causes such a message to be sent; or

   (c) persistently makes use of a public electronic communications network.

(3) A person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable, on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months or to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale, or to both.

(4) Subsections (1) and (2) do not apply to anything done in the course of providing a programme service (within the meaning of the Broadcasting Act 1990 (c. 42)).

The Children Act 2004

A legislative framework for cooperation between agencies working to safeguard children forEngland 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.

 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.

Breastfeeding etc. (Scotland) Act 2005

To make it an offence to prevent or stop a person in charge of a child who is otherwise permitted to be in a public place or licensed premises from feeding milk to that child in that place or on those premises; to make provision in relation to the promotion of breastfeeding; and for connected purposes.

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

Trustees acting with due care and diligence

Gambling Act 2005

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

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

The Mental Health Act 2007

Section 131A Accommodation etc. for children

Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007

To bar certain individuals from working with children or certain adults; to require the Scottish Ministers to keep lists of those individuals; to make further provision in relation to those lists; to establish a scheme under which information about individuals working or seeking to work with children or certain adults is collated and disclosed; to amend Part 5 of the Police Act 1997; to amend the meaning of school care accommodation service in the Regulation of Care (Scotland) Act 2001; and for connected purposes.

Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007

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.

Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Places a duty on the UK Border Agency to safeguard and promote children's welfare (section 55), bringing them in line with other public bodies that have contact with children.

Sex Offenders Act 1997

An Act to require the notification of information to the police by persons who have committed certain sexual offences; to make provision with respect to the commission of certain sexual acts outside the United Kingdom; and for connected purposes.

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.

Equality Act 2010

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

Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011

To restate and amend the law relating to children's hearings; and for connected purposes.

The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (Safeguarders: Further Provision) Regulations 2012

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; to provide for judicial approval in relation to certain authorisations and notices under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000; to provide for the repeal or rewriting of powers of entry and associated powers and for codes of practice and other safeguards in relation to such powers; to make provision about vehicles left on land; to amend the maximum detention period for terrorist suspects; to replace certain stop and search powers and to provide for a related code of practice; to make provision about the safeguarding of vulnerable groups and about criminal records including provision for the establishment of the Disclosure and Barring Service and the dissolution of the Independent Safeguarding Authority; to disregard convictions and cautions for certain abolished offences; to make provision about the release and publication of datasets held by public authorities and to make other provision about freedom of information and the Information Commissioner; to make provision about the trafficking of people for exploitation and about stalking; to repeal certain enactments; and for connected purposes.

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

 The Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 (Transfer of Children to Scotland – Effect of Orders made in England and Wales or Northern Ireland) Regulations 2013

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.

The Looked After Children (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2013

The Scottish Ministers make the following Regulations in exercise of the powers conferred by section 17(1) and (7) of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995(1) and all other powers enabling them to do so.

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

Education Act 1996

School Standards and Framework Act 1998

The 1998 School Standards and Framework Act contains provisions for schools and nursery education. This covers further education for young people at school, and in FE institutions across the UK

Education and Inspections Act 2006

Statutory Guidance



National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland was published in 2010 and refreshed in 2014

To ensure that it remains relevant and up to date for local agencies and practitioners working together to safeguard and promote the wellbeing of children. 

Guidance on the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009

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

This guidance explains what the PVG Scheme is for, how it should be used, the information it collects and provides and how it operates.

The role of the registered social worker in statutory interventions: guidance for local authorities 2010

Protecting Children & Young People: Interim Guidance for Child Protection Committees for Conducting a Significant Case Review 2007

Guidance and Regulations on the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 October 2004

To restate and amend the law relating to children's hearings; and for connected purposes.

For Local Authorities

Supporting Young People Leaving Care in Scotland: Regulations and Guidance on Services for Young People Ceasing to be Looked After by Local Authorities

Guidance on the Looked After Children (Scotland) Regulations 2009 and the Adoption and Children (Scotland) Act 2007 March 2011


Child Protection Guidance for Health Professionals 2013

This guidance is supplementary to, and should be read in conjunction with, the Scottish Government National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2010 “the National Guidance”.¹ The National Guidance outlines key definitions and concepts, specifically a definition of what constitutes child abuse and neglect and harm/significant harm (Appendix 1). In addition, there is a series of appendices which are important and explore in more detail specific child protection scenarios

Frameworks and Action Plans and Factshhets

Best practice for PE changing rooms: NSPCC factsheet

National Risk Framework to Support the Assessment of Children and Young People 2012

National Framework for Child Protection learning and development in Scotland 2012

The purpose of the framework is to set out a common set of skills and standards for workers to ensure the delivery of a consistently high standard of support to children and young people across the country. The main aim is to strengthen the skills and training of professionals and improve the advice and tools available to them in assessing, managing and minimising risks faced by some of our most vulnerable children and young people.

Protecting Children and Young People: Framework for Standards 2004

All children and young people in Scotland have the right to be cared for and protected from harm and to grow up in a safe environment in which their rights and needs are respected. The welfare of children is paramount.

National Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan for Children and Young People June 2008

signals a commitment to getting it right for children and young people affected by domestic abuse, their families and communities. It details thirteen Priorities for Action under the key themes of protection, provision, primary prevention through education, and participation.

Good Practice Guidance Reports and Advice



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)

Interim Safeguarding Guidance: Keeping vulnerable beneficiaries safe June 2018

This includes Trustee’s duties and Scotland’s Charity regulator’s role

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

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 – Competent Authority guidance 2016

Victims of modern slavery – frontline staff guidance 2016

National Guidance for Child Protection Committees for Conducting a Significant Case Review 2015

Subject access code of practice: Dealing with requests from individuals for personal information August 2013

The Common-Sense Approach to Moving and Handling of Disabled Children and Young People- Easy Read April 2013

A Guide to Getting it right for every child March 2013

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

Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) National Guidance 2012 Version 1 and Covering Justice and Communities Circular JD/01/2012

Keeping children safe What we all need to know to protect our children 2011

Allegations Against Residential Workers; How Agencies Should Respond Guidance 2011

This guidance aims to make sure that children in care, can complain about mistreatment and be sure they will be heard and action taken to protect them, in other words that they will be safe. If they are to be nurtured then it is essential that those adults who are their carers also feel safe and respected as they seek to provide that daily nurture.

Under-age Sexual Activity: Meeting the Needs of Children and Young People and Identifying Child Protection Concerns.2010

 A National Approach to Anti-Bullying for Scotland’s Children and Young People 2010

Protecting Children and Young People: Child Protection Committees 2005



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

General Practitioners and all Medical Practitioners

Raising and acting on concerns about patient safety 2012

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

Protecting children and young people: The responsibilities of all doctors September 2011

0-18 years: guidance for all doctors


Research and Reports

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry report Sisters of Nazareth (SoN 2019

The Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry report Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul 2018