Child Protection Guidance 2021

Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 196 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 Serious harmful behaviour shown by children above and below the age of criminal responsibility 4.374 Serious harmful behaviour in this context means behaving in a violent or dangerous way which causes or risks causing serious physical harm to another person, or sexually violent or sexually coercive behaviour, which has caused or risks causing harm (whether physical or not) to another person. (Please refer to section 15 above for further information about response to sexually harmful behaviour by children.) The revised Framework for Risk Assessment Management and Evaluation (FRAME) for children aged 12-17 (CYCJ 2021) details ‘risk of serious harm’ and standards of practice for this age group. Consideration must be given not only to the to the impact of threat and physical or psychological trauma caused; but also to the level of intent, use of force or coercion, and potential as well as actual harm. 4.375 Children that behave in this way may themselves have been abused or neglected. Whether or not they have been maltreated, they are likely to have additional needs relating to their behaviour or the impact of their behaviour. While the police and statutory services will take action to protect the safety of those involved in the situation and attend to the needs of victims, all investigative and planning activity triggered by a child’s harmful behaviour must have regard for the child’s wellbeing as a primary consideration. 4.376 Once the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 (‘the 2019 Act’) is fully implemented, a child under the age of 12 years will no longer be able to commit an offence in Scotland. In practice this will mean that, whilst Police Scotland still have a duty to investigate and record any crime, a child under the age of 12 cannot be held criminally responsible for their actions. It is intended that Ministerial Guidance will be published in 2021. The Age of Criminal Responsibility may subsequently be reviewed and raised. 4.377 The 2019 Act provides police powers for immediate and planned investigation of seriously harmful behaviour. The 2019 Act also includes provision (section 28) for police response to a situation in which a child is behaving in a way that is causing or risks causing immediate significant harm to another person, by removing a child to a place of safety, types of which are defined by the 2019 Act (section 28(5)); and a list of which must be maintained in consultation between police and social work. A child can only be taken to a police station for these purposes if a police inspector (or above) considers that it is not reasonably practicable to keep the child in another type of place of safety. In each situation the most appropriate arrangements will be made in co‑ordination with the local authority. 4.378 General principles underpinning all investigative and planning processes are summarised in Part 3 of this Guidance. If child protection concerns arise in relation to the child who has behaved harmfully to others then standard components of IRD processes apply. IRD components specific to the requirements of the 2019 Act will be set out in guidance being developed in relation to that Act. The immediacy of risk of harm to the child or children involved will determine the steps and prioritisation of steps taken. 4.379 If a formal investigative interview is required under chapter 3 of the terms of Part 4 of the 2019 Act, a legally qualified and approved Child Interview Rights Practitioner must be involved, for the purposes of protecting the rights of the child. 4.380 Discovering what happened in harmful circumstances is dependent upon trauma-informed, child-centred processes. This includes communication and co‑ordination with those who care about and have responsibilities towards the child and other children closely affected.