The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 put the UNCRC into a Scottish statute for the first time. It encourages Scottish Ministers and public bodies to consider children’s rights and requires them to prepare reports on what they are doing to progress children’s rights.

Whilst a welcome step, the 2014 falls short of incorporating the UNCRC. It does not ensure that the rights under the UN Convention can be directly enforced before Scottish courts.

Read more about the 2014 Act by expanding the headings below. 

Reporting duties

Part 1 of the 2014 Act places duties on Scottish Ministers and on certain public bodies to report on what they are doing to progress children’s rights in their work. These duties provide an opportunity to mainstream children’s rights into decision making. However, they only require Scottish Ministers and public bodies to report on UNCRC implementation. They do not provide a way of enforcing rights if they are violated.

Duty on Scottish Ministers

The 2014 Act places duties on Scottish Ministers to keep under consideration and take steps to further children’s rights, and to promote and raise awareness of the UNCRC. Scottish Ministers must prepare a report every three years setting out their actions and the progress they have made.

The Minister for Childcare and Early Years is currently preparing a Child Rights Action Plan for Scotland.  This will lay out what the Scottish Government has done over the past three years to further children's rights and how they plan on progressing the rights of children and young people over the next three years (2018-2021). 

Together has worked to encourage Scottish Government to ensure the report addresses how the Scottish Government will take forward the 2016 Concluding Observations.  

A consultation document has been published on the Action Plan, which can be accessed here.  Together will be working with our members to ensure any organisations who want to respond are supported to do so and that as many children and young people are involved in responding as possible.  

The first report is due to be laid before the Scottish Parliament in autumn 2018.

Child Rights and Wellbeing Impact Assessments (CRWIAs)

The 2014 Act resulted in the use of child rights and wellbeing impact assessments (CRWIAs) within the Scottish Government. The CRWIA is used to assess how Scottish Government policies, measures and legislation impact on children’s rights, and whether they protect and promote the wellbeing of children and young people.

The Scottish Government’s CRWIA model provides a robust process through which officials can identify, research, analyse and record the anticipated impact of any proposed law or policy on children’s human rights.

The Scottish Government guidance is clear that CRWIAs should be used on all legislation and policy that impacts children, not just limited to children’s services.

Duty on Public Bodies

Public bodies must prepare three-yearly reports on what they are doing to better secure, or give further effect to, the rights set out in the UNCRC. A list of which public bodies must prepare a report is set out in the 2014 Act.

The first set of public body reports are due on 31st March 2020.

Detailed guidance has been produced to accompany the Part 1 duties of public bodies. This guidance is advisory only. It provides information and advice and aims to establish best practice for implementing children’s rights. 

Increased Powers for Children and Young People’s Commissioner

Part 2 of the 2014 Act introduced an individual investigations function to the role of the Children and Young People’s Commissioner for Scotland.

This will provide a limited mechanism through which children can seek an investigation into violations of their UNCRC rights. Children, their parents and other adults who support them will be able to ask the Commissioner to investigate the extent to which an individual child’s rights have been upheld. The Commissioner will be able to make recommendations about what should be done to make improvements but will not have the power to order a service provider to take action.

Learn more about the Commissioner’s investigative role here.