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Commissioner for Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2003

Schedule 2: Investigations: supplementary provisions on witnesses and documents

75.Paragraph 1 makes provision for the Commissioner to give notice to a person who is required to give information or produce documents in line with the equivalent notice provision for the Parliament that is contained in section 24 of the Scotland Act. The notice must set out the subjects to which the required evidence will relate. In addition, in the case of the attendance of a person to give evidence, the time and place at which attendance is required must be given. In the case of documents, the date by which they are to be produced must also be given. A notice must be sent by registered or recorded delivery post. In the case of an individual it has to be sent to their last known address and in any other case to the person’s registered or principal office.

76.Paragraph 2 sets out restrictions to the Commissioner’s powers to require evidence and documents. The power extends to the limits applicable to court proceedings in Scotland. This is in line with the provision that applies to the Parliament’s own powers in section 23(9) of the Scotland Act. These cover various privileges such as the privilege against self-incrimination and privileges in connection with litigation.

77.Sub-paragraph (2) provides a similar restriction to that of the Scotland Act in relation to a Scottish Law Officer or a procurator fiscal declining to answer a question or produce a document in relation to the operation of the system of criminal prosecution in any particular case. Under the Scotland Act this applies to the fiscal if the Lord Advocate considers that answering or producing it might prejudice criminal proceedings in the case in question or would otherwise be contrary to the public interest and the Lord Advocate has authorised the fiscal to decline to answer the question or produce the document on that ground. Similarly, this applies to the Lord Advocate and the Solicitor General if he or she considers that answering the question or producing the document might prejudice criminal proceedings in the case in question or would otherwise be contrary to the public interest.

78.Paragraph 3 provides that a person giving evidence can be required to do so under oath and sub-paragraph (1)(a) authorises the Commissioner to administer such an oath. A person will be able to affirm, as an alternative to taking an oath, as this is expressly provided for in the Oaths Act 1978 (c.19). Paragraph 3 makes it an offence for a person who has been required to take an oath by the Commissioner to fail to do so. The penalties for that offence are the same as for the offence created by paragraph 5 of this schedule and are detailed in paragraph 81 below.

79.Where a person makes a statement in answer to any question by the Commissioner which the person was obliged to answer, paragraph 4 provides that any such statement would be inadmissible in any proceedings in a criminal court. The effect of this is that a person cannot incriminate him or herself during the investigation process. The one exception to this provision is in the event that perjury proceedings are initiated in respect of the statement made to the Commissioner.

80.Paragraph 5 creates offences which are equivalent to those set out in section 25 of the Scotland Act in relation to failures to comply with requirements imposed by the Parliament as to the giving of evidence or the production of documents. For instance, this section makes it an offence for a person who is required by the Commissioner to give information or produce documents to fail to do so unless they have a reasonable excuse. A person found guilty by a summary criminal court of an offence under this section is liable to a fine not exceeding level 5 on the standard scale (currently £5,000) (section 225 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (c.46)) or to imprisonment for a maximum period of three months.

81.Paragraph 6 allows for individuals who exercise control within an organisation, as well as the organisation itself, to be proceeded against and punished where the organisation commits an offence under the Act.

82.Paragraph 8 makes provision for the payment of allowances and expenses to persons giving evidence or producing documents. The level of those allowances and expenses will be a matter to be determined by the Commissioner who must first seek agreement from the SPCB. The SPCB will be asked to agree a scheme for paying allowances and expenses (rather than agreeing each individual payment to those giving evidence or producing documents).

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