Parliament to nominate new Children’s Commissioner

10.03.2017

Parliament to nominate new Children’s Commissioner

The Scottish Parliament will next week be invited to nominate Bruce Adamson to Her Majesty the Queen for appointment as the new Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland.

The Commissioner’s general duty is to promote and safeguard the rights of children and young people in Scotland. 

Mr Adamson is set to succeed Tam Baillie who leaves the position on 17 May 2017.  A motion to agree Mr Adamson’s appointment will be considered by the Parliament on Tuesday 14 March.

This position is a full-time, single term appointment for six years and attracts a salary of £70,000.  The appointment follows an open recruitment process.

Biographical information

Bruce Adamson is a lawyer who has over 20 years of experience in children’s rights. Originally from New Zealand where he practised in the family and criminal courts, he moved to Scotland in 2002.

A Member of the Children’s Panel for 13 years, he has worked directly with vulnerable children and their families, listening to their experiences, and making decisions about their safety and wellbeing.

Mr Adamson has been on advisory boards for a number of public authorities and civil society organisations and is a former Chair of the Scottish Child Law Centre. As legal officer at the Scottish Human Rights Commission he has been central to the development of law, policy and practice covering the broad spectrum of children’s rights.  

He currently represents the Commission on the UK’s National Preventive Mechanism under the Convention Against Torture and has extensive experience inspecting places of detention in Scotland and other countries.  

In 2013 he was the United Nations Representative for the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, representing institutions from over 100 countries to improve human rights in Scotland and across the world.

Mr Adamson has acted as an international expert for the Council of Europe, the European Union and the OSCE. Working in emerging democracies in the Western Balkans and Ukraine he has helped to improve the situation for children in some of the most challenging situations in Europe.

He has also been a member of a number of international projects, including one on the reform of the European Court of Human Rights, and another on increasing the ability of national parliaments to act has human rights guarantors.

Background information on the role

The office of the Commissioner for Children and Young People in Scotland was established under the Commissioner for Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2003. 

The Commissioner’s role is to promote and safeguard the rights of children and young people in Scotland.  Principally this involves engaging with children and young people; promoting awareness and understanding of their rights; and keeping law, policy and practice relating to the rights of children and young people under review, assessing its adequacy and effectiveness. The Commissioner also promotes and commissions research on matters relating to children and young people’s rights. 

Investigations: The Commissioner has statutory powers to undertake investigations into whether, by what means and to what extent, a service provider has regard to the rights, interest and views of children and young people in making decisions or taking action that affects those children and young people.   

The Commissioner’s powers to undertake an investigation will be extended in 2017 when, in addition to having powers to carry out an investigation into a matter which raises an issue of particular significance to children and young people generally or to particular groups of children and young people, the Commissioner will be able to undertake an investigation into a matter raised by an individual child or young person.  Further information on the new powers can be found in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 (Part 2).

Key Responsibilities and Duties

The main responsibilities and duties of the Commissioner are:

  • Promoting and safeguarding the rights of children and young people in Scotland
  • Promoting public awareness of the role of the Commissioner;
  • Involving children and young people in the work of the Commissioner and keeping under review the strategy for involving children and young people;
  • Promoting best practice by service providers;
  • Considering complaints about rights violations and either brokering a resolution or undertaking an investigation;
  • Working in partnership with stakeholders to promote and protect children and young peoples’ rights; 
  • Undertaking and/or commissioning  research;
  • Leading the office and monitoring its performance in line with the strategic priorities set out in the Strategic Plan;
  • Managing the day-to-day running of the office;
  • As the accountable officer, being accountable for the organisation’s expenditure and submitting annual budget bids to the SPCB for approval; and
  • Laying before the Parliament a 4-year Strategic Plan and annual general reports.

Further information on the work of the Commissioner can be found at: http://www.cypcs.org.uk/

The Scottish Parliament will be asked to agree Mr Adamson’s nomination on Tuesday 14 March 2017.