New powers of investigation

The Commissioner’s powers of investigation have changed following enactment of part 2 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.

Since the position was established, the Commissioner has had the power to investigate matters on behalf of groups of children and young people. This is called a general investigation.

The new powers of investigation mean he can now also do this on behalf of individuals. This is called an individual investigation.

Restrictions on the new powers

The Commissioner’s new powers mean our office will be able to investigate enquiries around whether service providers have failed to uphold the rights, interests and views of individual children and young people when taking actions or making decisions that affect them.

The Commissioner can’t carry out an investigation if:

  • it relates to matters reserved to the UK Government,
  • it concerns the decision-making of a court or tribunal in a particular case, or
  • it concerns a case currently before a court of tribunal.

The Commissioner also can’t investigate a complaint if another body in Scotland is able to investigate it. Some other bodies that might be able to handle a complaint are:

As there are already a number of complaints bodies in Scotland, we expect that the Commissioner won’t use the new investigative powers very often. However, the new powers mean the office can also:

  • offer advice around matters which relate to individual children and young people, and
  • direct people to other complaints bodies and sources of support, advice and information that may be better placed to help.

A new advice and investigations function has been created to manage enquiries in this way. However, our office will remain unable to give legal advice.