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Live Reporting

By Ailsa Brown and Craig Hutchison

All times stated are UK

  1. Early end

    So, an early end to today's proceedings with the Courts Reform Bill being passed unanimously.

    We're back at 9.30am tomorrow morning with the Public Audit Committee taking evidence on Scotland's Accident and Emergency services.

    Edinburgh

    Until then, have a good evening.

  2. Member's debate postponed

    SNP MSP Marco Biagi's members debate on Edinburgh's Housing Policy 10 has been postponed, as the case it refers to became the subject of active proceedings in the Court of Session yesterday.

  3. Courts Reform Bill passed

    Ms Cunningham concludes by saying the Courts Reform Bill will improve the experience of court users.

    Sheriff Court
    Image caption: Edinburgh Sheriff Court

    She says people deserve a system that secures a just resolution to their cases in a reasonable time frame.

    The minister commends the bill to chamber, MSPs then pass the bill unanimously.

  4. Making Justice Work

    The minister says the Courts Reform Bill is one of the key planks in the Making Justice Work programme.

    Roseanna Cunnigham

    The Making Justice Work portfolio brings together a range of reforms to the structure and processes of the courts, access to justice and tribunals and administrative justice.

    It has been developed and is being delivered with partners across the justice system, including the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, Scottish Court Service, Scottish Legal Aid Board and the Police.

  5. Closing speech

    Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister Roesanna Cunningham takes to her feet to close the final debate on the Courts Reform Bill.

  6. Tenacity praised

    SNP MSP Sandra White, who sits on the Justice Committee, highlights the work of the Clydeside Action on Asbestos group, thanking them for their work and "tenacity".

    Ms White says the committee was not persuaded to make a special case for those suffering from asbestos related illnesses.

    Sandra White

    The Glasgow Kelvin MSP echoes Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill quoting Sheriff Principle Taylor as saying: "A complex asbestos case will probably be remitted to the court of session.

    "However even if it were to remain in the Sherriff court it would almost certainly merit sanction for council."

  7. Lib Dems

    Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes says she is disappointed the judicial review time limit remains at three months, which she says could impact on community groups.

    Alison McInnes

    Ms McInnes raises concerns about the costing of the legislation but adds the package of reforms will improve the experience of people using the courts and her party will back the bill at decision time.

    Court of Sessions
    Image caption: Court of Sessions
  8. Justice Committee convener

    Justice Committee convener Christine Grahame says she welcomes the bill modernising the civil courts system.

    The SNP MSP says she also welcomes the specialisation of sheriffs in particular areas of law.

    Christine Grahame MSP

    Ms Grahame says equality of arms is "terribly important", stressing "every client's case is important".

  9. Margaret Mitchell

    Ms Mitchell says: "Ensuring sufficient summary sheriffs are in place is key to this legislation, any piecemeal introduction of summary sheriffs puts the reforms in jeopardy."

    Margaret Mitchell
  10. Conservative view

    Conservative MSP Margaret Mitchell says "justice delayed is justice denied" and she backs reforms, but there are "areas of concern in the bill".

  11. Elaine Murray

    Ms Murray says the Courts Reform Bill has had a "long gestation period", some five years after Lord Gill's report in 2009.

    Labour's legal affairs spokesperson says her party welcomes the introduction of simple procedure and the appointment of specialist sheriffs.

    Elaine Murray

    She says: "What has concerned us is that these reforms should not be motivated by cost cutting" and we should not place additional pressures on sheriff courts.

    The Dumfrieshire MSP says it is "disappointing today the Parliament were not willing to give asbestos sufferers the reassurances they sought", referring to her amendment which was defeated.

  12. Labour

    Labour MSP Elaine Murray takes to her feet to lead the debate for her party.

  13. 'Important milestone'

    "The provisions in this bill will ensure litigants can still access counsel when they need it." Says the minister

    Mr MacAskill says the sheriff court will be able to cope and "we will not see a deluge of cases on the sheriff courts".

    "There will not be a sudden transfer of existing cases into the sheriff courts, existing cases in the Court of Session will see out their life there."

    The Justice Secretary concludes his speech saying the Courts Reform Bill is an "important milestone in the Courts reform journey" creating a courts system "fit for purpose in the 21st Century" and calls for MSPs to pass the legislation.

    .

  14. Kenny MacAskill

    Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill says the bill takes on the majority of Lord Gill's recommendations in his Scottish Civil Court Review.

    The minister says Lord Gill emphasised these reforms are "50 years overdue".

    Mr MacAskill outlines the key elements of the bill:

    - An increase in the jurisdiction of the sheriff courts so that cases with a value of £150,000 or less are heard there rather than in the Court of Session

    - The creation of a new judicial tier in the form of the "summary sheriff", who will deal with less serious criminal cases and less complex civil matters

    Kenny MacAskill

    - The creation of a Sheriff Appeal Court to hear appeals from the decisions of sheriffs in civil and summary criminal matters. Permission will be required before appeal to a superior court is possible

    - Increased sheriff specialisation, both in the form of specialisation by individual sheriffs and specialist courts, such as the proposed specialist personal injury court

  15. Courts Reform Bill debate

    We now move into the final debate on the Courts Reform Bill.

  16. Decision time reminder

    As MSPs debate the final grouping of amendments on the citation of jurors, its worth reminding you that decision time should be at 6pm this evening.

    Prior to that the final debate on the Courts Reform Bill will take place.

  17. Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service

    MSPs are debating Scottish government amendments to the Courts Reform Bill relating to the Scottish Courts and Tribunals Service.

  18. Summary Sheriffs amendments

    MSPs vote down amendments from Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes on the civil competence of summary sheriffs.

  19. Court of Session

    The reforms will see Scotland's top civil court - the Court of Session - freed up to deal with the most complex and serious cases by increasing the number which are heard in sheriff courts.

    Court of Session
    Image caption: The Court of Session will in future only hear the most complex and serious civil cases

    Ministers originally increased the financial threshold for sheriffs hearing cases from £5,000 to £150,000, although the limit was later cut to £100,000, following concerns it had been set too high.

  20. Coming up later

    Decision time is at the later time of 6pm this evening, when the Courts Reform Bill is expected to be passed.

    Thereafter SNP MSP Marco Biagi will lead a member's debate on Edinburgh's Housing Policy 10.

    In his motion Mr Biagi highlights the successful appeal by Buile Developments Ltd against a decision by the City of Edinburgh Council to refuse planning permission for a development of privately-run purpose-built student housing in Bernard Terrace on the south side of the city.

    The Young Ones
    Image caption: Student digs can often can sometimes prove controversial

    The issue of student housing will be debated by a cross party representation of MSPs.

  21. Sanction for counsel

    Lib Dem MSP Alison McInnes moves amendments in relation to sanction for counsel.

    Alison McInnes

    Labour MSP Graeme Pearson also moves amendments in relation to this issue.

    Mr Pearson says the bill as it stand will make it harder for work related personal injury victims to proceed through the judicial process.

    Both sets of amendments are voted down by MSPs.

  22. Roseanna Cunningham

    Community Safety and Legal Affairs Roseanna Cunningham moves amendments relating to the Scottish Land Court, which are then unanimously passed.

    Roseanna Cunningham
  23. Regulation of civil court procedure

    Amendments from Labour MSP Graeme Pearson on the regulation of civil court procedure are defeated by MSPs.

    Graeme Pearson
  24. The regulation of civil court procedure

    MSPs are debating amendments relating to the regulation of civil court procedure: just conduct of proceedings.

  25. Stage 1 debate

    MSPs are debating amendments to the time limits of the judicial review.

    The general principles of the Courts Reform Bill were agreed to after a Stage 1 debate earlier this year.

  26. Appeal Sheriffs amendments

    Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill opposes amendments from Scottish Conservative Margaret Mitchell on the appointment of appeal sheriffs.

    Margaret Mitchell

    MSPs vote to defeat the first Tory amendment with 43 MSPs backing it and 68 MSPs voting against it and then proceed to defeat the rest in the group.

  27. Asbestos amendment defeated

    MSPs vote to defeat Labour MSP Elaine Murray's amendment on damages in respect of personal injuries caused caused by exposure to asbestos.

    Elaine Murray

    31 MSPs back it but 81 MSPs vote against it.

    The gallery clears of campaigners and visitors and "thanks for nothing" is heard from someone.

  28. Asbestosis vote

    Labour MSP Malcolm Chisholm pays tribute to Clydside Action on Asbestos campaigners in the gallery and supports the amendments in Elaine Murray's name.

    People in the gallery
    Image caption: Scottish Parliament Chamber gallery

    SNP MSP Christine Grahame says "while we have huge safety for asbestosis cases", we did not wish to single out one disease from the legislation.

    Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill says the Scottish government has "great sympathy with those suffering from asbestos related diseases".

    Mr MacAskill says the CAA have been tenacious in their campaigning.

    The minister says "asbestos cases can be complex cases" and goes on to say that most raised will still be heard in the Court of Session, as suggested by Sheriff Principle Taylor.

    "I agree with Sherriff Principal Taylor who said that , and I quote: a complex asbestos case will probably be remitted to the court of session.

    "However even if it were to remain in the Sherriff court it would almost certainly merit sanction for council."

    He opposes the amendment from Elaine Murray and the parliament is suspended for five minutes as it is the first vote on an amendment.

  29. Amendments: Asbestos

    The first groups of amendments up for scrutiny are minor, technical or drafting amendments; relating to the number of summary sheriffs or relating to proceedings for damages for personal injury.

    A probing amendment from Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell on summary sheriffs was withdrawn after reassurances from the justice secretary.

    Labour MSP Elaine Murray proposes an amendment to include the phrase: "This section does not apply to proceedings in which damages claimed consist of or include damages in respect of personal injuries caused by exposure to asbestos."

    Ms Murray says the amendment is necessary after hearing concerns from Clydeside Action on Asbestos (CAA).

    Asbestos
    Image caption: Asbestos has been linked to diseases such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and pleural plaques

    She paid tribute to asbestos sufferers from CAA who were in the gallery.

    CAA are very concerned that the proposed changes in the legislation will see very complex asbestos cases moved from Scotland's highest civil court, the Court of Session, to a new type of personal injury court.

    It says the Court of Session is highly experienced at dealing with asbestos cases and all this experience will be lost if cases are moved to another court.

  30. Lord Gill

    The Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill proposes a number of reforms to court structure, organisation and procedure, as recommended by Lord Gill's Scottish Civil Courts Review (also known as the Gill Review).

    Lord Gill
    Image caption: Lord Gill's review of civil courts has paved the way for the new bill

    The legislations key proposals are:

    - An increase in the jurisdiction of the sheriff courts so that cases with a value of £150,000 or less are heard there rather than in the Court of Session

    - The creation of a new judicial tier in the form of the "summary sheriff", who will deal with less serious criminal cases and less complex civil matters

    - The creation of a Sheriff Appeal Court to hear appeals from the decisions of sheriffs in civil and summary criminal matters. Permission will be required before appeal to a superior court is possible

    - Increased sheriff specialisation, both in the form of specialisation by individual sheriffs and specialist courts, such as the proposed specialist personal injury court

  31. Courts Reform

    The Courts Reform (Scotland ) Bill, if passed, will bring in major reforms to Scotland's civil justice system later.

    The Scottish government says the long-awaited changes will dramatically improve the way it works, but sections of the legal profession are concerned it my become more difficult for people to bring cases.

    Given civil law has remained largely unchanged since Victorian times, ministers say these reforms are badly needed.

    Justice

    They'll see many more non-criminal cases heard by sheriff courts, allowing Scotland's top civil court, the Court of Session, to concentrate on the most serious cases.

    Parliament's later expected to back the changes when it passes the Courts Reform Bill, but concerns remain.

    The Faculty of Advocates and the Law Society of Scotland say the reforms could make it more difficult for people to get proper access to civil justice.

  32. Court Reforms Scotland Bill Stage 3 amendments

    MSPs begin the final scrutiny of amendments to the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill, with Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill beginning with minor technical amendments.

    Kenny MacAskill
  33. Human Rights Act

    Community Safety and Legal Affairs Minister Roseanna Cunningham says the Scottish government "strongly opposed any attempt to repeal the Human Rights Act" as it protects the interests everyone in society and allows challenges against "iniquitous policies like the bedroom tax".

    If the UK government abolishes the Human Rights Act would require a legislative consent motion at Holyrood, which the minister says will not be passed.

    Roseanna Cunningham

    Ms Cunningham says David Cameron and UK Justice Secretary David Grayling are "running scared of UKIP" and are "pandering to their own Eurosceptics".

  34. Human rights

    SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn asks the Scottish government what its position is on the Conservative Party's plans to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998.

  35. Nuclear safety

    Energy Minister Fergus Ewing says powers over nuclear safety are reserved to the UK government.

    The minister says the Scottish government is responsible for consequence management and liaises with the UK government and Office of Nuclear Regulation.

    Ms Johnstone says the public should be involved in decisions relating to extending the lifetime of nuclear power plants like Hunterston and calls for a "full environmental impact assessment of any extensions".

    Alison Johnstone

    Mr Ewing says the safety issue has been dealt with by the regulator and assures Ms Johnstone the consideration of the environmental case was made when the life time of Hunterston was extended.

    "No one in this chamber would want to be unduly alarmist about technical matters" that were anticipated says the minister.

  36. Hunterston B question

    Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone asks the Scottish Government what role it has in ensuring the safety of nuclear power stations.

    Hunterston
    Image caption: Hunterston has had its working life extended to 2023

    This follows the discovery of new cracks in one of the reactors at Hunterston B nuclear power station in North Ayrshire.

    Plant operator, EDF Energy, said the cracking was predicted to occur as the station aged and it would not affect the safe operation of the reactor.

  37. Longannet future

    Energy Minister Fergus Ewing says Scottish Power has decided not to enter the contest to supply energy generating capacity in 2018/19.

    Fergus Ewing

    Mr Ewing says he is seeking "urgent talks" with the UK government on the future Longannet and future energy security.

  38. Topical questions

    SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing asks the Scottish government what action it is taking regarding the future of Longannet power station.

  39. Human rights

    The Scottish government has said it would attempt to block any Conservative plans to curb the power of the European Court of Human Rights in the UK.

    The Tories want to give UK courts and parliament the "final say" on human rights issues rather than Strasbourg.

    European Court of Human Rights
    Image caption: European Court of Human Rights

    Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said he was "deeply concerned" by the proposal.

    His view was echoed by the Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael.

    In his speech to the Conservative conference on Wednesday, Prime Minister David Cameron said his party will replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights if it wins next May's general election.

    Under the Conservative plan, the European Courts would not be able to require the UK to change British laws, with its judgements being treated as "advisory" rather than binding.

    Instead, the UK's Supreme Court would be "the ultimate arbiter" on human rights matters.

  40. Time for Reflection

    The Very Reverend Thomas Canon Millar VG, from Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral in Motherwell, is delivering the Time for Reflection.

    Time for reflection
  41. Hunterston B nuclear power station

    New cracks have been found in one of the reactors at Hunterston B nuclear power station in North Ayrshire.

    Two of about 3,000 graphite bricks in the core of reactor four are affected.

    Hunterston B

    Plant operator, EDF Energy, said the cracking was predicted to occur as the station aged and it would not affect the safe operation of the reactor.

    The cracks were found during a routine inspection which began in August. These have occurred since the last inspection in 2011.

  42. Longannet power station

    Scotland's energy minister is calling for talks with the UK government over the future of Longannet power station.

    It comes after it emerged Scotland's largest power plant may have to close owing to the £40m cost its operator pays to connect to the National Grid.

    Scottish Power said Longannet's Fife location puts it at a disadvantage when competing against English plants.

    Longannet
    Image caption: Longannet in Fife pays about £40m a year to connect to the National Grid

    Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing wants talks with UK Energy Secretary Ed Davey to discuss the situation.

    A Department of Energy and Climate Change spokesman said Longannet's future was a commercial matter and said Scottish Power had no plans to close the plant.

    Scottish Power has decided not to enter the contest to supply energy generating capacity in 2018/19, arguing financial changes are needed to avert the threat of closure.

    Longannet again
    Image caption: Longannet is one of the biggest coal-fired power stations in Europe.

    Longannet, one of the largest coal-fired power stations in Europe, generates enough electricity each year to meet the needs of more than two million homes and plays a vital role in keeping the power network stable and safe.

    The UK's transmission charging regime is designed to encourage the power companies to invest in generation capacity close to the largest centres of population in central and southern England.

  43. Topical questions

    1. SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing: To ask the Scottish Government what action it is taking regarding the future of Longannet power station. (S4T-00804)

    2. Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone: To ask the Scottish Government what role it has in ensuring the safety of nuclear power stations. (S4T-00805)

    3. SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn: To ask the Scottish Government what its position is on the Conservative Party's plans to repeal the Human Rights Act 1998. (S4T-00803)

  44. Welcome back

    Welcome back to BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish Parliament.

    chamber

    First up in the chamber this afternoon the Very Reverend Thomas Canon Millar VG, from Our Lady of Good Aid Cathedral in Motherwell, will deliver the Time for Reflection.

    After topical questions, the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill will receive its final parliamentary scrutiny, before MSPs are expected to pass it at decision time.

  45. Lunch break

    That's lunchtime but we will be back with topical questions just after 2pm where the new cracks have been found in one of the reactors at Hunterston B nuclear power station in North Ayrshire and the future of Longannet power station will be the focus.

  46. Private session

    The committee has gone into private session after the convener thanked the witnesses for their evidence.

  47. Over 3,600 sex offenders in Scotland's communities

    ACC Malcolm Graham says there are 4,650 people required to register on the Sex Offenders' Register.

    Child abuse

    Of that number 3,604 sex offenders are in the community, he says, with 1,046 in custody.

  48. Vulnerable Persons Database

    Labour MSP Graeme Pearson raises the issue of IT services used to combat child sex exploitation.

    Graeme Pearson

    Mr Pearson, a former senior police officer, asks if Police Scotland's IT systems are "old and clunky" and if they are fit to access the necessary knowledge, intelligence and facts around child victims.

    ACC Malcolm Graham says the IT system is "not old and clunky" and highlights the new Vulnerable Persons Database designed within Police Scotland which allows the police to link a whole range of vulnerabilities in children and adults.

  49. Alison McInnes

    Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes says "One of the saddest things about the Rotherham inquiry findings were that the police considered the children as young as 11 as being consenting to sexual behaviour".

    Alison McInnes

    Ms McInnes also says she read evidence of police "considering the girls to be undesirables" and not worthy of protection.

    She continues "that's one of most appalling things to come out of the inquiry" and that girls most vulnerable were "not given that protection".

  50. Targeting schools

    ACC Malcolm Graham says it is important to make sure schools and staff are aware what is happening with children, as opposed to what happened in Rotherham.

    Child

    He says "girls were picked up in taxis from the school gates" taken to perform sexual acts on some perpetrators and returned at lunchtime, a "traumatic account of someone's school day", not picked up by the education authorities in Rotherham.

    He adds that there is no evidence this has happened in Scotland, but it is a "salutary tale, we must never be complacent about the targeting of children at school".

  51. NSPCC children's charity

    In January, the NSPCC children's charity highlighted a rise in sexual abuse cases in Scotland involving children under the age of 13.

    NSPCC
    Image caption: The NSPCC is repeating its Talk Pants campaign encourage parents to discuss the issues with children

    Police Scotland recorded more than 700 offences against young children in 2012/13. The charity also reported a rise in calls to its helpline.

    The new taskforce will build on the work of Operation Dash, a multi-agency operation led by Police Scotland, which is trying to determine the extent of child sexual exploitation in the Greater Glasgow area.

  52. Bespoke victims strategy

    Stephen McGowan, from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service said: "Low levels of conviction does not mean there's a low level of CSE".

    Mr McGowan goes on to say a "bespoke victims strategy was introduced in Spring of this year" to provide the support victims is needed.

    Stephen McGowan

    He says the COPFS says they now look at the victim as a person, what level of information they need, their background and what support they need.

    "The volume of sex offences has increased recently with the majority against children."

  53. Child victims

    Catriona Dalrymple from the COPFS says under the terms of the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 there were 213 convictions for crimes against 13-15 year olds, with 87 where the victim was under 13 years old.

    Catriona Dalrymple

    She says in 2013-14 there were 151 convictions where the victim was between 13-15 years old and 57 under the age of 13 years old.

  54. Child victim data set

    Independent MSP John Finnie raises the concerns from charity Children First about a lack of data about sexual offence and suggests the need for one national data set for crimes against children.

    John Finnie

    Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham says: "I would very much welcome one national data set."

    ACC Graham says of 1,590 people who reported being raped in 2013-14 about a quarter were children, "a really big number of children".

    He says one data set would give a much clearer picture of all child victims and allow the police to see where any gaps are in the future.

  55. Scottish government

    The Scottish government published updated child protection guidance in May this year.

    A spokeswoman said: "Child sexual exploitation is an abhorrent crime and can have devastating impact on victims and their families.

    "We established an expert working group to specifically examine child sexual exploitation and this work contributed to our updated guidance. We also work closely with the experts at the Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children (CELCIS) to shape policies and practices to ensure that protection is as rigorous as possible.

    Child

    She continued: "We share a duty- in families, communities, government, social care and the justice system - to protect young people from harm.

    "Clearly all of us working to keep children safe in Scotland are considering the lessons to be learned from the Jay report to maintain a robust and responsive system of child protection in Scotland. The public would expect no less."

  56. 15 Lessons from Rotherham - Barnardo's Scotland

    Barnardo's Scotland - 15 lessons from Rotherham

    1. Scale and seriousness of CSE in Rotherham was underplayed, despite hard evidence from frontline workers.
    2. Failures to secure convictions may stem from vulnerable young people not being judged to be credible witnesses in court. Low numbers of prosecutions does not mean CSE is not happening.
    3. Perpetrators target residential units, and the most troubled and isolated children.
    4. Where there is an ethnic dimension to CSE, such as a large number of the abusers coming from a particular ethnic, cultural or social background, whatever that background may be, issues around CSE must be directly addressed with, and by, that group.
    5. Girls from white British backgrounds in Rotherham were not the only victims of sexual exploitation.
    6. Common thread running through CSE cases in England is that there are 'hot spots' where young people may be particularly vulnerable.
    7. In Rotherham, there was little or no specialist counselling or appropriate mental health support for victims, despite their acute distress.
    8. Online grooming can move from online contact to personalised contact very quickly.
    9. Sex education was often out of touch.
    10. A child going missing should always be considered to be a risk indicator of CSE.
    11. Specialist services, which understand both CSE and child protection, have an important role to play.
    12. Thresholds for intervention by agencies need to be clearly defined and set at an appropriate level.
    13. The Jay Report states: "An issue or responsibility that belongs to everybody effectively belongs to nobody".
    14. Strategies, action plans, protocols and procedures do nothing at all for children if they are not implemented.
    15. Finally, "this abuse is not confined to the past but continues to this day."
  57. Police Scotland

    Tory MSP Margaret Mitchell asks "if it is time to adapt and change the definition for CSE (child sex exploitation)".

    Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham from Police Scotland replies: "The definition of CSE is pretty clear, child abuse is a very complex area."

    Malcolm Graham

    ACC Graham adds that there is sadly a huge number of ways children are abused across the world, with growing ways of technology used and a global used that continues to extend.

    He says: "We should focus on making sure people are aware of what is potentially going on out there in Scotland."

    "People need to be more attuned to the risks children and young people face today."

  58. COPFS submission

    In its submission to the committee, the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) said recent cases had highlighted the vulnerability of children living in care.

    COPFS chief executive Catherine Dyer said: "They have multiple layers of complex needs and concerns.

    "They can willingly associate with older males who offer cigarettes, alcohol and a night away from their residential home.

    "Many of these teenage children do not realise that they are victims of exploitation and even when they commence engagement with the criminal justice system they remain extremely vulnerable and distrustful of all agencies."

  59. Crown Officer and Procurator Fiscal Service

    SNP MSP Christian Allard begins by asking about barriers to prosecute the grooming of children, asking if the "main barrier to prosecution of child sex exploitation" is the need for corroboration.

    Ms Dalrymple says: "I think there are many barriers".

    Catriona Dalrymple

    "I do think the requirement for corroboration is one of the barriers."

    She adds: "We do see the requirement for two sources of evidence is very difficult to reach" going on to say " these offences are by clever individuals who will evade detection and they are often committed in private".

  60. Witnesses

    Committee Convener Christine Grahame MSP introduces the witnesses Catriona Dalrymple and Stephen McGowan from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham from Police Scotland.

    The witnesses
  61. Committee begins

    Justice Committee convener Christine Grahame gets proceedings underway.

  62. Justice Committee

    Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham will appear before the Justice Committee to explain what the force is doing to tackle child sexual exploitation.

    He said the creation of a single force in Scotland was an opportunity to maximise specialist skills and expertise in keeping children safe.

    This week new guidance was issued to police officers and staff to ensure a consistent response to children who may be vulnerable to child sexual exploitation.

    Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham
    Image caption: Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham

    Assistant Chief Constable Graham said: "Through our action plan, our aim is to improve our work in prevention, our training for our police officers and staff and our work with partners.

    "A key part of our plan is the development of a National Child Abuse Investigation Unit which will lead and co-ordinate complex inquiries, develop good practice through making the maximum use of our specialist investigation skills and by improving our links with the third sector and local authorities we can improve our intelligence networks to proactively identify such cases."

  63. Coming up

    The Justice Committee will take evidence on child sexual exploitation from Catriona Dalrymple and Stephen McGowan from the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service and Assistant Chief Constable Malcolm Graham from Police Scotland.

    A new national task force is to be set up to tackle child sex abuse in Scotland.

    The Police Scotland National Child Abuse Investigation Unit aims to improve co-ordination and intelligence gathering.

    Child on a siwn
    Image caption: The new taskforce comes amid concern over systematic abuse such as that uncovered in Rotherham

    This week new guidance was issued to police officers and staff in Scotland to ensure a consistent response to children who may be vulnerable to child sexual exploitation.

    The move follows concern about systematic child exploitation of the type uncovered recently in Rotherham.

  64. Welcome

    Good morning and welcome to BBC Scotland's Democracy Live coverage of the Scottish Parliament.

    Scottish Parliament

    Coming up today and after topical questions this afternoon, the chamber will carry out the final scrutiny of the Courts Reform (Scotland) Bill.

    The legislation, if passed as expected, will bring in major reforms to Scotland's civil justice system.