Introduction

Contents

About this guidance
What is the status of this guidance?
Who is this guidance for?
A child-centred approach to safeguarding
A co-ordinated approach – safeguarding is everyone's responsibility


Nothing is more important than children’s welfare. Children[1] who need help and protection deserve high quality and effective support as soon as a need is identified.

We want a system that responds to the needs and interests of children and families and not the other way around. In such a system, practitioners[2] will be clear about what is required of them individually, and how they need to work together in partnership with others.

Whilst it is parents and carers who have primary care for their children, local authorities, working with partner organisations and agencies, have specific duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in their area. The Children Acts of 1989 and 2004 set out specific duties: section 17 of the Children Act 1989 puts a duty on the local authority to provide services to children in need in their area, regardless of where they are found; section 47 of the same Act requires local authorities to undertake enquiries if they believe a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm. The Director of Children’s Services and Lead Member for Children’s Services in local authorities are the key points of professional and political accountability, with responsibility for the effective delivery of these functions.

These duties placed on the local authority can only be discharged with the full co- operation of other partners, many of whom have individual duties when carrying out their functions under section 11 of the Children Act 2004 (see chapter 2). Under section 10 of the same Act, the local authority is under a duty to make arrangements to promote co- operation between itself and organisations and agencies to improve the wellbeing of local children (see chapter 1). This co-operation should exist and be effective at all levels of an organisation, from strategic level through to operational delivery.

The Children Act 2004, as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017, strengthens this already important relationship by placing new duties on key agencies in a local area. Specifically the police, clinical commissioning groups and the local authority are under a duty to make arrangements to work together, and with other partners locally, to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in their area.

Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this guidance as:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment;
  • Preventing impairment of children's health or development;
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care;
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

[1] In this document, a child is defined as anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. ‘Children’ therefore means ‘children and young people’ throughout.
[2] The term ‘practitioners’ is used throughout the guidance to refer to individuals who work with children and their families in any capacity.


About this guidance

1.

This guidance covers:

  • The legislative requirements placed on individual services;
  • A framework for the three local safeguarding partners (the local authority; a clinical commissioning group for an area, any part of which falls within the local authority; and the chief officer of police for a police area, any part of which falls within the local authority area) to make arrangements to work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of local children including identifying and responding to their needs;
  • The framework for the two child death review partners (the local authority and any clinical commissioning group for an area, any part of which falls within the local authority) to make arrangements to review all deaths of children normally resident in the local area, and if they consider it appropriate, for those not normally resident in the area.
2.

This document replaces Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015). Links to relevant supplementary guidance that practitioners should consider alongside this guidance can be found at Appendix B.



What is the status of this guidance?

3.

This guidance applies to all organisations and agencies who have functions relating to children. Specifically, this guidance applies to all local authorities, clinical commissioning groups, police and all other organisations and agencies as set out in chapter 2.

4.

It applies, in its entirety, to all schools.

5.

It applies to all children up to the age of 18 years whether living with their families, in state care, or living independently.

6.

This document should be complied with unless exceptional circumstances arise.

7.

The guidance is issued under:

  • Section 7 of the Local Authority Social Services Act 1970, which requires local authorities in their social services functions to act under the general guidance of the Secretary of State;
  • Section 10(8) of the Children Act 2004, which requires each person or organisation to which the section 10 duty applies to have regard to any guidance given to them by the Secretary of State;
  • Section 11(4) of the Children Act 2004 which requires each person or organisation to which the section 11 duty applies to have regard to any guidance given to them by the Secretary of State;
  • Section 16B(7) of the Children Act 2004, as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which states that the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel must have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State in connection with its functions;
  • Section 16C(2) of the Children Act 2004, as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which states that local authorities must have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State in connection with their functions relating to notifications;
  • Section 16K of the Children Act 2004, as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which states that the safeguarding partners and relevant agencies for a local authority area in England must have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State in connection with their functions under sections 16E-16J of the Act;
  • Section 16Q of the Children Act 2004, as amended by the Children and Social Work Act 2017, which states that the child death review partners for a local authority area in England must have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State in connection with their functions under sections 16M-16P of the Act;
  • Section 175(4) of the Education Act 2002, which states that governing bodies of maintained schools (including maintained nursery schools), further education institutions and management committees of pupil referral units must have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State;
  • Paragraph 7(b) of the Schedule to the Education (Independent School Standards) Regulations 2014, made under sections 94(1) and (2) of the Education and Skills Act 2008, which states that the arrangements to safeguard or promote the welfare of pupils made by the proprietors of independent schools (including academies or free schools) or alternative provision academies must have regard to any guidance given by the Secretary of State;
  • Paragraph 3 of the Schedule to the Non-Maintained Special Schools (England) Regulations 2015, made under section 342 of the Education Act 1996, which requires arrangements for safeguarding and promoting the health, safety and welfare of pupils in non-maintained special schools to have regard to any guidance published on such issues.


Who is this guidance for?

8.

This statutory guidance should be read and followed by strategic and senior leaders and frontline practitioners of all organisations and agencies as set out in chapter 2. At a strategic level, this includes local authority Chief Executives, Directors of Children’s Services, chief officers of police and clinical commissioning groups and other senior leaders within organisations and agencies that commission and provide services for children and families. Members of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (see chapter 4) should also read and follow this guidance.

9.

This guidance focuses on the core legal requirements, making it clear what individuals, organisations and agencies must and should do to keep children safe. In doing so, it seeks to emphasise that effective safeguarding is achieved by putting children at the centre of the system and by every individual and agency playing their full part.



A child-centred approach to safeguarding

10.

This child centred approach is fundamental to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of every child. A child centred approach means keeping the child in focus when making decisions about their lives and working in partnership with them and their families.

11.

All practitioners should follow the principles of the Children Acts 1989 and 2004 - that state that the welfare of children is paramount and that they are best looked after within their families, with their parents playing a full part in their lives, unless compulsory intervention in family life is necessary.

12

Children may be vulnerable to neglect and abuse or exploitation from within their family and from individuals they come across in their day-to-day lives. These threats can take a variety of different forms, including: sexual, physical and emotional abuse; neglect; exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups; trafficking; online abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation. Whatever the form of abuse or neglect, practitioners should put the needs of children first when determining what action to take.

13.

Children are clear about what they want from an effective safeguarding system.

These asks from children should guide the behaviour of practitioners.

Children have said that they need

  • Vigilance: to have adults notice when things are troubling them;
  • Understanding and action: to understand what is happening; to be heard and understood; and to have that understanding acted upon;
  • Stability: to be able to develop an ongoing stable relationship of trust with those helping them;
  • Respect: to be treated with the expectation that they are competent rather than not;
  • Information and engagement: to be informed about and involved in procedures, decisions, concerns and plans;
  • Explanation: to be informed of the outcome of assessments and decisions and reasons when their views have not met with a positive response;
  • Support: to be provided with support in their own right as well as a member of their family;
  • Advocacy: to be provided with advocacy to assist them in putting forward their views;
  • Protection: to be protected against all forms of abuse and discrimination and the right to special protection and help if a refugee.
14.

Anyone working with children should see and speak to the child; listen to what they say; take their views seriously; and work with them and their families collaboratively when deciding how to support their needs. Special provision should be put in place to support dialogue with children who have communication difficulties, unaccompanied children, refugees and those children who are victims of modern slavery and/or trafficking. This child-centred approach is supported by:

  • The Children Act 1989. This Act requires local authorities to give due regard to a child’s wishes when determining what services to provide under Section 17 and before making decisions about action to be taken to protect individual children under Section 47. These duties complement requirements relating to the wishes and feelings of children who are, or may be, looked-after (section 22(4)), including those who are provided with accommodation under Section 20 and children taken into police protection (section 46(3)(d));
  • The Equality Act 2010, which puts a responsibility on public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination and promote equality of opportunity. This applies to the process of identification of need and risk faced by the individual child and the process of assessment. No child or group of children must be treated any less favourably than others in being able to access effective services which meet their particular needs;
  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) [3]. This is an international agreement that protects the rights of children and provides a child- centred framework for the development of services to children. The UK Government ratified the UNCRC in 1991 and, by doing so, recognises children’s rights to expression and receiving information.

[3] United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child

15.

In addition to practitioners shaping support around the needs of individual children, local organisations and agencies should have a clear understanding of the collective needs of children locally when commissioning effective services. As part of that process, the Director of Public Health should ensure that the needs of children are a key part of the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) developed by the Health and wellbeing board. Safeguarding partners should use this assessment to help them understand the prevalence and contexts of need, including specific needs relating to disabled children and those relating to abuse and neglect, which in turn should help shape services.



A co-ordinated approach – safeguarding is everyone's responsibility

16.

Everyone who works with children has a responsibility for keeping them safe. No single practitioner can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances and, if children and families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who comes into contact with them has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information and taking prompt action.

17.

In order that organisations, agencies and practitioners collaborate effectively, it is vital that everyone working with children and families, including those who work with parents/carers, understands the role they should play and the role of other practitioners. They should be aware of, and comply with, the published arrangements set out by the local safeguarding partners.

18.

This statutory guidance sets out key roles for individual organisations and agencies to deliver effective arrangements for safeguarding. It is essential that these arrangements are strongly led and promoted at a local level, specifically by local area leaders, including local authority Chief Executives and Lead Members of Children’s Services, Mayors, the Police and Crime Commissioner and through the commitment of chief officers in all organisations and agencies, in particular those representing the three safeguarding partners. These are Directors of Children’s Services, Chief Constables of police and Accountable Officers and/or Chief Nurses of clinical commissioning groups.

19.

The local authority and its social workers have specific roles and responsibilities to lead the statutory assessment of children in need (section 17, Children Act 1989) and to lead child protection enquiries (section 47, Children Act 1989). It is crucial that social workers are supported through effective supervision arrangements by practice leaders4 and practice supervisors, as defined under the National Assessment and Accreditation system, who have the lead role in overseeing the quality of social work practice. Designated Principal Social Workers have a key role in developing the practice and the practice methodology that underpins direct work with children and families.