New safeguarding guidance outlines requirements for improved partnerships between local police, council and health services designed to protect children at risk.
The statutory guidance – Working Together to Safeguard Children –
sets new legal requirements for three safeguarding partners –
senior police, council and health leaders –
who will be required to make joint safeguarding decisions to meet the needs of local children and families. These three safeguarding partners will also be jointly responsible for setting out local plans to keep children safe and will be accountable for how well agencies work together to protect children from abuse and neglect.
The new advice is aimed at all professionals who come into contact with children and families and includes guidance on current threats to child protection, such as sexual and criminal exploitation, gangs and radicalisation.The Government has earmarked 17 areas of the country as ‘early adopters’ of the scheme, which will work with the National Children’s Bureau to implement the new local safeguarding arrangements before they are established across the rest of the country.The strengthened guidance has been unveiled following a public consultation on the changes, which received over 700 responses.In response to the consultation, the requirements on all those working in sports and faith-based organisations have been strengthened, requiring them to co-operate with the local police, council and health partners where requested.The new safeguarding arrangements will replace existing Local Safeguarding Children Boards, taking into account recommendations made in a 2016 review by Sir Alan Wood.Some of the changes include:
- equal duties placed on the police, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and local authorities to work together on safeguarding decisions and to promote children’s welfare;
- placing greater accountability on senior leaders for each agency: the council Chief Executive, the accounting officer of a CCG and the Chief Officer of Police; and
- extending safeguarding responsibilities to sports clubs and religious organisations in recognition of their important role in working with and protecting children and young people.
Children and Families Minister, Nadhim Zahawi, said:
'We all have a responsibility to promote the welfare of children and protect those at risk of harm. It is important that young people can grow up in an environment that is as safe and stable as we would want for our own children. That’s why we have changed the law to create a stronger safeguarding system, placing greater accountability on the key professionals involved so vulnerable children can get the support and protection they deserve.
This guidance will bring health agencies, police forces and councils together to work more collaboratively, making effective decisions that put the needs of local families at the heart of their work.'