Children at risk of abuse or neglect will now be protected through improved partnerships between local police, councils and health services.
Strengthened guidance published today (4 July) sets new legal requirements for the three safeguarding partners, who will be required to make joint safeguarding decisions to meet the needs of local children and families.
Senior police, council and health leaders will jointly be 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 in to 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 also announced 17 areas of the country as ‘early adopters’, 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 17 areas include 39 local authorities and will develop new and innovative approaches to set up multi-agency safeguarding processes and produce clear learning which can be shared across other areas, which will have up to a year to publish local arrangements.
The statutory guidance, ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’, follows 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. This is in line with the important role these groups play in promoting children’s welfare.
The new safeguarding arrangements will replace existing Local Safeguarding Children Boards, taking into account recommendations made in a 2016 review by Sir Alan Wood.
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;
- strengthening expectations on schools and other educational settings that they must co-operate with the multi-agency safeguarding arrangements;
- extending safeguarding responsibilities to sports clubs and religious organisations in recognition of their important role in working with and protecting children and young people;
- new duties on CCGs and councils to carry out reviews of child deaths, instead of children’s services, in line with evidence that only a small numberof these incidents relate to safeguarding concerns; and
- better reviews of complex or nationally-important cases, and improving identification of the lessons learnt from these, led by the new Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel chaired by Edward Timpson and replacing Serious Case Reviews.
- The 17 successful bids to adopt the new local safeguarding arrangements early are: Tameside; Northumberland, Gateshead, Newcastle on Tyne, North Tyneside, South Tyneside & Sunderland; Calderdale; North Lincolnshire; York; Hertfordshire; Bexley, Greenwich & Lewisham; Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow , Kensington & Chelsea & Westminster; Reading, West Berkshire & Wokingham; Devon, Plymouth & Torbay; Wiltshire; Dudley, Sandwell, Walsall & Wolverhampton; Birmingham; Stoke-on-Trent & Staffordshire; Solihull; Trafford; and Salford.