Governance, roles and responsibilities
One of the aims of Public Protection is to reduce the potential for harm to children and adults. Public protection requires agencies to work together at both strategic and operational level to raise awareness and understanding and co-ordinate an effective response that provides individuals with the support needed to reduce the risk in their lives. In Fife there are a number of strategic bodies to support this. Further information on list to be put in is available
Work within Public Protection is carried out on an inter-agency basis, and it is important that each agency is clear about its own role and responsibility and understands the role of the other agencies involved. Agencies must also agree the outcomes they are working towards. Achieving a balance between the welfare of the child, which should be paramount, and the needs of the adult will require effective management.
The Chief Officers’ Public Safety Group (COPS) is comprised of the highest level Officers (Chief Executive NHS Fife, Chief Executive Fife Council, Chief Constable Police Scotland (Fife Division), Authority Reporter) across all the agencies who are responsible for Child Protection Services. This group provides leadership, direction, accountability and ensures collective responsibility and collaborative working at all levels to ensure improved outcomes for children and young people. The Fife Child Protection Committee (CPC) reports on its work to the COPS Group which meets on a quarterly basis.
The CPC is the primary strategic planning mechanism for inter-agency child protection work in the Fife area. To function effectively it collaborates with other planning structures, linking closely to Single Outcome Agreement, the Community Plan and the Children’s Services Plan.
Key agencies in Fife commit to representation and active participation at a sufficiently senior level to ensure that the CPC can effectively discharge its obligations in respect of policy and practice in child protection issues.
The Child Protection Committee has a core responsibility to raise awareness and disseminate information about child protection throughout Fife. Its aim is to highlight and promote child protection work within the public, private and voluntary sectors. It also has a role in developing public information and information to supporting agencies making clear policy, procedures and processes relating to child protection.
It is recognised that to have a positive effect on children’s lives, self-evaluation is key. The Fife Child Protection Self-Evaluation and Audit Working Group maintain an overview of single and multi-agency evaluation activities which contribute to the development and monitoring of the Child Protection Improvement Plan.
Where activity identifies a need for improvement this will be monitored to ensure action to achieve improvement is implemented. Equally where positive practices are identified these will be shared across the partnership and promoted.
Corporate learning is further supported through the work of the CPC Case Review Working Group. This partnership group considers the identification of cases where there may be opportunities for shared learning, considering these cases and undertaking case reviews where appropriate on behalf of Chief Officers. In Fife the initial decision making in respect of this area of responsibility is delegated to the Case Review Working Group. This group report any recommendations to the CPC for discussion and agreement, who then report to COPS.
Where relevant the Case Review Working Group and/or the CPC will ensure learning from local reviews, and Significant Case Reviews undertaken elsewhere, are effectively disseminated and shared for the purpose of corporate learning.
A Significant Case Review is link to case review page a multi-agency process for establishing the facts of a situation where a child has died or been significantly harmed, within a child protection context, in order to learn lessons. Significant Case Reviews are seen in the context of a culture of continuous improvement and focus on learning and reflection around day to day practices, and the systems within which practice operates.
Policies, Procedures and Protocols
The CPC will maintain an overview of multi-agency policies, procedures and protocols and where required ensure these are reviewed, evaluated and updated, or if necessary develop new ones. Existing documents are available on the CPC website. All partners have in place their own documents which are similarly reviewed, evaluated and updated. These are available through partners own internal arrangements.
Taking account of the National Framework for Child Protection Learning and Development, published by the Scottish Government in 2012, the Child Protection Committee (CPC) will provide multi-agency training which will ensure the delivery of a consistently high standard of support to children and young people across Fife.
Multi-agency training is an essential component in building common understanding and fostering good working relationships, which are vital to effective child protection.
The CPC is responsible for developing training programmeswhich embrace multi-agency training needs, to ensure that all staff are confident about their own roles and how these fit into the wider picture.
Training will be delivered across local areas, reflecting the principles, values and processes set out in national guidance as well as local protocols.
The CPC has a responsibility to maintainan overview of the training needs ofall staff and managers involved in child protection activity andwill develop multi agency training through:-
- The collection of data from individual services through the Training Working and GIR Practice Development Group;
- Responding to gaps highlighted in inspection reports;
- Corporatelearning from the Significant Case Review Working Group, self-evaluation processes and nationally identified issues.
The CPC is responsible for publishing, implementing and reviewing an inter-agency child protection training strategy, as well as quality assuring and evaluating the impact of that training.
Multi-agency training is further complimented by single agency training.
Roles and Responsibilities
The Child Protection Committee recognises that members of the public have a vital role in keeping children and young people safe. The community as a whole has responsibility for the well-being of children and young people. All citizens should remain alert to circumstances in which children and young people may be harmed. Individuals can assist the statutory agencies by bringing cases to their attention. Relatives, friends and neighbours of children and young people are particularly well placed to do so, but they must know what to do if they are concerned. See Part 1– Identifying and Responding to Concerns about Children
Because of the difficult and sensitive nature of child protection concerns, people must be confident that any information they provide will be treated in a sensitive way and used only to protect the interest of the child. They should know that early action on their part is often the best way of helping a family stay together as well as protecting the child.
Anyone who has concerns about the safety or welfare of any child or young person can contact any of the agencies listed in useful numbers and links.
Services will strive to provide direct feedback in a timely manner to members of the public who pass on child protection concerns.
Child and Family Social Work Services
Local authorities have a duty to promote, support and safeguard the wellbeing of all children in need in their area, and, insofar as is consistent with that duty, to promote the upbringing of children by their families by providing a range and level of services appropriate to children’s wellbeing needs. Social Work will support and encourage children and young people to remain within their birth family wherever possible provided this is consistent with the best interests of the child or young person.
The Social Work Service will always take seriously any information received regarding the welfare of a child or young person. Action taken will be proportionate, informed and in the best interests of the child. In all aspects of child protection work the service is committed to working closely with other agencies.
Children and family social workers also either directly provide, or facilitate access to, a wide range of services to support vulnerable children and families, increase parents’ competence and confidence, improve children’s day-to-day experiences and help them recover from the impact of abuse and neglect.
For children in need of care and protection, social workers usually act as Lead Professional, co-ordinating services and support as agreed in the Child’s Plan.
In fulfilling the local authorities’ responsibilities to children in need of protection, social work services have a number of key roles:
- the investigation, identification and assessment of risk and abuse;
- the monitoring and support of children and young people at risk of abuse;
- the provision of support and therapeutic help to enable children and young people and families to overcome the effects of abuse;
- work with children and young people who display sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviours;
- co-ordinating multiagency risk assessments;
- arranging Child Protection Case Conferences;
- maintaining the Child Protection Register;
- and supervising children on behalf of the Children’s Hearing.
The Child Protection Team (CPT) remit is to respond to all child protection concerns where there is a need for an Inter-agency Referral Discussion (IRD) with Police, Education and NHS, to share information and determine what action is required to investigate the concerns and safeguard children. The team along with the Public Protection Unit (PPU) will undertake all joint investigative interviews in accordance with national standards. Concerns most likely to require joint investigation include allegations of sexual abuse, physical harm/injury and cases of serious neglect. Other causes of concern will continue to be responded to by the appropriate area social work team.
Criminal Justice Social Work Service
Staff within Criminal Justice Services should be aware of the circumstances where a child’s wellbeing needs within the family are not being met and ensure appropriate action is taken. The Service has a responsibility for the supervision and management of adults who have committed high-risk offences including those against children. Criminal justice staff may be directly involved in risk assessment, supervision and intervention with adult offenders against children. The Social Work Service will also work with partner agencies in the process of joint assessment and management of risk from offenders who pose a serious risk to the public. This will be conducted through the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA.).
Staff within Adult Services should be aware of the circumstances where a child’s wellbeing needs within the family are not being met and ensure appropriate action is taken. In consultation with colleagues they should ensure there is strong transitional planning for young people entering their services. This should form part of the single planning process for that young person.
Staff within Education Services should be aware of the circumstances where a child’s wellbeing needs within the family are not being met and ensure appropriate action is taken.
Education Serviceis committed to promoting and protecting the health and wellbeing of all children and young people in Fife through the provision of universal services. The principles of information sharing and inter-agency working underpin service delivery.
As a partner within the IRD process members of the Education Service gather initial background information used to inform multi-agency decision making assessment and planning processes.
To enable schools to fulfil these roles, each school has two designated members of staff for child protection issues i.e. a Child Protection Co-ordinator and one Depute Co-ordinator. The Child Protection Co-ordinator is usually a senior promoted member of staff and will be appropriately trained.
All staff within NHS Fife should be aware of the circumstances where a child’s wellbeing needs within the family are not being met and ensure appropriate action is taken. NHS Fifeis committed to promoting and protecting the health and wellbeing of all children and young people in Fife through the provision of universal healthcare services. The principles of information sharing and inter-agency working underpin clinical practice.
As a partner within the IRD process members of NHS Fife Child Protection Team gather initial background information used to inform multi-agency decision making assessment and planning processes.
Staff within Police Scotland, in the course of their duties, may become aware of circumstances where a child’s wellbeing needs within the family are not being met and will ensure appropriate action is taken.
Upon receipt of a child concern, the responsibilities of the Child Abuse Investigation Team (CAIT), will include the identification and investigation of any potential criminal offences who the victim(s) may be and any potential offender. Police will engage with partners by implementing an Inter-Agency Referral Discussion (IRD) and plan for a joint investigation when that is appropriate.
Domestic abuse is a serious crime and is often linked to instances of child abuse. Within the PPU dedicated and trained police officers are available, along with a support worker and social work staff, to provide a readily accessible sympathetic support service for all victims of domestic abuse.
The independent education sector should ensure that child protection policies and procedures, which reflect Fife Child Protection Inter-Agency Guidance as well as National Guidance, are in place in all independent schools. Staff should be supported and enabled to respond appropriately to children and young people who have been harmed or may be at risk of harm. Training and development opportunities should be developed to ensure that staff are apprised of their responsibilities in promoting the well-being of children and young people. The independent sector should ensure that all schools have a designated Child Protection Co-ordinator with a particular responsibility for ensuring effective links with all appropriate agencies across Fife.
The Children’s Hearing system is a care and justice system for children and young people in Scotland. SCRA have a duty to investigate the circumstances of children where concerns have been raised relating to a child’s welfare, and ensure appropriate action is taken.
To assist the Reporter in making a decision reports may be requested from agencies involved with the child. On receipt of this information the Reporter can decide to take no further action, refer the child for voluntary support from the local authority. If the Reporter decides the child or young person may be in need of compulsory supervision they will refer the child to a Children’s Hearing.
The SCRA website provides full information for families and agencies (link)
Housing and Neighbourhood Services (H&NS)
All staff within Housing and Neighbourhood Services should be aware of the circumstances where a child’s wellbeing needs within the family are not being met and ensure appropriate action is taken.
The service has dedicated staff in each locality who have a specific responsibility to manage concerns relating to child protection, high risk offenders and anti-social behaviour.
The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service(COPFS) are responsible for the prosecution of crime in Scotland, the investigation of sudden or suspicious deaths, and the investigation of complaints against the police. They work closely with partners in the criminal justice system to help make Scotland a safer place.
The Procurator Fiscal is an independent public prosecutor who receives and considers reports of crimes and offences from the Police and other agencies and decides whether or not to take criminal proceedings in the public interest. They also liaise closely with the Children’s Reporter service.
Victim Information and Advice (VIA)
The Victim Information and Advice Service is part of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS). The service offers help to child victims and victims of crime in cases of domestic abuse, hate crime, sexual crime or where it is likely that a trial will involve a jury.
All staff within HM Forces should be aware of the circumstances where a child’s wellbeing needs within the family are not being met and ensure appropriate action is taken. Due to the frequency with which the families move, it is important that the Service Authorities are fully aware of any child or young person who is deemed to be at risk of harm within their family.
The Service Authorities will co-operate with statutory agencies and support service families where child abuse or neglect occurs or is suspected. The information held on families is an important part of the assessment and review of child protection cases. Procedures exist in all the services overseas to register and monitor the protection of children and young people at risk and the usual rules of confidentiality are observed.
All those working within the voluntary sector should be aware of the circumstances where a child’s wellbeing needs within the family are not being met and ensure appropriate action is taken.
The voluntary sector in Fife plays an important role in supporting children and young people and families. Fife Voluntary Sector Children’s Forum brings together agencies with a common interest in services for children and young people and has a strong child protection focus.
In the interests of protecting children and young people, each voluntary organisation should have a clear Child Protection Policy detailing its procedures, which should be linked to this Guidance. If an organisation has a concern in relation to the safety or well-being of a child or young person the Social Work Service or the Police should be contacted as soon as possible.
Voluntary organisations have a responsibility to provide support and access to training. All workers and volunteers should be made aware of their own organisation’s Child Protection Policy and of this multi-agency guidance.
Fife’s statutory agencies work in partnership with the voluntary sector to promote good practice, share professional issues and engage in cross-sector training.