Roles and Responsibilities
Children - Legislation
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.
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.
Multi and Single Agency Responsibilities
The Chief Officers’ Public Safety Group (COPS) is comprised of the highest level Officers (Chief Executive NHS Fife, Chief Executive Fife Council, Chief Constable Fife Constabulary, 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.
Children in Fife(GIRFEC)
The Children in Fife Group (CIF) replaced the Children’s Services Group (CSG) and is a top-level multi-agency group aiming to improve the outcomes for children and young people in Fife by providing leadership to achieve enhanced integrated children’s services.
To do this, the CIF group will:
- implement Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) in Fife, ensuring services work together to deliver improvements on nationally and locally agreed outcomes;
- promote and oversee planning, collective improvement and integration of children’s services in Fife;
- target services to prevent greatest risk and in pursuit of equalities;
- improve the safety and well-being of vulnerable children by working in close partnership with Fife CPC to ensure full integration between GIRIF and Child Protection at all levels; and
- develop and implement the Integrated Children’s Services Plan (ICSP).
The Social Work Service is committed to the principle of promoting children and young people’s right to be brought up in a safe and secure environment where their welfare will always be the paramount consideration. 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 sympathetic, and in the best interests of the child. In all aspects of child protection the Social Work Service is committed to working closely with other agencies.
Under the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, the Social Work Service has a legal responsibility to enquire into the circumstances of children and young people who may require compulsory measures of supervision, who may have been abused or be at risk of being abused, and to take all reasonable measures to protect them from further harm. This responsibility extends to all children and young people, whether they are in the community with their parents, in the care of others or being looked after by the local authority.
These measures include referring concerns about the child or young person to the Children’s Reporter where there is reason to believe that the child or young person may be in need of compulsory measures of supervision. In every case, the Service actively seeks to involve parents, carers, and where appropriate, the child, in discussions and decisions that may affect their lives, and also to consult with other professions and agencies to whom the family may be known.
The responsibilities of Fife Council’s Social Work Service upon receipt of a child concern notification shall include: the investigation, identification and assessment of risk and abuse. This may require 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; and work with children and young people who display sexually inappropriate or harmful behaviours.
The Service also has a statutory responsibility for supervising convicted offenders who are subject to community based sentences, such as probation and community service, or who are subject to statutory supervision on release from prison. The Service provides, on a voluntary or compulsory basis, advice, guidance and assistance to people who request it following release from custody. 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 ).
Children and Families and Criminal Justice are a joint service within Social Work, ensuring close liaison between staff working with children and young people and those working with offenders.
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 and NHS, to share information and determine what action is required to investigate the concerns and safeguard children. The team along with the Family Protection Unit (FPU) 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.
The Child Protection Team also assess the risk to the child in each case and where required will arrange an initial child protection case conference. CPT will maintain case responsibility up to and until the end of an initial child protection case conference. Following conclusion of the investigation and outcome of the conference where ongoing social work involvement is required this will be provided by the appropriate area team. In situations where the Child Protection Team request and gain a Child Protection Order, the Child Protection Team will hold that case until it reaches the 8th day hearing, thereafter the appropriate area team will take the case.
The Child Protection Team can be contacted via the Social Work Service Contact Centre on Tel: 01383 441177
NHS Fife is committed to promoting and protecting the health and welfare of all children and young people in Fife through the provision of universal healthcare services. The principle of information sharing and inter-agency working underpins clinical practice around child welfare and are the responsibility of all NHS staff.
The NHS Fife Specialist Child Protection Team, based at Greenfield Clinic provides a specialist child protection service offering comprehensive clinical and forensic assessment of children and young people considered at risk of harm or abuse. Greenfield Clinic provides a specialist child protection service, with provision of:
- Dedicated nursing team with on call advice and support during working hours or Mon to Fri 8:30 – 5pm
- On call Community Paediatrician available for medical opinion/examinations, as above;
- Comprehensive clinical and forensic assessment of children and young people considered at risk of harm or abuse.
NHS Fife became a full partner in the IRD process in June 2010 and is responsible for gathering initial background health information.
The IRD process within health is nurse led, with dedicated resources to allow for full partnership involvement. A team of Community Specialist Paediatricians are on call daily to assist initial assessment and planning if required (i.e. medical opinion is sought) and to undertake Comprehensive Medical Assessments (Paediatrician) and Joint Paediatric Forensic Examinations (NHS Paediatrician and Police Forensic Medical Examiner) if required.
The responsibilities of the Police Public Protection Unit (PPU), upon receipt of a child concern, will include the identification and investigation of any potential criminal offences who the victim(s) may be and any potential offender. Police staff will engage with partners by implementing an Inter-Agency Referral Discussion (IRD) and plan for a joint investigation when that is appropriate. They will also liaise with the local Procurator Fiscal (where required), to discuss the evaluation of evidence and the progress of serious cases. Police will always provide relevant information sharing to contribute to the continuing joint risk assessment and Child’s Plan.
Fife Constabulary is committed to a policy of co-operation with its partner agencies to ensure that all investigations are proportionate and carried out in a sensitive, sympathetic and victim-centred manner. A co-ordinated response will be based on consultation and information-sharing. The investigation may involve joint interviews by a Police Officer and a Social Worker as part of a multi-disciplinary assessment. Police Officers carrying out this role are based within the PPU and are specially trained in joint interview protocols.
Whenever there is a suspicion that a crime or offence has been committed, the police should be contacted immediately so that an investigation can be commenced. The police also investigate adult disclosures of historical child abuse and deal with these matters in a professional and sympathetic way; and assist victims to cope with these traumatic incidents. The police will also refer victims to the appropriate agencies who will provide support and counselling.
The PPU is the central point of contact for the Force in relation to invitations for police attendance at Child Protection Case Conferences.
When a medical examination is necessary for evidential purposes, the unit can call upon the expertise of appropriately trained NHS Fife staff and the police Forensic Medical Examiner (FME). This joint working addresses medical, legal and welfare issues, and is intended to provide the best service for victims and families.
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.
Domestic abuse is a considerable problem in Fife with 39% of Child Cause for Concerns in 2010 relating to Domestic Abuse. There is also a repeat victimisation rate of 42%.
The Education Service has a range of roles in relation to child protection.
First, through curricular activities and experiences designed to achieve the outcomes of the Health and Wellbeing in the areas of Curriculum for Excellence. These aim to develop the emotional, social and physical well-being of individual pupils and explore ways in which they can keep themselves and others safe from harm. One of the four priorities within the Children’s Rights Strategy in Fife is to ensure that all children and young people are aware of their rights as individuals through curricular activities.
Second, to support children and young people who are victims, recognising that to be free of threat or risk is a pre-requisite for effective development and learning. This role will almost always involve co-operation with other agencies. All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to promptly.
Third, to identify children and young people who may be victims of abuse. In this role school staffs required to be aware of signs and symptoms of abuse. They should observe carefully the behaviour and demeanour of children and young people and, when approached, take time to listen. Any concern or suspicions the teacher might have, no matter how trivial they may seem at the time, should be recorded on the Education Service’s Care and Welfare form, and given to the Child Protection Co-ordinator for the school. This form is placed in a dedicated file held by the Child Protection Co-ordinator. Where a specific concern is noted as a child protection issue the Child Protection Co-ordinator will take the appropriate action, i.e. contact either Social Work Service or Public Protection Unit (Police) and follow this up in writing by completing the Child Concern Notification Form, put appropriate support for the pupil in place and record any action taken.
To enable schools to fulfil these roles, each school should have at least two designated members of staff for child protection issues i.e. a Child Protection Co-ordinator and at least one Depute Co-ordinator. The Child Protection Co-ordinator is usually a senior promoted member of staff and will be appropriately trained. Every school has a copy of the Education Service’s Care and Welfare Guidance, and receives regular updates on procedures and practice.
Integrated Community Schools Teams provide support to vulnerable children, young people and their families who are experiencing a range of difficulties at home, in school or in the local community. Support provided frequently involves supporting families with complex needs within their own homes, in partnership with a range of agencies.
ICS staff has a role to play in identifying, monitoring and supporting young people where any care and welfare issue is suspected. This is done in collaboration with the other agencies involved, e.g. Child Protection Co-ordinators in schools, Social Workers, school nurses etc with whom information will be shared appropriately.
Integration Managers play a key role in working in close partnership with a range of agencies in their local areas to develop integrated services for children and young people most at risk, responding to local need through developments within Local Getting It Right Groups and other local and Fife-wide strategic mechanisms.
The independent education sector should ensure that child protection policies and procedures, which reflect Fife Child Protection Inter-Agency 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.
Under Section 56 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995, the Children’s Reporter is required to investigate concerns received, which can originate from individuals or services. Upon receipt of a concern, the Children’s Reporter will investigate the facts to establish whether these are sufficient to frame grounds of referral for consideration by a Children's Hearing. This involves requesting reports on incidents and/or taking statements from witnesses in order to gather evidence on the abuse, which may be physical neglect, emotional abuse, physical injury or sexual abuse.
Where there is sufficient evidence, the Children’s Reporter will decide whether there are grounds for compulsory measures of supervision. The Children’s Hearing will decide if compulsory measures of supervision are required, or alternative voluntary supervision, a warning or advice is required. Where grounds are denied at a Children’s Hearing, the Children’s Reporter refers to the Sheriff for a decision on grounds.
Housing and Communities covers a wide range of universally available services for Fife residents and includes Housing and Neighbourhood Services, Local and Community Services and, Leisure and Cultural Services.
Housing and Communities recognises that the welfare of all children and young people is paramount, irrespective of gender, racial origin, religion or disability.
Housing and Communities staff and volunteers provide services which may involve regular direct contact with children and young people of all ages. Staff will take all reasonable steps to protect children and young people from harm and abuse, and will respect their rights at all times.
All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to promptly. Staff have received training in helping them to recognise the main forms of abuse and in the appropriate procedures for reporting concerns and contributing to child protection plans.
These Services play some specific roles in relation to child protection which include the following:
- The Council has a statutory responsibility to house children and young people. Housing applicants with children and young people may be given priority because of their potential vulnerability. Other priorities include young people over the age of 16 for whom the Council has a duty of care and who may need accommodation and support to maintain their tenancy.
- A range of housing accommodation and related support services is available, which provides for assistance to children, young people and families. Fife Council, registered social landlords, housing associations and a number of voluntary sector organisations all offer a range of responses to the needs of families, children and young people.
- Housing Officers and Local Services Advisors engage with parents/carers, children and young people in a variety of circumstances, including their homes, for example, through their responsibilities for addressing homelessness; resettlement; tenancy issues; anti-social behaviour and racial harassment; the provision of housing and housing support services to young people.
Housing and Communities staff also work closely with a wide range of trusts, voluntary and independent organisations in the delivery of services. The service will promote dialogue, training and good practice to ensure that any such groups employ child protection procedures in keeping with the principles outlined above.
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.
COPFS recognises the important role that a prosecution service has in any society and carry out their work in accordance with their key values:
- Independence- Making decisions based on a fair, impartial and objective assessment of what is in the public interest;
- Integrity- Being open in dealings with the defence and the court while preserving the confidentiality of reports and investigations;
- Sensitivity- Recognising the needs of the public, including victims, witnesses and next of kin;
- Respect- Valuing the contribution of staff, developing their full potential, encouraging team work and rewarding performance;
- Professionalism- Investigating, preparing and presenting cases thoroughly, critically and accurately.
It is possible that the Procurator Fiscal, or a precognition officer acting on his/her behalf, will interview a child witness in advance of prosecution in relation to serious charges. This interview is known as a precognition. Its purpose is to establish what evidence a child or young person is able to give, whether the child or young person is capable of giving evidence in court, and to consider whether application should be made to the court to allow the child or young person to give evidence behind a screen, by live closed circuit television link or by a commission appointed by the court to take the evidence of the child or young person recorded by video recorder under the special provisions of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 for the evidence of children and young people. The Judge considers the application, and having applied the criteria set out in the 1995 Act decides whether an application for the child or young person to give evidence in this way is to be granted.
VIA are part of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS), however are not prosecutors. VIA understand the particular concerns and needs of people affected by crime and provide a dedicated service that helps victims, witnesses and bereaved next of kin through the criminal justice process by keeping them informed of key events and offering explanations where appropriate providing a greater understanding of the justice system as it applies to particular cases.
For many witnesses, contact with the criminal justice system is not a matter of choice, comes at a time of great stress in their lives, and is a process that is alien to them. Giving a statement and perhaps eventually giving evidence at court can be difficult and stressful. Individual witnesses have different needs. It is the responsibility of those in the criminal justice system to recognise and seek to meet those needs, and to assist the witness to give their best evidence. Some vulnerable witnesses or victims may need additional support if, for example, English is not their first language, or they have learning difficulties.
The VIA service now covers the whole of Scotland. There are VIA staff in Procurator Fiscals Offices around the country. Contact your local VIA office if you would like any further information or if there is anything you are unsure about.
If you have any problems getting in touch with your local VIA office please contact them by telephoning 0844 561 3000 (from a landline) or 01389 739 557 (from a mobile telephone).
A new team of Scotland's most senior prosecutors has been established to specialise in the investigation and prosecution of serious sexual crimes across Scotland. The unit is based at the Crown Office in Edinburgh.
A dedicated team of specialist Crown Counsel will direct these criminal investigations from the earliest stages, providing advice and expertise to Procurators Fiscal. The National Sexual Crimes Unit also includes a dedicated team of specialist Procurators Fiscal.
Family life in the armed forces is by its very nature, different to that in civilian life. The Forces control the movement of the family and families often endure long periods of separation, without extended family support. Local authorities and other agencies should note these differences and be ready to share information with the service authorities when a service family becomes subject to child protection inquiries. Each service has its own welfare organisation, and service authorities also provide housing for their families. 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.
Royal Navy and Royal Marines
The Area Officer for East and Overseas has an overview of all naval child protection cases in the UK. Contact Tel: 02392 722712 or Fax: 02392 725083
Local authorities with enquiries or concerns regarding child protection or the welfare of a child from an Army family should contact: The Senior Army Welfare Worker on Tel: 0131 310 2845 or Chief Personal Support Officer on Tel: 01722 436564 Fax: 01722 436307 or email: LF-AWS-CPSO@mod.uk
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force has an independent welfare organisation on each station. Social work is managed as a normal command function and co-ordinated by each station’s personnel officer. Contact Tel: 01334 857962 - RAF Leuchars.
For service families based overseas or being considered for an overseas appointment, the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of their children is vested with the Ministry of Defence (MOD). The MOD funds the British Forces Social Work Service (BFSWS) overseas which is contracted to the SSAFA-FH (NPFS for naval families) and provides a fully qualified social work and community health service.
For SSAFA-FH referrals please contact - The Director of Social Work on Tel: 020 7403 8783 or Fax: 020 7403 8815.
For NPFS referrals please contact – The Area Officer on Tel: 02393 733 712 or Fax: 02392 725 083
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.