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Agency Roles and Responsibilities

An awareness and appreciation of the role of your own and other organisations is essential for effective collaboration and partnership working to keep children safe.

This chapter outlines the main responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children which apply to all statutory organisations and agencies, voluntary, charity, social enterprise (VCSE), faith based organisations, the private sector and professionals and practitioners, who work with children.

It should be read in conjunction with the details set out in Chapter 2 of Working Together to Safeguard Children.

This chapter also provides information on the Serious Violence Duty under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 requires specified authorities for a local government area to work together and plan to prevent and reduce serious violence, including identifying the kinds of serious violence that occur in the area, the causes of that violence (so far as it is possible to do so), and to prepare and implement a Strategy for preventing and reducing serious violence in the area. The Duty also requires the specified authorities to consult educational, prison and youth custody authorities for the area in the preparation of their Strategy.

The Strategy must be published, kept under review and revised from time. The strategy should be reviewed at a minimum on an annual basis.

‘Specified’ authorities are:

  • Police;
  • Probation Services;
  • Youth Offending Teams;
  • Integrated Care Boards;
  • Local authorities.

A secondary group of ‘relevant’ authorities are able to co-operate with the specified authorities as necessary. This includes prison authorities, youth custody authorities and educational authorities.

To complement the overarching Serious Violence Duty, amendments to the Crime and Disorder Act 1998 ensure that Community Safety Partnerships have an explicit role in evidence-based strategic action on serious violence. These amendments require CSPs to formulate and implement strategies to prevent people from becoming involved in, and reduce instances of, serious violence in the area.

For more information see Serious Violence Duty - Preventing and Reducing Serious Violence: Statutory Guidance for Responsible Authorities.

To recognise the importance of effective multi-agency information sharing, the Serious Violence Duty legislation includes specific provisions to support partners to share information, intelligence and knowledge to prevent and reduce serious violence. See Information Sharing.

  • Agencies work together to identify children who are at risk of, or affected by, serious youth violence, including children who are exploited. They intervene to reduce risk and provide support for children; they monitor effectively the impact of interventions so that risk is reduced;
  • Children who are affected by serious youth violence or are exploited experience a child-centred approach from all professionals. Practice is based on a good understanding of children’s experiences, their background and identity, including any barriers to them accessing help and support, and their needs and strengths;
  • Professionals understand the importance of building trusting relationships with children. Professionals work together to ensure a strengths-based approach to engaging with children and their families. Partners have a shared understanding of the risks and needs of the child, and relationships are built on trust and respectful communication;
  • Assessments show that the experiences, strengths and needs of children are well understood. Their views are clearly recorded and central to a multi-agency response. Assessments are timely, include contributions from all relevant agencies and consider extra-familial harm, including risks online. They consider strengths and risks within the family and address risk to, and the protective capacity of, other children, including siblings and peers;
  • Assessments and plans are dynamic and adapt to changing risks and needs;
  • Children are protected through effective multi-agency arrangements. Key participants attend multi-agency meetings. These meetings are effective forums for timely information-sharing, planning, decision-making and monitoring. Actions happen within agreed timescales, and they help. Protection provided reduces risk and meets need;
  • Children and their families can access a range of effective services that are well coordinated, including therapeutic help. Where children are both victims and harming others, multi-agency responses address all their needs and reduce risks;
  • Professionals and support staff across agencies are well trained and supported, including receiving support with the emotional impact of working with children and families. They are confident and knowledgeable and understand the impact of serious youth violence on children’s health and well-being. They are aware of the importance of avoiding victim-blaming language and approaches as well as personal and institutional bias. This enables them to identify effectively how to help and protect children and to take action to do so;
  • Health practitioners, including those in ambulance services, show professional curiosity when children present with injuries that may indicate they are victims of, or at risk of, serious youth violence. They respond to their immediate needs, share information appropriately to reduce risk, and make sure that children are supported to access services to help them to stay safe and to meet their needs;
  • Agencies avoid unnecessarily criminalising children. Partners understand the experiences that can contribute to children being violent and/or exploiting other children. They reduce risks through appropriate support for all children involved;
  • Cases of serious youth violence and exploitation are investigated effectively. The safeguarding needs of all children are addressed;
  • Children and their families are listened to. Multi-agency practice focuses on their needs and experiences and is influenced by their wishes and feelings;
  • Schools/education providers have effective systems to identify children at risk of, or subject to, serious youth violence and/or exploitation and children who are missing from school. They make timely referrals to access appropriate support, including to early help or children’s social care. Schools and partner agencies share information appropriately and work effectively together to make sure that children get the support they need;
  • Schools/education providers are supported by local safeguarding partners to contribute effectively to multi-agency working, including joint work to ensure that children are protected from harm. They work to raise awareness and understanding of the risks of serious youth violence and exploitation. Partners work together to support children to remain in education;
  • Taking a multi-agency approach, leaders and managers across agencies understand the causes and consequences of serious youth violence, including factors that make children more vulnerable. They target resources on prevention and early intervention, using evidence-based approaches. This includes work with the community, businesses, education providers and parents and children;
  • Leaders and managers across agencies share and analyse information effectively so that partners know and understand: the prevalence of serious youth violence in their area; the localities where children may be at risk; the demographics of perpetrators and victims (including issues of disproportionality such as ethnicity, disability or gender); and the experiences of children. This leads to effective multi-agency strategy, planning and action, including commissioning services to meet local need;
  • Leaders and managers share information and intelligence to inform decisions about partners’ interventions in places and spaces. Relevant partners are involved and understand the aim of the intervention and the intended outcomes. Interventions mean that children and places and spaces are safer. Partners evaluate interventions and use that learning to continually improve;
  • Partners engage with communities, children, parents and carers to understand their needs in relation to and views about serious youth violence and to inform their decision-making about interventions and commissioning services;
  • Leaders and managers engage in critical reflection, and challenge and support practice. They promote continuous improvement in services for children at risk of serious youth violence;
  • Leaders in the local partnership, through the MASA, actively and effectively monitor and evaluate the work of the statutory partners. The local partnership works closely with other strategic partnerships and local organisations to make sure that children and their families get the help and support they need;
  • The local partnership promotes multi-agency learning about identifying, assessing and responding to serious youth violence. The partnership informs and improves practice, planning and the design of services, using feedback from children and families, as well as research and intelligence about effective multi-agency practice.

Joint Targeted Area Inspections of the Multi-agency Response to Serious Youth Violence

Serious Violence Reduction Orders (SVROs) are a civil order made in respect of an offender convicted of an offence involving a bladed article or offensive weapon.

The Order allows the police to detain a person subject to an SVRO, provided they are in a public place, and search them for bladed articles or offensive weapons.

Serious Violence Reduction Orders: Statutory Guidance sets out the background on SVROs, police processes, evidential considerations, court procedure and information on using SVROs alongside other orders and interventions.

All organisations and agencies that work with children share an obligation to safeguard and promote their welfare. For many organisations, this commitment is underpinned by specific statutory duties.

Local authorities with responsibilities for children's social care have a number of specific duties to organise and plan services for children. Where a child is suspected of, or likely to be, suffering significant harm children's social care will work in conjunction with the police and other organisations to undertake an enquiry under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places a duty on:

  • Local authorities and district councils that provide children's and other types of services, including children's and adult social care services, public health, housing, sport, culture and leisure services, licensing authorities and youth services;
  • NHS organisations and agencies and the independent sector, including NHS England and Integrated Care Boards, NHS Trusts, NHS Foundation Trusts and General Practitioners;
  • The police, including police and crime commissioners and the chief officer of each police force in England and the Mayor's Office for Policing and Crime in London;
  • The British Transport Police;
  • The National Probation Service;
  • Governors/Directors of Prisons and Young Offender Institutions (YOIs);
  • Directors of Secure Training Centres (STCs);
  • Principals of Secure Colleges;
  • Youth Offending Teams/Services (YOTs).

to ensure that their functions are discharged with regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. This includes services that they contract out and commission, as well as those that they provide directly.

Local authorities also have duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in relation to its functions under Section 175 of the Education Act 2002.

Statutory Guidance about these education duties is contained in Keeping Children Safe in Education.

The governing bodies, management committees or proprietors of the following schools have duties in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of pupils:

  • Maintained schools (including maintained nursery schools), further education colleges and sixth form colleges, and pupil referral units; Further Education and Higher Education Act 1992. Section 175, Education Act 2002 – for management committees of pupil referral units, this is by virtue of regulation 3 and paragraph 19A of Schedule 1 to the Education (Pupil Referral Units) (Application of Enactments) (England) Regulations 2007;
  • Independent schools (including academy schools, free schools and alternative provision academies) Under the Education (Independent School Standards) (England) Regulations 2014; and
  • Non-maintained special schools. Under the Education (Non-Maintained Special Schools) (England) Regulations 2011.

In addition, boarding schools, residential special schools and FE Institutions that provide accommodation for pupils under 18 must have regard to the relevant National Minimum Standards for their establishment.

The responsibility of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), as set out in the Children Act 1989, is to safeguard and promote the welfare of individual children who are the subject of family court proceedings. It achieves this by providing independent social work advice to the court.

Cafcass also has a duty under section 12(1) of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children involved in family proceedings in which their welfare is, or may be, in question.

Local authorities have the statutory responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children of service families in the UK. When service families or civilians working with the armed forces are based overseas the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of their children is vested in the Ministry of Defence.

Organisations, agencies and individuals covered by Section 11 duties should have in place arrangements that reflect the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children including duties:

  • A clear line of accountability for the commissioning and/or provision of services designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • A senior board level lead with the required knowledge, skills and expertise or sufficiently qualified and experienced to take leadership responsibility for the organisation's safeguarding arrangements;
  • A culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, both in individual decisions and the development of services;
  • Clear whistleblowing procedures, which reflect the principles in Sir Robert Francis's Freedom to Speak Up review and are suitably referenced in staff training and codes of conduct, and a culture that enables issues about safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children to be addressed;
  • Clear escalation policies for staff to follow when their child safeguarding concerns are not being addressed within their organisation or by other agencies;
  • Arrangements which set out clearly the processes for sharing information, with other professionals and with safeguarding partners;
  • A designated professional lead (or, for health commissioning and health provider organisations, designated and named professionals) for child safeguarding. Their role is to support other professionals in their agencies to recognise the needs of children, including protection from possible abuse or neglect. Designated professional roles should always be explicitly defined in job descriptions. Professionals should be given sufficient time, funding, supervision and support to fulfil their child welfare and safeguarding responsibilities effectively;
  • Safe recruitment practices for individuals whom the organisation will permit to work regularly with children, including policies on when to obtain a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check;
  • Appropriate supervision and support for staff, including undertaking safeguarding training;
  • Creating a culture of safety, equality and protection within the services they provide.

In addition:

  • Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role;
  • Staff should be given a mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child's safety or welfare;
  • All professionals should have regular reviews of their own practice to ensure they have knowledge, skills and expertise that improve over time.

Organisations and agencies working with children and families should have clear policies for dealing with allegations against people who work with children. Such policies should make a clear distinction between an allegation, a concern about the quality of care or practice or a complaint.

  • An allegation may relate to a person who works with children who has:
    • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
    • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child;
    • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children; or
    • Behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children.
  • County level and unitary local authorities should ensure that allegations against people who work with children are not dealt with in isolation. Any action necessary to address corresponding welfare concerns in relation to the child or children involved should be taken without delay and in a coordinated manner. Local authorities should, in addition, have designated a particular officer, or team of officers (either as part of multi-agency arrangements or otherwise), to be involved in the management and oversight of allegations against people that work with children. Any such officer, or team of officers, should be sufficiently qualified and experienced to be able to fulfil this role effectively, for example qualified social workers. Any new appointments to such a role, other than current or former designated officers moving between local authorities, should be qualified social workers. Arrangements should be put in place to ensure that any allegations about those who work with children are passed to the designated officer, or team of officers, without delay;
  • Local authorities should put in place arrangements to provide advice and guidance on how to deal with allegations against people who work with children to employers and voluntary organisations. Local authorities should also ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to effectively liaise with the police and other agencies to monitor the progress of cases and ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process;
  • Employers, school governors, trustees and voluntary organisations should ensure that they have clear policies in place setting out the process, including timescales, for investigation and what support and advice will be available to individuals against whom allegations have been made. Any allegation against people who work with children should be reported immediately to a senior manager within the organisation. The designated officer, or team of officers, should also be informed within 1 working day of all allegations that come to an employer's attention or that are made directly to the police;
  • If an organisation removes an individual (paid worker or unpaid volunteer) from work in regulated activity (or would have, had the person not left first) because the person poses a risk of harm to children, the organisation must make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service to consider whether to add the individual to the barred list. This applies irrespective of whether a referral has been made to local authority children's social care and/or the designated officer or team of officers. It is an offence to fail to make a referral without good reason.

See also Allegations Against Staff or Volunteers Procedure.

In addition to the Section 11 duties, which apply to a number of named organisations and agencies, further safeguarding duties are also placed on individual organisations and agencies through other statutes. The key duties that fall on each individual organisation are set out below.

The following detailed account of the roles and responsibilities of the agencies listed is taken from Chapter 2 of Working Together to Safeguard Children.

Local authorities provide services to adults who are themselves responsible for children who may be in need. When staff are providing services to adults they should ask whether there are children in the family and consider whether the children need help or protection from harm. Children may be at greater risk of harm or be in need of additional help in families where the adults have mental health problems, misuse drugs or alcohol, are in a violent relationship or have complex needs or have learning difficulties.

Adults with parental responsibilities for disabled children have a right to a separate carer's needs assessment under section 17ZD Children Act 1989.

Adults who do not have parental responsibility, but who are caring for a disabled child, are entitled to an assessment on their ability to provide, or to continue to provide, care for that disabled child under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995. That assessment must also consider whether the carer works or wishes to work, or whether they wish to engage in any education, training or recreation activities.

Adult social care services should liaise with children's social care services to ensure that there is a joined-up approach when carrying out such assessments.

Housing and homelessness services in local authorities and others at the front line such as environmental health organisations are subject to Section 11 duties. Practitioners working in these services may become aware of conditions that could have or are having an adverse impact on children. Under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004, authorities must take account of the impact of health and safety hazards in housing on vulnerable occupants, including children, when deciding on the action to be taken by landlords to improve conditions. Housing authorities also have an important role to play in safeguarding vulnerable young people, including young people who are pregnant or leaving care or a secure establishment.

Integrated Care Boards are one of the three statutory safeguarding partners. NHS organisations and agencies are subject to Section 11 duties. Health professionals are in a strong position to identify welfare needs or safeguarding concerns regarding individual children and, where appropriate, provide support. This includes understanding risk factors, communicating and sharing information effectively with children and families, liaising with other organisations and agencies, assessing needs and capacity, responding to those needs and contributing to multi-agency assessments and reviews.

A wide range of health professionals have a critical role to play in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children including: GPs, primary care practitioners, paediatricians, nurses, health visitors, midwives, school nurses, those working in maternity, Children and Young People’s Mental Health Services (CYPMHS), allied health practitioners youth custody establishments, sexual, alcohol and drug services for both adults and children unscheduled and emergency care settings highly specialised services and secondary and tertiary care.

All staff working in healthcare settings - including those who predominantly treat adults - should receive training to ensure they attain the competencies appropriate to their role and follow the relevant professional guidance:

Within the NHS:

  • NHS England will be responsible for ensuring that the health commissioning system as a whole is working effectively to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It will also be accountable for the services it directly commissions including health care services in the under-18 secure estate and in police custody. NHS England also leads and define improvement in safeguarding practice and outcomes and should also ensure that there are effective mechanisms for safeguarding partners and health and wellbeing boards to raise concerns about the engagement and leadership of the local NHS; Each NHS region should have a safeguarding lead to ensure regional collaboration and assurance through convening safeguarding forums;
  • Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) are one of the statutory safeguarding partners and major commissioners of local health services. They are responsible for the provision of effective clinical, professional and strategic leadership to child safeguarding, including the quality assurance of safeguarding through their contractual arrangements with all provider organisations and agencies, including from independent providers.

    ICBs should employ, or have in place, a contractual agreement to secure the expertise of designated professionals such as, i.e. designated doctors and nurses for safeguarding children and for looked after children (and designated paediatricians for unexpected deaths in childhood).

    In some areas there will be more than one ICB per local authority and ICBs may want to consider developing 'lead' or 'hosting' arrangements for their designated professional team, or a clinical network arrangement. Designated professionals, as senior professionals, clinical experts and strategic leaders, are a vital source of safeguarding advice and expertise for all relevant organisations and agencies but particularly the ICB, NHS England and the local authority and for advice and support to other health practitioners across the health economy. The NHS commissioners and providers should ensure that designated professionals are given sufficient time to be fully engaged, involved and included in the new safeguarding arrangements.
  • All providers of NHS funded health services including NHS Trusts, NHS Foundation Trusts should identify a dedicated named doctor and a named nurse (and a named midwife if the organisation provides maternity services) for safeguarding children. In the case of ambulance trusts and independent providers, this should be a named professional. Named professionals have a key role in promoting good professional practice within their organisation and agency, providing advice and expertise for fellow professionals, and ensuring safeguarding training is in place. They should work closely with their organisation's/agency's safeguarding lead, on the executive board, designated health professionals for the health economy and other statutory safeguarding partners;
  • Integrated Care Boards should employ a named GP to advise and support GP safeguarding practice leads. GPs should have a lead and deputy lead for safeguarding, who should work closely with the named GP based in the Integrated Care Board;
  • Other public, voluntary and independent sector organisations, agencies and social enterprises providing NHS services to children and families should ensure that they follow this guidance.

Model job descriptions for designated and named professional roles can be found in the intercollegiate document: Safeguarding Children and Young People: Roles and Competencies for Health Care Staff

The Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (formerly Public Health England (PHE)) is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care established to co-ordinate a programme across central and local government, the NHS and wider society, drawing on expert advice, analysis and evidence, to drive improvements in the public’s health.

The police are one of the three statutory safeguarding partners.

Under section 1(8)(h) of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 the police and crime commissioner must hold the Chief Constable to account for the exercise of the latter's duties in relation to safeguarding children under sections 10 and 11 of the Children Act 2004.

All police officers, and other police employees such as Police Community Support Officers, are well placed to identify early when a child's welfare is at risk and when a child may need protection from harm. Children have the right to the full protection offered by the criminal law. In addition to identifying when a child may be a victim of a crime, police officers should be aware of the effect of other incidents which might pose safeguarding risks to children and where officers should pay particular attention. For example, an officer attending a domestic abuse incident should be aware of the effect of such behaviour on any children in the household. Children who are encountered as offenders, or alleged offenders, are entitled to the same safeguards and protection as any other child and due regard should be given to their welfare at all times. For example, children who are apprehended in possession of Class A drugs may be victims of exploitation through county lines drug dealing.

The police will hold important information about children who may be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, as well as those who cause such harm. They should always share this information with other organisations where this is necessary to protect children. Similarly, they can expect other organisations to share information to enable the police to carry out their duties. All police forces should have officers trained in child abuse investigation.

See: College of Policing, Authorised Professional Practice Website.

The police have a power to remove a child to suitable accommodation under Section 46 of the Children Act 1989, if they have reasonable cause to believe that the child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm. Statutory powers to enter premises can be used with this section 46 power, and in circumstances to ensure the child's immediate protection.

The police have emergency powers under Section 46 of the Children Act 1989 to enter premises and remove a child to ensure their immediate protection. This power can be used if the police have reasonable cause to believe a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. Police emergency powers can help in emergency situations but should be used only when necessary. Wherever possible, the decision to remove a child from a parent or carer should be made by a court.

The British Transport Police (BTP) can play an important role in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, especially in identifying and supporting children who have run away or who are truanting from school or who are being exploited by criminal gangs to move drugs and money.

The BTP should carry out its duties in accordance with its legislative powers. This includes removing a child to a suitable place using their police protection powers under the Children Act 1989 and the protection of children who are truanting from school using powers under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. This involves, for example, the appointment of a designated independent officer in the instance of a child taken into police protection.

Probation services are provided by the National Probation Service (NPS). The NPS is subject to the Section 11 duties. They are primarily responsible for working with adult offenders both in the community and in the transition from custody to community to reduce reoffending and improve rehabilitation.

During the course of their duties, probation staff come into contact with offenders who:

  • Have offended against a child;
  • Pose a risk of harm to children even though they have not been convicted of an offence against a child;
  • Are parents and/or carers of children;
  • Have regular contact with a child for whom they do not have caring responsibility.

They are, therefore, well placed to identify offenders who pose a risk of harm to children as well as children who may be at heightened risk of involvement in (or exposure to) criminal or anti-social behaviour and of other poor outcomes due the offending behaviour of their parent/carer(s).

They should ask an offender at the earliest opportunity whether they live with, have caring responsibilities for, are in regular contact with, or are seeking contact with children. Where this applies, a check should be made with the local authority children's services at the earliest opportunity on whether the child/children is/are known to them and, if they are, the nature of their involvement.

Where an adult offender is assessed as presenting a risk of serious harm to children, the offender manager should develop a risk management plan and supervision plan that contains a specific objective to manage and reduce the risk of harm to children. The risk management plan should be shared with other organisations and agencies involved in the risk management.

In preparing a sentence plan, offender managers should consider how planned interventions might bear on parental responsibilities and whether the planned interventions could contribute to improved outcomes for children known to be in an existing relationship with the offender.

See also HMPP Child Safeguarding Policy.

The Prison Service has a responsibility to identify prisoners who are potential or confirmed 'persons posing a risk to children' (PPRC) and, through assessment, establish whether the PPRC presents a continuing risk to children whilst in prison custody (see the HMP Public Protection Manual). Where an individual has been identified as presenting a risk of harm to children, the relevant prison establishment:

  • Should inform the local authority children's social care services of the offender's reception to prison subsequent transfers, release on temporary licence (ROTL) and of the release address of the offender;
  • Should notify the National Probation Service of PPRC status. The police should also be notified of the release date and address;
  • May prevent or restrict a prisoner's contact with children. Decisions on the level of contact, if any, should be based on a multi-agency risk assessment. The assessment should draw on relevant risk information held by police, National Probation Service and prison service. The relevant local authority children's social care should contribute to the multi-agency risk assessment by providing a report on the child's best interests. The best interests of the child will be paramount in the decision-making process;
  • A prison is also able to monitor an individual's communication (including letters and telephone calls) to protect children where proportionate and necessary to the risk presented.

Governors/Directors of women's establishments which have Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) should ensure that:

  • There is at all times a member of staff allocated to the MBU, who as a minimum, is trained in first aid, whilst within the prison there is always a member of staff on duty who is trained in paediatric first aid (including child/adult resuscitation) who can be called to the MBU if required;
  • There is a contingency plan/policy in place for child protection, first aid including paediatric first aid and resuscitation, which should include advice for managing such events, and which provides mothers with detailed guidance as to what to do in an emergency;
  • Each baby has a child care plan setting out how the best interests of the child will be maintained and promoted during the child's residence in the unit.

See also HMPP Child Safeguarding Policy.

Governors, managers directors and principals of the following secure establishments are subject to the Section 11 duties set out in Chapter 2 of Working Together to Safeguard Children:

  • A secure training centre;
  • A young offender institution;
  • A secure college.

Each centre holding those aged under 18 should have in place an annually reviewed safeguarding children policy. The policy is designed to promote and safeguard the welfare of children and should cover all relevant operational areas as well as key supporting processes, which would include issues such as child protection, risk of harm, restraint, separation, staff recruitment and information sharing. A manager should be appointed and will be responsible for implementation of this policy.

Each centre should work with their local safeguarding partners to agree how they will work together, and with the relevant YOT and placing authority (the Youth Custody Service), to make sure that the needs of individual children are met.

Detailed guidance on the safeguarding children policy, the roles of the safeguarding children manager and the safeguarding children committee, and the role of the establishment in relation to the local multi agency safeguarding arrangements can be found in the HM Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) Policy Frameworks.

See also Matters of Concern, Safeguarding Concerns, Allegations and Complaints for Children in Custody – Youth Custody Service (Youth Justice Resource Hub).

Youth Offending Teams (YOT's) are multi-agency teams responsible for the supervision of children subject to pre-court interventions and statutory court disposals (The statutory membership of YOTs is set out in section 39 (5) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998).

They are therefore well placed to identify children known to relevant organisations and agencies as being most at risk of offending and to undertake work to prevent them offending or protect them from harm. YOTs should have a lead officer responsible for ensuring safeguarding is embedded in their practice.

Under section 38 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, local authorities must, within the delivery of youth justice services, ensure the 'provision of persons to act as appropriate adults to safeguard the interests of children and young persons detained or questioned by police officers'.

Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 places upon the Secretary of State a duty to take account of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in discharging its functions relating to immigration, asylum, nationality and customs. These functions are discharged on behalf of the Secretary of State by UK Visas and Immigration, Immigration Enforcement and the Border Force, which are part of the Home Office. See UK Visas and Immigration's arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

The guidance in Working Together to Safeguard Children applies in its entirety to all schools. The following have duties in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children:

  • Governing bodies of maintained schools (including maintained nursery schools), further education colleges and sixth-form colleges;
  • Proprietors of academy schools, free schools, alternative provision academies and non-maintained special schools. In the case of academies and free school trusts, the proprietor will be the trust itself;
  • Proprietors of independent schools;
  • Management committees of pupil referral units.

Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 places a duty on local authorities (in relation to their education functions and governing bodies of maintained schools and further education institutions, which include sixth-form colleges) to exercise their functions with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children who are pupils at a school, or who are students under 18 years of age attending further education institutions. The same duty applies to independent schools (which include Academies and free schools) by virtue of regulations made under Section 157 of the same Act.

In order to fulfil their duty under Sections 157 and 175 of the Education Act 2002, all educational settings to whom the duty applies should have in place the arrangements set out in Section 5, People in Positions of Trust. In addition schools should have regard to specific guidance given by the Secretary of State under sections 157 and 175 of the Education Act 2002 namely, Keeping Children Safe in Education.

Early years providers have a duty under Section 40 of the Childcare Act 2006 to comply with the welfare requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFS), Section 3, The Safeguarding and Welfare Requirements.

Early years providers must ensure that:

  • They are alert to any issues of concern in the child's life;
  • They have and implement a policy and procedures to safeguard children. This must include an explanation of the action to be taken when there are safeguarding concerns about a child and in the event of an allegation being made against a member of staff. The policy must also cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in the setting, that staff complete safeguarding training that enables them to understand their safeguarding policy and procedures, have up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding issues, and recognise signs of potential abuse and neglect;
  • They have a practitioner who is designated to take lead responsibility for safeguarding children within each early years setting and who must liaise with local statutory children's services as appropriate. This lead must also complete child protection training.

This includes:

  • During term time, or when the setting is in operation, the designated safeguarding lead or an appropriately trained deputy should be available during opening hours for staff to discuss safeguarding concerns.

The responsibility of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), as set out in the Children Act 1989, is to safeguard and promote the welfare of individual children who are the subject of family court proceedings. It achieves this by providing independent social work advice to the court.

A Cafcass officer has a statutory right in public law cases to access local authority records relating to the child concerned and any application under the Children Act 1989. That power also extends to other records that relate to the child and the wider functions of the local authority, or records held by an authorised body that relate to that child.

Where a Cafcass officer has been appointed by the court as a child's guardian and the matter before the court relates to specified proceedings, they should be invited to all formal planning meetings convened by the local authority in respect of the child. This includes statutory reviews of children who are accommodated or looked after, child protection conferences and relevant Adoption Panel meetings.

Local authorities have the statutory responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children of service families in the UK.

In discharging these responsibilities:

  • Local authorities should ensure that the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Families Association Forces Help, the British Forces Social Work Service or the Naval Personal and Family Service is made aware of any service child who is the subject of a child protection plan and whose family is about to move overseas;
  • Each local authority with a United States base in its area should establish liaison arrangements with the base commander and relevant staff. The requirements of English child welfare legislation should be explained clearly to the US authorities, so that the local authority can fulfil its statutory duties.

Voluntary, Charity, Social Enterprise (VCSE) and private sector organisations and agencies play an important role in safeguarding children through the services they deliver. Some of these will work with particular communities, with different races and faith communities and delivering in health, adult social care, housing, prisons and the National probation Service. They may as part of their work provide a wide range of activities for children and have an important role in safeguarding children and supporting families and communities.

Like other organisations and agencies who work with children, they should have appropriate arrangements in place to safeguard and protect children from harm. Many of these organisations and agencies as well as many schools, children's centres, early years and childcare organisations, will be subject to charity law and regulated either by the Charity Commission or other "principal" regulators. Charity trustees are responsible for ensuring that those benefiting from, or working with, their charity, are not harmed in any way through contact with it. The Charity Commission for England and Wales provides guidance on charity compliance which should be followed. Further information on the Charity Commission's role in safeguarding can be found on: the Charity Commission's page on the GOV.UK website.

Some of these organisations and agencies are large national charities whilst others will have a much smaller local reach. Some will be delivering statutory services and may be run by volunteers, such as library services. This important group of organisations includes youth services not delivered by local authorities or district councils.

All practitioners working in these organisations and agencies who are working with children and their families are subject to the same safeguarding responsibilities, whether paid or a volunteer.

Every VCSE, faith-based organisation and private sector organisation or agency should have policies in place to safeguard and protect children from harm. These should be followed and systems should be in place to ensure compliance in this. Individual practitioners, whether paid or volunteer, should be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and protecting children from harm, how they should respond to child protection concerns and how to make a referral to local authority children's social care or the police if necessary.

Every VCSE, faith-based organisation and private sector organisation or agency should have in place the arrangements described in this chapter. They should be aware of how they need to work with the safeguarding partners in a local area. Charities (within the meaning of section 1 Charities Act 2011), religious organisations (regulation 34 and schedule 3 to School Admissions) and any person involved in the provision, supervision or oversight of sport or leisure are included within the relevant agency regulations. This means if the safeguarding partners name them as a relevant partner they must cooperate. Other VCSE, faith-based and private sector organisations not on the list of relevant agencies can also be asked to cooperate as part of the local arrangements and should do so.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 has extended the definition of Position of Trust within the Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 22A to include anyone who coaches, teaches, trains, supervises or instructs a child under 18, on a regular basis, in a sport or a religion. It's against the law for someone in a position of trust to engage in sexual activity with a child in their care, even if that child is over the age of consent (16 or over).

See also Guidance on Reporting Safeguarding Concerns in a Charity.

There are many sports clubs and organisations including voluntary and private sector providers that deliver a wide range of sporting activities to children. Some of these will be community amateur sports clubs, some will be charities. All should have the arrangements described in this chapter in place and should collaborate to work effectively with the safeguarding partners as required by any local safeguarding arrangements. Paid and volunteer staff need to be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, how they should respond to child protection concerns and how to make a referral to local authority children's social care or the police if necessary.

All National Governing Bodies of Sport, that receive funding from either Sport England or UK Sport, must aim to meet the Standards for Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Sport.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 has extended the definition of Position of Trust within the Sexual Offences Act 2003 section 22A to include anyone who coaches, teaches, trains, supervises or instructs a child under 18, on a regular basis, in a sport or a religion. It's against the law for someone in a position of trust to engage in sexual activity with a child in their care, even if that child is over the age of consent (16 or over).

The registered person of a children's home must have regard to the Guide to the Children's Homes Regulations, including the Quality Standards (April 2015), in interpreting and meeting the Regulations. The Guide covers the quality standards for children's homes, which set out the aspirational and positive outcomes that we expect homes to achieve, including the standard for the protection of children. The registered person is responsible for ensuring that staff continually and actively assess the risks to each child and the arrangements in place to protect them. Where there are safeguarding concerns for a child, their placement plan, agreed between the home and their placing authority, must include details of the steps the home will take to manage any assessed risks on a day to day basis.

In addition to the requirements of this standard, the registered person has specific responsibilities under regulation 34 to prepare and implement policies setting out: arrangements for the safeguarding of children from abuse or neglect; clear procedures for referring child protection concerns to the placing authority or local authority where the home is situated if appropriate; and specific procedures to prevent children going missing and take action if they do.

Each home should work with their local safeguarding partners to agree how they will work together, and with the placing authority, to make sure that the needs of the individual children are met.

Many of the agencies subject to the Section 11 duty are members of the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA), including the police, prison and National Probation Service. MAPPA should work together with duty to co-operate (DTC) agencies to manage the risks posed by violent and sexual offenders living in the community in order to protect the public and should work closely with the safeguarding partners over services to commission locally.

Amendments made by the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 extend of the duty to co-operate under MAPPA, so that any other person the Responsible Authority considers could contribute to the achievement of the purpose of MAPPA may also share information with the named partners.

All organisations, which do not have statutory duties under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 but which have involvement with children and young people, directly or indirectly, should have in place the arrangements described in this chapter. They should be aware of how they need to work with the safeguarding partners in a local area. They have a responsibility to ensure that their employees, volunteers and service users are aware of these procedures and know how to access them.

Everybody who works with children, parents and other adults in connection with children should be able to recognise indicators of concern about a child's welfare or safety. A staff member or volunteer who may encounter concerns about the safety and well-being of a child should know:

  • How to respond to child protection concerns;
  • Who in their organisation can offer support and guidance;
  • When and how to make a referral to children's social care under the Referrals Procedure or the police if necessary;
  • What other services are available locally and how to gain access to them;
  • How to access and receive appropriate training.

Last Updated: April 16, 2024