The publication of this revised 2015 statutory guidance follows on from the HM Government consultation process and sets out the changes necessary to support the new systems of multi-agency working for safeguarding directed by the Children and Social Work Act 2017. There are 5 key areas of change to consider:
- Multi-agency safeguarding arrangements – the requirement for councils to have Local Safeguarding Children Boards is removed and a ‘safeguarding partnership’ introduced. Each member of this tri-partnership, consisting of Local Authorities, Chief of Police Officers and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), has an equal and joint responsibility for safeguarding arrangements. They are required to formulate arrangements for working together with other ‘relevant agencies’ to safeguard children in their local area. The tri-partnership will provide strategic leadership to develop methods of coordinating safeguarding services, setting this out formally in published arrangements. In such arrangements, the partnership must formally identify the ‘relevant agencies’ who will then have a statutory duty to cooperate under the published local arrangements. Given their remit, it is highly likely that schools, academies, colleges and other educational establishments will be named as ‘relevant agencies’. The partnership must also ensure that learning from local and national serious safeguarding incidents is implemented. Currently, 1 in 3 councils are yet to consider how they will replace Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) with the new tri-partnership arrangements for multi-agency working. A DFE survey found that 34% of councils had not considered the implications, or started formulating plans, but ‘planned to in the future’. Of the 66% that had considered the impact, there was ‘some concern’ expressed over the requirement to move from existing partnerships to the new arrangements which included concerns about reduced funding and partners’ engagement. In addition, HM Government has also published guidance to assist the transition towards meeting the new arrangements and on information sharing.
- Assessment, help & support– the guidance strengthens the emphasis on preventative working with early / timely intervention, with a focus of being alert to known groups / situations where the need for early intervention is likely. This includes children:
- who may be at risk of radicalisation, modern slavery, trafficking and all forms of exploitation;
- SEND children (including those without statutory Education, Health and Care Plans);
- demonstrating signs of commencing anti-social or criminal behaviour. This includes gang involvement and association with organised crime e.g. county lines, financial exploitation;
- frequently missing from home or care;
- returning home from having been in care;
- that are privately fostered;
- misusing drugs or alcohol;
- whose family circumstances present challenges e.g. domestic abuse, substance misuse, adult mental health issues;
- who are young carers.
Additionally, the guidance includes sections on:
- contextual safeguarding;
- assessment of disabled children and their carers, young carers and those in secure youth establishments;
- information sharing.
- Child Death Reviews- alongside the introduction of the new tri-partnership arrangements, previously statutory Child Death Overview Panels (CDOPs) are replaced by the requirement for ‘child death review partners’ who will determine arrangements to review child deaths. This includes reviews of all deaths of children normally resident in the local area and, if deemed appropriate, any non-resident child who has died in the locality.
- Local and National Practice Reviews– nationally from 29th June 2018, a Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel will consider all notifications of serious incidents. They will identify and oversee reviews of serious child safeguarding cases regarded as complex or of national importance. They are also tasked with identifying and publishing a list of potential reviewers who may undertake national reviews. Locally each new tri-partnership must identify serious child safeguarding cases and raise any issues of importance for their area with the national panel. Tri-partnerships are responsible for commissioning and supervising reviewers undertaking local reviews. Full information on the rapid review process is contained within the guidance.
- Positions of Trust– The guidance contains a new section on ‘people in positions of trust’. All organisations working with children and families must have clear policies for dealing with allegations made against people working with children. The guidance also makes it clear that those working with children in a voluntary unpaid capacity are subject to the same safeguarding responsibilities as paid employees. Working together to safeguard children 2018 can be located at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children–2