Clackmannanshire and Stirling Child Protection Committee is a multi-agency forum accountable for the development, management and review of child protection inter-agency practice and policy across Clackmannanshire and Stirling. The Child Protection Committee comprises representatives from Stirling Council, Clackmannanshire Council, NHS Forth Valley, Police Scotland and Voluntary and Independent sectors. It is responsible for guaranteeing child protection practice conforms within National and Local criteria. We have a legal duty as Practitioners to protect child from harm and therefore must follow the individual Child Protection guidelines set within our own establishments in accordance with the local and national principles. All staff refresh their knowledge and understanding annually at Child Protection Training. During the training all staff are reminded that child protection is everyone’s concern and emphasises a child within Scots law is anyone under 16. However young people under 18 may still require protection, for example if they have additional support needs. Further guidance is given to practitioners to minimise the possibility of allegations of abuse being made against them and to reflect on their own practice. By following their own establishment’s child protection and other safeguarding policies and guidance on good working practice they should protect themselves from such allegations.
Legislation places a variety of obligations and responsibilities on services and organisations. The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 remains one of the primary pieces of legislation and provides the legislative framework for Scotland’s child protection system. Having been amended and incorporated with previous Acts now includes the law relating to child protection to ensure there are proper safeguards for children and gives parents/carers the opportunity to challenge any action that the courts may take. The act outlines parental responsibilities, rights and duties and the powers local authorities have to support children and intervene if there are concerns about a child.
“The key principles underpinning the 1995 Act are:
• Each child has a right to be treated as an individual
• Each child who can form a view on matters affecting him or her has the right to express those views if he or she so wishes
• Parents should normally be responsible for the upbringing of their children and should share that responsibility
• Each child has the right to protection from all forms of abuse, neglect or exploitation
• So far as is consistent with safeguarding and promoting the child’s welfare, the public authority should promote the upbringing of children by their families
• Any intervention by a public authority in the life of a child must be properly justified and should be supported by services from all relevant agencies working in collaboration”.
The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 also incorporates the three key principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child into Scottish Law:-
• Protection from discrimination
• Ensuring that child welfare is a primary concern
• Listening to children’s views.
In relation to children’s protection matters5 of confidentiality, sharing of information and disclosure of sensitive information The Data Protection Act 1998 ensures all key principles are adhered to by staff ensuring the children’s wellbeing and protection is not jeopardised.
The Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007 was established instead of the previous disclosure system to ensure that
a person with a history of abusive behavior was not in regular contact with vulnerable groups within a workplace. The robust vetting and barring system in place will detect those deemed unsuitable for working with children and protected adults.
Scotland’s Children’s Hearings System was initiated by the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968 and is now regulated by the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011. One of the strengths of the Children’s Hearings System is that it has been able to adapt to changing social and political climates. The fundamental principles on which it is based have been maintained but processes have been changed in light of international conventions. These include the specific rights for children contained in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the general human rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights. In an emergency the Police have the specific power under the Children’s Hearings (Scotland) 2011 Act to ensure the immediate protection of children believed to be suffering from or at risk of significant harm.
Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 is another significant piece of legislation about children’s rights supporting Children Protection guidelines. Building on the aims of the Early Years Framework, this act aims to put children and young people at the heart of planning and services to make sure their rights are respected across the public sector. Its focus was on the early years of a child’s life and towards early intervention whenever help was required by the child or family encouraging preventative measures rather than crises’ responses. Included in this Act is the statutory operation of the Named Person and Child’s Plan underpinned by the Getting It Right For Every Child (GIRFEC) approach. The GIRFEC principles which all services and multi-agencies follow is the national holistic approach to improving the wellbeing of children to ensure they develop to their full potential. By implementing common frameworks for planning assessment and action all agencies can work together to identify needs and risks addressing them appropriately. To ensure concerns are responded to early and effectively shared practice should be consistent and of high quality.
Although some legislations have more significance within Children Protection than others there are a numerous legislations which have an equally important role in how safeguarding concerns are dealt with i.e. Police and Fire Reform (Scotland) Act 2012, Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968, Local Government in Scotland 2003, Education (Additional Support for Learning) (Scotland) 2004 and 2009, Human Rights Act 1998, Digital Economy Act 2017 and Limitation (Childhood Abuse) (Scotland) Act 2017.