The UK’s four nations England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales have their own child protection structures and regulations to help protect children from abuse and neglect. Each nation has a framework of legislation, guidance and practice to detect children who are at risk of harm and take action to protect those children and avert further abuse happening. The responsibility of policies and laws which covers most parts of safeguarding and child protection within education, social welfare and health is down to each of the UK nations. Laws are passed to avoid behaviour that can harm children or require action to protect children.
Although each nation has different child protection systems in place they all cover the same principles. The Scottish child protection policies, legislation and statutory guidance is set up and the responsibility of the Scottish Government.
The National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014 aims to enhance the way all professionals and organisations work collectively to give children the protection they require, quickly and successfully at the earliest possible stage. Furthermore it focuses on the shared responsibility that all agencies and services have for protecting children and safeguarding their well-being.
The National Guidance for Child Protection was first published in 2010 and established a national framework to help local practices and procedures. The Scottish Government made a promise to guarantee that it is frequently reviewed to make sure it is pertinent and up to date in protecting children. Advances in services and good practice are apparent although cannot become complacent. It proposes a shared vision to improve outcomes for children and young people including Scotland’s most vulnerable. It offers clear step-by-step guidelines ensuring practitioners understand their part in protecting the children and young people. It clarifies roles and responsibilities, what to do in different circumstances, guidance on confidentiality, information sharing, identifying, responding to concerns about children and clearly emphasising that the protection of children is the most important concern.
Within each national guidance each local authority has their own guidance which should be interpreted along with their own individual agencies and services. The Forth Valley Inter Agency Child Protection Guidance 2016 is based on the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014 which intends to assist organisations and practitioners in working together to give children the protection they require.
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.