Child Protection Improvement Programme

Child Protection Improvement Programme – Update #2

November 24, 2016 by No Comments | Category Uncategorized

Hello and thanks for reading this, the second update post on the Child Protection Improvement Programme. This update  includes;

  • An update on the individual areas of work within the CPIP
  • A biography of the System Review Group independent chair, Catherine Dyer
  • A summary note of the second meeting of the External Advisory Group
  • Information on the Data & Evidence work being carried out within the Programme
  • Next steps for the Programme

Child Protection Improvement Programme Progress Update

“A Child Protection System that keeps children safer from abuse and neglect by placing the wellbeing of Scotland’s children at the heart of everything it does.”

Work has progressed in a number of priority areas of the Child Protection Improvement Programme in recent weeks and this short update paper summarises the latest developments. Further periodic updates will be supplied to group members via email and you can keep abreast of what is going on via the Scottish Government’s child protection web pages:

A child protection system where structures and processes support children, young people and families

 The Child Protection System Review Group, led by its independent Chair, Catherine Dyer, has met three times since August and has explored:

  • the role of Child Protection Committees
  • the Child Protection Register
  • Child Protection Case Conferences and Core Groups
  • Initial Case Reviews and Significant Case Reviews

The Group’s discussions have been informed by evidence papers and by a presentation from leading expert Dr Sharon Vincent, Northumbria University, on ‘Learning from Child Deaths’ which drew on evidence from other countries. Members of the group have also consulted their networks on the emerging findings from the review and many useful contributions have been received from Child Protection Committees, Lead Officers, Social Work Scotland, social work practitioners, Children’s Reporters, Third Sector organisations and others which are being used to shape the group’s findings. Notes of the key points arising from the group’s discussions can be found here.

The review group met again on 21 & 22 November to reflect on the discussions so far and develop recommendations. The group’s final meeting is on 16 December and the group will report to Ministers before the end of the year.

The Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership (CHIP) has recently published new research on ‘Better Hearings and the Role of the Solicitor’ in the Children’s Hearings’ System which will inform improvements in the system going forwards. The ‘Better Hearings’ research defines draft standards which all systems’ partners will collectively aspire to work towards and which aim to result in real change for children and young people in the hearings’ system. The research into the role of solicitors in the system is accompanied by an action plan to implement the recommendations: CHIP is of the view that solicitors make an essential contribution to ensuring a rights-proofed, high quality children’s hearings process.

A child protection system that values and supports the people who work in it

 Building on the feedback from the Leadership Summit and practitioner events held earlier in the year we have continued to map leadership structures and opportunities and to identify leadership and workforce issues arising from the other CPIP work streams. We are having discussions with the Scottish Leaders Forum about opportunities for collaboration.

A child protection system that recognises the importance of supporting families to tackle neglect

The Centre for Child Wellbeing and Protection provided an update at the EAG (External Advisory Group) meeting on 10th November about the progress of their work on the literature review and survey on neglect that they have been progressing since the last meeting. CELCIS also provided an update on the pilot programme that they have been overseeing. The expectations remain that interim recommendations, based on the assessment of local needs and circumstances, will be provided to Ministers in December, with intensive improvement-focussed work taking place from January. Findings will be used to inform further phases of activity.

As advised at the previous EAG meeting, we have developed a report following an internal review of the legislation on child cruelty (s. 12 Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937), highlighting options for reform of the existing legislation. This report has now been circulated around the internal advisory group, and is available alongside other documents for this meeting, on the Child Protection website. Stephen Lea led a session at this meeting to explore the 1937 Act more fully.

A child protection system that is transparent and learning 

Analysis activity is continuing with the completion of two cross sector stakeholder workshops which have fed into:

  • mapping the child protection system and processes
  • developing a child protection outcomes framework
  • mapping the current data & evidence landscape
  • gap analysis to identify gaps in data and evidence
  • identification of how a data & evidence base could be developed
  • recommendations on how this can be achieved.

Recommendations for improving data capture and promoting reflective learning within the child protection system, broadly conceived, will be provided to Ministers (as part of an integrated set of CPIP recommendations) in December.

Work will continue with the Care Inspectorate and other partners to consider how a revised inspections’ framework can be developed to replace the current framework, that will reach its conclusion in December 2017. It is anticipated that this work will also be influenced by the recommendations made by the Systems Review and, as such, is likely to develop recommendations about a revised inspections’ model early next year.

Implementing the Children’s aspects of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 (the “2015 Act”) makes provision about human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour, including provisions about: offences and sentencing, victim support and reducing activity related to offences. We have worked with partners to develop the children’s aspects of Scotland’s first Human Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy. A public consultation on this draft Strategy began on 12th October and will close on the 8th December (implementing Section 35). Notice of the events to launch the consultation on the draft Strategy was sent to the EAG in October. We also plan to update the 2012 Age Assessment Practice Guidance to reflect Section 12 of the 2015 Act (Presumption of Age).

In addition, we are undertaking a programme of public consultation on Section 11 of the 2015 Act (independent child trafficking guardians) in three specific areas: Parental Rights & Responsibilities (PRR); relevant authorities and the role of the independent child trafficking guardian; responsibilities and functions of the guardian. The consultation on PRR and relevant authorities closed on the 15 August and officials are working their way through the responses with the aim of reporting back to the sector in due course. The consultation on the role, responsibilities and functions of the guardian will be consulted on as part of the wider consultation on the justice elements.

Child Sexual Exploitation

 The next meeting of the National Working Group to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (NWG) took place on 7 November 2016. As well as action plan monitoring and progression, the group also looked at progress to date and reviewed their terms of reference and working model, following the Minister’s decision on 8 September to close the CSE Ministerial Working Group. This decision was based on the fact that the National Action Plan to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (the Action Plan) was in its second iteration, with a clear focus and direction, and he now wished the NWG to assume the role of monitoring implementation.

Work is continuing to take forward a number of actions within the Action Plan, to raise awareness of CSE among professionals and the wider public. These actions contribute to increasing the understanding and awareness of CSE, and developing an appropriate multi-agency response for those children and young people who may be at risk of, or are victims of child sexual exploitation. Current work includes:

  • development of guidance on CSE for medical professionals
  • development of a template to capture data on CSE
  • guidance for the Night-time economy sector
  • developing a set of CSE minimum standards
  • CSE shared learning workshops
  • Developing a Stop to Listen model

On 25 October 2016, the Scottish Government published a revised definition of child sexual exploitation for Scotland.  The definition and accompanying Practitioner Briefing Paper, which includes a summary of how the definition should be applied, was written by the University of Bedfordshire, who developed it with the National Child Sexual Exploitation Working Group.

Child Sexual Exploitation: Definition and Practitioner Briefing Paper

Child Sexual Exploitation: Definition and Summary

National Action Plan to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation

In August, the Care Inspectorate published ‘Joint inspections of services for children and young people’ a report on the findings of inspections 2014-16. Part 2 of the report sets out an overview of the action that each of the Community Planning Partnership areas inspected are taking, to prevent and tackle child sexual exploitation.

Internet Safety

Under children and families, the SNP made the following manifesto commitment:

We will refresh our internet safety action plan, linking it to our strategy on digital participation, so that appropriate frameworks of training, support and information are in place for professionals and families, including children and young people.

We are therefore currently working across government, and with key stakeholders, to update our internet safety action plan, ensuring it is linked to our Digital Participation Strategy. We are also taking steps to ensure the refreshed action plan is linked to work being taken forward in schools. In addition to this, we will be engaging with key external stakeholders who will be crucial in the development of a refreshed action plan.

Meet Catherine Dyer – the System Review Chair

Catherine Dyer was the Crown Agent for Scotland and Chief Executive of the Crown Office & catherine-dyer-picProcurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) until April 2016. In this role she was the civil service head of the COPFS staff and acted as legal advisor on prosecution matters to the Law Officers for Scotland, the Lord Advocate and Solicitor General.

She is an experienced solicitor who graduated in Law with Honours in Forensic Medicine from the University of Glasgow in 1982, working as a solicitor in private practice before being appointed as a Procurator Fiscal Depute at Kilmarnock in 1986 until returning to private practice in 1990. She later re-joined COPFS and worked as a front line prosecutor in a number of locations across Scotland prior to appointment as a specialist prosecutor in the High Court Unit at Crown Office, assessing complex facts and circumstances and evaluating evidence to prepare cases for trial in respect of the most serious crimes. She then became Head of the Deaths Unit at Glasgow where she was responsible for the investigation of all deaths where public interest demanded detailed examination of the circumstances resulting in some instances the holding of criminal proceedings or a Fatal Accident Inquiry.

Appointed as Procurator Fiscal for Linlithgow in 2002 she was commissioned by the Lord Advocate to carry out a major Review of the management of COPFS which reported in 2002 and made recommendations which led to the modernisation and improvement of the Service.

She became the first woman to hold the post of Area Procurator Fiscal at Glasgow, the largest prosecutors office in Scotland, between 2003 and 2008. Thereafter she created and led the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service Strategy & Delivery Unit. In February 2010 she became the first woman to be appointed as Crown Agent and Chief Executive.

Between 2010 and 2016 she also acted as Diversity Champion for Scottish Government and chair of the Public Sector Employers Diversity Network. She is a Director of the International Society for the Reform of Criminal Law and is currently also a member of the Scottish Sentencing Council.

Catherine was appointed CBE in 2015 for services to Law and Order in Scotland.

External Advisory Group Meeting Summary (10/11/16)

The Child Protection Improvement Programme’s External Advisory Group met for the second time on Thursday 10th November at Victoria Quay. Information on the role of the External Advisory Group can be found here. Follow this link for a summary of this meeting and  to see accompanying papers and presentations.

Data and Evidence Update

At the EAG meeting, Fiona McDiarmid (Principal Research Officer, Children and Families Analysis, Scottish Government) gave an update on the Data and Evidence work, thanking EAG members who attended the two data and evidence workshops, this valuable contribution has provided key information which is being used to inform the review recommendations going forward.

Fiona has updated the Child Protection system map, national data landscape map and system theory of change on the back of the workshop discussions. The latest drafts of these can be seen here.

Work has now commenced on pulling together findings from the workshops, meetings and wider contacts and networks to draft a data and evidence review report with recommendations to go to the Minister in December

Next steps

The Child Protection Team who will submit their report to Ministers by 23 December 2016. The report will include a section on the System Review, as well as the other 8 key areas of work the Child Protection Team are taking forward.

The Child Protection Improvement Programme will enter into ‘Stage Two’ once Minister’s reflections on recommendations have been received after the festive break and a further meeting of the External Advisory Group will take place in the first quarter of 2017 to continue work on taking them forward.

Further information

Please see the Scottish Government’s Child Protection page for further information or contact the programme’s Communications Manager with any queries, or if you would like to subscribe receive updates at

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