Child Protection Improvement Programme
Child Protection Improvement Programme Update #13
The National Child Protection Leadership Group
The National Child Protection Leadership Group last met on 4 September 2019. The group received an update on the Chief Officers’ Leadership Event which took place in June 2019. Members had an in depth discussion on The Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People Report, which provided an opportunity for members to discuss the recommendations within the report in advance of publication.
The next meeting of the Group is on 7 January 2020. The group will receive updates on the Minimum Dataset for Child Protection Committees, Joint Investigative Interviews, Barnahus, and children and young people’s participation and engagement. The Group will also receive an update on the revision of the National Child Protection Guidance and members will have an opportunity to discuss the recommendations for consultation and implementation.
Revision of the National Child Protection Guidance
The Steering Group overseeing the revision of the Guidance last met in November. The Group reviewed draft text of Part 4, and discussed models for consultation and delivery. The Group will meet again in December. There are revised drafts of the Introduction, Parts 1, 2 and 3. A revised draft of Part 4 will be completed in early 2020. There continue to be ongoing discussions with a variety of stakeholders who are providing recommendations, suggestions and draft text.
A full update will be provided to the National Child Protection Leadership Group on 7 January 2020.
Case Review Oversight Group – (Significant Case Reviews)
The Case Review Oversight Group was established in May 2019. This Group is chaired by Alan Small and will co-ordinate CPIP/System Review recommendations relating to Significant Case Reviews and consider the purpose, criteria and governance of such reviews. This Group will make recommendations to the Child Protection Leadership Group on a proportionate and timely approach to reviews that supports a learning culture and also the successful implementation of findings to support improvement in child protection practice.
Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending involving children and young people
The Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending involving Children and Young People met between January 2018 and March 2019. The Group is chaired by Catherine Dyer, former Crown Agent, and comprises a number of public and third sector organisations involved in education, health and justice. The Group examined the evidence and current responses relating to harmful sexual behaviour involving children and young people, as well as potential further actions to prevent and respond to such behaviours.
A report containing 19 proposals has been drawn up by the Group and is due to be published in January 2020. A scoping exercise is underway to consider how the proposals are best taken forward.
Implementing the Children’s aspects of the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015
Child Trafficking Strategy Group (CTSG) met on the 02 October 2019. Part of the meeting included the Home Office attending and leading a session on NRM reforms. The group is currently focusing on developing awareness raising workshops for practitioners on trafficking and exploitation which plan to be delivered in early 2020.
The research on child trafficking which was commissioned by Scottish Government to get a better understanding of the routes into and out of trafficking for children in Scotland will be published shortly.
The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015, which required Scottish ministers to produce the Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy, also requires us to review the Strategy every three years, to produce a report on to what extent it has been complied with, and if necessary to publish a new Strategy. The Strategy was published in May 2017, so we have a deadline of May next year to comply.
We have begun an extensive programme of engagement to inform the review. As you may know, this was launched on Anti-Slavery Day, 18 October, with a Stakeholder Forum bringing together 100 attendees, who took part in discussions of each of the four key areas of the Strategy: supporting victims, tackling perpetrators, preventing the causes of trafficking and addressing child trafficking.
An online survey was launched on the same day seeking views on the review. This will be open until the end of December and is open to all with an interest, including members of the public and practitioners. We would encourage you all to feed in views here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/5DKLFPG.
Detailed one-to-one meetings are being held with key partners and a full day event with all Action Area chairs and members took place on 6 December.
The review is a great opportunity to reflect on what we’ve collectively achieved and what more we could have done, and to consider what our priorities should be for the next three years. We’re asking quite big questions and we’re open to all views.
On the 14th the Home Office published Quarter 3 statistics for the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and they can be found at the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/national-referral-mechanism-statistics-quarter-3-2019-july-to-september.
Unaccompanied Children in Scotland
The Scottish Government consultation on the independent child trafficking guardian closed on 17 November 2019 with 40 responses received. The consultation sought views that will inform the development of the roles and responsibilities of Independent Child Trafficking Guardians and a new service. The responses to the consultation will be published before Christmas where permission has been obtained to do so. At present responses are being analyzed and a final report will be published in due course.
Online Safety for Children and Young People
Work continues to implement the actions of the National Action Plan on Internet Safety for Children and Young People.
Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation
The National Group overseeing the implementation of the National Action Plan to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation met on 18 November 2019 and plans to meet again in early 2020.
Amending Section 12 (“cruelty to persons under 16”) of the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 1937
A public consultation on proposed changes to section 12 (“cruelty to children”) of the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 2019 was carried out in late 2018. The Scottish Government published an Analysis Report of consultation responses on 30th September 2019.
We are currently considering this analysis to inform next steps in this complex and sensitive area of the law. We plan to undertake further engagement with the third sector and other key stakeholders as we develop and refine these proposals.
We are exploring the application of the Barnahus concept for immediate trauma-informed support for child victims of serious and traumatic crimes within the context of Scotland’s child protection, healthcare and criminal justice systems.
The Second Barnahus Standards Development Group meeting took place on 31st October. A consultation on these draft standards will launch in the coming weeks and the final standards will be published in summer 2020.
Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019
The Scottish Government is working closely with key partners to ensure that implementation of the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act can take place as quickly and as safely as possible.
There will be a phased commencement of the provisions in the Act to ensure that children can benefit as quickly as possible from this reform. Since the 29 November children under 12 can no longer be referred by the children’s reporter on offence grounds to a children’s hearing. This will mean that there will be no new convictions for children under 12. The Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration has issued a briefing note to explain the implications of this change to partners.
Paul Carberry, Action for Children Director for Scotland, and a member of the 2015 advisory group on the issue, said:
“As long-term advocates of raising of the age of criminal responsibility in Scotland, we welcome the introduction of these provisions which will ensure that children are treated like children in our justice system.
We fully support the notion that no 8-11-year-old should ever be regarded as an ‘offender’ nor should they be stigmatised in later life as a result of actions as a child and now this will be enshrined into law. The introduction of these provisions is a major step forward and something that is far more consistent with Scotland’s approach of prevention and early intervention.”
Progress is being made in developing the statutory guidance and drafting the secondary legislation required to commence the other Parts of the Act.
Children’s Hearings System:
A progress report on the first year of implementation of the Better Hearings Partnership has recently been published by the Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership. The Better Hearings Partnership is an initiative resulting from 2016 research on what makes a hearing work well from the perspective of those involved. It involves multi-agency partnership working in all areas of Scotland to identify points for improvement, plan actions and deliver change at a local level. In the first year of implementation, local areas have undertaken baseline assessments against agreed standards, which has helped them to identify priority areas for improvement. The next steps for 2020 will involve implementing improvements and measuring and reporting on their success.
The tender for the National Safeguarder Management contract has closed, and will now move to the assessment of applications. Final award of the contract is expected to be made in the first quarter of 2020.
16/17 year olds within the Children’s Hearings System
The Scottish Government are committed to delivering on the rights of the child. A multi-agency partnership short life working group was set up in 2017 to consider what changes would be required in order to allow those 16/17 year olds not on a compulsory supervision order, to also be considered by the Children’s reporter through joint reporting. The group reported to the Children’s Hearings Improvement Partnership in 2018. Discussions with partners and stakeholders (both internal and external) are currently underway and we plan to have a public consultation early next year.”
National Review of Care Allowances
This Review covered care allowances for foster and kinship carers and adoptive parents it concluded in September last year with 2 reports and 12 recommendations for improvement. The reports can be read here:
The Scottish Government is working with COSLA to agree how best to take forward the recommendations of the Review, with a view to implementation from April next year. This will improve consistency and transparency for looked-after children, their families and their carers across Scotland.
Independent Review of Care
The Independent Care Review is now nearing the end of its third stage, Journey: a series of deep dive work groups looking at 10 priority themes, identified during the Discovery stage. The work streams are, Edges of Care, Components of Care, Justice and Care, Workforce, Health and wellbeing, Best Place in the World and Stop:Go.
Three cross-cutting issue are also being considered via working groups in their own right – love, stigma and rights.
The Stop:Go Workgroup is seeking to deliver immediate improvement to the current experience of care experienced people and has been working in partnership with the Scottish Government, local authorities and other sector stakeholders. As a result, a number of asks have been brought to the Scottish Government for consideration and implementation, where possible.
The response to the Independent Care Review has been immense, since its launch over 5,000 children and adults have engaged with them. More than 2500 of them being children and young people with experience of Scotland’s care system. The Review has from the outset placed the lived experience and wisdom of young people at its heart, building credibility and instilling hope.
The Review is now moving towards its Destination stage and is due to conclude in early 2020.
Children Services strategic engagement Current activity
The first Children’s Services Planning Strategic Leads Network took place on Monday 7 October, this group was set up to bring the strategic leads for Children’s Services across Scotland together to improve how they can work together and support each other to improve outcomes for children and young people by identifying improvement in local areas and applying this more widely. Breaking down boundaries and encouraging cross Scotland working to support the challenges partnerships are facing. This meeting was used to update the group on different SG policy areas such as Getting It Right For Every Child and the next steps following on from the DFM statement on Information Sharing, and to reflect on the Strategic Engagement visits to local authorities which ran from October 2018 – June 2019.
The next steps are to finalise a redraft of the statutory guidance that supports Part 3 of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 and identify what practice materials could better support local areas, in collaboration with local leads, working with CYPIC and others to create a more strategic approach to our improvement offer across Scotland, providing more co-ordination centrally for family support and link better at a local level to deliver children’s services and deliver GIRFEC.
Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019
John Finnie MSP introduced the Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Bill into the Scottish Parliament on 6 September 2018: http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/Bills/109156.aspx.
On 7 November 2019, the Bill received Royal Assent.
The Act will abolish the common law defence of reasonable chastisement currently available to parents (or others caring for or in charge of children) charged with assaulting a child in their care. This will come into force on 7 November 2020.
The Act also places an obligation on the Scottish Ministers to raise awareness about the removal of the reasonable chastisement defence.
The Scottish Government has established an Implementation Group which has already begun to consider what will be required to implement the Bill, including awareness raising. Information about the work of this group is available at https://www2.gov.scot/Topics/Justice/law/17867/fm-children-root/fm-children-punishment.
Children (Scotland) Bill
The Children (Scotland) Bill was introduced into the Scottish Parliament on 3 September 2019.
The Bill has been informed by the outcome of a consultation on the Review of Part 1 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 (the 1995 Act). Part 1 of the 1995 Act covers parental responsibilities and rights and contact and residence cases relating to children when parents are no longer together.
The key policy aims of the Bill are to:
- Ensure that the child’s best interests are at the center of any contact and residence case or Children’s Hearing;
- Ensure that the views of the child are heard;
- Further compliance with the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Further protect victims of domestic abuse and their children in family court proceedings.
The Bill covers a range of areas. The key areas of the Bill are:
- Establishing a register of Child Welfare Reporters and curators ad litem;
- Regulation of child contact centres;
- Encouraging the views of younger children to be heard by decision makers in some circumstances;
- Protecting victims of domestic abuse by prohibiting personal contact of a case in certain circumstances and authorising special measures to be used in family court cases; and
- Promoting of contact between looked after children and siblings.
We recognize that primary legislation is only part of the action necessary to improve the operation of family justice. A Family Justice Modernisation has been published on 3 September. This sets out work that is ongoing by Scottish Government and others; work that can be done via secondary legislation or by improved guidance; areas covered by the Bill; and areas that are for longer term work. It includes the PFG commitment to keep siblings together where it is in their best interests.
The Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board is co-chaired by the Minister for Older People and Equalities and COSLA Community Wellbeing Spokesperson, Cllr Kelly Parry. The Board has now met 3 times and continues to drive forward progress in preventing and eradicating violence against women and girls at a strategic level.
We have now published the second Equally Safe progress report which can be viewed here.
Membership of the Equally Safe K-Hub group has grown steadily, and we continue to use the space to share resources and papers. Those with an interest are encouraged to join and share within your networks.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
The new Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance) (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on the 29th of May 2019. The Bill includes provisions for FGM Protection Orders, and statutory guidance. The Equalities and Human Rights Committee have recently completed their Stage 1 Report on the Bill, which can be viewed here.
Meanwhile, we continue to implement Scotland’s national action plan to prevent and eradicate FGM, which was published in 2016. We recently published our Year Three Progress Report on the Action Plan, which can be viewed here.
The FGM stakeholder summit was held in July 2019, at which officials gathered views on the possible consequences of the new legislation, and on the National Action Plan more generally. The Minister for Older People and Equalities opened the event, and re-confirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to protecting women and girls from the practice of FGM.
Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry
In summer 2019, Phase 4 of hearings commenced with evidence relating to investigations into residential child care establishments run by male religious orders with a particular focus on:
- Residential establishments run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers with a particular focus on their provision at St Ninian’s in Falkland, Fife.
- The Order of Benedictines and their provision at Carlekemp in North Berwick and the Fort Augustus Abbey School.
- In September 2019 a case study began into the Marist Brothers and their provision at St Joseph’s College, Dumfries and St Columba’s College in Largs.
On 3rd December 2019 the Inquiry’s Phase 5 hearing began in Child Migration. This phase relates to investigations into the abuse of children whose departure from Scotland to countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand was part of the child migration programmes.
The Inquiry has also published two case study findings to date on Daughters of Charity (October 2018) and Sisters of Nazareth (May 2019)The Inquiry’s composite case study into Quarriers, Aberlour and Barnardos findings will be published during the week of 6 January 2020. Further case study findings will be published in due course
For queries relating directly to the Inquiry, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org