8.7 Individual Organisational Responsibilities
Schools, colleges and other educational providers
The following have duties in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children:
- governing bodies of maintained schools (including maintained nursery schools), further education colleges and sixth-form colleges
- proprietors of academy schools, free schools, alternative provision academies and non-maintained special schools. In the case of academies and free school trusts, the proprietor will be the trust itself
- proprietors of independent schools
- management committees of pupil referral units.
This guidance applies in its entirety to all schools.
Schools, colleges and other educational settings must also have regard to statutory guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education, which provides further guidance as to how they should fulfil their duties in respect of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in their care.
Early Years and Childcare
Early years providers must ensure that:
- they are alert to any issues of concern in the child’s life
- they have and implement a policy and procedures to safeguard children. This must include an explanation of the action to be taken when there are safeguarding concerns about a child and in the event of an allegation being made against a member of staff. The policy must also cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in the setting, that staff complete safeguarding training that enables them to understand their safeguarding policy and procedures, have up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding issues, and recognise signs of potential abuse and neglect
- they have a practitioner who is designated to take lead responsibility for safeguarding children within each early years setting and who must liaise with local statutory children’s services as appropriate. This lead must also complete child protection training.
Health practitioners are in a strong position to identify welfare needs or safeguarding concerns regarding individual children and, where appropriate, provide support. This includes understanding risk factors, communicating and sharing information effectively with children and families, liaising with other organisations and agencies, assessing needs and capacity, responding to those needs and contributing to multi-agency assessments and reviews.
A wide range of health practitioners have a critical role to play in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children including: GPs, primary care practitioners, paediatricians, nurses, health visitors, midwives, school nurses, allied health practitioners, those working in maternity, child and adolescent mental health, youth custody establishments, adult mental health, sexual, alcohol and drug services for both adults and children, unscheduled and emergency care settings, highly specialised services and secondary and tertiary care.
All staff working in healthcare settings – including those who predominantly treat adults – should receive training to ensure they attain the competences appropriate to their role and follow the relevant professional guidance.
Designated health professionals
Clinical commissioning groups should employ, or have in place, a contractual agreement to secure the expertise of designated practitioners; such as dedicated designated doctors and nurses for safeguarding children and dedicated designated doctors and nurses for looked-after children (and designated doctor or paediatrician for unexpected deaths in childhood).
All providers of NHS funded health services including NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts should identify a dedicated named doctor and a named nurse (and a named midwife if the organisation or agency provides maternity services) for safeguarding children. In the case of ambulance trusts and independent providers, this should be a named practitioner. Named practitioners have a key role in promoting good professional practice within their organisation and agency, providing advice and expertise for fellow practitioners, and ensuring safeguarding training is in place. They should work closely with their organisation’s/agency’s safeguarding lead on the executive board, designated health professionals for the health economy and other statutory safeguarding partners.
Clinical commissioning groups should employ a named GP to advise and support GP safeguarding practice leads. GPs should have a lead and deputy lead for safeguarding, who should work closely with the named GP based in the clinical commissioning group.
Other public, voluntary and independent sector organisations, agencies and social enterprises providing NHS services to children and families should ensure that they follow this guidance.
All police officers, and other police employees such as Police Community Support Officers, are well placed to identify early when a child’s welfare is at risk and when a child may need protection from harm. Children have the right to the full protection offered by criminal law.
In addition to identifying when a child may be a victim of a crime, police officers should be aware of the effect of other incidents which might pose safeguarding risks to children and where officers should pay particular attention. For example, an officer attending a domestic abuse incident should be aware of the effect of such behaviour on any children in the household.
Children who are encountered as offenders, or alleged offenders, are entitled to the same safeguards and protection as any other child and due regard should be given to their safety and welfare at all times. For example, children who are apprehended in possession of Class A drugs may be victims of exploitation through county lines drug dealing.
The police hold important information about children who may be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, as well as those who cause such harm. They should always share this information with other organisations and agencies where this is necessary to protect children.
All police forces should have officers trained in child abuse investigation.
The police have a power to remove a child to suitable accommodation under section 46 of the Children Act 1989, if they have reasonable cause to believe that the child would otherwise be likely to suffer significant harm. Statutory powers to enter premises can be used with this section 46 power, and in circumstances to ensure the child’s immediate protection. Police powers can help in emergency situations, but should be used only when necessary and, wherever possible, the decision to remove a child from a parent or carer should be made by a court.
Restrictions and safeguards exist in relation to the circumstances and periods for which children may be taken to or held in police stations. PCCs are responsible for health commissioning in police custody settings and should always ensure that this meets the needs of individual children.
Adult social care services
Local authorities provide services to adults who are themselves responsible for children who may be in need. When staff are providing services to adults they should ask whether there are children in the family and consider whether the children need help or protection from harm. Children may be at greater risk of harm or be in need of additional help in families where the adults have mental health problems, misuse drugs or alcohol, are in a violent relationship, have complex needs or have learning difficulties.
Adults with parental responsibilities for disabled children have a right to a separate parent carer’s needs assessment under section 17ZD of the Children Act 1989. Adults who do not have parental responsibility, but are caring for a disabled child, are entitled to an assessment on their ability to provide, or to continue to provide, care for that disabled child under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995. That assessment must also consider whether the carer works or wishes to work, or whether they wish to engage in any education, training or recreation activities.
Practitioners working in housing services may become aware of conditions that could have or are having an adverse impact on children. Housing authorities also have an important role to play in safeguarding vulnerable young people, including young people who are pregnant, leaving care or a secure establishment.
British Transport Police (BTP)
The BTP can play an important role in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, especially in identifying and supporting children who have run away, are truanting from school or who are being exploited by criminal gangs to move drugs and money.
The BTP should carry out its duties in accordance with its legislative powers. This includes removing a child to a suitable place using their police protection powers under the Children Act 1989, and the protection of children who are truanting from school using powers under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. This involves, for example, the appointment of a designated independent officer in the instance of a child taken into police protection.
The Prison Service has a responsibility to identify prisoners who are potential or confirmed ‘persons posing a risk to children’ (PPRC) and through assessment establish whether the PPRC presents a continuing risk to children whilst in prison custody.
Where an individual has been identified as a PPRC, the relevant prison establishment:
- should inform the local authority children’s social care services of the offender’s reception to prison, subsequent transfers, release on temporary licence and of release date and of the release address of the offender
- should notify the relevant probation service provider of PPRC status. The police should also be notified of the release date and address
- may prevent or restrict a prisoner’s contact with children. Decisions on the level of contact, if any, should be based on a multi-agency risk assessment. The assessment should draw on relevant risk information held by police, the probation service provider and the prison service. The relevant local authority children’s social care should contribute to the multi-agency risk assessment by providing a report on the child’s best interests. The best interests of the child will be paramount in the decision-making process.
A prison is also able to monitor an individual’s communication (including letters and telephone calls) to protect children where it is proportionate and necessary to the risk presented.
During the course of their duties, probation staff come into contact with offenders who:
- have offended against a child
- pose a risk of harm to children even though they have not been convicted of an offence against a child
- are parents and/or carers of children
- have regular contact with a child for whom they do not have caring responsibility
They are, therefore, well placed to identify offenders who pose a risk of harm to children as well as children who may be at heightened risk of involvement in, or exposure to, criminal or anti-social behaviour, and of other poor outcomes due to the behaviour and/or home circumstances of their parent/carer(s).
They should ask an offender at the earliest opportunity whether they live with, have caring responsibilities for, are in regular contact with, or are seeking contact with children. Where this applies, a check should be made with the local authority children’s services at the earliest opportunity on whether the child/children is/are known to them and, if they are, the nature of their involvement.
Where an adult offender is assessed as presenting a risk of serious harm to children, the offender manager should develop a risk management plan and supervision plan that contains a specific objective to manage and reduce the risk of harm to children. The risk management plan should be shared with other organisations and agencies involved in the risk management.
In preparing a sentence plan, offender managers should consider how planned interventions might bear on parental responsibilities and whether the planned interventions could contribute to improved outcomes for children known to be in an existing relationship with the offender.
The registered person of a children’s home must have regard to the Guide to the Children’s Homes Regulations, including the quality standards (April 2015).
In addition to the requirements of this standard, the registered person has specific responsibilities under regulation 34 to prepare and implement policies setting out: arrangements for the safeguarding of children from abuse or neglect; clear procedures for referring child protection concerns to the placing authority or local authority where the home is situated if appropriate; and specific procedures to prevent children going missing and take action if they do.
The secure estate for children
Secure training centres, young offender institutions and secure college/schools should have in place an annually reviewed safeguarding children policy. A manager should be appointed and be responsible for implementation of this policy.
Youth Offending Teams (YOTs)
YOTs are well placed to identify children known to relevant organisations and agencies as being most at risk of offending and the contexts in which they may be vulnerable to abuse, and to undertake work to prevent them offending or protect them from harm.
YOTs should have a lead officer responsible for ensuring safeguarding is embedded in their practice.
Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service
The responsibility of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), as set out in the Children Act 1989, is to safeguard and promote the welfare of individual children who are the subject of family court proceedings. This is through the provision of independent social work advice to the court.
A Cafcass officer has a statutory right in public law cases to access local authority records relating to the child concerned and any application under the Children Act 1989. That power also extends to other records that relate to the child and the wider functions of the local authority, or records held by an authorised organisation that relate to that child.
Where a Cafcass officer has been appointed by the court as a child’s guardian and the matter before the court relates to specified proceedings, they should be invited to all formal planning meetings convened by the local authority in respect of the child. This includes statutory reviews of children who are accommodated or looked-after, child protection conferences and relevant adoption panel meetings.
Local authorities have the statutory responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children of service families in the UK. In discharging these responsibilities:
- local authorities should ensure that the Ministry of Defence, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Families Association Forces Help, the British Forces Social Work Service or the Naval Personal and Family Service is made aware of any service child who is the subject of a child protection plan and whose family is about to move overseas
- each local authority with a United States (US) base in its area should establish liaison arrangements with the base commander and relevant staff. The requirements of English child welfare legislation should be explained clearly to the US authorities, so that the local authority can fulfil its statutory duties
Voluntary, charity, social enterprise, faith-based organisations and private sectors
Voluntary, charity, social enterprise (VCSE) and private sector organisations and agencies play an important role in safeguarding children through the services they deliver. Some of these will work with particular communities, with different races and faith communities and delivering in health, adult social care, housing, prisons and probation services. They may as part of their work provide a wide range of activities for children and have an important role in safeguarding children and supporting families and communities.
They should have appropriate arrangements in place to safeguard and protect children from harm. Many of these organisations and agencies will be subject to charity law and regulated either by the Charity Commission or other regulators. Charity trustees are responsible for ensuring that those benefiting from, or working with, their charity, are not harmed in any way through contact with it.
All practitioners working in these organisations and agencies who are working with children and their families are subject to the same safeguarding responsibilities, whether paid or a volunteer.
Every VCSE, faith-based organisation and private sector organisation or agency should have policies in place to safeguard and protect children from harm. These should be followed and systems should be in place to ensure compliance in this. Individual practitioners, whether paid or volunteer, should be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and protecting children from harm, how they should respond to child protection concerns and how to make a referral to local authority children’s social care or the police if necessary.
Sports Clubs / Organisations
All sports clubs and organisations should collaborate to work effectively with the safeguarding partners as required by any local safeguarding arrangements.
Paid and volunteer staff need to be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, how they should respond to child protection concerns and how to make a referral to local authority children’s social care or the police if necessary.