No child should have to suffer neglect or abuse. When we do discover such circumstances, we owe it to our children to act quickly, effectively and collaboratively. That is why the joint inspections of child protection services, led by the Care Inspectorate, are so important. The inspections provide nationally-comparable data, with six indicators, on how well children at risk in Scotland have their needs identified, assessed and acted upon so as to keep them safe from neglect or abuse.
The reports provide the Scottish Government with the assurance that the various agencies providing protection services to vulnerable children (principally social work, police, health, voluntary organisations, education and the Scottish Children's Reporters Administration) are working well together locally, under the strategic direction of their local multi-agency Child Protection Committees (CPCs). An increase in the proportion of local authority areas receiving positive inspection reports provides evidence of an increasingly confident and competent children's workforce, skilled at identifying and assessing how best to meet the individual needs of the children who require their services.
The current round of child protection inspections ended in April 2012. The inspections will be replaced with a new set of inspections that will consider vulnerable children and young people in the wider context of children's services. A new methodology for this indicator is currently being developed and will be introduced in 2013.
Scotland's 30 CPCs set the strategic priorities locally for the improved multi-agency policies, procedures, training programmes and services which help ensure that children at risk are protected. A key influence is the joint inspection process itself. This is already driving up standards, as CPC areas that have already been inspected begin to implement the recommendations for follow-up action. The new inspection model, introduced in April 2012, will put strong emphasis on the links between external scrutiny, self-evaluation and robust performance management.
A more fundamental positive cultural influence is the growing extent to which all services working with children understand that child protection is everyone's business. This dictates that every organisation and every worker has a duty to recognise signs that a child might be at risk and to take appropriate action where they have concerns, in line with the Getting it right for every child approach.
We are working with inspectorates, CPCs and other stakeholders to address national gaps revealed by inspection and to put in place a new, child-centred approach to inspection. Consistent with the Getting it right for every child agenda for children's services, we recently revised our national child protection guidance, and have been taking forward a number of manifesto commitments designed to provide specific practical support to services in child protection such as the development of a national risk assessment toolkit and a national child protection competency and skills framework.
Children's services more generally will be improved through a range of initiatives being taken forward, including legislation on children's rights and children's services improvement, a national parenting strategy and the shift of spending and focus of services towards preventative spend and early intervention.
A baseline of three years of local authority data was completed in September 2009. The baseline includes 30 of the 32 local authorities. Two of these were pilot authorities in the first cycle and so are not directly comparable. This data is available on the HMIE website – http://www.hmie.gov.uk/documents/publication/iqirhmie.html - for inspections up until April 2011, and the Care Inspectorate for inspections conducted since April 2011 - http://www.scswis.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=7909&Itemid=727.
In the second cycle of child protection inspections all Local Authority areas have now been inspected. All but two had positive inspection reports. This shows an increase in the number of positive inspection reports.
The data is available at the bottom of the page.
As the second child protection inspection cycle is now completed, no further updates will be made to this indicator using the current methodology. A new methodology for this indicator is currently being developed and will be introduced in 2013.
For information on general methodological approach, please click here.
Scotland Performs Technical Note
Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland
Association of the Directors of Social Work
Child Protection Committees
Convention of Scottish Local Authorities
Healthcare Improvement Scotland
Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary
Scottish Children's Reporter Administration
Voluntary sector organisations
Safer and Stronger
Wealthier and Fairer