All agencies, professional bodies and services that deliver adult and/ or child services and work with children and their families have a responsibility to recognise and actively consider potential risk to a child, irrespective of whether the child is the focus of their involvement. Child Protection Committees have the overall strategic role for the continuous improvement of child protection policy and practice in their local areas. There are 31 child protection committees and they consist of representatives from a range of backgrounds including the police, health services, local authorities, children services and community planning structures and relevant voluntary sector fora amongst others.
Child Protection Committees
Child Protection Committees were first established in each local authority area across Scotland in 1991. Since then, they have been subject to many reforms and reviews, in particular in 2005 when they were strengthened as part of the then Scottish Executive's Child Protection Reform Programme. The national guidance for Child Protection Committees was published in 2005 and has been embedded in this revised guidance with some amendments.
Child Protection Committees are locally based, inter-agency strategic partnerships responsible for the design, development, publication, distribution, dissemination, implementation and evaluation of child protection policy and practice across the public, private and wider third sectors in their locality and in partnership across Scotland. Their role, through their respective local structures and memberships, is to provide individual and collective leadership and direction for the management of child protection services across Scotland. They work in partnership with their respective Chief Officers' Groups and the Scottish Government to take forward child protection policy and practice across Scotland.
Function of a Child Protection Committee
The functions of a Child Protection Committee are continuous improvement, strategic planning, public information and communication. The work of the Child Protection Committee must be reflected in local practice and meet local needs.
Child Protection Committees have a key role to play in the continuous improvement of child protection policy and practice. A number of functions relate directly to this key role.
Policies, procedures and protocols
Child Protection Committees design, develop, publish, distribute, disseminate, implement and regularly review and evaluate clear and robust inter-agency child protection policies, procedures, protocols and guidelines. Each Child Protection Committee:
- encourage constituent services and agencies to have in place their own up-to-date child protection policies, procedures, protocols, guidelines and other relevant materials;
- ensure all services and agencies have robust whistle-blowing polices in place and that these are sufficiently disseminated and understood by all practitioners and managers;
- ensure that child protection policies, procedures, protocols and guidelines are developed around existing and emerging key issues, where there is agreement that this is required; and
- publish and regularly review their own inter-agency child protection guidelines, which must reflect national and local policy developments, including GIRFEC and the arrangements for the management of Child Protection Case Conferences.
Child protection committees are represented nationally by Child Protection Committees Scotland, which meets quarterly with the Scottish Government and other key partners. The current Chair of CPCScotland is the Independent Chair of North Ayrshire CPC, Anne Houston.