We work to ensure that effective protection procedures are in place wherever there is a risk of a child coming to harm. 

All children and young people have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect.  

Child abuse and neglect have significant effects on children’s emotional and physical health, social development, education and future employment.   




The right to protection is a founding principle of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) which will be incorporated into Scots law, public services and Scottish Parliament powers.   

We are committed to ensuring that robust child protection responses are in place across Scotland. Our approach to child protection is set within the Getting it right for every child (GIRFEC) approach to planning and providing support and care to children and families.  

We are responsible for setting national child protection policy and legislation. We are also responsible for ensuring that funding is available for professionals and services that work to keep children safe and well. 

Across Scotland, leaders in local authorities, NHS Boards and Police Scotland are responsible for planning and reviewing their local child protection responses. These leaders come together as a senior group to review what is working well and where improvements are needed. 

Professionals in health, education, the police and social work have specific responsibilities when they become aware that a child is being harmed or is at risk of harm.   

Whilst these specific responsibilities are part of certain professional roles, everyone who works with children and families has a role in making sure children are safe and well.  

Individuals and local communities also have a very important role in helping to protect children.  

Everyone’s focus is on prevention and early intervention to help ensure that risk and harm to children and young people is recognised and dealt with quickly and effectively. 

Bills and legislation

The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 includes measures to impose tougher penalties on perpetrators of human trafficking and a higher standard of care to victims of human trafficking.

The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 changes the law and removes the “reasonable chastisement” defence from 7 November 2020. This means that all forms of physical punishment of children will be against the law in Scotland, and children will have with the same legal protection from assault as adults.


If you are concerned about a child or young person

Call 999 if they are in immediate danger

Call the police on 101 if you think a crime has been committed

More about reporting a concern and for advice and support

To contact us about a policy related matter: 

Email: Child_Protection@gov.scot
Telephone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

Scottish Government
Child Protection Policy Team
Care and Protection, Area 2A (N)
Victoria Quay

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