National Child Protection Leadership Group: April 2019

Minutes from the April 2019 meeting of the National Child Protection Leadership Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Maree Todd, Minister for Children and Young People (Chair)
  • Claire Burns, Co-Director, CELCIS & Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures
  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Nicola Dickie, Chief Officer for Children and Young People, COSLA
  • Alison Gordon, Chief Social Work Officer, North Lanarkshire & Social Work Scotland
  • Sharon Glasgow, Child Protection Programme Lead, CELCIS
  • Neil Hunter, Principle Reporter/Chief Executive, SCRA
  • Anne Houston, National Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • SallyAnn Kelly, Chief Executive,  Aberlour, and Chair of Committee on Care & Support for Children and Young People, Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland (CCPS)
  • Angela Leitch, Chief Executive, East Lothian Council, Strategic Lead for Children and Education, including Child Protection SOLACE
  • Lindsay MacDougall, Head of Child Protection, Scottish Government 
  • Peter MacLeod, Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate
  • Wendy Mitchell, Chief Nurse and Head of Child Protection, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
  • Alan Small, Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood, Edinburgh University 


  • Bill Alexander, Associate, Children in Scotland, Chair of National Child Protection Guidance Revision
  • Eddie Doyle, Scottish Government Senior Medical Advisor for Paediatrics (attending on behalf of Catherine Calderwood)
  • Susan Downes, Child Protection, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Mary Hoey, Assistant Director, Education Scotland (attending on behalf of Gayle Gorman)
  • Fiona Marshall, Child Protection, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Dale Meller, Professional Social Work Advisor, Scottish Government
  • Dr Sharon Vincent, Reader in Child Welfare, Northumbria University
  • Louise Ward, Child Protection, Scottish Government


  • DCS Lesley Boal, Head of Public Protection, Police Scotland
  • Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government
  • Peter Diamond, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Mairi Macpherson, Deputy Director, Creating Positive Futures, Scottish Government
  • Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government



Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting and noted apologies.  The Chair also welcomed new members Alan Small and Peter MacLeod and guests Bill Alexander and Dr Sharon Vincent.  It was noted that Mary Hoey is representing Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive of Education Scotland. 

The Chair informed the group that a new approach is being trialled at this meeting with a template for papers and a change in structure of the meeting.  Papers will be noted, discussed or a decision will be made.  There will then be a section of the meeting for in-depth discussion on a particular theme.  The theme of this meeting is case reviews.

Minute of the last meeting

The group agreed that the minute of the meeting on 16 January 2019 was accurate. 

The Chair noted action 2, which was for SallyAnn Kelly to provide a further update on feedback from the CCPS Children’s Committee regarding information sharing and the implications of GDPR and invited SallyAnn to update the group.  

SallyAnn advised that the request for feedback on information sharing was raised again at a CCPS Children’s Committee meeting, however no feedback had been received.  The Chair asked if there could be barriers to issues being raised and SallyAnn agreed to consider further.  [Action 1, SallyAnn Kelly]

The Chair also noted action 4, which was for Neil Hunter to work with Kay Tisdall to provide more definition and timelines on the engagement and participation of young people and parents, which is currently amber on the action plan.

Neil advised that this has not yet been progressed.  Neil will progress with Lindsay MacDougall and Kay.  [Action 2, Neil Hunter]

Priority actions, linked programmes and completed actions – papers 1, 1a and 1b

This is a standing item on the agenda.  The papers are for information and update.  The group noted the papers.

Review of the national child protection guidance update – paper 2

Good progress on the revision of the guidance is being made.  Members may be asked for contribution on an individual basis.  The group noted the paper and that updates will be provided at future Leadership Group meetings.  [Action 3, Bill Alexander]

Chief Officers leadership event – paper 3

The Chief Officers leadership event will be held on 18 June 2019.  The Minister wrote to Chief Officers setting out that this year’s event will be for Chief Officers only and places cannot be delegated.  The response to date from Chief Officers has been encouraging.  

Minimum dataset – paper 4

The Chair asked the group to note the paper.  Iona Colvin advised that there is wider work around children’s services dataset, which she will share.  [Action 4, Iona Colvin]

Induction for Chief Officers - paper 5

The Chair asked members to note the proposed direction of travel and approve the establishment of a planning group to draw together the content of the induction programme.  It was recommended that the membership of the group include police and health representation.  The induction should incorporate training for local elected members and link with the Leadership Group led review of support for Chief Social Work Officers. [Action 5, Susan Downes]

Equally safe - paper 6 

Members noted the update on the consultation on legislation to improve forensic medical services for victims of rape and sexual assault.  The group recommended that SCRA should be involved to ensure linkage with youth justice processes. 

Role of the NHS

Wendy Mitchell provided an update on the short-life working group tasked with progressing the refresh of health guidance for child protection (the Pink Book).  The working group recommended the following actions in preference to refreshing current health guidance: 

  • development and implementation of a NHS Scotland policy for child protection, incorporating an accountability framework for Health Boards with clearly defined roles for those with designated child protection responsibilities
  • strengthening the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland in relation to the role, function and contribution of health staff/designated services to child protection processes.  This was felt to underline the multiagency nature of child protection across statutory and non-statutory partners with health (and education) having an equal status alongside social work and the police (albeit with the latter having statutory responsibilities in particular circumstances)
  • development of a national education and learning strategy

These recommendations are supported by the Scottish Nursing Leadership Group, the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health Child Protection Committee, and the steering group overseeing the review of the national guidance.  Members welcomed the recommended approach, which it was felt would help to address unwanted variation across the country.  It was noted that work in relation to health would need to be in the context of a multi-disciplinary approach and that there could be useful learning in relation to previous work on NHS action sets.

Clinical care and governance – paper 7

The group noted this paper.  Advice will be sought from this group at the next meeting [Action 6, Dale Meller]

Case review evidence and experience across the UK - presentation

The Chair introduced Dr Sharon Vincent who had been invited to present to the group on evidence and experience of case reviews from across the UK and internationally.  Sharon’s has many years of experience of conducting research in child protection.  Her particular areas of interest include child death review processes and prevention of child deaths from abuse and neglect, comparative child protection research and policy analysis, early intervention to prevent abuse and neglect, and resilience.    

The purpose of Significant Case Reviews is to provide accountability, learning and be a core source of knowledge.  There are however, criticisms that Significant Case Reviews take too long, are too expensive, do not result in learning and foster a culture of anxiety and blame.  The evidence that case reviews lead to the improvement of children’s outcomes is inconclusive. 

England and Wales have both recently introduced new systems.  England have national level and local level case reviews both of which are published within 6 months.  There is not yet evidence on how this new system is performing.  Wales have undergone a cultural change and their new case review system was put into legislation in 2016.  The Welsh system includes an extended review and a concise review.  Evaluation has shown significant advantages over the previous system.

Based on her research, Dr Vincent made the following recommendations:

  • use a wider evidence base to develop recommendations rather than a single Significant Case Review
  • undertake themed analysis
  • build in learning immediately including learning events for frontline staff
  • take a public health approach

The group recognised that Sharon’s recommendations could form an outline agenda for the new Case Review Oversight Group.  The group then discussed the benefits of embedding learning in a culture of practice; empowering practitioners; gathering, sharing and analysing evidence; using tools already in place, such as self-evaluation; supporting ongoing reflective practice; the role of leadership in organisational safety.  The Care Inspectorate now receives all Initial Case Review and Significant Case and further consideration should be given to how continuous improvement can be supported.  [Action 7, Peter Macleod] 

Case review facilitated discussion

Alan Small is the Chair of the new Case Review Oversight Group.  This group will make recommendations to the Child Protection Leadership Group on a proportionate and timely approach to Initial Case Reviews and Significant Case Review.  It will also identify the key principles and components of a model that enhances and embeds learning from reviews more effectively.  The group will meet monthly and is linked to the timetable of the National Child Protection Guidance revision.

Alan welcomed feedback from the group on the Terms of Reference and set up of the Oversight Group.  Alan shared with the group that the learning from the Oversight Group could be taken into adult protection.  He also stated that although the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service is not represented on the group, there is an ongoing conversation..  The Oversight Group is seeking a nomination from Social Work Scotland and health and education representatives.  Members agreed the Terms of Reference.

The group discussed the importance of identifying national themes.  It recognised that that learning comes from a lot of processes, including Significant Case Reviews, which are a limited but important tool.  Significant Case Reviews happen in the public domain and the media process requires management, and the frontline staff and family need protection.  Learning comes from the quality of discussion stemming from Significant Case Reviews and the planning of this learning at every level should be included in the guidance.  

New and emerging risks

No new or emerging risks were raised.


Sharon Glasgow informed the group that a seminar on contextual safeguarding is being held in May at Napier University.

Lindsay MacDougall asked members for feedback on the new format of the meeting. Feedback was positive and it was suggested that the group could be involved in planning future themed discussions.  Ideas for future discussions included inviting guest speakers from working in child protection in other parts of the UK; children outwith school; the Bywaters report on the relationship between poverty, child abuse and neglect; developing a proactive communications strategy. [Action 8, Secretariat]

Wendy Mitchell indicated that she will be stepping down from the group as she takes up a role as Professional Adviser for the Child and Maternal Health Division and the Chief Nursing Officer Directorate in the Scottish Government.  Secretariat to consider appropriate health/nursing representation. [Action 9, Secretariat]

The next meeting is on Wednesday 4 September 2019 in Victoria Quay Edinburgh.



Susan Downes
Senior Policy Officer

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