National Child Protection Leadership Group minutes: January 2020

Minutes from the 7 January 2020 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
  • Peter Diamond, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Nicola Dickie, Chief Officer for Children and Young People, COSLA
  • 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)
  • Alison Gordon, Chief Social Work Officer, North Lanarkshire & Social Work Scotland
  • Neil Hunter, Principle Reporter/Chief Executive, SCRA
  • Lindsay MacDougall, Acting Head of Child Protection, Scottish Government
  • Peter MacLeod, Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate
  • Lesley Sheppard, Deputy Director of Care, Protection and Justice, Scottish Government
  • Ruth Sills, Child Protection Programme Lead, CELCIS
  • Alan Small, Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood, Edinburgh University
  • Dr Grace Vickers, Chief Executive, Midlothian Council. Strategic Lead for Children and Education, including Child Protection, SOLACE



  • Bill Alexander, Associate, Children in Scotland, Chair of National Child Protection Guidance Revision Steering Group
  • Alan Armstrong, Strategic Director, Education Scotland (attending on behalf of Gayle Gorman)
  • James Cox, Social Work Advisor for Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government
  • Eddie Doyle, Scottish Government Senior Medical Advisor for Paediatrics (attending on behalf of Catherine Calderwood)
  • DCU Elaine Galbraith, Public Protection, Police Scotland (attending on behalf of DCS Lesley Boal)
  • Amanda Gordon, Head of Getting It Right or Every Child Unit, Scottish Government ( attending on behalf of Mairi Macpherson)
  • Morgan Ross, Aberlour, work shadowing SallyAnn Kelly
  • Alex McTier, Evidence and Evaluation Specialist, CELCIS
  • Fiona Marshall, Child Protection, Scottish Government
  • Deborah Wicksted, Police Scotland Secondee, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government
  • Shoba Galloway, Child Protection, Scottish Government (Secretariat)



  • DCS Lesley Boal, Head of Public Protection, Police Scotland
  • Catherine Calderwood
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government
  • Chief Executive, Education Scotland
  • Mairi Macpherson, Deputy Director, Creating Positive Futures, Scottish Government
  • Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government
  • Wendy Mitchell, Professional Advisor - Early Years and Children’s Services Scottish Government attending on behalf of Fiona McQueen

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

The Chair welcomed members to the meeting and noted apologies. A warm welcome was extend to Ruth Sills and Dr Grace Vickers as new members of the group. The Chair also welcomed the guests to the meeting. 

The Chair informed the group that the meeting will follow the same format of the last meeting in September. The first part of the meeting would cover papers 1 – 5 then the second part would focus on the revision of the National Child Protection Guidance. The group was invited to provide feedback on this format.

Minute of the last meeting

The group agreed that the minute of the meeting on 04 September 2019 was accurate. 

The Chair noted action 1, and invited DSU Elaine Galbraith to provide an update on Police Scotland’s updated policy on information sharing. 

The group was advised that Police Scotland have revised their information policy to a public task approach with regards to wellbeing concerns. The Executive of Police Scotland has agreed the new policy in principle. Police Scotland will now write to the relevant organisations with a view to formally presenting the new policy at the end of January. All relevant police documents, training and guidance have been revised in preparation. An update will be provided to members at the March meeting [Action 1, DSU Elaine Galbraith]

The Chair noted action 2, and Ruth Sills was invited to provide an update on the development of an induction pack for Chief Officers. Ruth advised that the first planning meeting for the 2020 COLE has taken place. Ruth will provide a progress update at the March meeting.  [Action 2, Ruth Sills]

The Chair noted action 3 which focused on themes of future leadership meetings. Members agreed that theme of the next meeting should be neglect. It was suggested that the next meeting could include a presentation on the work on A Social Model of Child Protection (Brid Featherstone) and Contextual Safeguarding (Carlene Firmin).  Members agreed with the Chair’s suggestion that the June meeting could focus on reviewing the National Leadership Group’s work to date and then members could participate in a facilitated discussion on shape and focus of the group going forward. [Action 3, Secretariat]

The Chair invited Ruth Sills to comment on the progress of action 4 and 5 which focus on the planning Chief Officers Leadership Event. Ruth referred to her previous point that  work on the event is in the very early planning stages. As a priority, the subgroup are working towards securing a suitable date. Ruth reflected that Chief Officers will be central to informing the work going forward and on how these events can grow organically into a series of events Chief Officers take forward. Ruth will provide the group with an update at the March meeting. [Action 4, Ruth Sills]

To address the second part of action 4 and 5 on possibly synchronising the COLES with other leadership events such as GIRFEC, Bill Alexander provided an update on the GIRFEC collective regional seminars. There are currently 5 to be held this year with the next set starting in March 2020 and the remainder due to take place in summer 2020. Bill invited members to contact him if they wanted any further information on the upcoming events.

The Chair noted action 6 which focused on eIRD proposals and invited Fiona Marshall to provide an update. The group was informed that early scoping work had begun by a small working group of stakeholders. This work is being taken forward in tandem with the work on the National Child Protection Register. A workshop with stakeholders will take place later this month. 

The Chair noted action 7 to 9 which focuses on the Expert Group report and recommendations. The report is due to be published at the end of this month.

The Chair invited Lesley Sheppard to provide an update on action 11 which focused on Brexit resilience planning. Contingency planning is continuing to take place across central and local government with structures and processes in place to respond flexibly. The group was encouraged to be prepared to respond flexibly and continue working together to prepare for any potential risks associated with Brexit.  

Priority actions, linked programmes and completed actions – paper 1, 1a. 1b

Papers 1, 1a, 1b were noted by members.  

Joint Investigative Interviewing (JII) Project - paper 2

The Chair invited comments on the Joint Investigative Interviewing project. The group discussed the evaluation and analysis processes for the JII project. The group were informed that it is a complex landscape as there are a variety of different stakeholders involved who have differing needs and requirements with regards to evaluation and analysis. Feedback and input is being sought from children and families, independent evaluation expertise, and from the pilot areas. It was advised that a quality assurance process has been developed and discussions are ongoing between partners.  An update will be provided at the March Leadership Group meeting. [Action 5, Secretariat]

Barnahus Model – pper 3 

The group discussed how the Scottish standards for Barnahus differ from the original Scandinavian models. Over 30 professionals were involved in drafting the Scottish standards to ensure they fit with Scottish systems. Those working on the standards looked specifically at the principles of GIRFEC and the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland. The draft standards have now been submitted to Ministers. Once they are approved the next step will be a formal consultation. An expert group chaired by Mary Glasgow will be convened to look at the next stage, how to make the standards operational. The group discussed whether Barnahus is a building or an approach. It was agreed that it is both. An update will be provided at the March Leadership Group meeting. [Action 6, Secretariat]

It was noted that work is in progress on the issues around children giving evidence and witness statements in court. Members were advised that an expert group has been set up to look into this and there will be a programme of work over several years. 

Participation and engagement – paper 4 

Members have previously identified engagement and participation as a priority for child protection. The Chair invited Neil Hunter to provide an update.  

A small working group has met to review progress and next steps regarding the commitment to develop a blueprint on how to involve children in practice and policy development. The working group will bear in mind the recommendations from the Independent Care Review. 

Child Protection Committees (CPCs) participated in a scoping study on engagement and participation which was administered through CPC Scotland Engagement and Participation group. The vast majority of CPC’s who participated assessed their current position as ‘good.’ Some gaps were identified specifically in the areas of child advocacy and consistency of practice. The exercise produced some examples of good practice. It was suggested that the revised National Child Protection Guidance could provide an opportunity to crystallise good practice on how to involve children in decision making processes. 

Within the evaluation report a specific request was made on levelling up child advocacy in the children services. It was noted that work is currently happening on advocacy within the Children Hearing System. There could be the possibility of developing guidance or tools to support child advocacy at a local level. 

Future work on this area could include carrying out a comparison across Europe and UK to see what is happening. Neil Hunter is attending a meeting with colleagues today to follow up on this piece of work. 

A question was raised whether children and families have directly been involved in this work. Neil advised that they are not currently involved since this work is only in the early stages however children and families will be involved in testing any proposals. It was also noted that Scottish Government are currently looking into how to have meaningfully discussions with children on policy development and include their voice. 

A question was raised about the scope of this work. The report mainly focuses on children and it was asked whether parents and families will be included going forward. It was noted that partnerships in recent years mainly cover children but they are not as strong at involving parents. Neil agreed that it is difficult to separate children and families and that they should both be looked at. SallyAnn offered her expertise to ensure all groups/cohorts of children were included. Nicola Dickie proposed that this could be done strategically in the revised National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland. Members agreed that this would be the right place to do it [Action 7, Neil Hunter and SallyAnn Kelly]

Peter MacLeod informed the group that the Care Inspectorate are doing some work on the voice of young people and that there is potential to work with Neil and explore how to link both these pieces of work together [Action 8, Neil Hunter and Peter MacLeod]

The Chair agreed with members that there is a whole variety of ways to engage with children and that it is easy for the voice of the child to be lost. The Chair emphasised that children and young people should be active participants, and that there are opportunities to close the gaps. Neil agreed to bring proposals to the June meeting. [Action 9, Neil Hunter]

Minimum dataset – paper 5 

The Chair invited Alex McTier to provide an overview of the Minimum Dataset paper which outlines the progress made on the development and implementation of the Minimum Dataset for Child Protection Committees (CPCs). 

Alex advised that the origins of the work were set out in the Child Protection Improvement Programme and the Child Protection Systems Review. Following these recommendations, CELCIS and Scottish Government have worked collaboratively with numerous organisations on the Minimum Dataset. Three CPCs were selected as test sites.

The main aim of the minimum data set is to move beyond the indicators and look at how CPCs collect meaningful data and analysis this data to extract value. A package was developed over the summer by Alex and Jillian Ingram for CPCs and they delivered a series of workshops to CPCs. One major shift promoted through the Minimum Dataset package is for CPCs to take a more collective approach to analysing data rather than leaving it to one data analyst. This was modelled through workshops. The key to this new approach is having a multi-agency group to review and analysis the data before going to committee. 

The Minimum Dataset is currently made up of 17 indicators. It was noted that Alex has worked with the team revising the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland to ensure that the indicators are relevant. It was noted that there is a possibility to add indicators on poverty, disability, ethnicity, etc. in the future if desired.

Alex presented the latest regional outlook on the minimum dataset. The three test partners have done a number of reports. Falkirk CPC have noted that given it works for child protection maybe there is a possibly that the Minimum Dataset package could be transferred to other areas like adult protection. The paper highlighted the different stages each CPC has engaged in the Minimum Dataset. Dundee is currently working with Perth and Tayside to develop a regional dataset. Meetings are ongoing with CPCs.

A member asked about the tools that are used for data analysis and reporting. Alex advised that they have tried to keep the data analysis tools simple by using Excel. A lot of thought was put into how the data should be presented. There are around 6 - 8 charts with some charts including 2 - 3 indicators to best illustrate the links between them.  At the moment the data is presented in a punchy and accessible way. The two quarterly reports also help to make it business as usual for CPCs. 

Alan Small provided feedback as Chair of CPC Scotland. CPC members have positively received and welcomed the Minimum Dataset. Alan thought it was best for the time being to keep the indicators simple since CPCs already collect data on these 17 indicators which makes it accessible. The important part is the methodology on how CPCs analyse the indicators and the scrutiny questions are important. Alan proposed testing the current minimum set before adding more indicators so the new practice can be embedded. Members agreed it would be good to consolidate the new Minimum Dataset before thinking about how we move forward. 

Iona Colvin informed the group of wider work being undertaken by Scottish Government, including work to develop National Outcomes for Children in Scotland which the Director for Children and Families is taking forward with a range of partners including COSLA. It was proposed that this work could be linked to the Minimum  Dataset [Action 10, Alex McTier]

The Chair agreed that this work is valuable and was delighted that the whole country has participated in some way with the Minimum Dataset package. 

The Care inspectorate agreed that the Minimum Dataset is an exciting and positive piece of  work. They agreed that this work presented a good opportunity to tie in with the National Outcomes for Children work.

Members were invited to endorse the Minimum Dataset. It was acknowledged that there is good awareness at CPC level but not necessarily at Chief Officers level. 

It was suggested that the COLE could be used to potentially promote this work. For example, Chief Officers could share the work they have done on the Minimum Dataset and the event could be used as forum to share best practice. Ruth Sills confirmed that CELCIS has been thinking about including this as part of their event planning [Action 11, Ruth Sills]

Another suggestion was that the Chair could send a letter to Chief Officers to endorse the Minimum Dataset. This could provide CPCs with reassurance that the Minimum Dataset will be in line with the revised National Child Protection Guidance. The letter could also address local concerns on collection of data. It was noted that the letter would need to be sensitive to the local government settlements which are happening over the next month and issuing the letter should be considered in the wider context. It was agreed that a letter would be drafted and shared with members for input and consideration [Action 12, Lindsay MacDougall]

The National Child Protection Guidance revision – paper 6 and facilitated discussion 

Bill Alexander thanked members who have been involved in the consultation, steering groups, and co-production of the revised National Child Protection Guidance. Members expressed gratitude to James, Bill, Deborah, Lindsay and Fiona.

Bill gave a brief overview of the work that has been undertaken. He advised that the guidance will maintain the same structure and length as the 2014 version. The aim is to make the guidance web-based which will allow for resources and materials to be embedded into the document. Members should have received part 1 – 3 and part 4 which is currently in draft. 

The revised guidance includes new thinking, theory and practice. Bill provided the group with an overview of the areas that have changed from the 2014 version. These include: the incorporation of child protection guidance for health professionals; a tonal change; emphasis on engagement with children and families; emphasis on children’s rights. A co-production approach has been applied to the drafting of the guidance.

The incorporation of the child protection guidance for health professionals is a key area of change. The National Child Protection Leadership Group previously received a paper which advised that child protection guidance for health professionals would be incorporated into the updated National Child Protection Guidance instead of being in a separate document. It was noted that NHS England has a separate policy for children at risk of harm and also an accountability framework. There has been a proposal put forward for Scotland to create something similar and early discussions have started. Members had previously endorsed this approach.  

Work on Clinical and Care Governance continues to progress and the Child Protection Unit is linking in with this work. 

Lindsay MacDougall informed the group that the intention is that this work, and other pieces of work including that of the case review group will be delivered at the same time as the revised national guidance is published. Lindsay said that they will continue to update members  [Action 13, Lindsay MacDougall]

The group discussed the draft text.

SallyAnn asked where JII and Barnahus sit within the guidance. James Cox advised that the Steering Group have been feeding into the development of the Barnahus standards and links are being made.

SallyAnn asked how strengthen based approaches where included in the guidance and how the Steering Group had tried ensure each approach is promoted consistently. James advised that there have been challenges in this area. Examples of strengthen based approaches were illustrated throughout the Guidance and Part 2 shows that these approaches are congruent and not separate from child protection procedures. Strength-based approaches are mainly identified in Part 4 of the Guidance which is currently in draft. James commented that a balance was needed to be met to avoid the guidance turning into a comprehensive practice manual. 

James advised that a list of references, resources and approaches will be included in the appendix. A question was raised on how to give equal endorsement to different approaches. Bill responded that there is a paragraph in the guidance about this but more work is required. 

Kay Tisdall welcomed the tonal shift in guidance, especially on children’s rights. She recommended that the guidance should be proofed by lawyers. James informed the group that the draft guidance is being reviewed by Scottish Government Legal Directorate, and consultation will happen with SOLAR. 

Alison Gordon emphasised that the management of the implementation of the guidance is really important. A question was raised on how the current GIRFEC refresh will be incorporated into the guidance? Amanda Gordon advised that those working on the refresh of GIRFEC have been working with James Cox and Bill Alexander to ensure joint up working on this front. 

Alison Gordon feedback that there were sections in the draft guidance where Health had a greater emphasis and as such there was a feeling that Education had been pushed more into the background. James and Lindsay agreed that this feedback would be taken back to the steering group. 

The Guidance Steering Group have been exploring how best to consult on the revised guidance. The first option it go down the route of a full formal Scottish Government consultation with the addition of holding stakeholder events in tandem. The second option proposed was carrying out more limited stakeholder engagement and third option proposed was targeted stakeholder engagement which would be supported by focused events. 

The Steering Group are strongly in favour of a formal Scottish Government consultation with regional workshops. The Steering Group feels that this approach would be open and fair, wide reaching, add credibility and encourage buy in. 

The proposed time slot  to run the consultation would be April 2020 until June 2020 followed by analysis over the summer. The aim is to publish the guidance by autumn 2020. Members were invited to provide feedback. Members of the Leadership Group agreed that the formal Scottish Government consultation with supporting stakeholder engagement events was preferred. 

Members of the Steering Group were invited to provide comment. Alan Small agreed that a consultation will help bring the guidance alive and he fully endorsed the new guidance. CPC Scotland has been kept informed throughout the revision process. Members of CPC Scotland have committed to being involved in the delivery of the guidance.  

Elaine Galbraith confirmed that Police Scotland agree that the national guidance takes precedence and that it is important that practitioners and the public are made aware of the changes in the revised guidance. It was agreed the consultation was an important part of this process.

Peter MacLeod gave feedback on behalf of the Care Inspectorate and agreed with the recommendation for a formal consultation as it would help encourage buy-in and raise awareness about the new guidance.

The Chair invited members to provide advice on how to engage and consult with children, young people and families. 

James suggested creating a child version of the consultation so young people can engage in the finalisation of the guidance. Bill invited members to provide their thoughts about creating a child friendly consultation.

The Chair shared the view that ideally children should be involved in the decision making stage rather than just the presentation stage. Members acknowledged the limits of doing a formal consultation on the National Guidance for children. However, it was noted that the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) consultation covered a complex issue and yet they were able to get children to engage in the process.  

James expressed that there is a need to be honest about how we can involve the child in a meaningful way. Bill Alexander agreed and advised that they will take on board the Minister’s comments [Action 14, Bill Alexander] 

Members recognised that there are fundamental questions around role of the child in the child protection system and that there is a role for the National Child Protection Leadership Group to play in helping to address some of the issues around child participation. 

It was noted that care needs to be taken to ensure we do not go to the same sets of children but draw on the best practice across Scotland. The positive example was given on children’s participation at the recent Parliamentary event ‘Our hearings, Our Voice’ which presented a space for children who are currently in the system to voice their views. Another example was how Age of Criminal Responsibility (ACR) Bill team used the Youth Parliament to discuss issues around ARC. Similarly, Renfrewshire did some work with Children on their experience of the child protection system. The exercise provided clear feedback that many children were unsure of what they were involved in and unaware of what they were going through. Peter Macleod offered to share this feedback with the Group. [Action 15,  Peter Macleod].

Sally Ann suggested that the third sector might be useful resource since they get rich feedback through their services from children and young people [Action 16, SallyAnn Kelly] 

Bill highlighted that any engagement around the consultation needs to be done within the proposed timescale therefore if children are going to be involved in the consultation process then planning and organising needs to start as soon as possible.  

Bill thanked members for their input and will provide an update at the next meeting [Action 17, Bill Alexander]

New and emerging risks

James Cox raised the issue of the repeat removal of children from families. He advised that at present there is no consistency in practice or legislation. Lindsay advised there is work being taken forward on vulnerable mothers who have multiple children removed.  


There was no other business raised.

Date of the next meeting

The Chair confirmed that the next meeting is on Wednesday 04 March.

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