National Child Protection Leadership Group minutes: June 2021

Minutes from the 15 June 2021 meeting of the National Child Protection Leadership Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Children and Young People (Chair)
  • Claire Burns, Co-Director, CELCIS and Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures
  • Cathie Cowan, Chief Executive, NHS Forth Valley
  • Eddie Follan, Chief Officer Children and Young People COSLA 
  • Neil Hunter, Principle Reporter/Chief Executive, SCRA
  • Elliot Jackson, National Convenor of the Children’s Panel and Chief Executive of Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • SallyAnn Kelly, Chief Executive, Aberlour
  • Joanna Macdonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government 
  • Lindsay MacDougall, Acting Head of Child Protection, Scottish Government 
  • DCS Samantha McCluskey, Head of Public Protection, Police Scotland
  • Margaret McGuire, Executive Nurse Director for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde
  • Moira Price, Head of Victims and Witnesses Policy, COPFS
  • Angela Scott, Chief Executive Aberdeen City Council. Strategic Lead for Children and Education, including Child Protection, SOLACE
  • Bill Scott-Watson, Interim Deputy Director for Strategy, GIRFEC and the Promise Division, Scottish Government
  • Lesley Sheppard, Deputy Director: 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 
  • Michael Wood, Professor of Education, University of Dundee and General Secretary, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) 


  • Ellen Black, Assistant Private Secretary to Minister for Children and Young People, Scottish Government
  • Prof Brigid Daniel, Chair of the National Child Protection Guidance Steering Group
  • Christopher Inverarity, Private Secretary to Minister for Children and Young People, Scottish Government
  • DI Neil McKenzie, Professional Policing Advisor, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government
  • Fiona Marshall, Senior Policy Advisor, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Siân Robson, Policy Officer, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat)


  • Hazel Borland, Executive Nurse Director for NHS Ayrshire and Arran (SEND membership shared with Margaret McGuire)
  • Jackie Brock, Chief Operating Officer, The Promise Scotland 
  • Prof Amanda Croft, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government
  • Alison Gordon, Chief Social Work Officer, North Lanarkshire and Social Work Scotland
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive, Education Scotland
  • Peter MacLeod, Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate
  • Mairi Macpherson, Deputy Director, Improving Health and Wellbeing, Scottish Government
  • Dr Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government


  • Eddie Doyle, Scottish Government Senior Medical Advisor for Paediatrics (attending on behalf of Dr Gregor Smith)
  • Lorna Aitken, Senior Education Officer, Education Scotland (attending on behalf of Gayle Gorman)
  • Kevin Mitchell, Executive Director, Care Inspectorate (attending on behalf of Peter Macleod)
  • Wendy Mitchell, Professional Advisor - Early Years and Children’s Services Scottish Government (attending on behalf of Amanda Croft)
  • DSU Martin Maclean, Head of National Child Abuse Investigation Unit and Lead for Child and Adult Protection, Police Scotland (attending on behalf of DCS Samantha McCluskey)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions  

The Chair introduced herself and welcomed attendees to the meeting, including new members and guests and noted apologies.  

The Chair invited all attendees to introduce themselves.

The Chair noted that this meeting will be a different format to normal as it is solely focussed on the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021. The next meeting on 22 September will return to the standard format with updates on priority actions and linked workstreams.

Minute and actions from 23 April 2021 meeting 

The Group agreed that the minute of the meeting on 23 April 2021 was accurate. The actions arising will be covered in the course of this meeting.

National Child Protection Guidance – approval of final guidance and plan for publication – paper 1, the final draft Guidance and practice insights

The Chair invited Professor Brigid Daniel to introduce Paper 1.

Brigid thanked Bill Alexander, James Cox, the National Child Protection Guidance Steering Group for their work in revising the Guidance, and Leadership Group members for their oversight and expertise. She acknowledged it has been a long but valuable process which has stimulated debate and reaffirmed that child protection is a multidisciplinary endeavour. There is a clear commitment to early intervention and to supporting the wellbeing of children and young people in Scotland.

The Guidance has now been reviewed and cleared by the Scottish Government Legal Directorate, and is with the publisher for production of the final document. The document will be produced in a user-friendly and accessible format.  

Documents which will be published alongside the Guidance include practice insights, impact assessments, and a supporting narrative that sets the context of the guidance in relation to upstream preventative work, the GIRFEC practice model, the Promise and UNCRC. The report on the analysis of the consultation and the Scottish Government response to the findings will also be published. The report itself will be a useful resource for local procedures, teaching and training for the wide range of organisations who consider child protection to be within their remit.  

The National Guidance for Child Protection Committees Undergoing Learning Reviews will also be published at the same time as this guidance.

National Child Protection Guidance accompanying narrative – paper 2

Lindsay MacDougall introduced the supporting narrative. It addresses some of the aspirational comments from the consultation and how this guidance supports other strategic developments. It acknowledges the time that will be required for local areas to adapt their processes and seeks to provide reassurance that efforts are being made to ensure coherence across the range of developments that are currently taking place in a child protection context. The Children and Families Collective Leadership Group is looking at alignment, resourcing, workforce and data, and working within Scottish Government and with national partners.

Comments have been sought on the draft narrative from The Promise, GIRFEC, the Children and Young People’s Commissioner and others. Further comments following today’s meeting are welcome and will help to inform the final version.  

Stakeholders may find the narrative useful when developing their own supporting statements in relation to the guidance.

A resource for children and families will be developed as an early aspect of implementation of the guidance. This resource will not be an easy-read version of the guidance but will be co-produced with children and families to determine what they would find useful, such as information on what child protection is and who is involved in child protection processes.

The Chair raised how the Guidance will fit with the proposed National Care Service. Brigid confirmed this has been discussed in the Steering Group and there are a number of joint fora considering it. Issues such as transition between child and adult support stages have been discussed and are addressed to some extent in the Guidance. It is an opportunity to consider a lifespan approach and to consider child protection in the context of community support.

Joanna MacDonald noted that the guidance and the practice insights are an invaluable resource for clarifying roles and supporting professionals in their practice, whatever the outcome of National Care Service is.

Members were content to approve the final draft of the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021. The Chair noted that the ease in which members approved the Guidance reflected how engaged members have been, and was reassured by this.

National Child Protection Guidance Implementation – paper 3

The Chair invited Lindsay MacDougall to introduce Paper 3. Lindsay noted that publication is a milestone not an end point. The consultation has prompted stakeholders to start to engage with the draft Guidance and consider what local adaptations will be needed. A key issue going forward will be the balance of national consistency with local processes. There will be an expectation for a minimum standard of care and protection wherever a child lives in Scotland.

Input on implementation to date has been obtained through the consultation, a scoping exercise conducted by CPC Scotland and a dedicated session of National Guidance Steering Group. Paper 3 describes this engagement, discusses the timescale for implementation, gives reassurance that scrutiny bodies won’t expect immediate alignment of processes with the National Guidance and notes that implementation will be conducted in the context of a pandemic.

The Steering Group has ended and an Implementation Group will now be convened which will be Chaired by Joanna MacDonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser. Several Steering Group members have volunteered to join the new group and continuity of members will be helpful. It is proposed that the Implementation Group will report into this Group for strategic oversight and will provide this group with regular updates.  Action 1 – Joanna MacDonald

Members discussed that for some organisations and areas the changes to local processes required will be minimal, for others it will be much greater. Change and lifetime management of the guidance will require resource in some areas, which may have to come at the expense of other activities. There was support for a two-year period to assess what changes will be required and to implement them.

21.    A query was raised about how moves towards contextual safeguarding and early intervention in the Guidance fit with implementation and how this Group will contribute to leadership on this. It was noted that Professor Carlene Firmin has presented to CPC Scotland on contextual safeguarding. The Chair agreed that an input from Carlene at a future Leadership Group meeting would be welcome. Action 2 – Secretariat

Members discussed the importance of connectivity between child and adult protection. They also discussed how Chief Officers Groups are building mutual responsibility via an accountability framework, and a question was raised as to how the health accountability framework fits in. Two aspects of the Guidance for Health Professionals, the “Pink Book”, which has now been incorporated into the National Child Protection Guidance, that didn’t fit in the revised Guidance are the National Accountability Framework, and consistency of training for health professionals. These have been discussed by health colleagues and Lindsay MacDougall can share a paper signed off by NHS Chief Executives on development of a health accountability framework and the approach to public protection. Action 3 – Lindsay MacDougall

The health accountability framework sits under chief officer’s groups’ oversight, who have multi-agency responsibility. It was proposed that a separate group could be convened to consider strategic accountability. 

The Group agreed to provide governance over a new Guidance implementation group. Lindsay MacDougall will follow up with SallyAnn Kelly about third sector representation on this group to ensure Barnahus is represented. Action 4 – Lindsay MacDougall

New and emerging risks, challenges and opportunities

Kay Tisdall suggested the Group keep in mind supporting the sector in relation to implementation of UNCRC. Also, it will be important to consider children and young people’s voices during implementation. Work by Louise Hill on engagement in relation to Barnahus could be built on. The Chair agreed that the voice of children should be at the heart of what we do.

The Scottish Government Child Protection Unit will finalise the guidance and obtain Ministerial sign-off in the next few weeks, then will contact members for supportive statements to contribute to communications around the launch. Regular updates on planning for implementation will be brought to this group. Action 5 – Secretariat.


The Minister thanked members for their work in getting the guidance to this stage.

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