National Child Protection Leadership Group minutes: March 2022

Minutes from the 23 March 2022 meeting of the National Child Protection Leadership Group.

Attendees and apologies



  • Clare Haughey MSP, Minister for Children and Young People (Chair)
  • Laura Caven, Chief Officer, Children and Young People, COSLA
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood, Edinburgh University
  • DCS Samantha Faulds, Head of Public Protection, Police Scotland
  • Claire Burns, Co-Director, CELCIS & Institute for Inspiring Children’s Futures
  • Elliot Jackson, National Convenor of the Children’s Panel and Chief Executive of Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • Neil Hunter, Principle Reporter/Chief Executive, SCRA
  • Alan Small, Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Eddie Docherty, Executive Director for Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions, NHS Lanarkshire
  • Edith MacIntosh, Interim Chief Executive, Care Inspectorate
  • Michael Wood, General Secretary of ADES and Professor of Education at the University of Dundee
  • Moira Price, Head of Victims and Witnesses Policy, COPFS
  • Ruth Sills, Child Protection Programme Lead, CELCIS
  • Angela Scott, Chief Executive Aberdeen City Council. Strategic Lead for Children and Education, including Child Protection, SOLACE
  • Brian Houston, Head of Support, The Promise Scotland
  • Lindsay MacDougall, Head of Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government


  • Caren McLean, Head of Protection and Permanence, CELCIS
  • DSU Martin MacLean, Head of National Child Abuse Investigation Unit & Lead for Child & Adult Protection, Police Scotland
  • Stephen Bermingham, Head of Practice and Policy, Children’s Hearings Scotland
  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Robert Scott, Team Leader, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government
  • Fiona Marshall, Senior Policy Adviser, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat) Policy Adviser, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Claire Roddie, Policy Adviser, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Gordon Paterson, Head of Keeping The Promise, Keeping The Promise Team, Scottish Government
  • Lesley Swanson, Unit Head, Bairns’ Hoose, Scottish Government
  • Jenny Stenton, Senior Policy Adviser, Child Protection Unit, Scottish Government


  • Joanna MacDonald, Deputy Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Cathie Cowan, Chief Executive, NHS Forth Valley
  • Sally Ann Kelly, Chief Executive, Aberlour
  • Alison Gordon, Chief Social Work Officer, North Lanarkshire & Social Work Scotland
  • Gayle Gorman, Chief Executive, Education Scotland
  • Jane Moffat, Deputy Director, Strategy, GIRFEC and the Promise Division, Scottish Government
  • Mairi MacPherson,Deputy Director, Improving Health and Wellbeing
  • Professor Gregor Smith, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government
  • Professor Alex McMahon, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government
  • Delegates
  • Eddie Doyle, Senior Medical Advisor for Paediatrics, Scottish Government (attending on behalf of Professor Gregor Smith)
  • Liz Nolan, Deputy Director, Aberlour (attending on behalf of SallyAnn Kelly)
  • Cara Cooper, Unit Head, GIRFEC, Scottish Government (attending on behalf of Jane Moffat)
  • Dr Laura-Ann Currie, Head of Inclusion, Wellbeing & Equality, Education Scotland (attending on behalf of Gayle Gorman)
  • Wendy Mitchell, Professional Advisor, Early Years and Children’s Services, Scottish Government (attending on behalf of Professor Alex McMahon)
  • Lorrette Nicol, Protecting Children Policy and Practice Lead, Social Work Scotland (attending on behalf of Alison Gordon)

Items and actions

Welcome and introductions

The Chair welcomed attendees to the meeting, including new members Brian Houston, Eddie Docherty, Edith MacIntosh, guests, and noted apologies. 

The Chair invited Iona Colvin to provide an update regarding the situation in Ukraine. Iona assured members that the Scottish Government are working closely with the UK Government to identify demand for homes, mainly for women and children at the moment. She advised that three hubs have been set up at Edinburgh Airport (Edinburgh City Council), Glasgow Airport (Renfrewshire Council) and a Cairnryan hub (Dumfries and Galloway Council). She noted that the Homes For Ukraine Scheme and the UK Sponsor Scheme have now gone live and applications are being received. Most arrivals so far have friends and family in Scotland, however, next week those without friends or family are expected to arrive.

Huge amount of work going on to support hubs, local authorities and ensure the flow of information. Safeguarding is a big concern in relation to exploitation of vulnerable women and children. Currently considering what has to be done to increase capacity as quickly as possible for unaccompanied children. Local government is at capacity in terms of staffing and foster care placements. Scottish Government are working with colleagues in the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) regarding what this means for staffing. Need qualified Social Work staff to work in hubs, possibly those who speak Ukrainian/Russian.

Multi-agency safeguarding guidance is being developed which will cover children, young people and adults. The status of unaccompanied children needs to be confirmed by UK government and the Home Office.

Now have authority from Poland and Ukraine for Dnipro children to come to Scotland. Hopefully they should arrive today. Iona thanked Edinburgh Council, Stirling Council, Care Inspectorate, SSSC and COSLA for all their hard work.

The Chair thanked Iona and those in the meeting who have been involved in this important and fast-paced work.

Minute and actions from the last meeting

Members agreed minutes from last meeting on 15 December 2021. The Chair noted that the actions are completed or are covered in agenda.

Chief Officers’ Leadership Event (COLE)

Ruth Sills provided an update on Chief Officers’ Leadership event. It will be a half day online event in September. Opportunities to network during an online event will be more challenging, however being online should ensure that more Chief Officers are able to attend. The event will consist of three workshop sessions -

Self-evaluation led by Chief Officer in relation to the pandemic and self-inspection

Data, led by Dr Alex McTier, Evidence and Evaluation Lead at CELCIS. This will focus on version 2 of the minimum dataset for Child Protection Committees, and the development of a minimum dataset for Adult Protection Committees.

Bairns’ Hoose

Feedback has been received from the chairs of the Chief Officer groups (SOLACE, NHS Health Board Chief Executives Group, and Police Scotland divisional commanders). Ruth thanked Angela Scott for her support.

The next steps for the planning group are to agree a date, identify a chair and firm up details of meeting. Ruth will keep the Leadership Group updated as the planning progresses Action 1- Ruth Sills.

Horizon scanning

No items were raised.

National Child Protection Leadership Group draft work stream tracker

Fiona Marshall introduced the draft work stream tracker. Lindsay MacDougall had introduced a paper and facilitated a discussion on the role and remit of the National Child Protection Leadership Group at the 15 December meeting. This is regarding priorities of the group and how this should link in with Leadership Group. Members made a number of comments and suggestions came which the secretariat has considered. The following changes have been made:

  • development of a new draft workstream tracker to simplify and strengthen reporting of workstreams into the group
  • inclusion of a brief highlight report for noting from the Children and Families Collective Leadership Group
  • consideration of a communication from the group to Chief Executives and leaders to increase engagement and understanding of the group’s role
  • thinking about links with adult services strategic groups, particularly regarding transitions for young people and support for families, and the wider public protection agenda
  • an item on horizon scanning and future risks has been added higher up the agenda.
  • proposed revised priorities for the group:
    • strong collaborative leadership
    • supporting a learning culture and continuous improvement
    • building capacity and capability across workforces
    • effective use of data and evidence

Secretariat are considering a communication from the group to Chief Executives and leaders to increase engagement and understanding of the group’s role. Links with adult services, regarding transitions for young people and support for families, and the wider public protection agenda are being made through the work on planning the Chief Officers’ Leadership event, and implementation of the National Child Protection Guidance. The group will be connected with key policy developments such as the National Care Service, Keeping The Promise, the refresh of GIRFEC resources, and incorporation of UNCRC via membership of the group, substantive inputs, and development of workstreams as required.

Members welcomed the revised draft workstream tracker. Angela Scott informed the group that Aberdeen City Council have undergone a practice review on harmful sexual behaviour (HSB), looking at how to support the victim and the perpetrator. Angela noted that the HSB agenda is challenging and asked if there are plans to publish guidance for those in an education environment. Angela will share the practice review and insight, and the secretariat will ensure connection with the HSB subgroup (Action – Angela Scott and secretariat).

The National Care Service (NCS) was also raised, and it was noted that Iona Colvin will provide an update later in the meeting. There will be significant work required depending on the decision as to whether children’s services are or are not included in the NCS. It was noted that there is significant policy and practice expertise in the group which could be used to support further development and implementation of the NCS.

Lindsay MacDougall noted that this group will be critical in thinking about what the priorities and implications are for child and public protection considerations. There will be a need to look at how current structures operate and it will require some detailed discussions. Scottish Government have been drawing on the consultation responses to look at what the impacts might be. We’ll be looking to draw on the group’s expertise to support implementation. A discussion on NCS will be brought back to the group soon (Action – Secretariat).

Further comments on the agenda, draft work stream tracker, and proposed priorities can be sent to the secretariat.

The following papers have been circulated for information: 

Paper 1 - national child protection guidance implementation

Robert Scott introduced the paper. The Implementation Group, chaired by Joanna MacDonald, are accountable to this group. The Implementation Group have agreed a draft implementation plan, identified key priority areas, including participation of child and families. The paper highlights progress on particular key areas including the development of an accountability and assurance framework for NHS health boards, and NES training for all health staff. The establishment of an IRD subgroup which is considering the development of multi-agency IRD training and the agreement to fund a two year Learning and Development post.

Robert noted, with regards to Angela Scott’s comments on HSB, that there is support for education professionals through the newly established Child Protection in Education Safeguarding Leads Network.

Alan Small noted the CPCs support and are grateful for the new L and D post. There is a big opportunity to work with the L and D subgroup to see what training is out there already and can be made available. It will be good to have someone do this scoping work and will be a big assist in the implementation of the guidance.

Paper 2 - JII and Bairns’ Hoose

Lesley Swanson introduced the paper on Bairns’ Hoose and JII. The Implementation of Bairns’ Hoose will bring services together in a co-ordinated 4 rooms approach, designed to place the needs of the child at the forefront of the justice system and will include child protection, health, justice and recovery services. The plan is that all children who have been victims or witnesses and those under the age of criminal responsibility will have access to a Bairns’ Hoose with the aim being to prevent children being re-traumatised. There will also be a new approach to JII, aimed to provide higher quality of interviewing with better evidence in court. Val de Sousa has been appointed as Chair of the Governance Group.

Angela Scott asked what the criteria for the pilots would be and what would the sequencing between pilots and roll-outs be. Angela highlighted that local areas will be delivering Bairns’ Hoose, JII, The Promise and National Care Service, and that there is a lot of interdependency and risk to manage. Angela asked how Scottish Government will synchronise this, and what role the NCPLG can have. This will be considered at a future meeting (Action – secretariat).

Lesley confirmed that they are liaising with the national team on how we embed JII and learning from the engagement around that work. Beginning in early 2023 there will be conversations across local partnership areas as to what Bairns’ Hoose will look like and this will set the scene for a 2 year pilot. Lesley noted that Val de Souza, the independent chair of the National Bairns’ Hoose Governance Group will attend the September meeting and there will be a substantive item on Bairns’ Hoose and JII.

Alan Small highlighted that the implementation of the National Child Protection Guidance fits into this landscape and that it is the same groups resourcing and implementing these things which causes capacity issues. Alan suggested a simple route map of all the policy developments.

Lesley recognised that it is a challenging time and assured the group that Scottish Government are making connections. She noted that Bairns’ Hoose is embedded in the National Child Protection Guidance and The Promise Implementation Plan. Gordon Paterson noted that The Promise Implementation Plan brings together a number of policy areas, actions and commitments across Scottish Government to meet The Promise. The team are working on a route map with each of the interdependencies in the plan which will show sequencing and what this means for the resource. Further discussion with, or support from the NCPLG would be welcome.

Paper 3 – unaccompanied asylum seeking children

Lindsay MacDougall introduced the paper. The paper focusses on the new plan for immigration and the Nationality and Borders Bill. UK Government are looking at legislative consent for the Bill, however there is disagreement between UKG and the Scottish Government on whether this is needed. There was a House of Commons debate on the House of Lords amendments to the Bill. The Scottish Government supported some of the humanitarian aspects of these amendments. Unfortunately however, those amendments were rejected. The Bill continues its passage through the Houses. 

Lindsay also mentioned the National Transfer Scheme, the Afghan Settlement Update and the National Referral Mechanism pilot running UK-wide, with guidance developed by Glasgow City and the Scottish Government.

Paper 4 - child sexual abuse and exploitation and online safety

Jenny Stenton Introduced the paper. She noted that the paper focuses on two parts – the Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation/Online Safety campaign and the Online Safety Bill. The CSAE/Online Safety campaign directs parents and carers to Parent Club website for advice on how to help keep children safer online. Early indications show that the campaign has reached hundreds of thousands of viewers.

Online Safety Bill – since submitting the paper, there have been developments with the Online Safety Bill. The Bill was introduced to Parliament on 17 March. It aims to make the internet safer for users and gives OFCOM powers to regulate it as such. One of the provisions included in the Bill as introduced is the requirement for providers of internet services hosting pornography to ensure that their users are 18 and ove The Bill is currently undergoing passage in House of Commons and House of Lords.

Paper 5 - Children and Families Collective Leadership Group

Alan Small is a member of the Collective Leadership Group. Alan informed members that it now meets on monthly basis and is no longer Covid focussed. There is really important work being carried out including that being led by a subgroup formed to look at issue of under 18s in custody. The group had an extraordinary meeting yesterday to discuss Ukraine.

Laura Caven, also a member of the Collective Leadership Group, noted that at the last meeting there was a good discussion regarding the Family Wellbeing Fund. There was discussion regarding the future role of the fund and how we can work together collaboratively on a national level. Laura suggested that the NCPLG might be interested in discussing this in the future.

National Care Service update

Iona Colvin provided a brief update regarding the National Care Service (NCS). Ministers are considering the outcome of the consultation – and will make a decision on the shape and scope of the NCS. A statement will be made after the local government elections. Whether children’s services are in our out of the NCS, there will be change.

Iona noted that she understand concerns regarding co-ordination of policy developments. The main focus is on how we deliver The Promise, and the NCS team are working side by side with The Promise team on this. In relation to NCS, there will be period of 18-24 months of co-design, working with local areas and national partners including the NCPLG. Scottish Government are fully committed to co-design, including with people with lived experience. The team are working directly with Who Cares? Scotland who have been engaging with children and young people.

There will be change in relation to adult social care, this has yet to be defined. Operational arrangements on the ground are complex. Work is being done to clarify the different arrangements and how they range from area to area. For children and young people, there needs to be clear accountability of who is delivering services. The Promise means we are committed to co-design children’s services. Whatever happens we will need to manage change and co-ordinate all initiatives we have. Will see a period of significant change over next 2 years and The Promise will be our guide. The NCS team are also considering issues around children and young people with physical disabilities and mental health issues, and working with Collective Leadership Group regarding the impact on workforce and need to develop a trauma informed workforce.

Angela Scott noted that it was positive and helpful to hear about co-design and the inclusion of lived experience. There is a complex weave of services and relationships that sit behind child and adult protection. Journey mapping of children and adults, and an understanding of the blueprint of service design that sits behind this at local level is a critical part of local transition and shift. The lived experience, journey map and blueprint can underpin the legislation. The NCPLG can help to do this. The interface with justice and MAPPA is also very important. Every area across Scotland will have a different transformation arrangement to make. We require sequencing of all these events and sequencing of our resource.

Iona added that there is a commitment within the main NCS team which sits in health to have full involvement of all partners as we move forward. The main bill team sits under social care, and a sub bill team sits in Children and Families Directorate. Iona has offered to attend the June meeting to provide a further update and discuss practical steps (Action 4 – Secretariat). The Chair thanked Iona for the update.

The Promise implementation plan – presentation and discussion 

Gordon Paterson presented to the group the background and reasons for The Promise, and an update on the Promise Implementation Plan, which will be published on 31 March. The outcome of the NCS discussions will greatly affect implementation of The Promise. There are currently 14,500 children and young people in the care system in Scotland. Gordon noted that it is important to ensure improvements are felt day to day by children in Scotland and their families, and that we co-ordinate our policies and actions. The intention is to to provide support to keep families together where it is safe to do so.

The Promise Children’s Hearing System Working group has recently published a 'list of issues' which will be the basis of discussion and engagement over the next few months. This has some really big issues on change and improvement.

The aim is to Keep The Promise by 2030. Gordon has agreed that his presentation can be shared with the group, and he will come back to provide a further update at a future meeting (Action 5 - Gordon Paterson and secretariat). Laura Caven informed the group that COSLA will shortly publish their annual report on progressing The Promise. This will be circulated to members (Action – Laura Caven and SecretariatThe Chair thanked Gordon for his input.


The Chair thanked everyone for attending meeting and noted that further discussions are required as things progress. The next meeting is on 22 June. Members can contact the secretariat if they would like anything added to the agenda. The Chair thanked Fiona Marshall for her role as secretariat as this will be her last meeting.


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