National Child Protection Leadership Group minutes: September 2019

Minutes from the September 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
  • 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)
  • 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
  • Alan Small, Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood Policy, Edinburgh University 
  • Sharon Glasgow, Child Protection Programme Lead, CELCIS


  • Lorna Aitken, Senior Education Officer, Education Scotland (attending on behalf of Gail Gorman)
  • Bill Alexander, Associate, Children in Scotland, Chair of National Child Protection Guidance Revision Steering Group
  • Eddie Doyle, Scottish Government Senior Medical Advisor for Paediatrics (attending on behalf of Catherine Calderwood)
  • Susan Downes, Child Protection, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Catherine Dyer, Chair, Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People
  • Rod Finan, Professional Social Work Advisor, Scottish Government (attending on behalf of Iona Colvin)
  • DCU Elaine Galbraith, Public Protection, Police Scotland (attending on behalf of DCS Lesley Boal)
  • Andy Jeffries, Chief Social Work Officer, City of Edinburgh Council and Social Work Scotland (attending on behalf of Alison Gordon)
  • Caroline Lauder, Child Protection, Scottish Government
  • Janie McManus, Strategic Director for Scrutiny, Education Scotland (attending on behalf of Gail Gorman)
  • Fiona Marshall, Child Protection, Scottish Government (Secretariat)
  • Wendy Mitchell, Professional Advisor – Early Years and Children’s Services, Scottish Government (attending on behalf of Fiona McQueen)
  • Louise Ward, Child Protection, Scottish Government


  • DCS Lesley Boal, Head of Public Protection, Police Scotland
  • Catherine Calderwood, Chief Medical Officer, Scottish Government
  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Adviser, Scottish Government
  • Peter Diamond, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES) 
  • Alison Gordon, Chief Social Work Officer, North Lanarkshire & Social Work Scotland
  • Neil Hunter, Principle Reporter/Chief Executive, SCRA
  • Angela Leitch, Chief Executive, East Lothian Council, Strategic Lead for Children and Education, including Child Protection SOLACE
  • Mairi Macpherson, Deputy Director, Creating Positive Futures, Scottish Government
  • Fiona McQueen, Chief Nursing Officer, Scottish Government

Items and actions

Welcome and apologies

Lesley Sheppard chaired the beginning of the meeting as Ms Todd had been delayed. Lesley welcomed members to the meeting and noted apologies and delegates.  

The Chair informed the group that the new format of the meeting which was trialled in April would again be used for this meeting. Papers will be for noting, discussion  or decision. There will then be a section of the meeting for in-depth discussion on a particular theme. The theme of this meeting is the recommendations of the Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People. 

Minute of the last meeting

The group agreed that the minute of the meeting on 30 April 2019 was accurate. 

The Chair noted action 1, which was for SallyAnn Kelly to consider what more could be done to draw out issues in relation to information sharing with the third sector and invited SallyAnn to update the group.  

SallyAnn advised that she has now been informed of examples of inconsistent information sharing practice.

The Chair asked the group to provide comment. Elaine Galbraith informed the group that Police Scotland are reviewing its current policy on getting consent with regards to wellbeing and are working with stakeholders and the Information Commissioner on this. The updated policy will be rolled out as soon as possible with third sector input and co-agreement. Training and guidance will provide clarity for frontline staff and deliver consistency across Scotland. The change in the Police Scotland approach will be reviewed in 6 months and an update will be provided at the next meeting. [Action 1, Lesley Boal/Elaine Galbraith]                                           

The Chair noted action 5, which was that the induction for Chief Officers include training for local elected members and link with the Leadership Group led review of support for Chief Social Work Officers. The Chair invited Susan Downes to provide an update.  

The proposal for a Chief Officers’ induction was posed at the Chief Officers’ leadership event and received positive feedback. A draft will be prepared which will be circulated to the five Chief Officers who hosted conversations at the leadership event. Once their feedback has been taken into account the draft will be shared more widely with Chief Officers for comment. An update will be provided at the next meeting. [Action 2, Secretariat]

The Chair noted action 8 which was an invitation to members to suggest ideas for future discussion themes and guest speakers. Bill Alexander has been invited to the December meeting to provide a more detailed update on the progress of the National Child Protection Guidance review. The Chair invited members to provide ideas for future meetings.

The group agreed that neglect would be a good focus for the March meeting and that it could incorporate research such as that carried out by Paul Bywaters, and an update on the work that is currently being done to prevent neglect. [Action 3, Secretariat] 

SallyAnn Kelly suggested the group may wish to invite Brid Featherstone (University of Huddersfield) and Carlene Firmin (University of Bedfordshire) to present on the work they have done on A Social Model of Child Protection (Brid) and Contextual Safeguarding (Carlene). 

Priority Actions, Linked Programmes and Completed actions – Paper 1
Review of the National Child Protection Guidance - Paper 2

The Minister took over role of the Chair and papers 1 and 2 were noted.  

Clinical Care and Governance - Paper 3

The Chair invited views on clinical care and governance work. It was noted that in the context of an integrated framework there will still be a line of sight to professional responsibilities which differ with regards to child protection roles. It was recognised that governance will synchronise common ground and be prescriptive, and be tweaked as appropriate for different settings.

Case Review and Significant Case Learning and Research Base – Paper 4

Peter MacLeod informed the group that the Care Inspectorate has established a short-term working group to develop proposals for a knowledge hub and a shared learning tool. Consideration is also being given to holding a learning event in relation to Significant Case Reviews. This working group is linking with the Case Review Oversight Group which is considering all of the Systems Review ICR/SCR recommendations.

Chief Officers’ Leadership Event – Paper 5

The Chair invited Sharon Glasgow to update the group on the Chief Officers’ Leadership Event which was held on 18 June and attended by 33 Chief Officers.

Two papers had been shared with the group, one providing an evaluation of the event and the other informing next steps and discussion. A fuller report containing feedback on the café conversation sessions has been shared with Chief Officers. Sharon emphasised that early engagement with Chief Officers is critical to the continued support and engagement of the target audience. Sharon informed the group that the event was very positively received by all Chief Officers in attendance and that there was strong support for a peer event that created a safe space to discuss leadership challenges. Members acknowledged that events like this can be game-changing, changing the tone and ability of leaders who frequently face professional and personal challenges in what is often an isolating role. 

Sharon highlighted the importance of building on the momentum and harnessing the desire of Chief Officers to be involved in planning the next event. Sharon outlined other next steps including: communication between the NCPLG and Chief Officers; the next event; Public Protection Arrangements; Chief Officers’ Induction and a knowledge hub. Sharon emphasised that there is an appetite for ongoing engagement with the National Child Protection Leadership Group.

The group discussed the practical difficulties in maximising attendance at an event of this kind. It was recognised that there are currently no other opportunities for public protection leaders to come together. The group agreed that the National Child Protection Leadership Group should have strong links with others considering leadership, such as the Scottish Leadership Forum. It was acknowledged that the GIRFEC collective leadership and governance programme is being piloted, and that regional seminars will commence on 18 September. It was suggested that there may be opportunities to synchronise future events, compare attendee lists and share best practice for communications.[Action 4, Bill Alexander/Secretariat]

The group discussed how to build on the success of the Chief Officers’ Leadership Event. It was suggested that the group could provide Chief Officers’ with 4 or 5 things that they could do locally. It was also suggested that it would be beneficial to get feedback from attendees on what happened after the event and what more the Leadership Group can do. It was recognised that the best approach to communication should be sought and that the group of 5 Chief Officers involved in the planning of the last event could help with this. [Action 5, Secretariat]

Claire Burns thanked Sharon Glasgow for her contribution to the National Child Protection Leadership Group and this was echoed by the members.

eIRD Proposal – Paper 6

The Chair invited Andy Jeffries to introduce the paper. The electronic Inter-agency Referral Discussion (eIRD) system has been developed by Edinburgh Council and provides a single, detailed record of IRDs. The system is used in Edinburgh and the Lothians, and Edinburgh Council have received interest from other parts of Scotland. Andy Jeffries, on behalf of Social Work Scotland sought the group’s view on commissioning exploratory work on potential  expansion across Scotland including resourcing implications. 

The group noted their support for the proposal, recognising that eIRD is a powerful tool for frontline staff and leadership which improves communications, aids decision-making and provides a multi-agency solution. The group agreed that several strands of work need to be completed including: finalising the National Child Protection Guidance revision as this will provide greater clarity and consistency in relation to IRD practice, improve understanding of the number of IRDs being undertaken across Scotland and explore the appetite for a national system. It was noted that a number of local authorities are in the process of procuring replacement social work systems which will include some form of multi-agency sharing capacity. Scottish Government is also taking forward work to develop a National Child Protection Register (in line with the CPIP recommendation) and there may be potential to extend this work to support IRD recording. Nicola Dickie suggested discussing these proposals with Martyn Wallace (Scottish Local Government Digital Office) who will have a good understanding of which local authorities are replacing their systems. It was agreed that an update would be provided at the next meeting. [Action 6, Andy Jefferies, Secretariat]

Expert Group on Preventing Sexual Offending Involving Children and Young People – Paper 7

The Chair welcomed Catherine Dyer, Chair of the Expert Group to the meeting and invited her to provide an overview of the group’s work. 

Catherine introduced the paper and explained that the report is still under embargo. The report provides a deep dive into crime statistics around sexual offending relating to perpetrators and victims under 18 years. The report provides a number of recommendations, including that the National Child Protection Leadership Group has oversight on the recommendations.

DSU Elaine Galbraith was invited to facilitate a discussion on the report. The group considered what ongoing work of (a) the Leadership Group and (b) members’ respective organisations was relevant to the issues and recommendations identified in the report. Work highlighted included the refocused role of school nursing on prevention, behaviour and mental health; in education the Violence Reduction Unit funded development officers, and the co-created Relationships, Sexual Health and Parenthood (RSHP) resource being launched online in September. It was noted that the Care Inspectorate have a role in monitoring how areas are engaging with programmes and the impact that they are having.

The group agreed that prevention and early intervention is key. They also noted the interface between the youth justice system and adult justice system and how this transition is an area of risk for some very vulnerable young people.

The group considered what challenges they can see in terms of driving forward progress on the identified issues. The collection of data and the use of a consistent methodology to do so were noted. 

The group recognised that most of the recommendations  sit under existing programmes of work. For example, it is proposed that the revised National Child Protection Guidance will include contextual safeguarding and will reinforce CARM. Some of the recommendations could also be considered by the Children and Young People Mental Health Taskforce. [Action 7, Bill Alexander]. It was recognised by the group that there is a need for a national tertiary system.

The group considered to what extent the various recommendations of the Expert Group fall within the remit/interests of this group. The group agreed that oversight of the recommendations by the National Child Protection Leadership Group would reinforce that children involved in sexual offending are children first and foremost. It was also suggested that there could be joint reporting to the Justice Board and Equally Safe Joint Strategic Board. [Action 8, Secretariat]

It was suggested that having a good communications strategy in place for the publication of the report that links with communities, groups and organisations like CPC Scotland, ADES and Education Scotland can raise awareness and encourage adoption of preventative measures. The members of the Leadership Group can be active leaders in promoting the report. It was also suggested that the report and recommendations be shared with Chief Officer Groups. [Action 9, Secretariat]

It was noted that the Expert Group had good representation from the youth sector. Parents were also actively involved. It was recognised that additions to the Leadership Group from the youth sector would be helpful, perhaps in the form of a subgroup. [Action 10, Secretariat]

New and emerging risks

The Impact of a no deal Brexit was raised. Contingency planning is taking place across central and local government. An update from the weekly resilience meeting will be shared with the group. Members were invited to share any specific concerns. [Action 11, Lesley Sheppard and Nicola Dickie]

Kay Tisdall informed the group that Helen Stalford has done work on the implications of Brexit for children and will share this with the group. [Action 12, Kay Tisdall]

Date of the next meeting

The Chair confirmed that the next meeting is 4 December where the facilitated discussion will focus on the National Child Protection Guidance.   


Susan Downes
Senior Policy Officer

National Child Protection Leadership Group

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