National Child Protection Leadership Group: December 2017

Minutes from the December 2017 meeting of the National Child Protection Leadership Group.

Attendees and apologies


  • Maree Todd (Chair), Minister for Childcare and Early Years
  • Sandra Aitken, Child Protection Team, Scottish Government (attending for Judith Ainsley)
  • Neil Hunter, Principal Reporter/Chief Executive SCRA
  • Peter Diamond, Association of Directors of Education in Scotland (ADES)
  • Helen Fogarty, Head of Better Life Chances Unit, Scottish Government
  • Eddie Fallon, Children and Young People, Policy Manager, COSLA
  • Alison Gordon, Chief Social Work Officer & Head of Children Families and Justice Social Work Services, North Lanarkshire
  • Kay Tisdall, Professor of Childhood, Edinburgh University
  • Angela Leitch, Chief Executive, East Lothian Council and Chair of SOLACE
  • Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Advisor, Scottish Government
  • Kevin Mitchell, Executive Director of Scrutiny and Assurance, Care Inspectorate
  • Claire Burns, Director of Programmes and Services, CELCIS
  • DCS Lesley Boal, Head of Public Protection, Police Scotland
  • Wendy Mitchell, Chief Nurse and Head of Child Protection Service, NHS Greater Glasgow & Clyde
  • Cllr Stephen McCabe (Vice chair), Spokesperson for Children and Young People, COSLA
  • Anne Houston, Chair, Child Protection Committees Scotland


  • Louise McCue, Child Protection Team, Scottish Government

Items and actions

1. Welcome, introductions and apologies

The Minister welcomed everyone to the meeting and facilitated roundtable introductions. Secretariat noted that apologies were offered from Sally Ann Kelly Chief Executive, Aberlour, and Chair of Committee on Care & Support for Children and Young People, Coalition of Care and Support Providers Scotland (CCPS)

2. Minute of last meeting (21 September 2017)

There was 1 proposed amendment to minute of previous meeting. The amendment relates to page 2, item 4 which should be amended to record that the national framework was a recommendation made by this group.

Angela Leitch gave an update on her action point from the June meeting about supporting relationships.

3. Paper 1: Chief Officer Leadership Events (COLEs). Presented by Claire Burns

Issues raised in discussion were:

  • Clarification was provided that the first COLE events would not be taking place in January. Timescales for speakers made that difficult and it would not be possible to put together a good quality event for January.
  • The Scottish Government has recommended that the events be rescheduled to the spring to ensure quality and good attendance.
  • Claire Burns suggested that the 1st events take place in April 2018. The Leadership Group agreed.
  • It is essential that clear outcomes for the events are agreed
  • Invitations to the rescheduled events come from the Minister with a 3-4 month period of notice.
  • It is necessary to ensure that the rescheduling of the COLEs would need to be clearly communicated to attendees.
  • Having half day events was felt to be insufficient to gain value. The events need to allow proper discussion of key points, and practice sharing should be part of the agenda.
  • It’s important that the Leadership Group get sight of the agenda in advance.

Action Points:

AP1 - CELCIS to rearrange first COLEs for April/May 2018.

AP2 - Invitations, with a 3 month period of notice, to be sent from the Minister.

AP3 - Events should be lengthened to a full day to ensure best use of attendee time.

AP4 - Draft agenda to be submitted to leadership group in advance of events.

AP5 - Claire Burns to reconvene the COLEs subgroup as a Virtual Group, to input into the developing agenda.

4. Paper 2 – Child Protection Committees – Minimum representation and Seniority. Presented by Sandra Aitken

  • The paper is a helpful reflection of the minimum representation and seniority of CPCs.
  • The group felt that the recommendation to revisit the 2005 guidance as part of the planned refresh of the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland (2014) would delay updating the 2005 guidance, which is a far simpler task.
  • The group discussed the Protecting Children and Young People: Child Protection Committees Guidance (2005). The collective view was that a significant majority of the 2005 guidance is still relevant and had an important role to play in inspections of children’s services by enabling evidence gathering set against the clear delineation of roles and functions as set out in the guidance. However, due to the changes in children’s social work and children’s services since 2005 an update of the guidance was necessary.
  • It was suggested that a task and finish group be established to lead on a refresh of the 2005 guidance in advance of the planned refresh of the 2014 guidance.
  • This group will aim to produce a draft refresh of the guidance that will be discussed at the next Leadership Group meeting, with the intention of having this form part of the preparatory work issued to COLEs attendees.

The task and finish group members are:

  • Kevin Mitchell
  • Wendy Mitchell
  • Alison Gordon
  • Neil Hunter
  • Lesley Boal
  • Anne Houston

The task and finish group will:

  • Agree how best to approach the refresh
  • Produce an initial draft 2005 guidance refresh/review/update paper for presentation at the next National Leadership Group meeting

The group will ensure that the refresh of the guidance:

  • Clarifies CPC membership
  • Considers how to gain greater consistency of membership in CPCs
  • Clarifies the desired seniority of CPCs
  • Considers and reflects the role and importance of the COG
  • Covers the desired relationship between CPCs and COGs

AP6 - Kevin Mitchell to set up and chair a task and finish group to refresh the 2005 guidance.

5. Paper 3 – Child Protection Flagging, Vulnerable Persons Database

The group were asked specific questions around information sharing, de-registration, consultation and participation and implementation.

Information Sharing

  • The intention is for VPD to hold minimal sensitive personal child protection related data. Initial thoughts are that the consultation will seek to determine if the following information should be held on VPD:
  • Name
  • Parent/Carer/Guardian
  • DOB
  • Address
  • Area where CP Registered
  • Date registered
  • Date de-registered
  • Social Work Contact (name and number)

The following points were raised in subsequent discussion:

  • A question/marker around sibling registration could be added.
  • Suggestion to link in with the work being done by Jim McCreary from North Lanarkshire as this would help to provide information on data
  • Need to ensure that digital work between COSLA, the Scottish Government and social work services link in with whatever national system we have.
  • The group could add value by commissioning some work to gather evidence of all the systems being used nationally to ensure coherence.
  • Need to ensure that there be a short timescale on decision making on whether the VPD flagging system is going to be built in as Police Scotland deadline for submitting a change request is March 2018.
  • The group agreed that an initial change request based on the outlined parameters should be lodged with Police Scotland IT, which could be amended subject to further discussion.


  • The group agreed that the flag on the VPD should be removed after a child has been off the CPR for three months, subject to solid evidence that this will not place the child at risk.

Consultation and Participation

  • Flagging on VPD will only work if all services are engaged with the process. It is therefore important that the consultation reaches the appropriate audience.
  • The Leadership Group agreed that they will employ their professionals networks to help disseminate the consultation.

Implementation – How it will work in practice

  • Local Authorities and Police Scotland will develop an Information Sharing Agreement (ISA) to underpin the roles and responsibilities of both sending and receiving agencies in respect of the flow of sensitive personal data through secure means.

AP7 - Lesley Boal to put in a change request by mid - February 2018

AP8 - Flag to remain on the VPD for 3 months after de-registration.

AP9 - Police Scotland to ensure that the consultation reaches all those using the register with particular emphasis on engagement with the Police, Health and local authorities.

6. Paper 4 – Planning for future meetings

The purpose of this paper was to explore with the group how they achieve Recommendation 1 of the System Review Report “Protecting Scotland’s Children and Young People: It is Still Everyone’s Job”.

The following issues were raised in discussion:

  • Clarity around the life span of the National Leadership group would be helpful.
  • The group could develop a work plan based on CPIP, and requested a table setting out progress on the recommendations so far.
  • The Leadership Group should stay true its remit as an oversight group and not a delivery group.
  • Differing areas of focus could weaken the connections to the overall Child Protection Improvement Programme. In order that the group help make those connections, visibility of CPIP progress is needed so the group can ensure that they are fulfilling their role and are on track.
  • Children and families themselves have a role to play this could be explored.
  • Integrated Joint Board Chief Officers have a valuable perspective to add, and their contribution to achieving recommendations could be further explored.
  • There was discussion around the need to consider how we are responding to early intervention. The group discussed their possible role in co-ordinating/linking up work on prevention/children on the cusp of being on the child protection register, with a view to planning what the group can do to progress a prevention strategy or linking up current individual strategies.
  • This group could help contribute to a Scottish Government broader child abuse strategy, possibly by looking across the actions in the Equally Safe strategy around child sexual abuse, and the actions in the Trafficking strategy around child sexual exploitation.
  • Scottish Government is working on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) through the ACEs hub. The Minister suggested that the team should be invited to a future meeting to talk about the Hub’s analysis and the ACEs whole system approach.
  • There was discussion around the need for Education Scotland to continue to take responsibility for their role in child protection and whether this could involve a clearer expectation on the role of staff.
  • The existing Child Protection guidance provided to Health staff could be refreshed to help support a shift in practice and how we help organizational change.
  • The Minister said she would like to have someone from the ACE’s team attend a future meeting and give an overview of their work.

AP10 - Secretariat to provide clarity around the life span of and a work plan for the National Leadership group together with a table setting out progress on the recommendations in the system review.

AP11 - Iona Colvin to give consideration to how best to bring together the voices of children and families and the perspectives of integrated joint board chief officers to feed into the systems review.

AP12 - Angela Leitch to pull together work around early intervention/prevention and those on the edge of care with a view to planning what the group can do to progress a prevention strategy or linking up current individual strategies.

AP13 - Secretariat to provide a paper on CPIP progress.

AP14 - Secretariat to invite Sara Dodds to come along to a future meeting to talk about the ACEs Hub’s analysis and the ACE whole system approach.

Future Meeting Dates 2017/18

  • 27th March 2018 (9.30-12.30), Atlantic Quay, Glasgow


  • The Minister gave an update on the Minimum Age of Criminal Responsibility Bill.
  • The Group received an update on the Information Sharing Bill.
  • The Group received an update about joint investigation interviews, embedding this in the Scottish Police College training, a practice model, refreshing the 2011 child witness guidelines. A paper on dual reporting will be produced for a future meeting.

AP15 - Police Scotland to produce a paper on dual reporting.

AP16 - CELCIS to issue the chief officers group meeting cancellation before Christmas and let them know the proposed new date in January.

Summing up, the Chair said that it had been a valuable debate, that there was agreement on key points and that the various actions should now be undertaken.

The Group noted with approval the Chair’s summing up and invited the secretariat to proceed accordingly.


Susan Downes
Senior Policy Officer

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