National guidance for child protection 2021: consultation report


This report presents an independent analysis of responses to the Scottish Government's consultation on the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland.

The consultation paper and the draft guidance are available at:

Background and context

The Scottish Government has been working with stakeholders and partners from across education, social work, health, justice and the third sector to revise Scotland's national guidance on child protection. The draft guidance being consulted on is a wholescale revision.

The current version of the guidance was published in May 2014, updating a comprehensive 2010 rewrite of a 1998 version. This non-statutory national guidance describes responsibilities and expectations for all involved in protecting children in Scotland. The guidance sets out how agencies should work together with parents, families and communities to prevent and protect children from harm caused by abuse and neglect.

It aims to provide a national framework for services and local inter-agency forums such as Chief Officer Groups and Child Protection Committees to develop further in their local multi-agency protocols, training plans and procedures. The guidance also aims to serve as a useful resource for practitioners on particular areas of practice and signposts where additional information can be found.

Consultation process

The consultation ran from 21 October 2020 and closed on 31 January 2021.[2]

In addition to the main public consultation, seven virtual stakeholder engagement events were held during November and December 2020. These events were used to engage with Child Protection Committees and practitioners, with a facilitated discussion structured around the consultation questions.

Around 70 participants attended a Child Protection Committees Scotland (CPCScotland) event and around 145 participants attended one of the other six events. Many of those attending an event worked for an organisation that went on to submit a written response to the consultation.

Profile of respondents

In total, 159 consultation responses were received. The majority of responses were received through the Scottish Government's Citizen Space consultation hub. Others were received via email.

Respondents were asked to identify whether they were responding as an individual or on behalf of a group or organisation. Organisational respondents were then allocated to one of ten categories by the analysis team. A breakdown of the number of responses received by respondent type is set out in Table 1 below and a full list of organisational respondents can be found in Annex 1.

Table 1: Respondents by type
Type Number
Academic group or body 3
Child or public protection committee 24
Education body, including schools 8
Health body, including NHS 17
Local authority, including SW services 10
Multi agency partnership 5
Public body 11
Special interest group 2
SW representative body or group 3
Third sector 40
Total organisations 123
Individuals 36
All respondents 159

The majority of responses (123 responses or 77% of those received) were submitted by organisations, with the remaining responses (36 responses or 23% of those received) submitted by individual members of the public.

The responses from the 136 respondents who agreed to their response being published can be found on the Scottish Government's website at: Consultation on the revised National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland - Scottish Government - Citizen Space

Analysis and reporting

A small number of respondents did not make their submission on the consultation questionnaire but submitted their comments in a statement-style format. This content was analysed qualitatively under the most directly relevant consultation question.

The remainder of this report presents a question-by-question analysis of both the quantitative (closed) and qualitative (open) questions.

At the start of each question (where relevant) a short summary of the main themes discussed at the stakeholder engagement events is presented. These themes very much reflected those raised subsequently in the written consultation responses.

The analysis of the written consultation responses sets out the range of issues covered by respondents. Most of the issues set out in the report were raised by only one or a small number of respondents. If an issue was raised more frequently, this has been highlighted.

A number of the comments suggested additional themes or issues to be covered in the guidance. Please note that on occasions these issues may already be covered somewhere within the draft guidance.

In addition to the analysis of further comments, a technical appendix containing specific editing suggestions was also produced by the analysis team. The technical appendix has been supplied to the Scottish Government.

As with any public consultation exercise, it should be noted that those responding generally have a particular interest in the subject area and the views they express cannot be seen as representative of wider public opinion.