National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 - updated 2023

This guidance describes the responsibilities and expectations for all involved in protecting children and will support the care and protection of children.

This document is part of a collection

Changes made in 2023

When this Guidance was published in 2021, a commitment was made to review and update it when required by significant legislative, policy or practice changes to ensure it remains relevant and up to date. Since the 2021 guidance contained some significant revisions from the 2014 version, for this first update, issues raised by local areas implementing the 2021 Guidance were also considered. Input was sought from individuals and organisations who had contributed to the 2021 publication, members of the National Child Protection Guidance Implementation Group and their colleagues, policy leads and organisations with expertise in specific areas. Where necessary, focussed engagement on specific areas was conducted.

The table below shows the updates that have been made, colour-coded and given acronyms as follows based on the significance of the change:

Significant additions or amendments (SA) that might require a change in practice

New text (NT) to be aware of

Minor amendments (MA) or additions to existing sections

Updates (U) to links/publications

2021 location 2023 location Level of change Update
Para 1.20 1.20 MA Updated information on Adult Support and Protection (ASP) legislation and Code of Practice published July 2022.
Para 1.51 1.51 MA Added that the GIRFEC approach supports children’s rights.
Para 1.52 1.52 MA Added that child protection processes should uphold children’s rights.
Para 1.54 1.54 MA Added link to human rights treaties.
Para 1.74 1.74 U Added link to GIRFEC guidance.
Page 24 after 1.114 Page 24 after 1.114 MA Added information and links on Whole Family Wellbeing Funding.
Para 1.149 Para 1.150 NT Added links to GIRFEC and Information Commissioner’s Office guidance on sharing children’s information.
Para 1.162 Para 1.163 U Added link to GIRFEC guidance.
Para 1.666 Para 1.667 MA Corrected inaccuracies in dates and wording around The Children (Scotland) Act 2020.
Para 1.175 Paras 1.176-1.177 NT Added paragraphs on organisations’ duties to report harmful behaviour to Disclosure Scotland.
Para 1.180 Para 1.182 MA Changed terminology from eradicating to significantly reducing levels of child poverty and expanded description of the Child Poverty (Scotland) Act 2017.
Para 2.14 Para 2.14 MA Added that membership of Child Protection Committees should be multi-agency.
Para 2.19 Para 2.19 U Updated link to Care Inspectorate Quality Framework.
Para 2.26 Para 2.26 NT Added a new section on regulatory bodies.
Para 2.27 Para 2.28 MA Noted the National Framework for Child Protection Learning and Development will be updated in 2023.
Para 2.30 Para 2.31 MA Removed sentence about Learning Reviews replacing Significant Case Reviews.
Para 2.32 Para 2.33 MA Changed reference to Significant Case Reviews to Learning Reviews.
Para 2.56 Para 2.57 MA Noted home education guidance is still under review.
Para 2.60 Para 2.61 NT Added safeguarding role and guidance for proprietors of independent schools.
Para 2.61 Para 2.62 NT Added expectations around registration of teachers in independent schools with the General Teaching Council for Scotland. Added requirements for child protection roles and training in independent schools as per the Registration of Independent Schools (Scotland) Amendment Regulations 2021.
Para 2.62 Para 2.63 MA Added that boarding and residential schools must adhere to Care Inspectorate requirements regarding notification of incidents.
Para 2.62 Para 2.64 NT Added new paragraph on involvement of independent schools in multi-agency planning and support for children and families.
Para 2.82 Para 2.84 NT Added information on the NHS Public Protection Accountability and Assurance Framework.
Para 2.84 Para 2.86 NT Added that health staff should have completed the appropriate level of the NHS Education for Scotland public protection e-learning modules, and that they should be aware of standards, guidance and training from their relevant Royal College.
Para 2.85 Para 2.85 MA Amended significant case reviews to Learning Reviews.
Para 2.97 N/A MA Removed paragraph on self-referral for medical exams as it is duplicated in 3.72.
Para 2.116 Para 2.117 MA Noted that community pharmacy services should raise concerns in line with local policy.
Page 57 after 2.123 Page 58 after 2.124 MA Added reference to General Pharmaceutical Council standards.
Para 2.197 Para 2.198 U Added link to ASP Code of Practice published July 2022.
Para 2.201 Para 2.202 U Added link to ASP code of practice.
Para 2.209 Para 2.210 U Updated links to Multi-agency Public Protection Arrangements guidance and national report.
Para 2.211 Para 2.212 U Added link to interim delivery plan for the Equally Safe strategy.
Para 2.222 Para 2.223 MA Noted that children have their own set of rights.
Para 2.278 Para 2.279 MA Updated to note that Learning Reviews have replaced Significant Case Reviews.
Para 3.4 Para 3.10 MA Added that all concerns which may indicate risk of significant harm must lead must lead to “consideration” of an IRD.
Para 3.7 Para 3.14 SA Added a section on when concerns relate to a person in a position of trust.
Para 3.7 Para 3.17 SA Added a paragraph on whistleblowing.
Para 3.12 Para 3.22 MA Added that referral to the Reporter should be considered at all stages of the child protection process, including if there is insufficient evidence to charge someone with an offence against a child, and that decisions to refer or not should be recorded.
Para 3.15 Para 3.25 MA Changed an inter-agency referral discussion (IRD) must be convened “as soon as reasonably practicable” to “without undue delay”.
Para 3.15 Para 3.25 NT Added that an IRD should be held in cases of concerns about exploitation or trafficking, and that decisions not to conduct an IRD must be recorded in writing.
Para 3.23 Para 3.33 SA Amended to state that participation of non-core agencies, particularly education, in IRDs should be considered based on their involvement with the child.
Para 3.28 Para 3.38 MA Changed to reiterate the IRD must be convened “without undue delay” rather than “as soon as reasonably practical”.
Para 3.35 Para 3.45 MA Reiterated conditions when early referral to the Reporter might be needed.
Para 3.39 Paras 3.49-3.51 SA Added a section on sharing information about an IRD with the children and family.
Para 3.44 Para 3.57 MA Noted that sharing of IRD records should be in line with data protection legislation.
Para 3.45 Para 3.58 U Added links to Care and Risk Management (CARM) and Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act (ACRA) guidance.
Para 3.72 Para 3.85 NT Added detail on Forensic Medical Services (Scotland) Act 2021. Included clinical pathway link and paragraph on the Sexual Assault Response Coordination Service.
Para 3.109 N/A NT Paragraph on COVID-19 provisions deleted as they are no longer in force.
Paras 3.142-3.146 Paras 3.155-3.163 SA Amendments to pre-birth guidance particularly to clarify expectations on pre-discharge and post-birth planning meetings.
Para 3.156 Para 3.173 MA Slight revision to definition of quorate to note that minimum participation is expected from social work, police, health, education and early learning and childcare, as relevant.
Para 3.165 Para 3.182 SA Revised the five working day timescale for providing a record of the Child Protection Planning Meeting. Changed this to: provide the Core Group with a copy of the Child Protection Plan within five working days and circulate a record of the CPPM within 10 working days.
Para 3.197 3.214 MA Updated Bairns’ Hoose information.
Page 130 Page 135 U Added links to ACRA and CARM guidance to flow chart.
Para 4.2 Para 4.2 MA Updated wording on Scottish Government strategy to reduce child poverty.
Para 4.7 Para 4.7 NT Removed projections of child poverty as these fluctuate. Added information on Best Start, Bright Futures plan to reduce child poverty. Noted economic pressures can intensify impacts of poverty and added information on support available to families.
Para 4.88 Para 4.88 U Added link to Child Neglect in Scotland document published October 2021.
Para 4.109 Para 4.109 MA Changed wording on Sex Offender Community Disclosure Scheme from “someone else’s child” to “a child”.
Para 4.125 Para 4.125 NT Added text on neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Para 4.143 Para 4.143 MA Removed the date The Children (Equal Protection from Assault) (Scotland) Act 2019 came into force as it was a few years ago.
Para 4.145 Para 4.145 U Added reference to public facing material on equal protection.
Para 4.164 Para 4.164 NT Revised definition of child sexual abuse (CSA) to remove “under 16 years of age” and added detail regarding children under 16, aged 16/17 and offences such as sexual abuse of trust and taking or possession of indecent photographs of children.
Para 4.167 Para 4.165 MA Moved this paragraph on what constitutes sexual abuse to after 4.164.
Para 4.183 Para 4.183 NT Added information on the Scottish Government’s Parent Club website section on CSA.
Page 161 after 4.183 Page 166 after 4.183 MA Removed mention of public consultation on review of sexual abuse of trust as this is out of date.
Page 162 before 4.184 Page 167 before 4.184 MA Updated that Sexual Risk Orders will be active from 2023.
Page 171 after 4.231 Page 176 after 4.231 MA Updated dates in relation to implementation and commencement of The Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019.
Para 4.246 Para 4.246 SA Added section on harmful online challenges and hoaxes.
Para 4.248 Para 4.255 NT Added paragraph on supporting children who have engaged in harmful behaviour for which the child is not criminalised to understand consent, why the behaviour was inappropriate and potential consequences.
Para 4.260 Para 4.267 MA Changed “expectant mothers” to “expectant parents”.
Para 4.263 Para 4.270 MA Added expectation of pre-birth assessment to occur ordinarily around 12 weeks gestation or at the initial scan.
Para 4.270 Paras 4.277-4.278 NT Added more detail on the health visiting pathway and separated the information on the Family Nurse Partnership to a new paragraph.
Para 4.307 Para 4.315 NT Added detail on steps that should be followed when a child is missing or absent from school without parental awareness.
Para. 4.308 Para 4.316 U Updated to link to 2022 Children Missing from Education Service Guidance and to note change from use of the School2School system to the National Management Information System (SEEMiS).
Para 4.309 Para 4.317 NT Updated wording on home education and the consultation on home education guidance. Noted when a child leaves an independent school, it is good practice for the school to inform the local authority.
Para 4.336 Para 4.344 MA In relation to child trafficking and exploitation, change an IRD “should” to “must” be undertaken.
Para 4.340 Para 4.349 NT Inserted paragraph about recently published Practitioner Guidance on Criminal Exploitation.
Para 4.350 Paras 4.359-4.360 NT Revised section on Independent Child Trafficking Guardians to relate to the new Guardianship Scotland Service that replaces it.
Para 4.355 Para 4.364 MA Changed terminology to refer to disabled children and young people with complex needs.
Para 4.363 Para 4.373 NT Added a new paragraph on guidance for recording and monitoring bullying incidents.
Para 4.368 Para 4.378 NT Updated to note that the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021 is not yet in force, and the characteristic of sex will not be included in the list of protected characteristics.
Para 4.373 Para 4.383 MA Removed sentence on introduction of a Hate Crime Bill, this is now an Act.
Para 4.376 Para 4.386 U Updated to note ACRA is fully implemented, added link to Ministerial Guidance.
Para 4.377 Para 4.387 U Added link to list of places of safety.
Para 4.378 Para 4.388 U Added link to ACRA guidance.
Para 4.379 Para 4.389 U Added link to ACRA Child Interview Rights Practitioners code of practice.
Para 4.381 Para 4.391 MA Updated to note that ACRA is fully implemented.
Para 4.423 Para 4.433 U Updated that revised female genital mutilation guidance is due 2023.
Para 4.438 Para 4.448 U Updated that revised forced marriage guidance is due 2023.
Para 4.445 Para 4.455 MA Added guidance from British Association of Social Workers on fabricated and induced illness.
Para 4.446 Para 4.457 MA Renamed section “Death of a child” and moved sudden unexpected death in infants and children to a subsection.
Para 4.447 Para 4.458 SA Changed definition of the unexpected death of an infant or child from “less than 16 years old” to “under 18”.
Para 4.453 Paras 4.467-4.469 NT Added section describing the Paediatric End of Life Care Network (PELiCaN).
Paras 4.454-4.455 Para 4.465-4.466 U Moved paras 4.454 and 4.455 to Sudden Unexpected Death in Infancy section.
Para 4.456 Para 4.472 U Moved link to National Hub guidance to appropriate place.
Para 4.459 Para 4.473 MA Revised significant case review to Learning Review.
Para 4.481 Paras 4.496-4.498 NT Added paragraphs on the Safeguarding Policy Team in the Armed Forces and how they link with local authorities. Added paragraph on the Ministry of Defence’s guidance on safeguarding.
Para 4.483 Para 4.500 U Added reference to public protection guidance on people arriving from Ukraine.
Para 4.496 Para 4.513 NT Updated as the Redress Scheme is now operational and the Advance Payment Scheme is no longer applicable.
Appendix A Appendix A MA Noted that there is no obligation for families to accept the offer of support from a named person.
Appendix D Appendix D SA Amended to state the CPPM record should be circulated within 10 rather than 5 working days.
Page 226 Page 234 U Updated Advocacy in the Children’s Hearing System link.
Page 226 Page 234 U Added link to 2022 GIRFEC guidance.
Page 227 Page 235 U Updated link to ASP Code of Practice.
Page 232 Page 240 U Updated link to CARM Guidance.
Page 233 Page 241 U Updated Local Child Poverty Action Reports as they are now available up to 2022.
Page 233 Page 241 U Removed De Agostini & Hudson reference and Resolution Foundation reference as they are out of date, replaced with Scottish Government projections from 2022.
Page 233 Page 241 U Updated Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Scottish Government tackling child poverty references.
Page 236 Page 244 U Added reference on a literature review of transitions to adulthood for disabled young people.
Page 248 Page 256 U Updated Allardyce & Yates sibling sexual abuse reference.
Page 249 Page 257 U Removed child sexual exploitation disruption toolkit reference as it is not yet published.
Page 257 Page 265 U Added transitions Principles into Practice reference.
Page 258 Page 266 U Updated reference and link for ACRA operational guidance.
Appendix H Para 3.1 NT Moved this section on reporting concerns to the beginning of Part 3 and revised wording to ensure it is clear and applicable in multi-agency settings. Appendix I is now Appendix H.
Final page Final page MA Removed reference to interactive version as this is being taken offline. Noted that the September version was updated in August 2023.
Practice insights - all Practice insights - all MA Amended references to information sharing to note that it should be relevant, necessary and proportionate.
Practice insight 9 Practice insight 9 MA Updated Equal Protection and Cultural Competence practice insight to appropriately reference the work of Amma Anane-Agyei.
Practice insight 4 Practice insight 4 MA Updated that relevant sections of the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016 came into force in March 2023.



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