National guidance for child protection in Scotland 2021

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

Part 3: Identifying and Responding to Concerns about Children

Relationship with previous sections

Part 3 is about child protection processes, including consideration, assessment, planning and action required.

While the intention is to promote greater national consistency in key processes, local structures cannot be prescribed and some flexibility in local inter-agency process may be necessary.

Initiating child protection procedures

3.1 Concerns about possible harm to a child from abuse, neglect or exploitation should always be shared with police or social work, without delay. Appendix H is a checklist to support efficient communication of essential information.

3.2 Child protection procedures are initiated when police, social work or health determine that a child may have been significantly harmed or may be at risk of significant harm.

3.3 Concerns about a risk of harm from abuse, neglect or exploitation may arise in a number of ways including:

  • because of what a child has said
  • over a period of time
  • in response to a particular incident
  • as a result of direct observations
  • through reports from family, from a third party, or from an anonymous source
  • if children are known to social work or have an existing child's plan
  • through notification that a child may become a member of the same household as a child in respect of whom any of the offences mentioned in Schedule 1 of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 has been committed, or as a person who has committed any of the offences mentioned in Schedule 1

3.4 All concerns which may indicate risk of significant harm must lead to an inter-agency referral discussion (IRD) as described below.

3.5 Where there is a named person or person in an equivalent role, they should be notified. A named person is a professional point of contact in universal services, both to support children and their parents/carers when there is a need, and to act as a point of contact for other practitioners who may have a concern about the child's safety and wellbeing. In areas where there is no named person it may be necessary to identify someone known or trusted to the child or family, or someone who can be a point of contact for other practitioners. Agency records will be checked for relevant information that may assist in placing a concern in context, and that may inform next steps.

Professional judgement about risk of significant harm

3.6 Professional judgement is needed about the severity and immediacy of the risk of harm. This will be reviewed as relevant information is shared. There is no statutory definition or uniform defining criteria for significant harm. Significant harm refers to serious interruption, change or damage to a child's physical, emotional, intellectual or behavioural health and development.

3.7 To understand and identify significant harm, it is necessary to consider:

  • the child's experience, needs and feelings as far as they are known. When a child talks about maltreatment, this may prompt a request for IRD. The child's disclosure is not a pre-requisite
  • the child's development in context, including additional needs such as a medical condition, communication impairment or disability, that may affect the child's health, wellbeing, vulnerability and care needs
  • what has happened, meaning the nature and degree of the actual or likely harm, in terms of abuse or failures to provide care and protection
  • parental or carer responses to concern as far as they are known
  • past occurrence, frequency or patterns in the occurrence of harm
  • immediate risk of harm and cause of this risk
  • impact/potential impact on the child's health and development
  • degree of professional confidence in the information that either the abuse has occurred and is likely to be repeated, or that the child is at risk of harm
  • capacity of the parents or carers to protect and care for the child
  • the context of risk within the child's culture, family network and wider world
  • interaction between known risks and known strengths, complicating or protective factors in the child's world
  • the presence of premeditation, threat, coercion or sadism
  • the probability of recurrence or persistence of harm or risk of harm

Practice points relevant at any time

3.8 Where a child is felt to be in immediate danger, any practitioner should report, without delay, directly to the police. Similarly, where a child is thought to require immediate medical assistance, this should be sought as a matter of urgency from the relevant health services.

3.9 Where the risk is of harm is significant and immediate, the focus of risk assessment is about what needs to happen to keep the child safe right now. Inter-agency discussion out of hours may be essential. The need to gather information must always be balanced against the need to take any immediate protective action. Social work services and police must decide whether any immediate action should be taken to protect the child and any others in the family or the wider community.

3.10 Other children affected. Where a child is at risk of harm from neglect, abuse or exploitation, consideration should always be given to the needs and potential risks to other children in the same household or family network, and to children who are likely to become members of the same household or family network.

3.11 Risk assessment is not static. The interaction of factors can shift, and risk of harm can become more or less severe. The risk of harm from on-going concerns may become increasingly apparent. Similarly, protective factors in the family and the child's wider world may change or could be brought to bear on the situation in a way that reduces risk of harm. The process of identifying and managing risk must therefore also be dynamic and responsive, taking account of both current circumstances and previous experiences. Immediate and long-term needs and risks should both be considered.

3.12 Referral to the Principal Reporter is an option at any stage if it is likely that the child is in need of protection, guidance, treatment or control, and that a Compulsory Supervision Order might be necessary. The grounds for a hearing are that the Principal Reporter, following investigation, is satisfied that one of the conditions in s67(2) of the 2011 Act exists and that it is necessary for a Compulsory Supervision Order be made for the child (or an existing order be reviewed) (Guidance on referral to Reporter). Contact can be made with local SCRA Reporter Offices at any stage for advice relating to referrals. Guidance for Children's Panel Members is also available from Children's Hearings Scotland.

3.13 Proportionate response. Many concerns raised over a child's wellbeing will not need a child protection investigation. A co‑ordinated response may still be necessary. The GIRFEC principles and practice model apply.

3.14 When urgent, short-term decisions are needed, practitioners should always keep in mind the long-term emotional security of each child in support and planning with children and their families.

Inter-agency referral discussions (IRD)

Guidance on the decision to hold an IRD; and on IRD purposes, components and process.

3.15 Consideration of the need for an inter-agency referral discussion

This next critical phase in risk assessment and response follows notification of a child protection concern. Where information is received by police, health or social work that a child may have been abused or neglected and/or is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, an IRD must be convened as soon as reasonably practicable. An IRD will co‑ordinate decision-making about such investigation and action as may be needed to ensure the safety of children involved as outlined below.

3.16 Definition

An inter-agency referral discussion (IRD) is the start of the formal process of information sharing, assessment, analysis and decision-making following reported concern about abuse or neglect of a child or young person up to the age of 18 years, in relation to familial and non-familial concerns, and of siblings or other children within the same context. This includes an unborn baby that may be exposed to current or future risk.

3.17 Purpose

IRDs are required to ensure a co‑ordinated inter-agency child protection process up until the point a Child Protection Planning Meeting (CPPM) is held, or until a decision is made that a CPPM is not required/that alternative action is required.

3.18 Instigation

The decision to convene an IRD can be made by police, health or social work, but a request to consider an IRD may be made any agency.

3.19 IRD Record

All aspects of the IRD must be recorded, responsibility for which must be agreed/confirmed at the outset in line with local protocols. The Record must include the time and reason for starting an IRD, the professionals attending, the information shared, discussions held, reasoned decisions (including consideration of options), any lack of consensus, and the manner in which lack of consensus has been escalated and resolved, without delay. This will form a single core IRD record, to be shared by participant agencies.

3.20 Capacity

As far as can be ascertained from earliest inquiries, consideration is given not only to the child's age but to the child's development, including:

  • linguistic abilities
  • memory retrieval capacities
  • suggestibility
  • effects of stress and trauma

3.21 In all investigations, decisions and plans, the additional support needs for each child must be taken into account, including:

  • health concerns
  • emotional distress
  • speech and language
  • translation requirements
  • risk of self-harm
  • additional supports relating to disabilities and all protected characteristics

3.22 The racial and cultural context in which the harm has arisen must be considered in IRD, preparatory to investigation and next steps in engagement or support.

Core professionals

3.23 Practitioners in police, social work and health must participate in the IRD; and Education/ELC may have an essential contribution. Information gathering should involve Education/ELC; and other services working together to ensure child safety, as appropriate. This may include Third Sector services. IRD participants must be sufficiently senior to assess and discuss available information and make decisions on behalf of their agencies. They must have access to agency guidance, training and supervision in relation to this role.

3.24 Social work services have lead responsibility for enquiries relating to children who are experiencing or are likely to experience significant harm and assessments of children in need. The police have lead responsibility for criminal investigations relating to child abuse and neglect; and share responsibilities to keep the child safe. A designated health professional will lead on the need for and nature of recommended health assessments as part of the process.

3.25 These are separate but interconnected processes which require joint information gathering, information sharing, assessment and decision-making. Core agencies must plan together to ensure co‑ordinated action.

3.26 It will usually be appropriate to involve and integrate additional information relevant to the task from a named person or other professionals who know the child well at the IRD stage. Education, and early learning and childcare, however provided, are critical sources of contextual information about each child of nursery or school age.

3.27 Core agencies and relevant services consulted at the IRD stage must research the information systems available to them in order to share necessary, proportionate and relevant information for the purpose of effective decision-making.


3.28 The IRD must be convened as soon as reasonably practical. Where there is a risk to the life of a child or the likelihood of immediate risk or significant harm, intervention must not be delayed pending receipt of information gathering/sharing.

3.29 The IRD process may have to begin outwith core hours, with a focus on immediate protective actions and interim safety planning. A comprehensive IRD must be completed as soon as practical. This should normally be on the next working day.


3.30 An IRD must be co‑ordinated. It may be a process rather than a single event. Information must be gathered, shared and recorded at each meeting, in order to support co‑ordinated decision-making and response.

3.31 This discussion may take place in person or by telephone conference or video conference. Factors such as urgency and geography will determine how the IRD is affected. All core agencies must participate.

3.32 An IRD process is closed when a reasoned and evidenced inter-agency decision has been made and recorded about joint or single-agency assessment and action up until the point of either:

  • Child Protection Planning Meetings (CPPM)
  • decision made that a CPPM is not required

3.33 Closure may also follow a reasoned interagency decision to take no further immediate action.


3.34 IRD provides a strategic basis for authorisation for the next stage in joint or single-agency assessment. As such an IRD will give priority consideration to:

  • the safety and needs of the child/children involved
  • level of risk faced by child/children and by others in this context
  • evidence that a crime or offence may have been committed or may be committed against a child or any other child within the same context
  • legal measures that may be necessary

Decisions and planning

3.35 Participants must consider how priority considerations above will lead to decisions about:

  • what decisions must be taken about the immediate safety and wellbeing of this child and/or other children involved? (Guidance on complex investigations may be found in Part 4.)
  • is an inter-agency child protection investigation required?
  • is a single-agency investigation and follow-up preferred and why?
  • if no further investigation is required, what are the reasons for this?
  • is a joint investigative interview (JII) required and, if so, what are the arrangements for this? (Including who will carry it out, location of interview and in what timescales.)
  • is a medical examination required? If so, should this be a comprehensive medical examination, a specialist paediatric forensic examination or Joint Paediatric Forensic Examination for cases of potential non-accidental injury or suspected sexual abuse? (See below on timing considerations for medical examinations.)
  • is early referral to the Principal Reporter needed for consideration of grounds for compulsory measures?

3.36 If a child protection investigation occurs, a CPPM will follow within 28 calendar days of the concern being raised unless there is an IRD decision that this is not required. A senior manager within the statutory social work service may insist, on review of available information, that a CPPM is held.

3.37 If a CPPM is not necessary, proportionate, co‑ordinated support may still be required.

3.38 Exceptions to the 28 calendar day timescale must be agreed by the accountable senior manager within the statutory social work service. He or she must be satisfied that an interim safety plan is in place, has been shared with those who are key to the plan and is effective up to the date of CPPM. Reasons for extension must be recorded and agreed by the relevant senior manager (Appendix D).

Essential considerations

3.39 Those involved in joint planning and decision-making will consider:

  • how information about investigation can best be exchanged and shared with the child taking into account their capacity and maturity
  • how information can best be exchanged and shared with family and whether information should not be shared if this may jeopardise a police investigation or place the child, or any other child, at risk of significant harm
  • feelings and views of the child about aspects of investigation
  • how the IRD decisions can be reviewed as necessary if significant new information arises
  • keeping a named person appropriately informed and involved; identifying a lead professional and professionals in the Core Group who will work with the interim safety plan

Lead professional

3.40 A lead professional who will be a qualified social worker is required within a child protection investigation, to ensure co‑ordination of assessment and next steps within a developing but coherent single plan. They provide a point of contact for family/carers/ advocates/guardians and professionals who need support to gain sufficient understanding of what is happening stage by stage. They may provide a signpost for additional advice and support. The IRD record should identify this person before closure.

Lack of consensus

3.41 If any agency involved in the IRD disagrees with the decision of any party and where a compromise cannot be reached, consultation with senior managers from core agencies should take place in order to reach a decision. The points of disagreement and resolution must be recorded on the IRD Record. There should be no delays in protective action as a result of the disagreement and the majority decision will apply to avoid delay beyond 24 hours.

Concerns about multiple children

3.42 Concerns that relate to multiple families or a group of children may necessitate a level of additional co‑ordinated case discussion to that of the individual IRD for each child. This should allow consideration of context and patterns of concern; and lead to a strategic and co‑ordinated response.

Additional information

3.43 An IRD can be reconvened if new information arises which could lead to a reconsideration of the required inter-agency response.

Quality assurance and review of IRDs

3.44 Local areas should ensure that quality control systems are in place to support consistent standards, recognition of patterns in practice or context of concerns, and improvement. Quality assurance would usually be achieved through:

  • regular reviews of IRDs by senior representatives of core agencies
  • where parallel processes are set up for categories of risk, (e.g. in relation to 'screening' apparently high risk situations pre-birth), then they should be no less robust in terms of information sharing, recording, authority of decision-making and quality assurance
  • a vehicle for secure electronic sharing of the IRD Record between core agencies promotes effective and consistent practice; and makes review, quality assurance and analysis of trends feasible

Interface with other processes

3.45 Children and young people who are believed to have harmed others may also require co‑ordinated information sharing and decision-making as indicated in the flow chart in this section and outlined in Part 4 of this Guidance. They may also have experienced abuse. Investigative processes must safeguard and protect their wellbeing as a primary consideration. IRDs are the lynchpin of effective processes when concerns arise about children who have caused serious harm to others. National Guidance on Care and Risk Management and Ministerial and Operational Guidance on the Age of Criminal Responsibility (Scotland) Act 2019 will both be published in 2021.

3.46 Reports to Child Protection Committees should consider integration of reporting on IRD in order to inform improvement through training, management and strategic improvements to systems and practice.

3.47 A practice insight on this topic has been drafted to illustrate and explain key practice considerations, offer a resource, prompt reflection and signpost selected sources. It can be found in the Practice Insights supporting document alongside this Guidance.

Joint Investigative Interviews (JII)

Outline guidance on JII purposes, components and processes.

3.48 An IRD may decide on the need for a JII, the purposes of which are to:

  • learn the child's account of the circumstances that prompted the enquiry
  • gather information to permit decision-making on whether the child in question, or any other child, is in need of protection
  • gather sufficient evidence to suggest whether a crime may have been committed against the child or anyone else
  • secure best evidence as may be needed for court proceedings, such as a criminal trial; or for a children's hearing proof


3.49 Taking a child-centred approach to planning interviews is vital in securing best evidence and providing the necessary support for the child before, during and after the interview. The analysis of interviews will help lead professionals in co‑ordinating with others in planning for the support, protection and recovery of the child. The analysis of interviews will also aid decision-making in respect of any crime committed.


3.50 The IRD determines the overall strategy for the child protection investigation; the need for a JII; and the purpose of the JII. IRD participants oversee the overall child protection investigation. The strategy must continue to be developed in light of new information as it emerges. A pre-interview briefing identifying the aims and objectives of the interview is necessary before any JII. Interviewers must suggest changes to the strategy if information about the child's needs, which indicates this is required, comes to light.

3.51 A JII is planned in detail and undertaken by a police officer and a social worker, one of whom takes the lead role in the interview. Roles will be agreed in pre-interview planning, after due consideration of all relevant factors. Teamwork and flexibility are essential. In some situations the needs and responses of the child require the second interviewer to take on the lead role.


3.52 Supporting the child's needs before, during and after the interview requires consideration of their strengths and resources; any complex needs; cognitive factors; experiences of trauma and adversity; context and motivation; and relationships. To address this complexity, effective interview planning is essential, and must consider practicalities such as location, transport, timing, breaks and communication between interviewers during interview.

3.53 The blend of social workers and police officers in the development of the Topic Identification Plan where all relevant topics to be covered during the interview are identified for the interview is crucial.


3.54 The interview is undertaken using an agreed protocol and incorporating robust planning. Wherever possible, to reduce the child's anxiety about the process and minimise the risk of further traumatisation, there should only be one interviewer in the room with the child. The second interviewer would participate in the interview from a separate room, observing and contributing to the conduct of the interview. The lead interviewer has primary responsibility for leading the interview, asking questions and gathering information.

3.55 A child has a right to specify gender of the interviewer if the child is believed to have been the victim of particular offences as defined by the terms of section 8 of the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014; and this should be granted wherever possible.

3.56 For detailed roles and responsibilities see guidance on Joint Investigative Interviewing of Children in Scotland.


3.57 The child must be helped to understand the purpose and process of the interview as part of preparation and support for willing engagement. The child's consent is not explicitly required. Social workers and police officers have a duty to investigate as detailed in section 60 of the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 and section 20 of the Police, Fire and Reform Act 2012.

3.58 The consent of a parent or guardian is not required prior to undertaking a Joint Investigative Interview. Through discussion they would be made aware that the interview is taking place unless there is a good reason not to, for example, where there are strong grounds to suspect that they are involved in the abuse. Where appropriate a parent or guardian can help to plan for the support the needs of the child during the interview.


3.59 Joint Investigative Interviewers must be trained and competent in the use of recording equipment. Joint Investigative Interviews must be visually recorded unless there are specific reasons why this may be inappropriate for the individual child. These reasons should be noted.

Authority and expertise

3.60 Joint Investigative Interviewers in Scotland will be trained to develop the specific understanding, knowledge and specialised skills required for the effective forensic interviewing of children and vulnerable witnesses.

Core Professionals

3.61 Joint Investigative Interviews are planned for and undertaken by two interviewers, one police officer and one social worker. During the Joint Investigative Interview, one interviewer will take on the role of Lead Interviewer and one will take on the role of Second Interviewer. The lead interviewer may be from either police or social work and roles will be agreed at the planning stage after due consideration of all relevant factors.

Support and Evaluation

3.62 To undertake their role, Joint Investigative Interviewers require:

  • support
  • quality assurance
  • evaluation

3.63 Multi-agency evaluation of joint investigative interviewing practice should form an integral part of these arrangements. The relationship between support and evaluation is one which must be carefully managed.

3.64 National Guidance on Joint Investigative Interviewing: current guidance on Joint Investigative Interviewing of Child Witnesses in Scotland (2011) is under revision in line with the Scottish Child Interview Model, as described below.

Scottish Child Interview Model

3.65 The Scottish Child Interview Model (SCIM) is a new approach to JII which is being piloted in Scotland (2021). It is designed to minimise re-traumatisation and keep the needs and rights of child victims and witnesses at the centre of the process and in so doing, achieve pre-recorded evidence from the child that is of high quality. This can be used as Evidence in Chief in court for criminal and children's hearings processes.

3.66 The SCIM has five connected components: strategy, planning, action, outcomes and support and evaluation. Interviewers are trained in forensic interviews of children. Local areas will require quality assurance arrangements to govern the application of the Scottish Child Interview Model. For enquiries about the SCIM and training programme, contact:

3.67 A practice insight on this topic has been drafted to illustrate and explain key practice considerations, offer a resource, prompt reflection and signpost selected sources. It can be found in the Practice Insights supporting document alongside this Guidance.

Health assessment and medical examination

Outline guidance on purposes, components and processes.


3.68 The health assessment of a child for whom there are child protection concerns aims:

  • to establish what immediate treatment the child may need
  • to provide a specialist medical opinion on whether or not child abuse or neglect may be a likely or unlikely cause of the child's presentation
  • to support multi-agency planning and decision-making
  • to establish if there are unmet health needs, and to secure any on-going health care (including mental health), investigations, monitoring and treatment that the child may require
  • to listen to and to reassure the child
  • to listen to and reassure the family as far as possible in relation to longer-term health needs

3.69 The decision to carry out a medical assessment and the decision about the type of medical examination is made by a paediatrician informed by multi-agency discussion with police, social work and other relevant health staff. Through careful planning, the number of examinations will be kept to a minimum. The decision to conduct a medical examination may:

  • follow from an IRD and inter-agency agreement about the timing, type and purpose of assessment
  • follow when a person presents to health services. This includes the possibility of self-referral for victims of rape and sexual assault who are over 16 years old as described below

3.70 The main types of medical examination that may be undertaken within the Child Protection process are:

a. Joint Paediatric Forensic Examination (JPFE). Examination by a paediatrician and a forensic physician. This is the usual type of examination for sexual assault and is often undertaken for physical abuse, particularly infants with injuries or older children with complex injuries.

b. Single doctor examinations with corroboration by a forensically trained nurse. These are sexual assault examinations undertaken for children and young people aged 13-16. In some areas/situations a JPFE would occur, and in all areas/situations JPFE should be considered.

c. Specialist Child Protection Paediatric/Single Doctor/Comprehensive Medical Assessment. This type of examination is often undertaken when there is concern about neglect and unmet health needs but may also be used for physical abuse and historical sexual abuse. Comprehensive medical assessment for chronic neglect can be arranged and planned within localities when all relevant information has been collated. However there may be extreme cases of neglect that require urgent discussion with the Child Protection Paediatrician.

3.71 All medical examinations/assessments are holistic, comprehensive assessments of the child/young person's health and developmental needs. There may be variations in who undertakes medical examination, and the purpose of the examination must be clear prior to the examination (usually discussed at IRD or at time of referral for the examination) to allow for a clinician with the appropriate skill set to undertake the assessment.

3.72 In some parts of Scotland, where victims of rape or sexual assault are aged 16 and over, they are able to self-refer for a forensic medical examination without first making a report to police. Once commenced the Scottish Government Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences) (Scotland) Act 2021 will extend consistent access to self-referral services across Scotland for those aged 16 and over. Professional judgement is required as to whether following self-referral, a forensic medical examination is in the person's best interests. This includes clinical and non-clinical considerations. Even when an FME is not provided, the need for healthcare support and treatment must be considered. A Clinical Pathway for Children and Young People and a forthcoming Self-Referral Protocol will provide further guidance.

3.73 Specialist paediatric or Joint Paediatric Forensic Examination (JPFE) is appropriate when:

  • the child requires a specialist assessment or treatment from another department (for example, multiple fractures, signs of abusive head trauma)
  • the account of the injuries provided by the carer does not provide an acceptable explanation of the child's presentation
  • the result of the initial assessment is inconclusive and a specialist's opinion is needed to establish the diagnosis
  • lack of corroboration, for example by way of a clear statement from another child or adult witness, indicates that forensic examination, including the taking of photographs, may be necessary to support criminal proceedings against a perpetrator, and legal processes to protect the child
  • the child's condition (for example, repeated episodes of unexplained bruising) requires further investigation
  • child sexual abuse is suspected

3.74 A comprehensive medical examination for neglect can be arranged and planned for within localities when all relevant information has been collated. However there may be extreme cases of neglect that require urgent discussion with the Child Protection Paediatrician.

3.75 Significant new information may arise from a medical examination that requires the reconvening of an IRD.


3.76 Wherever possible, the wishes of children who may have experienced sexual abuse, should be considered and supported in respect of choice of sex of examiner (Clinical Pathways NHS Scotland 2020).

3.77 As far as can be achieved in the circumstances, the examining doctor should have:

  • all relevant information about the cause for concern
  • information on previous concerns about abuse or neglect
  • the inter-agency plan to meet the child's needs at this stage
  • relevant known background of the family or other relevant adults
  • information from joint investigative interview if available
  • preparatory discussion with the relevant social work and police officer
  • preparatory meeting with parent or carer and child

3.78 It should be recorded what information is handed over/conveyed verbally to the examining doctor and by whom.

3.79 Social work services, the police and the examining doctor should ensure that the child and parent(s) (and/or any other trusted adult accompanying the child) have the opportunity to hear about what is happening, why and where so that they have an opportunity to ask questions and gain reassurance.

3.80 Consideration will be given to how the child may be examined in child-friendly surroundings, with the right support for their age, stage and understanding.

3.81 Consent must be obtained in one of the following ways:

  • from a parent or carer with parental rights
  • from a young person assessed to have capacity
  • through a court order

3.82 The Age of Legal Capacity (Scotland) Act 1991 allows a child under the age of 16 to consent to any medical procedure or practice if in the opinion of the qualified medical practitioner the child is capable of understanding the nature and possible consequences of the proposed examination or procedure. Children who are assessed as having capacity to consent can withhold their consent to any part of the medical examination, for example, the taking of blood, or a video recording. Consent must be documented within medical notes and must reflect which parts of the process have been consented to and by whom. This includes consent to forensic medical examination.

3.83 In order to ensure that children and their families give properly informed consent to medical examinations, it is the role of the examining doctor, assisted if necessary by the social worker or police officer, to provide information about all aspects of the procedure and how the results may be used; and to ensure informed consent has been obtained. Where a medical examination is thought necessary for the purposes of obtaining evidence in criminal proceedings but the parents/carers refuse their consent, the Procurator Fiscal may, in exceptional circumstances, consider obtaining a warrant for this purpose. However, where a child who has legal capacity to consent declines to do so, the Procurator Fiscal will not seek a warrant.

3.84 If the local authority believes that a medical examination is required to find out whether concerns about a child's safety or welfare are justified, and parents refuse consent, the local authority may apply to a Sheriff for a child assessment order, or a child protection order with a condition of medical examination. This is still subject to child's consent (under section 186 of the 2011 Act).

Timing of medical examinations

3.85 Timing of the medical examination is agreed jointly by the medical examiners and the other agencies involved.

3.86 Child protection assessments should be carried out, in the child's interests, during the day, unless there is a forensic need or other clinical indication of urgency.

3.87 In some cases, when there is not a forensic urgency, it may be a priority that the child has had time to rest and prepare. This may also allow for more information to become available. The majority of cases arise in working hours, and a comprehensive medical assessment will be carried out locally and timeously.

3.88 In cases of suspected or reported non-recent sexual abuse, examinations should be planned during normal working hours.

3.89 Local arrangements must be in place for medical examinations out of hours, where these differ from daytime/weekday arrangements to ensure the opportunity to collect forensic trace evidence is not lost.

3.90 The Clinical Pathway for Children and Young People who have disclosed sexual abuse is relevant for children under 16 years of age (or up to 18 years of age for young people with vulnerabilities and additional support needs) (Scottish Government 2020). The Pathway will be reviewed following the publication of the revised Child Protection Guidance. Guidance on the Adult Clinical Pathway (2020) has overlapping relevance for those over 16 years of age (Scottish Government 2020).

3.91 More detailed information about the roles and responsibilities of all doctors can be found in General Medical Council Guidance on Protecting Children and Young People (2018).

Emergency legal measures to protect children at risk of significant harm

Summary of legal options.

3.92 Urgent action may be required before or after a CPPM to protect a child from actual or likely significant harm, or until compulsory measures of supervision can be put in place by the children's hearing system. There are a variety of options to fit circumstances. All references to 'the 2011 Act' are to the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011. Where legal measures are being considered, early consultation with local authority legal services may be appropriate.

3.93 Voluntary accommodation. When a child's parents or carers do not object, the local authority may accommodate the child to keep the child safe whilst concerns about the child's safety, or reports or suspicions of abuse or neglect, can be assessed. Parents must have an explanation of voluntary accommodation that they understand. They should know that they can seek legal advice. Others in the child's extended family or social network may offer to look after the child in the interim. This is provided for under s25 of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. A local authority may provide accommodation for any child within their area if they consider that to do so would safeguard or promote the child's welfare. A local authority must provide accommodation for any child who, residing or having been found within their area, appears to them to require such provision because no-one has parental responsibility for the child, or the child is lost or abandoned, or the person who has been caring for the child is prevented, whether or not permanently and for whatever reason, from providing him with suitable accommodation or care.

3.94 Before providing this accommodation, the local authority must have regard so far as practicable to a child's views (if the child wishes to express them), taking account of the child's age and maturity. The local authority must not provide such accommodation for a child if a person who has parental responsibilities and the parental right to regulate the child's residence or the right to control, direct or guide the child's upbringing, and who is willing to provide or arrange accommodation for the child, objects. Despite this objection, the local authority may continue to provide accommodation for a child over 16 who agrees to be accommodated or where a person or persons who have been granted a residence order all agree to the accommodation. A person with parental responsibilities and rights (as referred to above) may remove the child from such accommodation at any time, but where the child has been accommodated for a continuous period of 6 months, 14 days written notice will be required before the child can be removed.

3.95 A child may request refuge and if the child appears at risk of harm, may be provided with short term refuge (up to 7 days in defined circumstances, exceptionally up to 14 days) by the local authority or a person who is approved by the local authority for this purpose (s38 Children (Scotland) Act 1995).

3.96 Child Protection Orders (CPO). In practice, child protection orders are usually applied for by a local authority. However, anyone, including the local authority, can apply for a child protection order under the following criteria when there are reasonable grounds to believe that: the child has been, or is being, treated in such a way that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm; or the child has been, or is being, neglected, and as a result of the neglect the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm; or the child is likely to suffer significant harm if the child is not removed to and kept in a place of safety; or the child is likely to suffer significant harm if the child does not remain in the place at which the child is staying (whether or not the child is resident there) and the order is necessary to protect the child from that harm or from further harm (s39 of the 2011 Act).

3.97 The local authority (but only the local authority) can also apply for a child protection order using the following criteria:

a. that the local authority has reasonable grounds to suspect that:

i. the child has been, or is being, treated in such a way that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm

ii. the child has been, or is being neglected and as a result of the neglect the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm

iii. the child will be treated or neglected in such a way that is likely to cause significant harm

b. the local authority is making enquires to allow it to decide whether to take action to safeguard the welfare of the child, or is causing those enquiries to be made, and

c. those enquiries are being frustrated by access to the child being unreasonably denied, and

d. the local authority has reasonable cause to believe that access is required as a matter of urgency (s38 of the 2011 Act)

3.98 When a Sheriff has made a child protection order and the Principal Reporter is satisfied that the criteria for the making of the child protection order are met a children's hearing must take place on the second working day after the child is removed to a place of safety, where the order authorises removal of the child to a place of safety. Where the order prevents the removal of a child from a place, the hearing must take place on the second working day after the order is made.

3.99 The purpose of this hearing is to consider:

  • the circumstances which led to the making of the child protection order
  • whether the conditions for the making of the child protection order continue to be met
  • whether it is necessary that the order remain in place
  • whether any variations are required to any directions attached to the order (a CPO contains 'directions' which function in the same way as a measure attached to a Compulsory Supervision Order)

3.100 A child protection order can have one or more of the following directions attached:

  • a non-disclosure direction. This is a direction specifying that information in relation to the child, for example the place of safety where the child is being kept, must not be disclosed to a named person or class of persons
  • a contact direction. This is a direction regulating contact between the child and a named person or class of persons
  • a parental responsibilities and rights direction. This is a direction regulating parental responsibilities or rights in relation to the child, for example, to provide for medical examination and/or treatment where a parent refuses to consent

3.101 Legal assistance. The child is automatically entitled to legal aid to be assisted by a solicitor at a second working day hearing. This is subject to the child having the capacity to give instructions to a solicitor.

3.102 A police constable may immediately remove a child to a place of safety where he or she is satisfied that the conditions for making a child protection order under s.39 of the 2011 Act (above) are met; that it is not practicable to apply to a Sheriff for such an order; and that the child requires to be removed to a place of safety to protect them from significant harm or from further harm. The child can only be kept in a place of safety for a period of 24 hours and further protective measures may therefore have to be sought within that period. The constable must inform the Principal Reporter as soon as practicable after removing the child. The Principal Reporter has the power to require the constable to release the child, if satisfied that the criteria for keeping the child in a place of safety are no longer met, or it is not in the child's best interests to remain in a place of safety (s56 of the 2011 Act).

3.103 Application can be made to a Justice of the Peace for an order requiring a child to be produced to a specified person or placing or keeping a child in a place of safety. Such an order may be granted if the Justice of the Peace is satisfied of similar criteria to that for a CPO and that it is not practicable to apply to the Sheriff for a CPO. These orders last for a maximum of 24 hours or until a Sheriff's determination of a CPO application if earlier. The applicant must inform the Principal Reporter as soon as practicable after the order is made. The Principal Reporter has the power to terminate the order, if satisfied that the criteria for making the order are no longer met, or the order is no longer in the child's best interests (s55 of the 2011 Act).

3.104 Child assessment order: The 2011 Act (sections 35 and 36) makes provision for the local authority to apply for a child assessment order if it has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been, or is being treated or neglected in such a way that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm; that an assessment is needed to establish whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the child is being so treated or neglected; and that it is unlikely that an assessment to establish this could be carried out (or carried out satisfactorily) without obtaining the order (for example, where those with parental responsibility are preventing an assessment of the child being undertaken to confirm or refute the concern). The child assessment order can require the parents or carers to produce the child and allow any necessary assessment (subject to the consent of the child) to take place so that practitioners can decide whether they should act to safeguard the child's welfare. On application to the Sheriff for a child assessment order, if the Sheriff believes that the conditions for making a child protection order exist, he/she may issue a child protection order instead.

3.105 The authority may ask, or the Sheriff may direct, someone such as a GP, paediatrician or psychiatrist to carry out all or any part of the assessment. The order may also authorise the taking of the child to a specified place, and keeping them there, for the purpose of carrying out the assessment and may make directions as to contact if it does so. Practitioners must assist in carrying out these assessments when asked to do so. Where the child is of sufficient age and understanding, they may refuse consent to a medical examination or treatment whether or not a child assessment order is made. For further information, see the section above on health assessments.

3.106 An Exclusion Order may be granted when on application of a local authority when a sheriff is satisfied, that excluding a named person from the family home is necessary for the protection of the child, irrespective of whether the child is for the time being residing in the family home. The order will only be granted if it better safeguards the child's welfare than the removal of the child from the family home, and if there will be a person specified in the application who is capable of taking responsibility for providing appropriate care for the child and any other member of the family who requires care, and who is, or will be, residing in the family home. The test for granting is that the child has suffered, is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm as a result of any conduct, or any threatened or reasonably apprehended conduct, of the named person (s76 Children (Scotland) Act 1995). A power of arrest may be attached to an interdict associated with such an order. The maximum duration of such an order is six months.

3.107 Above the specific considerations relating to each emergency situation there are three overarching principles contained in the 2011 Act which must be applied when children's hearings and courts are making all (with limited exceptions) decisions about a child. The 2011 Act has been amended by the Children (Scotland) Act 2020, but this is not fully in force as yet. The three principles are:

  • the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child throughout the child's childhood is the paramount consideration (sections 25 and 26 of the 2011 Act)
  • the child must be given an opportunity to express views in a manner suitable to the child, and decision-makers must have regard to any views expressed by the child, taking into account the child's age and maturity (section 27 of the 2011 Act). Section 3 of the 2020 Act requires decision-makers to give the child an opportunity to indicate whether the child wishes to express a view, in the manner the child prefers or in a manner that is suitable to the child (in the absence of any expressed preference or where it would not be reasonable to accommodate the child's preference). There is an exception if, (a) the child is not capable of forming a view, or (b) the location of the child is not known. The 2020 Act provides that a child is to be presumed to be capable of forming a view, unless the contrary is shown
  • a children's hearing or a sheriff is only to make, vary, continue or extend orders, or grant warrants if it is better for the child that the order, interim variation of the order, or warrant were in force than not (sections 28 and 29, 2011 Act)

3.108 Preparation and reporting. A fully updated child's plan may not be available to panel members at a second working day hearing. Therefore, practitioners attending need to prepare thoroughly for the hearing. The evidence, patterns, perspectives and analysis which inform a recommendation in a child's best interests must be presented in an accessible way in order to enable a safe, competent, child-focused process and outcome.

Changes to legislation and guidance during COVID-19

3.109 The Coronavirus (Scotland) Acts 2020 (Schedule 3, Part 1) provide for temporary and limited flexibility in relation to child assessment orders, child protection orders, Compulsory Supervision Orders, and place of safety placements. Guidance on the Act also outlines the limits of these flexibilities; and aspects of the organisation of children's hearings, including provision for remote participation, the need for which may persist beyond the early phases of the pandemic for some children and families, for infection control reasons (and long-term changes to the rules of procedure for children's hearings also allows remote participation where this is requested, in some circumstances, from July 2021). In those instances when the use of the Coronavirus legislation appears necessary, this must be consistent with protecting the safety, rights and best interests of the child. Justification for use must be recorded. The need for implementation and/or revision of these measures will be kept under regular review by Scottish Ministers. Therefore guidance in the next section on emergency measures must be considered in the light of the current status of this legislation.

Interim Safety Plan

3.110 Guidance on immediate safety planning before a CPPM is held:

  • the purpose of an interim safety plan is to ensure a child's safety as immediately as necessary until such time as a CPPM is held
  • an interim safety plan is about safety right now. It is operational immediately
  • those who are participants in the plan must understand and agree what they must do to ensure a child's safety. Those party to the plan should be known sources of security for the child
  • the way that the child will be seen and heard during the period in which the plan is in place must be part of the plan. The child will be supported in understanding who they can speak with or contact at any time. A child's version of the plan is recommended, developed with the child's help and understanding as appropriate in each situation
  • the safety plan must be recorded and shared. It should be in plain language and practical detail, with no acronyms and no professional jargon
  • the needs and the harm that the plan must address must be defined
  • if risk of harm is high in a specific context, this will be specified. Agreement must be defined about how to avoid or minimise this risk
  • the actions that persons or services will take will be described
  • the ways in which the plan is monitored and the way in which any person or service party to the plan can immediately signal concern must be defined
  • contact details for those with defined responsibilities within the interim safety plan will be included

Domestic abuse considerations in safety planning

3.111 Effective safety planning will depend on practitioner-applied awareness of:

  • the child's trauma from abuse, and from seeing and hearing abuse
  • physical, emotional, educational, developmental, social, behavioural impact on child
  • the non-abusing parent's need for a safe space to talk and a safe way of receiving information (away from perpetrator)
  • the perpetrator's pattern of coercive control
  • multiple impact on income, housing, relationships, health
  • how support for non-abusing parents will also support children
  • when a non-abusing parent's ability to parent has been compromised
  • protective factors in the child's world relevant to safety plans
  • the children's needs for advocates that they trust
  • potentially heightened risk following separation
  • multi-agency approaches that keep women's and children's needs at the centre

3.112 Police must always be notified of a threat to life or injury of a person. When a child is affected or is likely to be affected by such a risk, police will immediately consider the need for an IRD; and an IRD would normally be expected unless there is clear and sufficient evidence to discount the risk of significant harm deriving from such a threat.

3.113 Additional guidance on domestic abuse is provided below in Part 4.

Involving children and families in child protection processes

General principles

3.114 Children must be helped to understand how child protection procedures work, how they can be involved, and how they can contribute to decisions about their future. Children's views must be sought and listened to at every stage of the child protection process, and given information about the decisions being made as appropriate to their age, stage and understanding. Preparation is needed for key meetings.

3.115 Advocacy services may assist in this process. Consistency of advocacy worker should be sought when they are involved. Within the context of children's hearings, section 122 of the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 has been implemented from 2020, opening up the offer of advocacy nationally. (Advocacy in the Children's Hearings System – National Practice Model – Guidance).

3.116 When a child has additional support needs, is deaf or has a hearing impairment, has a disability, or when English is not their first language, advice and support is required to ensure that they are fully involved in what is happening.

3.117 Some children may have experienced grooming, or coercion including threats, and they may fear reprisals if they disclose. In some instances, a child or young person may be too distressed to speak to investigating agencies, or they may believe that they are complicit in the abuse. Materials developed as part of the National Trauma Framework are relevant.

3.118 A thorough assessment should be made of the child or young person's needs, and services provided to meet those needs. Therapeutic, practical and emotional support may be required. Consideration should be given to confidential and independent counselling services for victims and families.

3.119 Agencies who know the child or adult, including Third Sector organisations, may be involved in planning the investigation to ensure that it is managed in a child-centred way, taking care not to prejudice efforts to collect evidence for any criminal prosecution. Guidelines should be agreed with local Procurators Fiscal and counselling and welfare services on disclosure of information to avoid the contamination of evidence.

3.120 Parents and carers should be treated with respect. Where possible and appropriate they should be leading contributors to safety planning. They should be given as much information as possible about the processes and outcomes of any investigation. Parents and carers should feel confident about their part in safety plans. They need to be confident that practitioners are being open and honest with them so that they, in turn, feel confident about providing vital information about the child, themselves and their circumstances. Working in partnership with one or more family members is likely to have long-term beneficial outcomes for the child, and staff must take account of a family's strengths as well as its weaknesses. Practitioners must seek to achieve a shared understanding with parents about concerns and about steps needed to ensure safety.

3.121 Parents, carers and family members can contribute valuable information, not only to the assessment and any subsequent actions, but also to decisions about how and when a child will be interviewed. Children and families need time to take in and understand concerns and processes. The views of parents and carers should always be recorded and taken into account. Decisions should also be made with their agreement, whenever possible, unless doing so would place the child at risk of significant harm or impede any criminal investigation.

3.122 Parents and carers, and children of sufficient age and understanding, should be given a written record of decisions taken about the outcome of an investigation, unless this is likely to impede any criminal investigation. In addition to receiving a copy of the decisions (which may include interim safety planning), they should be given the opportunity to discuss the decisions and their implications with a social worker or another relevant professional to ensure shared understanding. This does not mean, however, that parents or carers should attend all meetings which are held in connection with their family. Sometimes, it will be appropriate and necessary for practitioners to meet without parents or carers in order to reflect on their own practice in a particular case, consider matters of a particularly sensitive or confidential nature, or deal with a matter which is likely to lead to criminal inquiries. Consistent and reliable relationships between professionals, parents and carers are an essential part in development of trust.

3.123 When there are child protection concerns and one of the parents or carers has learning difficulties, the use of an independent advocacy service, where available, will be considered by the lead professional. Professionals should be skilled, or seek appropriate support, in communicating with parents with learning disabilities. Practitioners need to take time when communicating. Verbal and written information should be accessible for the person. Extra time will be needed to talk through what is happening.

3.124 In cases of familial abuse, practitioners should ensure the non-abusing parent or carer is involved as much as possible. Practitioners need to be wary of making judgements on parents and carers who are likely to be in a state of shock and experiencing great anxiety. While the priority should always be the protection and welfare of the child, practitioners should attempt to engage with the non-abusing parent/carer and determine what supports are necessary to help them care for the child.

3.125 Equally, practitioners should be sensitive to the impact of abuse and the subsequent investigation on siblings and extended family members. Consideration should be given to their needs in such circumstances, and to the likely impact on their ability to deal with the situation.

Learning from adapted practice during the COVID-19 pandemic

3.126 During the COVID-19 pandemic, it has been necessary to adapt practice to ensure continuity of child protection processes. It has proven necessary to allow consideration of the decision to place a child's name on the child protection register through multi-agency consensus rather than through a face-to-face meeting. This might happen at IRD or subsequently by agreement of locally identified managers in health, police and social work.

3.127 In such cases, these managers should take account of the views of the team around the child, medical and other specialist advice, and the particular perspectives of the child and family. The reasons for the decision should be documented in child's plans and agency records. This more flexible process should not allow any widening of the criteria for child protection registration, which continues to be that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a child has suffered or will suffer significant harm from abuse or neglect, and that a Child Protection Plan is needed to protect and support the child.

3.128 Where this adapted process is sustained the review process and timescale should be considered at the point of registration. De-registration should occur, through multi-agency agreement, when a child no longer requires a Child Protection Plan.

3.129 Supplementary National Guidance on Child Protection during the COVID-19 pandemic outlines relevant expectations and adaptations (2020).

Child protection assessment and planning

3.130 Terminology: 'Child Protection Planning Meeting' (CPPM) is used in this Guidance in preference to 'Child Protection Case Conference'. For families, this term plainly describes the purpose of the meeting. Professionals should ensure language used in child protection processes is non-stigmatising and understood by children and families.

3.131 The CPPM is a formal multi-disciplinary meeting, which must include representation from the core agencies (social work, health and police) as well as any other agencies currently working with the child and their family, including education. The child and relevant family members should be invited and supported to participate, as appropriate in each situation. Where they are unable to participate in person their views must be sought and represented at the meeting. Where possible, participants should be given a minimum of five days' notice of the decision to convene a CPPM.

3.132 The purpose of the meeting is to ensure relevant information is shared (where it is proportionate to do so), to carry out a collective assessment of risk, and to agree a plan to minimise risk of harm to the child. The CPPM must decide whether the child is at risk of significant harm and requires a co‑ordinated, multi-disciplinary Child Protection Plan.

3.133 Where a Child Protection Plan is required, the child's name must be added to the child protection register. In addition, CPPMs must consider whether a referral to the Principal Reporter is/is not required if this has not already been done. Where the CPPM has identified immediate risk of significant harm to the child, action should be taken without delay, using emergency measures. Any decision to refer to the Principal Reporter should be actioned straight away. A referral to the Principal Reporter should include relevant and proportionate information, including the reasons for the referral, and where possible including the child's plan and a full assessment of risk and need.

3.134 Prior to the CPPM, agencies will have been working to an Interim Safety Plan since the point of IRD. The CPPM should review this plan and develop a Child Protection Plan.

3.135 Consideration should be given to immediate and short-term risks as well as longer term risks to the child. For the avoidance of drift and uncertainty of purpose, it is recommended that the Plan's objectives be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timebound, Evaluated and Re-evaluated ('SMARTER'). Interventions should be proportionate, and linked to intended outcomes in ways understood by all involved, especially children and parents.

3.136 The Child Protection Plan must:

  • be developed in collaboration and consultation with the child and their family
  • link actions to intended reduction or elimination of risk
  • be current and consider the child's short-, medium- and long-term outcomes
  • clearly state who is responsible for each action
  • include a named lead professional
  • include named key contributors (the Core Group)
  • include detailed contingencies
  • consider the sensitive direct involvement of children and/or their views

3.137 The Core Group are those who have direct and on-going involvement with the child and/or family. They are responsible for implementing, monitoring and reviewing the Child Protection Plan, in partnership with children and parents. The Core Group should:

  • be co‑ordinated by the lead professional
  • meet in person on a regular basis to carry out their functions, the first time being within 15 days of the CPPM
  • keep effective communication between all services and agencies involved with the child and parents/carers
  • activate contingency plans promptly when progress is not made or circumstances deteriorate.
  • refer the need for any significant changes in the Child Protection Plan to the CPPM Chair within 3 calendar days, or as urgently as necessary to safeguard the child
  • be alert, individually and collectively, to escalating concerns, triggering immediate response, additional support and/or a review CPPM as appropriate

Child Protection Plan and fit with child's plan

3.138 Where a child is believed to be at actual or potential risk of significant harm, they will require a multi-agency Child Protection Plan with specified actions to reduce risk. The child's name must be placed on the child protection register.

3.139 If there is already a multi-agency child's plan in place, this will need to be considered in light of the concerns about the child. There will be a multi-agency child's plan when co‑ordinated actions between services are required to meet the child's wellbeing needs.

3.140 There should be a single plan of action, managed and reviewed through a single meeting structure even if the child is involved in several processes. The child's plan will incorporate and prioritise the Child Protection Plan where the criteria for placing a child's name on the child protection register (as defined in Part 1) are met.

3.141 Review CPPMs should be held within six months of the CPPM with the exception of reviews that follow a pre-birth CPPM, which are recommended at an earlier juncture, at a time to be set by the CPPM (see below). A Core Group can also trigger the request for a review. Thereafter, reviews should take place six-monthly, or earlier if circumstances change. Where a child is no longer considered to be at risk of significant harm and the Child Protection Plan no longer forms part of a child's plan, their name should be removed from the child protection register by the review CPPM (referred to as de-registration). The child and their family/carers may still require on-going support and this should be managed through the child's plan.

3.142 Pre-birth Child Protection Planning Meetings

  • pre-birth CPPMs will consider whether serious professional concerns exist about the likelihood of significant harm to an unborn or newly born baby
  • in advance of the child's birth, participants need to prepare an inter-agency plan which will meet the needs of the baby and mother prior to and following birth, minimising risk of harm
  • plans for discharge from hospital and handover to community-based supports must be clearly set out in the inter-agency plan
  • early engagement and planned support is essential. CPPM's are recommended within 28 calendar days of the concern being raised and always within 28 weeks of gestation, taking in to account the mother's needs and all the circumstances in each case. There may be exceptions to this where the pregnancy is in the very early stages. However, concerns may still be sufficient to warrant an inter-agency assessment
  • the CPPM may place the unborn baby's name on the child protection register before birth. If the child is registered the Child Protection Plan must stipulate who is responsible for notifying the birth of the child and what steps need to be taken at that point (e.g. referral to the Principal Reporter). Legal measures such as referral to the Reporter and application for a CPO can only be made at birth

3.143 Reviews of pre-birth CPPMs. A review may be held within three months of the previous CPPM. There should be latitude for professional judgement about the most appropriate timing post-birth. This does not preclude an earlier review where changes to the child's living situation are enough to remove or significantly reduce risks. Careful consideration is required about early decisions to remove a baby's name from the register, for example by ensuring that necessary supports are in place.

3.144 Where a Child Protection Plan is in place prior to a child's birth, the child must not be discharged from hospital following birth until a pre-discharge meeting has been held. This meeting should include the Core Group members and the child's relevant family members, as well as hospital-based maternity ward staff.

3.145 The purpose of this meeting is to agree arrangements for the care of the child following discharge from hospital. This should include consideration of the role and level of involvement of community-based supports. Where the decision of this meeting is that the child would be at risk of significant harm by being discharged to the care of their parent/s, the Child Protection Plan should be amended to reflect this, and proportionate action should be taken to keep the child safe.

3.146 Further consideration of pre-birth support and safety planning may be found in Part 4 of this Guidance.

Transfer of cases

3.147 Geographical moves are a time of accentuated stress and risk for children and families. CPPMs must be held to ensure proper transfer of information and responsibilities when a Child Protection Plan is currently in place. Only a review CPPM can de-register a child from the child protection register. Where it is known that a child and/or their family are moving permanently to another local authority area, the original local authority will notify the receiving local authority immediately, then follow up the notification in writing. At the transfer CPPM, the minimum requirement for participation will be the originating local authority's social worker and manager and the receiving local authority social worker and their manager, as well as representatives from appropriate services including health and education.

3.148 Where the child moves to another authority the originating authority must assess the change in circumstances. If there is felt to be a reduction in risk, the originating authority should arrange a review CPPM to consider the need for on-going registration or, if appropriate, de-registration. In such circumstances it would be best practice for an appropriate member of staff from the receiving authority to attend the review. Where the original authority considers that the risk is on-going or even increased by the move, the receiving local authority is responsible for convening the transfer CPPM. This should be held within the timescales of the receiving local authority but a maximum of 21 working days is recommended. Until the transfer meeting, where necessary, an interim safety plan must be agreed between the relevant authorities.

3.149 Where a child and their family move from one Scottish authority to another and the child has a Child Protection Plan, the originating authority must ensure that the relevant child's records are made available to the receiving authority for the purposes of the assessment of current and future risk and need. Where a child was on the child protection register previously in another area, the receiving authority should request the child's file from the previous authority (if still available).

3.150 A practice insight on this topic has been drafted to illustrate and explain key practice considerations, offer a resource, prompt reflection and signpost selected sources. It can be found in the Practice Insights supporting document alongside this Guidance.

Child Protection Planning Meetings

Guidance on chairing, participation, recording and decision-making.


3.151 CPPM chairs will:

  • have significant experience in child protection practice
  • have sufficient authority, skill and experience to carry out the functions of the Chair
  • be able to challenge all contributing services on progress
  • be from social work services (although senior staff members from other core agencies may agree to take on the role for agreed reasons)
  • be able to access suitable training and peer support

3.152 Some areas provide a measure of independence within the chairing of Child Protection Planning Meetings by ensuring that those acting in this role have no direct involvement in supervisory function in relation to any practitioner in the case. As far as possible, the same person should chair initial and review CPPMs.

The Chair's role

3.153 This includes:

  • agreeing who to invite and ensuring that all persons invited to the CPPM understand its purpose, functions and the relevance of their particular contribution
  • meeting with parents/carers to explain the nature of the meeting, and possible outcomes
  • ensuring that the parents/carers and child's views are taken into account
  • confirming the identity and role of the lead professional at the meeting
  • facilitating information-sharing, analysis and consensus about the risks and protective factors
  • facilitating decisions and determining the way forward as necessary
  • ensuring consideration of referral to Principal Reporter
  • where a child's name is placed on the Register, outlining decisions that will help shape the initial Child Protection Plan (to be developed at the first Core Group meeting), identifying the lead professional (if not already appointed), and advising parents/ carers about local dispute resolution processes
  • facilitating the identification of a Core Group of staff responsible for implementing and monitoring the Child Protection Plan
  • agreeing review dates which keep to national timescales
  • following up on actions and responsibilities when these have not been met
  • ensuring that arrangements are made for any practitioner forming part of the Core Group who was not present at the CPPM to be informed immediately about the outcome of the CPPM and the decisions made. A copy of the Child Protection Plan must be sent to them

3.154 Participation. The people involved in a CPPM should be limited to those with a need to know, or those who are essential to an effective plan. Participants attending are there to take active part, represent their agency, and share information to ensure that risks can be identified and addressed. They have a responsibility to share relevant information, if proportionate to do so (see Part 1 Information Sharing Principles). Participants need to understand the purpose and functions of the CPPM, and the relevance of their particular contribution. The Chair, in conjunction with the lead professional, will decide who to invite. Consideration should be given to inviting the following:

  • the child
  • parents, carers and family members, including all those with parental responsibility, and if required, a support person or advocate for the child and/or family
  • social worker and other social work practitioners essential to the formation of this plan
  • the police – who should continue to be involved if there is continuing police involvement in the case
  • (supported) foster carers
  • early learning and child care staff, or most appropriate education professional
  • primary and acute health professionals, or child and adolescent mental health services if appropriate
  • adult mental health services/addiction services if appropriate
  • Third Sector organisations supporting children and families
  • housing/support workers
  • representative of the Armed Forces, in cases where there is a service connection
  • on occasion a Children's Reporter may be invited to attend, although their legal position means they can only act as an observer and cannot be involved in the decision-making

3.155 Consideration should be given to how to respond to a situation when a parent or carer refuses to allow a child or young person access to information and advocacy services in relation to child protection processes.


3.156 There must be a sufficient number of multi-agency professionals contributing to the information sharing and analysis to enable safe decisions and effective planning. Minimum participation would be expected from children's social work, police (as relevant), health, education and early learning and childcare, with prepared parental involvement.

3.157 Where a CPPM is inquorate it should not ordinarily proceed, and in such circumstances the Chair must ensure that either:

  • an existing interim safety plan is produced, or
  • the existing plan is reviewed with the professionals and the family members that do attend, so as to safeguard the welfare of the child or children
  • another early CPPM date must be set immediately to be held within 10 working days

3.158 In exceptional circumstances, the Chair may decide to proceed despite lack of agency representation. This would be relevant where a child has not had relevant contact with all key agencies (e.g. pre-birth CPPM), or sufficient information is available and a delay is likely to be harmful to the child. Where an inquorate CPPM is held the child protection Chair must ensure that the reasons for proceeding with the CPPM, and any arrangements to safeguard the child in the meantime, are noted in the CPPM record. An early review CPPM should be arranged immediately. Two consecutive inquorate CPPMs must not be held. Inquorate CPPMs cannot remove a Child Protection Plan.

Parents'/carers' participation in CPPMs

3.159 Involvement of children and families in child protection processes is considered in general terms above. Parents, carers or others with parental responsibilities should be invited to the CPPM. They need sufficient time and support before, during and after the meeting to understand shared information, including concerns and decisions.

3.160 In exceptional circumstances, the Chair may determine that a parent or carer should not be invited to, or should be excluded from attending, the CPPM (for example, where bail conditions preclude contact or there are concerns that they present a significant risk to others attending, including the child or young person). The reasons for such a decision need to be clearly documented. Their views should still be obtained and shared at the meeting and the Chair should identify who will notify them of the outcome and the timescale for carrying this out. This should be noted in the record of the meeting.

3.161 The Chair should encourage the parent or carer to express their views, while bearing in mind that they may have negative feelings regarding practitioners' intervention in their family. The Chair should make certain that parents/carers are informed in advance about how information and discussion will be presented and managed. Parents/carers may need to bring someone to support them when they attend a CPPM. This may be a friend or another family member, at the discretion of the Chair, or an advocacy worker. This person is there solely to support the parent/carer and has no other role within the CPPM.

3.162 Information about CPPMs should be made available to children and parents/carers. This may be in the form of local leaflets or national public information. Guidance on parents'/carers' participation at CPPMs should be contained in local inter-agency child protection procedures.

3.163 Children's participation in CPPMs

  • consideration should be given to inviting children and young people to CPPMs. They should be given the information they need in a way that helps them understand and take part. The emotional impact of attending a meeting must be considered. CPPMs can be disturbing or confusing for children who attend, but the development of a child protection/child safety plan must take into account the child's perspective
  • a decision not to invite the child or young person should be verbally communicated to them, unless there are reasons not to do so. Children and young people attending should be prepared beforehand so that they can participate in a meaningful way, and thought should be given to making the meeting as child- and family-friendly as possible
  • even if a child does not attend the meeting, their views are still necessary before and after the meeting, ensuring that for babies and infants their presentation and pattern of behaviours need to be considered
  • the child's views are obtained, presented, considered and recorded during the meeting, regardless of whether or not they are present. Consideration should be given to whether a child should attend the Core Group
  • reasons for agreeing that older children and young people should or should not attend a CPPM or Core Group meeting should be noted, along with details of the factors that lead to the decision. This should be recorded in the meeting record

3.164 Two practice insights on this topic have been drafted to illustrate and explain key practice considerations, offer a resource, prompt reflection and signpost selected sources. They can be found in the Practice Insights supporting document alongside this Guidance.

3.165 CPPM Record

  • the person taking responsibility for the record of the meeting must be sufficiently trained, and should not be the meeting Chair. The aim of the record is to provide essential information from the meeting in a form that all involved in the Child Protection Plan can understand
  • essential information includes those invited; attendees and absentees; reasons for child's/parents'/carers' non-attendance; reports received; a summary of the information shared; the risks and protective factors identified; the views of the child and parents/carers; the decisions, reasons for the decisions and note of any dissent; the outline of the Child Protection Plan agreed at the meeting, detailing the required outcomes, timescales and contingency plans; the name of the lead professional, and membership of the Core Group
  • participants, invitees who were unable to attend and Core Group members should receive the record when approved by the Chair within five working days of the CPPM

3.166 Provision of reports

  • reports should be produced to ensure that relevant, accurate and sufficient information is effectively shared with CPPM participants, where it is proportionate to do so, in order to support good decision-making
  • it is recommended that from single-agency reports, an integrated report should be produced by the lead professional, in advance of CPPMs. Sometimes this is not possible, for example due to last minute provision of single-agency information to the lead professional. The aim is always to achieve a shared understanding between families and professionals about inter-agency reports for and plans arising from CPPMs. These arrangements should be covered by local protocols
  • the report/s should include all relevant information and a chronology, to be completed by the lead professional. They should also include information pertaining to significant adults in the child's life, and provide a clear overview of the risks, vulnerabilities and protective factors, as well as the child's views. Other children in the household or extended family should also be considered
  • invitees have a responsibility to share the content of the report(s) with the child and family in an accessible, comprehensible way. Prior to an initial CPPM, consideration needs to be given as to the most appropriate means of sharing reports with the child and family, and to when it should be done
  • it is recognised that a full comprehensive risk assessment may not be achievable within the timescales of the first CPPM, or the first Core Group. Therefore, it should be recognised that the early Child Protection Plan may need to be provisional until a fuller assessment can be undertaken

3.167 Restricted access information

  • restricted access information is information that cannot be shared freely with the child or parent/carer, or anyone supporting them. The information will be shared with the other participants at the CPPM, where it is proportionate to do so. Such information may not be shared with any other person without the explicit permission of the provider. If it is necessary to have a segment of the CPPM without parents present for this reason, the Chair will prepare them for this and explain the reasons why this has to occur
  • restricted information includes sub judice information which could compromise legal proceedings; information from a third party that could identify them if shared; information about an individual that may not be known to others, even close family members, such as medical history and intelligence reports; and information that, if shared, could place any individual(s) at risk, such as a home address or school which is unknown to an ex-partner

3.168 Reaching decisions in the CPPM

  • all participants at a CPPM with significant involvement with the child and family have a responsibility to contribute to a view of the level of risk, the need for a Child Protection Plan, and the decision as to whether or not to place the child's name on the child protection register
  • where there is no consensus, the Chair will use their professional judgement to make the final decision, based on an analysis of the issues raised
  • a summary of key decisions and agreed tasks, as approved by the Chair, should be circulated within one day of the CPPM. Participants should receive a copy of the agreed Child Protection Plan within five working days of the CPPM

Dissent, dispute and complaint

3.169 Local guidelines should define the mechanisms by which dissent and dispute or complaint will be resolved and decisions approved. This could include challenges about the inter-agency process, decision-making and outcomes, challenges by children/young people or their parents/carers about the CPPM decisions, or complaints about practitioner behaviour.

3.170 Pending dispute resolution process:

  • if actions are required to ensure the child's immediate safety, they should be prioritised and progressed without delay
  • the child's name will be added to child protection register
  • the Child Protection Plan should be developed as required
  • the agencies and services involved in child protection work have complaints procedures, which should be followed where there is a complaint about an individual practitioner

3.171 When a practitioner wishes to raise an issue about the process, or disagrees with CPPM decisions, communication and concerns should be channelled through their agency line management:

  • there should be clearly defined local arrangements for challenging inter-agency CPPM processes
  • if a parent or carer wishes to challenge the decisions of the CPPM, they should follow processes defined in local inter-agency child protection procedures. If the complaint is about a specific practitioner, they should follow the relevant agency's complaints procedures. Children and young people should have access to guidance that they can understand about how to challenge a decision or make a complaint from any of the practitioners with whom they have contact

Assessment and planning: prompts to reflection

  • are needs, strengths and risks for the child central within this assessment?
  • have the child's feelings, thoughts and experience been taken into account, as far as can be ascertained at their age and stage?
  • has there been a full assessment of the impact of structural factors, including poverty, as guided by 'My Wider World' and has consideration been given to referral for specialist income maximisation support?
  • can children and adults involved understand assessment and reporting processes?
  • how do we support understanding and participation, taking account of the emotional stage, language and culture of children and adults involved?
  • are motivations, views and understanding of parents/carers represented?
  • are expected steps to change represented?
  • are barriers to change explored and addressed?
  • has consideration been given to safe and effective involvement of the wider family?
  • has consideration been given to the child's present and future needs for relationship with those who are important to the child, including siblings?
  • are resilience factors identified and promoted within recommended plans?
  • have specialist aspects of assessment and support been considered and integrated when necessary?
  • have the comparative advantages of legal options been considered?
  • for what reasons may formal/compulsory measures be needed?
  • is the assessment and planning co‑ordinated as far as is appropriate, by a lead professional?
  • does the assessment and plan reflect co‑operation around child and family within all relevant child and adult services?
  • are contingency plans as clear as possible at this stage?


Definition and outline guidance on use of chronologies in child protection assessment and planning.

3.172  A chronology is:

  • a summary of events key to the understanding of need and risk, extracted from comprehensive case records and organised in date order
  • a summary which reflects both strengths and concerns evidenced over time
  • a summary which highlights patterns and incidents critical to understanding of need, risk and harm
  • a tool which should be used to inform understanding of need and risk. In this context, this means risk of significant harm to a child

3.173 A chronology may be:

  • single-agency
  • multi-agency

3.174 A multi-agency chronology must comply with information sharing guidance and protocols in the way that it is developed, held, shared and reviewed. It must be accurate, relevant and proportionate to purpose.

3.175  A multi-agency chronology:

  • is a synthesis which draws on single-agency chronologies
  • reflects relevant experiences and impact of events for child and family
  • will include turning points, indications of progress and/or relapse
  • will inform analysis, but is not in itself an assessment
  • may evolve in a flexible way to integrate further necessary detail
  • may highlight further assessment, exploration or support that may be needed
  • is a tool which should be used in supervision

3.176 A chronology, whether single- or multi-agency:

  • is not a comprehensive case record and cannot substitute for such records
  • is not a list of exclusively adverse circumstances

3.177 The lead professional will consolidate a multi-agency chronology for each Child Protection Planning Meeting. Contribution to the chronology is a collective responsibility. Forming a chronology should assist a shared understanding with and between those involved in developing a Child Protection Plan about strengths, needs and concerns over time, for the purpose of reducing risk of significant harm to a child.

3.178 The lead professional must therefore be clear about the purpose of the multi-agency chronology; the nature and sequence of the facts that should be captured at this juncture. The perspective of child and family at the centre of the child protection process should be explored to gain understanding of impact of events and to check their perception of accuracy.

3.179 The format of a chronology should record purpose, authorship and date of completion. It should include the nature and sequence of events; outcomes or impact on child and family; sources of information; and responses to events as necessary for the purpose of this product (Practice Guide to Chronologies, Care Inspectorate, 2017).

3.180 Two practice insights on this topic have been drafted to illustrate and explain key practice considerations, offer a resource, prompt reflection and signpost selected sources. They can be found in the Practice Insights supporting document alongside this Guidance.

Child giving evidence in criminal and civil proceedings

3.181 Children might be required to give evidence in court in criminal prosecution of suspected or reported perpetrators of abuse or neglect and also in civil proceedings, which would usually be in relation to children's hearing proofs. A child might be required to give evidence about the same matters both in a criminal trial and in a children's hearing proof application. If the child has been referred to a children's hearing for the same matter, then proof proceedings are likely to take place before any criminal trial.

3.182 Decisions regarding any criminal prosecution will be taken by the Procurator Fiscal. When a decision is taken to raise criminal proceedings in which the child or children will be cited as witnesses and asked to give evidence, the relevant social worker should discuss the case with the police.

3.183 The police will advise the Procurator Fiscal of any concerns about the risk of further abuse of, or interference with, witnesses in the case, and with any other children to whom the suspected or reported perpetrator has access. This information is vital to assist Procurators Fiscal and the court to make informed decisions about bail, and any additional special measures which may be required.

3.184 If a suspected or reported perpetrator of abuse is to be prosecuted, or where there are children's hearings proofs proceedings at which the child will give evidence, child witnesses should always be given information and support to prepare them for the experience of being a witness in court.

3.185 The CPPM may provide recommendations about bail and any necessary conditions for social work services, the Principal Reporter and Procurator Fiscal to discuss. The Sheriff will decide whether to grant bail or not. Agencies should consider the potential impact of an unsuccessful prosecution or hostile cross-examination of a child, and the implications for the future protection of that child and others.

3.186 Police and social work services should agree arrangements for convening planning meetings, setting up systems for sharing and updating information about the investigations progress, and co‑ordinating support. All relevant agencies and services should be involved in these discussions. Such cases require early involvement of the Procurator Fiscal and the Principal Reporter. Police and social work services should agree a strategy for communicating and liaising with the media and the public. If a large number of families, parents and carers are involved, the local authority should make special arrangements to keep them informed of events and plans to avoid the spread of unnecessary rumour and alarm.

3.187 Local authorities and other agencies must consider a range of issues, including whether the child needs counselling or therapy before criminal proceedings are concluded. The needs of the child take priority, and counselling should not be withheld solely on the basis of a forthcoming prosecution or proof. There is a Code of Practice aimed at facilitating the provision of therapeutic support to child witnesses in court proceedings.

3.188 Where counselling does take place, the person(s) offering counselling may be called as witnesses to explain the nature, extent and reasons for the counselling. Welfare agencies should discuss therapeutic intervention with the Procurator Fiscal so that they are aware of the potential impact of such counselling on any court proceedings.

3.189 Special measures available for all child witnesses cited to give evidence include the following options:

  • evidence being taken by a commissioner (which means that the child's evidence is taken at a special hearing, which can take place outwith the court, in advance of the proof or trial, and is recorded)
  • a ban on questioning by the person who is alleged to have perpetrated certain actions
  • having a support person present
  • screens so that the child cannot see the accused (in a criminal case) or other people who are entitled to be present (in other cases)
  • giving evidence via a CCTV link from another room within the court building or from a remote site, as appropriate (most often used in criminal prosecutions, or where the proof relates to offence grounds referred to a children's hearing and prior statements treated as evidence in chief)
  • prior statements, which can include JII recording treated as evidence in chief in criminal proceedings
  • in children's hearings proofs relating to non-offence grounds, the Reporter will seek to use the police and social work interview (the JII) in place of the child having to give evidence in person. This is a judgement call in each case and the use of a CCTV link cannot be ruled out as a possibility. Even if the Reporter does not cite the child as a witness, other parties may do so

3.190 As well as these special measures, the Sheriff or Judge can take a range of other steps to help the child give evidence and protect his or her welfare whilst giving evidence, for example by deciding in advance what questions can and cannot be asked, by agreeing the child should have regular breaks, and by limiting the duration of questioning.

3.191 The Children (Scotland) Act 2020 creates a new special measure which prevents parties to civil cases and children's hearings proofs, in certain circumstances, from personally conducting their own case. This would apply, subject to some exceptions, where a witness is a victim of certain conduct, including domestic abuse, or certain other offences. These provisions are not yet in force, but similar provisions do currently apply in criminal trials.

3.192 Consideration should be given as to who may act as a support person for the child. In all cases, the person citing the witness (e.g. the Procurator Fiscal or defence lawyer) will make an application to the court on which option is the most appropriate. The child's own views and those of the child's parent or carer should also feed into the decision-making process. The final decision on which option is the most appropriate rests with the Sheriff or Judge.

3.193 Professionals involved in supporting the child may be asked to provide information to the party citing the child to ensure that the court is provided with enough information about the child's needs to inform the decision about what special measures and other supports are required.

3.194 Section 271 BZA of the Criminal Procedure (Scotland) Act 1995 (inserted by the Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019) provides that in respect of both solemn proceeding and in respect of certain listed offences, the court must enable all of the child witness's evidence to be given by means of a prior statement and/or a pre-recorded Commission hearing in advance, unless the court is satisfied that an exception is justified. These exceptions are if either the fairness of the trial or the child's best interests would be prejudiced by such a course of action, or, if the child is 12 or over, has expressed a wish to give live evidence, and it would be in their best interests to do so. The most efficient means of complying with the requirements of the Act will be that the child's evidence in chief will be given by means of his or her recorded JII; and that cross-examination and re-examination will occur by means of evidence taken by commissioner. If the JII is not suitable for use in criminal proceedings, all of the child's evidence will require to be taken by a Commissioner. This rule came into force in January 2020 in respect of many, but not all, High Court cases in 2020.

3.195 The Act requires there to be a ground rules hearing prior to evidence being taken by commissioner, and specifies some issues which must be considered. The Act makes provision to allow for evidence to be taken by Commissioner to take place even before the indictment has been served. However, there remain significant legal barriers to holding Commissioner hearings in advance of service of an indictment. Therefore, many Commissioner hearings will continue to take place after an indictment has been served. Work is on-going to reduce the time between the offence being reported and the date on which an indictment is served. Improvements in facilities for witnesses to give their evidence in Commissioner hearings or by live TV link to court are in progress. (Vulnerable Witness (Criminal Evidence) (Scotland) Act 2019).

General principles

3.196 General principles that underpin the consideration and conduct of investigative activities in relation to children who may be harmed and those who may cause harm to others may be summarised as below.

Rights. The child's present feelings, views and future rights are respected and protected at every stage.

Safety. Processes are both careful and robust, promoting the safety of those involved by discovering the truth within the most harmful circumstances.

Wellbeing. The wellbeing of the child is the lens through which all decisions and actions are taken.

Preparation. Processes include early discussion between the lead agencies, co‑ordination and partnership with those responsible for the child's care.

Understanding. Each stage and any change or decision is explained in a way that makes sense to each child and those responsible for their safe care, taking into account culture, capacity, age and stage.

Support. Support is provided for children and families involved in these processes.

Skill. Professionals involved are afforded the training and supervision that ensures a co‑ordinated, and child-centred process.

Pace. Preparation and pace of exploration is patient and attuned to the impact of trauma upon the needs and feelings of each child.

Place. Investigative processes are conducted in an environment which is child-friendly and amenable to those attending for the child's support.

Improvement. Processes are evaluated and improved to ensure adherence to standards.

Future developments

3.197 The Scottish Government is developing a framework for a child-centred Barnahus approach which delivers trauma-informed support, justice and recovery for children who have experienced trauma. Scotland-specific standards for Barnahus, based on the European PROMISE Quality Standards, are being developed and adapted for Scottish legal, healthcare, child protection and criminal justice systems.

Criminal injuries compensation

Ensuring consideration during child protection planning.

3.198 Children who have suffered harm either within or outwith the family as a result of abuse may be eligible for criminal injuries compensation. Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme 2012 ( Other children or non-abusing adults who have a loving relationship with the abused child may also be eligible for compensation if they suffer a mental injury as a result of witnessing the abuse or its immediate aftermath. Professionals should be aware of this scheme, and should consider whether any child for whom they are responsible is eligible to apply. They should also ensure that applications are progressed timeously.

3.199 Where the victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident, and it is reported to the police before their 18th birthday, an application for compensation can be made until the victim turns 20. Where the victim was under the age of 18 at the time of the incident but it was not reported to the police before their 18th birthday, an application for compensation can be made up to two years from the first report to the police. Applications from adults should be made within two years from the date of the crime. These time limits can only be extended in exceptional circumstances. The Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) does not need to wait for the outcome of a criminal trial if there is already enough information to make a decision on a case, so application can be made without delay for this reason. Decisions are made on 'balance of probabilities.' (Criminal Injuries Compensation Act 1995).

3.200 Consideration as to whether or not the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme may apply should be a standing item at all initial and review CPPMs (or 'Looked After' Reviews if appropriate). It is the responsibility of the Chair of the review to ensure that reasons are recorded within the record of the meeting as to why the decision was reached whether to proceed or not to proceed with an application.

3.201 It is crucial that scrutiny is given to the above as the local authority can be held liable if it fails to make a claim. Action may also be taken against the local authority if it accepts an inadequate offer of compensation on behalf of a child. Children and young people who have been abused in residential care are also entitled to claim compensation.



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