National guidance for child protection in Scotland 2014

This guidance has been superseded by the 2021 version .

Appendix D

Arrangements for Child Protection in the Armed Services

1. Family life in the armed forces is, by its very nature, different to that in civilian life. The forces control the movement of the family and families often endure long periods of separation, without extended family support. Local authorities and other agencies should note these differences and be ready to share information with the service authorities when a service family becomes the subject of child protection inquiries. Each service has its own welfare organisation, and service authorities also provide housing for their families. Due to the frequency with which the families move, it is important that the service authorities are fully aware of any child who is deemed to be at risk within their family.

Royal Navy and Royal Marines

2. The Royal Navy & Royal Marines Welfare ( RN/ RM Welfare) are staffed by registered social workers and trained and supervised welfare workers and provide a professional social work and welfare service to all naval personnel and their families. RN/ RM Welfare also liaise with statutory social work services where appropriate, particularly where a child is subject to child protection concerns. Child protection issues involving a serving member of the Royal Navy or Royal Marines should be referred to the RN/ RM Welfare Portal.

RN/ RM Welfare Portal Team
Swiftsure Block
Tel: (Civ): 0044 (0)2392 728777
Fax: (Civ): 0044 (0)2392 725082


3. When an Army family is subject to child protection procedures the unit welfare officer ( UWO) and Army Welfare Service ( AWS) will be involved and will be represented at meetings. It is important for any chair to understand the differences between these two roles:

  • The UWO provides first line welfare. As the commanding officer's representative for the welfare of soldiers and families within the unit, they will respond to day-to-day welfare issues. At child protection meetings they can advise on the demands of the unit, forthcoming operational deployments or assignments and localised issues that could assist or hinder any Child Protection Plan. They may also be there to support the family. UWOs have limited training in child protection. The chair should therefore ascertain whether the UWO is attending the conference in order to support the family or as a fully participating member of the team.
  • The AWS includes senior Army welfare workers ( SAWW) and Army welfare workers ( AWW). Both are specially trained social and occupational welfare and are professionally supervised; SAWWs are professionally supervised by qualified social workers. The service is Army-wide, which enables consistent support when families move location. AWS Personal Support provides advice and support to soldiers and families who are experiencing difficulties arising from personal relationships, separation, loss and bereavement, child and social problems. AWS is responsible for advising the chain of command on all welfare issues.

4. The AWS is the Army's representative in all matters of child protection and is responsible for notifying Army staffing personnel when a child is subject to and removed from a Child Protection Plan. Representatives often sit on Child Protection Committees and carry out tri-service representation, giving them a full overview of policy and practice across child protection and the armed forces. AWS staff trained in child protection may be part of a Child Protection Plan where appropriate and agreed.

5. Unlike UWOs, S/ AWWs have received significant training both in supporting personnel with personal or family difficulties and in child protection. SAWWs participate fully and regularly in child protection meetings and the decision-making process. They can also advise on the structure of the armed forces and make recommendations as to who else might need to be involved in a case (for example, armed forces' medical officers or the mental health social work team).

6. Other members of Army personnel may be involved in meetings. Other agencies such as the British Forces Social Work Service (which provides a statutory social work service on behalf of the armed forces overseas) may also attend where a family has been transferred from overseas and there are child protection concerns.

7. Local authorities with enquiries or concerns regarding child protection or the welfare of a child from an Army family should contact:

The Chief Personal Support Officer
Floor Zone 2
HQ Support Command
Montgomery Hse
Queens Avenue
GU11 2JN
Tel 01252 787650

Royal Air Force

8. The Royal Air Force has an independent welfare organisation on each station. Social work is managed as a normal command function and co-ordinated by each station's personnel officer. The officer commanding personnel management squadron ( OC PMS) is supported by personal and families support workers/senior social work ( P&FSW) practitioners SSAFA-Personal Support and Social Work Service ( RAF). There are five teams in the UK and they are managed by qualified social work team managers. Where there are child protection investigations or concerns regarding the family of a serving RAF member the parent unit should be notified or, if this is not known, the nearest RAF unit. Every RAF unit has an officer appointed to this duty and they will be familiar with child protection procedures.

Social Work Team Manager
RAF Leuchars
Tel: 01334 857962

Service families overseas

9. For service families based overseas or being considered for an overseas appointment, the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of their children is vested with the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

10. The MoD funds the British Forces Social Work Service ( BFSWS) overseas which is contracted to SSAFA and provides a fully qualified social work and community health service in major locations overseas. Instructions for the protection of children overseas are issued by the MoD as 'Defence Council Instruction', Joint Service.

11. Larger overseas commands issue local child protection procedures, hold a command Child Protection Register and have a command Safeguarding Children Board.

12. Local authority social work departments should ensure that SSAFA (and NPFS for naval families) are made aware of any service child who is subject of a Child Protection Plan, and whose family is about to move overseas.

13. Local authorities and other agencies should be aware of Service Sexual Prevention Orders ( SOPOs) which place conditions ( i.e. prohibitions and positive obligations) on those subject to the Orders and are made for the purposes of protecting members of the service community outside the UK.

14. In the interests of the child, SSAFA, BFSWS or NPFS can confirm that appropriate resources exist in the proposed location to meet identified needs. Full documentation should be provided and forwarded to the relevant overseas command.

15. All referrals should be made to:

The Director of Social Work
Health and Social Care
Queen Elizabeth House
4 St Dunstan's Hill
tel: 020 7403 8783
fax: 020 7403 8815

For the Royal Navy and Royal Marines:

RN/ RM Welfare Portal Team
Swiftsure Block
Tel: (Civ): 0044 (0)2392 728777
Fax: (Civ): 0044 (0)2392 725082

16. Comprehensive reciprocal arrangements exist for the referral of child protection cases to the appropriate UK local authorities in the event of either temporary or permanent relocation of children from overseas to the UK.


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