Publication - Advice and guidance

Protecting children and young people: Child Protection Committee and Chief Officer responsibilities

Published: 11 Feb 2019
Children and Families Directorate
Part of:
Children and families, Law and order

Guidance outlining Child Protection Committee and Chief Officer responsibilities for protecting children and young people.

Protecting children and young people: Child Protection Committee and Chief Officer responsibilities
Section 1 - Introduction

Section 1 - Introduction

1.1 Police Scotland, NHS Boards and local authorities are the key agencies that have individual and collective responsibilities for child protection. They must account for this work and its effectiveness.

1.2 The Chief Constable, Chief Executives of Health Boards and local authorities (a group hereafter referred to as Chief Officers) are responsible for ensuring that their agency, individually and collectively, work to protect children and young people as effectively as possible. They also have responsibility for maximising the involvement of those agencies / bodies not under their direct control, including the Scottish Children's Reporter Administration (SCRA), the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscals Service (COPFS) and the voluntary / third sector and should report to Scottish Ministers if they deem this not to be effective.

1.3 The Chief Officers of Health and Social Care Partnerships (Integration Joint Boards) are accountable to the Chief Executives of the Local Authority and the Health Board that make up their partnership for their role in relation to child and other aspects of public protection. It is critical that these Chief Officers are appropriately linked to local governance arrangements for the protection of children in their area. This applies regardless of whether children's services are in the scheme of integration.

1.4 When this guidance refers to "Chief Officers" this is within the context of paragraph 1.2. That is, "Chief Officers" means Chief Executives of Health Boards, Chief Executives of local authorities and Police Divisional Commanders with delegated authority of the Chief Constable.

1.5 The Chief Officers Group (see paragraph 2.2) will include the three Chief Officers described above, plus senior staff in relevant organisations and bodies who must report to the Chief Officers to be accountable for the effectiveness of services to protect children. Membership of this group will include the Chief Officer of the Health and Social Care Partnership.

1.6 Scottish Ministers have agreed how key agencies, bodies and Chief Officers should work together to protect children and a model for how these responsibilities will be discharged through Child Protection Committees (CPCs). This model (detailed below) contributes to Ministers' wider policy objective of improving the integration of services for children and young people. Ministers have made clear their expectations that CPCs must:

  • be led and owned by all agencies / bodies
  • be clearly mandated with delegated authority for action
  • undertake a range of core functions and activities - with flexibility for local conditions

1.7 This guidance is deliberately directive and specific - reflecting the need for clear, co-ordinated and unambiguous commitment and support across all agencies / bodies and in all areas to protect children. Clear lines of accountability to those at the top of local authorities, health boards, health and social care partnerships and the police are needed for CPCs to be effective and drive forward the multi-agency agenda required to help improve outcomes for vulnerable children and young people. Ministers have agreed to approach this through the provision of robust guidance for Chief Officers to implement, but have not ruled out legislation in the longer term should this be required.

1.8 This guidance updates the previous Protecting Children and Young People: Child Protection Committees (2005) guidance and is supplementary to the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland (2014).

Who is this for?

1.9 This guidance makes clear Ministers' expectations of Chief Officers in fulfilling their responsibilities in respect of child protection and how CPCs across Scotland, as key local inter-agency bodies, contribute to the delivery of the child protection agenda. The audience for this document is therefore:

  • Chief Officers as outlined in para 1.2 above
  • the leaders of the key agencies / bodies outlined above
  • representatives of partner agencies / bodies involved in child protection work
  • chairs and lead officers of CPCs
  • members of CPCs
  • members of other inter-agency bodies that link with CPCs

1.10 This guidance will also be of wider interest, for example to staff in agencies and bodies as well as members of communities served by CPCs.

Legal Context

1.11 In general terms, the protection of children and young people includes unborn babies and children and young people under the age of 18 years. It is essential that CPCs and Adult Protection Committees (APCs) work together to best protect children and young people at key transition points, for example transition from children's to adult services.

However, there are five key pieces of legislation that provide the legal context for this approach. These are outlined in more detail in Appendix 4. Briefly these are:

Children & Young People (Scotland) Act, 2014

Part 3 (Children's Services Planning) requiring local authorities and health boards to take a strategic approach to the design and delivery of a wider view of services used by children and families than those previously set out in the Children (Scotland) Act 1995.

Section 8 requires every local authority and its relevant health board to jointly prepare a Children's Services Plan for the area of the local authority, in respect of each three-year period.

A range of other relevant local and national bodies are expected to be either consulted with, or obliged to participate, at various stages of the development of the plan. The Act also requires the local authority and relevant health board to jointly publish an annual report detailing how the provision of children's services and related services in that area have been provided in accordance with the plan.

Children (Scotland) Act 1995

This Act sets out duties of a local authority to publish information about services provided by them for children in their area or which are provided for these children by other local authorities (section 20).

The Act also permits the local authority to request help, in the exercise of their functions in children's services, from a range of persons specified, and imposes an obligation on the person requested to provide help, unless where doing so would not be compatible with that person's own statutory or other duties (section 21).

Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act 2015

Part 2 of the Act replaces community planning provisions in the Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 and provides a statutory basis for Community Planning Partnerships (CPPs). Community Planning is a process that helps public agencies / bodies to work together and with the community to plan and deliver better services that make a real difference to people's lives. Part 2 came into force on 20 December 2016.

The purpose of community planning is improvement in the achievement of outcomes resulting from, or contributed to by, the provision of services delivered by or on behalf of the local authority or the persons listed in schedule 1.

Schedule 1 of the act lists all the bodies considered to be community planning partners of the local authority including the Chief Constable of Police Scotland, NHS Boards and any integration joint board established by the Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014.

The CPP must prepare and publish a local outcomes improvement plan (LOIP) which sets out the local outcomes that the CPP will prioritise for improvement.

Local Government in Scotland Act 2003

Part 3 of the Act deals with the power to advance wellbeing. This sits alongside Community Planning and allows a local authority to do anything to promote or improve wellbeing within the authority's area.

Public Bodies (Joint Working) (Scotland) Act 2014

This Act provides a legislative framework for the integration of health and social care services in Scotland. The Act removed community health partnerships from statute and places a duty on local authorities and NHS Boards to integrate the governance, planning and resourcing of adult social care services, adult primary care and community health services, and some hospital services. A total of 32 health and social care partnerships (HSCPs) have been established, with a jointly agreed integration scheme for each setting out key arrangements for the integration of services.

The Act also allows for the integration of other areas of activity, such as children's health and social care services.

Getting it Right for Every Child

Complemented by the Early Years Framework and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Getting it Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) provides the overarching context for the development of a co-ordinated and common approach around child protection and supporting the wellbeing of children and young people.

Wellbeing sits at the heart of the GIRFEC approach and reflects the need to tailor the support and help that children, young people and their parents are offered to support their wellbeing. The eight wellbeing indicators are commonly referred to as SHANARRI, affirming that Scotland's children should be:

  • Safe
  • Healthy
  • Achieving
  • Nurtured
  • Active
  • Respected
  • Responsible
  • Included

1.12 The purpose of this guidance is to support Chief Officers in fulfilling their child protection responsibilities. Chief Officers also have responsibilities in relation to adult protection and MAPPA. We will discuss with Chief Officers whether they would find it helpful to extend this guidance or provide complementary guidance on these aspects of their public protection responsibilities and review accordingly.


Email: Child Protection Unit