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

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

Section 4 - Carrying out the Task

4.1 This section outlines how Chief Officers will ensure that the tasks of the CPC are carried out effectively. It covers the following:

  • membership
  • key roles and responsibilities
  • CPC meetings
  • business conducted out-with formal meetings
  • ensuring that the work of the CPC is informed by the perspective of children and young people
  • ensuring the work of the CPC is informed by ongoing information gathering and analytical assessment which identify trends; emerging patterns and developments and recommends future activities and priorities


4.2 Chief Officers Groups will appoint, or agree the appointment of, the chair of their Child Protection Committee, including their contractual arrangements and / or terms of reference, role and remit to include core components as described in this section. Chief Officers may appoint a chair from a single representative service or agency or appoint an independent chair. Chief Officers will appoint, or agree the appointment of, a vice chair and the rest of the committee members.

Chief Officers will ensure that the chair and vice chair fully understand their specific role, responsibility and remit and they have an in-depth knowledge of child protection. Chief Officers will agree their working arrangements, terms of office and reporting and accountability arrangements.

Chief Officers should ensure the CPC meet as required to sufficiently discharge their collective responsibilities. This should be no less than four full CPC meetings per annum.

Chief Officers will ensure that all members of their CPC are properly inducted, have access to child protection training, including interagency child protection training, and have protected time in which to fulfil their responsibilities before, during and after meetings. Chief Officers will also ensure that the work of the CPC is transmitted widely, so that it is understood and embedded into their respective service, agency or bodies child protection policy and practice arrangements.

Given the role of a CPC is to provide individual and collective leadership and direction for the management of child protection services, there are two important aspects to the membership of CPCs:

  • level of authority
  • representation


4.3 Each Chief Officer must ensure that their representative on the CPC carries sufficient delegated authority to realise the objectives of the agreed annual Improvement/Business Plan on behalf of their agency. The agency representative will also be of a sufficiently senior grade or have the sufficient level of authorisation to make the required policy and resource commitments.

Membership of CPCs

4.4 Members of CPCs will:

  • represent the commitment of their agency to promoting the safety, welfare and wellbeing of children and young people, preventing abuse and neglect
  • be aware of current issues concerning child protection, both locally and nationally, its relevance to the work of the CPC, and raise awareness of such issues
  • promote collaborative leadership and partnership working in the delivery of high quality child protection services, and ensure that agreed standards of practice are met and maintained
  • ensure obstacles and barriers to collaborative working are addressed and overcome
  • have the delegated authority to make strategic decisions on behalf of their agency in relation to child protection
  • reflect agency accountability in inter-agency decision-making
  • facilitate communication between the CPC and their organisation and other relevant agencies and groups
  • contribute their skill, knowledge and expertise to the work of the CPC

The CPC has the responsibility to ensure that members are able to maximise their contribution to its work. This includes:

  • ensuring that they reflect the contribution that all agencies have to make to child protection work
  • providing support and training opportunities for CPC members


4.5 Membership of CPCs will be representative and inclusive. Differing structures across Scotland will mean that the same functions are likely to be fulfilled by departments with different names, so this section will require local interpretation. As a minimum, the following agencies and groups will be represented on the core membership of the CPC:

  • Social Work Children's Services (likely to be at Director and/or Head of Service level, and also the CSWO)
  • Education Services (likely to be at Director and/or Head of Service level)
  • Health Board (likely to be at Director, Child Health Commissioner and or consultant level)
  • HSCP Representative - in addition to Health Board and Local Authority membership
  • Police Scotland (likely to be at Detective Superintendent and/or DCI Public Protection level)
  • Local Authority Housing Services (likely to be at Head of Service level)
  • Local Authority Legal Services (likely to be at Head of Service level)
  • Scottish Children's Reporter Administration
  • The Third Sector (likely to include senior officers in a representative role, as well as acting for specific organisations)
  • Child Protection Lead Officer

Membership may also include:

  • Scottish Fire and Rescue Service
  • Armed Forces Welfare, in authorities where there is a significant presence
  • The independent education sector, in authorities where there is a significant presence

The CPC should consider cross representation with other bodies where this will enhance the capacity of agencies to protect children and young people.

Role of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Services (COPFS)

4.6 The Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) recognises the importance of child protection and its relevance to COPFS functions with regard to the investigation and prosecution of crime. Child protection is one among a number of issues which Procurators Fiscal (PFs) must be alert to in carrying out their investigative and prosecutorial functions. Accordingly, PFs of a sufficiently senior level will attend CPCs by invitation.

Mostly, the COPFS will have a part to play in respect of agenda items related to PF/police investigations into, or proceedings involving, the abuse of children; a situation where other children are at risk in some way; or the death of a child. The COPFS is structured by specialist functions. The appropriate COPFS representative will be dictated by the nature of the specific child protection issue. When inviting the COPFS to attend CPC meetings, CPC chairs are encouraged to specify the issue for discussion to enable appropriate COPFS representation.

Third Sector Organisations

4.7 It is essential that the Third Sector is fully engaged in the protection of children in their area, including the area's prevention and early intervention plans and strategies. This must include representation of the Third Sector at the CPC. However, given the diversity and depth of the sector, it is recognised that this, of itself, is not sufficient to ensure the Third Sector has the opportunity to be aware of and help inform the child protection agenda. Each CPC will:

  • engage the Third Sector in effective partnership working to protect children and young people. This should include but not be limited to, the area's Integrated Children's Services Planning Group
  • seek to maximise the contribution to the protection of children by the Third Sector
  • where one does not already exist, establish a forum to engage locally with the Third Sector more widely in relation to child protection
  • as part of the area's audit and self-evaluation processes for all its children's services, the extent to which the Third Sector is meaningfully involved in the above, must be assessed

Key Roles and Responsibilities

Chair of the CPC

4.8 The chair of the CPC is responsible for:

  • chairing meetings of the CPC, and ensuring that they are conducted in a manner that reflects the contribution that all agencies have to make to child protection
  • leading the work of the CPC to effectively fulfil its functions such that a demonstrable continuous improvement of the inter-agency child protection arrangement is achieved
  • managing the Lead Officer (see below), who will be accountable to the CPC whatever the employment arrangements put in place, on behalf of the CPC

(Note: The Lead Officer will report to the chair of the CPC, however, the day-to-day management of the Lead Officer could be undertaken within one of the agencies by local agreement, but this must not confuse the clear management and accountability of the Lead Officer to the CPC through the Chair).

  • ensuring the development and delivery of the CPC Improvement / Business Plan and annual report
  • negotiating the resource requirement necessary for the work of the committee
  • ensuring child protection specific issues are appropriately raised and taken account of in local children's services planning processes
  • ensuring that the CPC collaborates with other CPCs
  • reporting and being accountable to the Chief Officers Group and reporting progress and issues regularly
  • maintaining links with Scottish Government and Child Protection Committees through the established national network of meetings
  • keeping the committee informed of national developments and ensuring that best practice is promoted
  • contributing to development of policy and practice at national level
  • providing leadership and guidance in relation to the need to carry out Significant Case Reviews

The Chair will have considerable experience in both inter-agency working and child protection, and be either a senior officer from one of the key agencies or an independent person appointed specifically to the task. In either case, the appointment will be made by Chief Officers or agreed by them.

Lead Officer of the CPC

4.9 A CPC requires dedicated staff time and resources to support the implementation and delivery of its core functions as required by this guidance. The level and configuration of that dedicated resource is a matter for agreement with Chief Officers.

It is important that the title and role of the Lead Officer of the CPC is clearly distinct from other roles elsewhere in the child protection system.

4.10 Each CPC will have:

  • as a minimum, a Lead Officer to implement its core functions
  • an inter-agency training co-ordinator, or specific training capacity to ensure the delivery of training and staff development on an inter-agency basis

It may be appropriate for some CPCs to enter into arrangements to share such posts or, indeed, to engage additional officers (professional and clerical) as required to support and execute its functions as agreed with Chief Officers.

The employment arrangements for these officers must fully reflect their status as officers of the CPC and their direct accountability to the CPC itself. It is recognised that across Scotland there are differences in terms and conditions for inter-agency staff. It is beyond the scope of this guidance to stipulate terms and conditions for Lead Officers. This is a matter for local agreement. However, Lead Officers will be of sufficient seniority to carry authority with partner agencies/bodies.

Delivering the Plan

4.11 The CPC will establish mechanisms to ensure that the Improvement / Business Plan of the CPC is carried out. It is for the CPC, in conjunction with Chief Officers, to determine the most suitable arrangements for their local authority area. Each CPC will:

  • identify the most appropriate mechanisms for their local authority area whether these are standing working groups or other mechanisms (see para 3.2 above)
  • ensure that these mechanisms are reflected in the constitution of the CPC
  • ensure that there is a clear remit with regard to their connection with the work of the CPC itself
  • ensure that there is a clear and direct link to the CPC

CPCs should consider the sharing of working groups with others as a means of streamlining planning efforts, helping develop and deliver integrated services and avoiding duplication. An example of this would be a joint ADP/CPC working group to consider children and young people affected by substance misuse.

Involving Children and Young People and their Families

4.12 The perspectives of children and young people and their families will be clearly evidenced in the work of the CPC, and it is vital that this area is not addressed in a tokenistic manner.

4.13 Each CPC will:

  • be able to demonstrate that its work is informed by the perspective of children and young people, including the most vulnerable and those with direct experiences of child protection services
  • review and develop their strategy for doing so
  • ensure that children and young people are involved in the development and implementation of the CPC's public information and communication strategies

There are a number of ways of doing this, and it is envisaged that this area will develop over time. It is not possible to be prescriptive about the methods to be employed. However, for illustration these could include:

  • drawing on the experience of the voluntary sector in eliciting the views of children and young people
  • receiving regular reports from Children's Rights Officers, Who Cares? Scotland and Advocacy organisations on the views of children and young people
  • commissioning independent surveys, either individually or collectively with other CPCs, on the views of children and their families
  • improving decision-making and recording practices to ensure that the views of children and families are better able to be gathered together and reflected
  • promoting the establishment of community-based advocacy services for children and young people
  • ensuring that the views of children and young people are accounted for through the application of inter-agency quality assurance mechanisms


Email: Child Protection Unit

Back to top