New safeguarding guidance for children considered to be at risk has been released, setting out legal requirements for greater cooperation between local police, the council and the health services.
The statutory guidance, entitled Working Together to Safeguard Children, places new responsibilities upon these three partners to make safeguarding decisions jointly, ensuring they are in the best interests of children and families. They are also required to set out local plans for protecting local children from abuse and neglect and will be made accountable for how well the agencies work together to achieve these aims.
The new local safeguarding guidance is to be rolled out in 17 areas of the country, prior to going nationwide. These ‘early adopters’ will be aided in putting the arrangements in place by the National Children’s Bureau.
The new, more robust guidance is the response to a public consultation that received in excess of 700 responses, with the new arrangements set to replace the current Local Safeguarding Children Boards.
Safeguarding responsibilities will also be extended to religious organisations and sports clubs, calling on greater cooperation with the three safeguarding partners when requested.
The Under-Secretary of State for Children and Families, Nadhim Zahawi, said of the new guidance: “We all have a responsibility to promote the welfare of children and protect those at risk of harm. It is important that young people can grow up in an environment that is as safe and stable as we would want for our own children. That’s why we have changed the law to create a stronger safeguarding system, placing greater accountability on the key professionals involved so vulnerable children can get the support and protection they deserve.
“This guidance will bring health agencies, police forces and councils together to work more collaboratively, making effective decisions that put the needs of local families at the heart of their work.”