Gov.uk have released an updated Working Together to Safeguard Children guide which replaces the existing Working Together to Safeguard Children of 2015. The guidance applies to all organisations and agencies who have functions relating to children, and covers legislative requirements and frameworks for partners regarding safeguarding and reviewing child fatalities.
The main principle of the guidance is to promote a “child-centred approach to safeguarding”, following the principles of the Children Acts of 1989 and 2004 that the welfare of children is paramount.
As the guidance states: “Children may be vulnerable to neglect and abuse or exploitation from within their family and from individuals they come across in their day-to-day lives. These threats can take a variety of different forms, including: sexual, physical and emotional abuse; neglect; exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups; trafficking; online abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation. Whatever the form of abuse or neglect, practitioners should put the needs of children first when determining what action to take.”
From responsible adults, children need:
- Understanding and action
- Information and engagement
A child’s wishes should be given due regard when deciding upon action to take. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, whether in identifying concerns, sharing information, or taking prompt action.
Providing early help is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting later. Early help should be identified proactively, and practitioners should be alert to the potential need for early intervention for children who:
- Are disabled have specific additional needs
- Have special educational needs
- Are a young carer
- Are showing signs of being drawn into anti-social or behaviour, including gang involvement and association with organised crime groups
- Are frequently missing or goes missing from care or from home
- Are at risk of modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation
- Are at risk of being radicalised or exploited
- Are in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as drug and alcohol misuse, adult mental health issues, and domestic abuse
- Are misusing drugs or alcohol themselves
- Have returned home to their family from care
- Are a privately fostered child.
Accessing help and services, referrals, and information sharing is crucial to effective safeguarding of children. The guide also helps to bust some popular myths that surround safeguarding, for example:
- Data protection legislation is not a barrier to sharing information
- Consent is not always needed to share personal information
- Personal information collected by one organisation/agency can be disclosed to another
- The common law duty of confidence and the Human Rights Act 1998 does not prevent the sharing of personal information
- IT Systems are not a barrier to effective information sharing
The guide states the statutory requirements for children in need, assessment guidelines, and expresses the urgency for timeliness.
Read the full guideline document here.