There are many pieces of legislation and guidance that need to be known and understood if you are safeguarding children. Here we list and summarise the ones that are relevant to all UK countries.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is designed to combat modern slavery in the UK and consolidates previous offences relating to trafficking and slavery. The act extends to England and Wales.
The Act makes provision about slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and about human trafficking, including provision for the protection of victims; to make provision for an Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner; and for connected purposes.
Link:Modern Slavery Act 2015
The Children Act 1989 reflects the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 and highlights that the welfare of children must be of paramount consideration, placing a duty on local councils to carry out Section 47 enquiries where there is ‘reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives in their area is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm’.
Link:Children Act 1989
The Children Act 2004 introduced the Common Assessment Framework, which came into operation in 2006, and is an example of a standardised approach to improve the way in which services work together to provide early help to families. Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places responsibility on safeguarding partners to make arrangements together to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in their local area.
Link:Children Act 2004
The Children and Families Act 2014 introduced a 26-week time limit for courts to decide whether or not a child should be taken into care. It also provides children in care the choice to stay with their foster families until they turn 2;, introduced the Education, Health and Care Plan to support children and their families from birth to 25 years; made it a requirement of all state-funded schools to provide free school lunches for all pupils in Reception, Year 1 and Year 2, and made amendments made to the law to protect children cars from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Link:Children and Families Act 2014
The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 aims to reduce the spread of extremist ideology by identifying children and young people at high risk of exposure to said ideology, and engaging them in a mentoring programme.
Link:Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015
The Education Act 2002 sets out the safeguarding duties of schools and colleges.
Link:Education Act 2002
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989 is an international treaty and agreement between different governments to protect the rights of children under 18 to education, play, to not be separated from parents (unless in the child’s best interests), to be well cared for, to be listened to, to be able to take part in decisions about their lives, and to protection and help from the government.
Link:The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) 1989
The National Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) are an independent organisation working to place pressure on government to improve child protection systems and legislation across the UK. They provide a wealth of guidance, information and support around child protection and safeguarding issues for anyone working with children.
In the UK, we have pieces of safeguarding children legislation and guidance that are relevant across the nation, but we also have pieces that are country-specific. Here we list and summarise the pieces that are specific to England.
The Children and Social Work Act 2017 defined a ‘safeguarding partner’ as being the local authority, whose responsibility it is to agree on how they will co-ordinate their safeguarding services; to act as a strategic leadership group in supporting and engaging others; and to implement local and national learning from serious child safeguarding incidents. Local authorities will be required to promote educational attainment of children who have been adopted to in other long-term arrangements.
Link:Children and Social Work Act 2017
The Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003 makes female genital mutilation (FGM) a criminal offence, and anyone assisting with the procedure faces prosecution. The act has been amended by the Series Crime Act 2015. Section 72 of the Act makes anyone who has responsibility for a girl that has been subjected to FGM liable for their abuse, whilst Section 71 of the Act prohibits the publication of any information that would be likely to lead to the identification of a person that has been the victim of this abuse.
Link:Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003
Link:Amendments to the Act under the Serious Crime Act 2015
Mandatory Reporting of Female Genital Mutilation 2015 outlines mandatory reporting guidelines for reporting and managing cases of female genital mutilation for all professionals working with and coming into contact with children and young adults.
Link:Mandatory Reporting of Female Genital Mutilation (Home Office) 2015
Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021 provides key statutory guidance for schools and college to promote effective safeguarding and child protection procedures. It also sets out the legal duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people under the age of 18 in schools and colleges.
Link:Keeping Children Safe in Education 2021
The Revised Prevent Duty Guidance 2019 offers statutory guidance outlining how the Prevent Duty can be applied effectively. This includes guidance around training requirements.
Link:Prevent Duty Guidance
The Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016 seeks to reduce the number of families and children living in the UK today by outlining how the government seeks to define, measure and address child poverty in the UK, and focusing on tackling worklessness, improving educational attainment and supporting ‘troubled’ families.
Link:Welfare Reform and Work Act 2016
What to Do if You’re Worried a Child is Being Abused 2015 constitutes non-statutory guidance produced to assist practitioners to identify and respond to child neglect appropriately.
Link:What to Do if You’re Worried a Child is Being Abused – Advice for Practitioners
Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) consists of national statutory guidance advocating for a child-centred approach to safeguarding. It outlines the process for managing child protection cases and child protection plans, the lines of responsibility for safeguarding and children protection, and the processes for (unexpected) child death reviews.
Link:Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018
In the UK, we have pieces of safeguarding children legislation and guidance that are relevant across the nation, but we also have pieces that are country-specific. Here we list and summarise the pieces that are specific to Scotland.
The Adoption and Children Act 2007 modernised the system of adoption in Scotland by introducing Permanence Orders to provide long term security for children who are unable to live with their families because of abuse and neglect.
Link:Adoption and Children Act 2007
The Child Poverty Act 2017 sets out targets to reduce the number of children living in relative, absolute, and persistent poverty by 2030.
Link:Child Poverty Act 2017
The Children Act 1995 outlined parental responsibilities and rights, and the duties and powers local public authorities have for supporting and promoting the safety and welfare of children. Under the Act, the child’s views should be taken into account when making decisions that affect their lives, and ensuring the welfare of the child is the paramount consideration.
Link:Children Act 1995
The Children and Young People Act 2014 embeds the rights of children and young people across the public sector by outlining the roles and responsibilities of statutory, non-statutory and voluntary services in child protection.
Link:Children and Young People Act 2014
The Children and Young People (Information Sharing) Bill 2017 intends to amend the Children and Young People Act 2014 by introducing a duty to consider whether information sharing could support the wellbeing of a child or young person.
Link:Children and Young People (Information Sharing) Bill 2017
The Children’s Hearings Act 2011 restates the child-centred, participative nature of the hearings system by creating Children’s Hearings Scotland (CHS). This is for the best interests of both children who need care and protection and those who offend are of paramount consideration, as they believe both should both be considered ‘children in need’.
Link:Children’s Hearings Act 2011
The Education (Additional Support for Learning) Act 2004 and 2007 provides the legal framework for the provision of additional support for learning. Support should be provided either for short-term or long-term duration, depending on the individual learning needs of the child or young person.
Link:Education (Additional Support for Learning) Act 2009
Getting It Right for Every Child 2015 is a framework which places the child or young person at the centre of the support they receive by identifying the resources they need to develop and grow at the right time. It is based on understanding the child’s wellbeing needs and tackling these needs early on.
Link:Getting It Right for Every Child (GIRFEC) 2015
The Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2005 makes it a criminal offence for female genital mutilation to be carried out in Scotland or abroad.
Link:Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2005
Provides a list of individuals considered unsuitable to work with children, and is to be established and maintained by Scottish Ministers. As it is an offense for someone on the list to work with children, anyone on the list must be banned from working with children.
Link:Protection of Children Act 2003
The Social Work Act 1968 places a duty on every local authority to promote social welfare by making available advice, guidance and assistance for their geographical area.
Link:Social Work Act 1968
The Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection is an agency seeking to improve children’s lives by providing organizations and people involved with children to make long-lasting improvements. It provides a wealth of information and guidance around child protection.
The Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy Education 2018 provides the framework for child protection procedures and practices in education settings, namely schools and local authorities.
Link:Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy Education Scotland (2018)
Scotland launched a Child Protection Improvement Programme to make improvements across all areas of child protection, namely neglect, child sexual exploitation, trafficking, data and evidence, systems, children’s hearings, leadership and workforce development, inspections, and internet safety.
Link:Child Protection Improvement Plan (CPIP) Scotland 2016
The GIRFEC National Practice Model provides a consistent way for an agency or organisation to construct a plan and take appropriate action to support children, young people and their families. It promotes the participation of children, young people and their families in partnership working and provides a shared understanding of a child or young person’s needs by identifying concerns that need to be addressed.
Link:Getting It Right For Every Child (GIFREC) National Practice Model
National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014 provides key national guidance for agencies and practitioners at local level to agree processes for working together to safeguard and promote children’s wellbeing, and sets out expectations for strategic planning of services to protect children and young people, highlighting key responsibilities for services and organisations.
Link:National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014
The National Performance Framework outlines 11 national outcomes to support the reduction of poverty to create a more successful country by increase the wellbeing of people living in Scotland. Of specific relevance to child protection and welfare is National Outcome One: enabling children to grow up loved, safe and respected to enable them to realise their full potential.
Link:National Performance Framework
The Children’s Charter sets out what children and young people need and expect to help protect them when they are in danger of being, or already have been, harmed by another person. It was developed through talking to children and young people who have experienced the need to be protected and supported.
Link:Protecting Children and Young People (Children’s Charter) 2004
Protecting Scotland’s Children National Policy and Child Abuse Prevention Activity 2018 constitutes the central framework outlining how Scotland intends to protect children and young people through both policy and practice.
Link:Protecting Scotland’s Children National Policy and Child Abuse Prevention Activity 2018
The Scottish Government provide guidance and updates on child protection, enabling individuals to keep track of changes and improvements as they occur.
In the UK, we have pieces of safeguarding adults legislation and guidance that are relevant across the nation, but we also have pieces that are country-specific. Here we list and summarise the pieces that are specific to Northern Ireland.
The Addressing Bullying in Schools Act 2016 focuses on addressing bullying in schools, and places a duty on schools to develop policies and systems to prevent bullying. ‘Bullying’ is defined by the Act as the repeated use of any communication or acts by a pupil or groups of pupils against another pupil or group of pupils, with the intention of causing physical or emotional harm.
Link:Addressing Bullying in Schools Act 2016
The Children Order 1995 primarily governs the care, upbringing and protection of children in Northern Ireland. It applies to anyone working with or caring for children, including parents, paid carers or volunteers, and seeks to strike a better balance between supporting parents to enact their parental responsibilities and the judicial powers of intervention of social workers.
Link:The Children Order 1995
The Children’s Services Cooperation Act 2015 strengthened the imperative for children’s agencies to work together, and for the Northern Ireland Executive to develop and publish an overarching strategy for children. The high-level aim of this strategy to improve the wellbeing of all children, where ‘wellbeing’ includes children’s physical and mental health, their economic and environmental wellbeing, and their learning and achievement.
Link:Children’s Services Cooperation Act 2015
Section 5 of the Criminal Law Act 1967 makes it an offence not to report a ‘relevant offence’ to the police, including offences against children.
Link:Criminal Law Act 1967
The Education Order 1996 outlines the right for children with special educational needs (SEN) to be educated in mainstream schools. The Order requires the Local Authority to assess a child who as SEN and, where appropriate, provide a Statement of Special Educational Needs outlining the specific support needed to meet the child’s needs, including access to equipment.
Link:Education Order 1996
The Safeguarding Board Act 2011 provided the legislative framework for the creation of a regional Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland (SBNI) and established five Safeguarding Panels to support the SBNI’s work at a Health and Social Care Trust level and take responsibility for child protection at a local level.
Link:Safeguarding Board Act 2011
The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Order 2008 prevents unsuitable people working with children, young people and adults at risk by ensuring any organisation working with vulnerable people has an appropriate safeguarding policy in place and clearly-defined procedures to protect vulnerable children and adults and ensure there is effective record keeping systems in place.
Link:Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Order 2008
Cooperating to Safeguard Children and Young People in Northern Ireland 2017 provides an overarching policy framework for safeguarding children and young people, outlining how organisations must work together to ensure children and young people are safeguarded. It also outlines the aims of effective safeguarding practice, which are namely to promote the welfare for children and young people and protect them from harm, and to prevent harm occurring through early identification of risk and appropriate, timely intervention.
Link:Cooperating to Safeguard Children and Young People in Northern Ireland 2017
The strategy seeks to enable agencies and individuals to work together to improve the wellbeing of children and young people and deliver positive, long lasting outcomes. It aims to do so by keeping effective partnership and multi-agency working at its centre.
Link:Children and Young People’s Strategy 2017-2027
The Revised Regional Core Child Protection Policies and Procedures for Northern Ireland are a set of policies and procedures which aim to support professionals and agencies to work more effectively to protect children and young people from abuse or neglect.
Link:Revised Regional Core Child Protection Policies and Procedures for Northern Ireland (Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland) 2018
UNOCINI is an assessment framework aiming to support professionals in assessment and planning to better meet the needs of children and their families by providing a process in which their circumstances are also considered. Provides a format for a preliminary assessment that can be completed by any professional in an agency.
In the UK, we have pieces of safeguarding children legislation and guidance that are relevant across the nation, but we also have pieces that are country specific. Here we list and summarise the pieces that are specific to Wales.
Keeping Leaners Safe 2015 consists of statutory guidance concerning how education providers can ensure they have effective systems in place to safeguard and protect children. This guidance includes the responsibility of education providers to prevent unsuitable people from working with children and young people; to promote safe practice and challenge poor and unsafe practice, and to identify instances in which there are grounds for concern about a child’s welfare.
The Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014 constitutes a legal framework for improving the wellbeing of people by outlining safeguarding provision for both adults and children who need care and support. In relation to children, ‘wellbeing’ includes the child’s physical, intellectual, emotional, social and behavioural development as well as their ‘welfare’.
Link:Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014
Working Together to Safeguard People 2018 comprises of seven volumes of statutory guidance, the goal of which is to implement and follow the Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014. For the purposes of adult safeguarding practice, Volumes 1, 3, 4 and 6 are especially relevant.
The Wales Safeguarding Procedures detail the essential roles and responsibilities for practitioners to ensure that they safeguard children and adults who are at risk of abuse and neglect.
Link: The Wales Safeguarding Procedures
The Revised Prevent Duty Guidance 2019 offers statutory guidance outlining how the Prevent Duty can be applied effectively. This includes guidance around training requirements.
Link:Revised Prevent Duty Guidance for: England and Wales 2019