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Last updated: 03.12.19

Safeguarding Children Legislation in Scotland

Which legislation covers Safeguarding Children in Scotland?

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. To find other country-specific legislation, please select the relevant country: England, Wales or Northern Ireland. To find the list of pieces that are relevant across the UK, select here.


Adoption and Children Act 2007

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


Child Poverty Act 2017

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


Children Act 1995

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


Children and Young People Act 2014

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


Children and Young People (Information Sharing) Bill 2017

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


Children’s Hearings Act 2011

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


Education (Additional Support for Learning) Act 2004 and 2009

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 (GIRFEC) 2015

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


Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act 2005

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


Protection of Children Act 2003

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


Social Work Act 1968

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


Centre for Excellence for Children’s Care and Protection

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.

Link: https://www.celcis.org/.


Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy Education Scotland (2018)

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)


Child Protection Improvement Plan (CPIP) Scotland 2016

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


Getting It Right For Every Child (GIFREC) National Practice Model

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

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


National Performance Framework

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


Protecting Children and Young People (Children’s Charter) 2004

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

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


Scottish Government

The Scottish Government provide guidance and updates on child protection, enabling individuals to keep track of changes and improvements as they occur.

Link: https://www.gov.scot/children-and-families/

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