12.2 Agency Roles and Responsibilities
An awareness and appreciation of the role of others is essential for effective collaboration between organisations and their practitioners.
This chapter outlines the main responsibilities in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children of all statutory organisations, voluntary agencies and professionals who work with children.
It should be read in conjunction with the details set out in Chapter 2, Working Together to Safeguard Children
All organisations that work with children share a commitment to safeguard and promote their welfare. For many organisations, this is underpinned by statutory duties.
Children's Services have a number of specific duties to organise and plan services for children; these are set out in more detail in the Statutory Framework for Child Protection Procedure.
Section 11 of the Children's Act 20014 places duties of a range of organisations, agencies and individuals to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regardg to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Local authorities also have duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in relation to its functions under section 175 of the Education Act 2002.
As well as the education service provided by the local authority, schools (both maintained and independent) and Further Education institutions, including 6th form colleges, have duties to safeguard and promote the welfare of their pupils who are under 18. Guidance about these education duties is contained in Keeping Children Safe in Education
The responsibility of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), as set out in the Children Act 1989, is to safeguard and promote the welfare of individual children who are the subject of family court proceedings. This is through the provision of independent social work advice to the court.
Under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 those listed in 12.2.6 must evidence:
Specific Roles and Responsibilities of Agencies
Chapter 2 of Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 sets out the specific roles and responsibilities of those listed in 12.2.6.
The police are one of the three statutory safeguarding partners as set out in chapter 3 and are subject to the section 11 duties set out in this chapter. Under section 1(8)(h) of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) must hold the Chief Constable to account for the exercise of the latter’s duties in relation to safeguarding children under sections 10 and 11 of the Children Act 2004.
The police have a primary responsibility to protect life, prevent crime and bring offenders to justice. All police officers and staff have a duty to safeguard children from abuse and neglect.
The role of the police when dealing with incidents of alleged abuse is to:
This will assist in complying with the objectives of the Sussex Police Child Protection Policy, which are:
During the course of any police intervention the welfare of the child will remain paramount, and the police will work in co-operation with all other safeguarding agencies.
Wherever possible, all referrals of alleged abuse will be investigated by officers from a Safeguarding Investigations Unit, who have received specialist training in joint working and the interviewing of children.
There will always be occasions when officers from other disciplines become involved in child protection investigations, and on such occasions they should ensure close liaison at the earliest practical opportunity with a Safeguarding Investigations Unit.
In most cases officers from the Safeguarding Investigations Unit will then assume responsibility for any investigation
Whenever there is the need for emergency action to protect a child, contact should be made with the police via the 999 system. In such cases the attendance of uniformed response officers will normally occur.
All police officers have a power under Section 46 of the Children Act 1989 to remove a child from their parents or carers and place them in police protection. This power can be exercised when an officer believes a child would be likely to suffer significant harm. Wherever possible any decision to remove a child should be made by a court, rather than by the use of police protection.
The use of this power can involve removing a child from their home or a public place to suitable accommodation, or ensuring their removal from a place like a hospital is prevented. When the police use this power they must inform Children's Social Care, who are responsible for accommodating the child, and commencing a Section 47 Enquiry.
The investigation of child abuse allegations will be undertaken by officers from a Safeguarding Investigations Unit. Routine referrals and information about children can be passed to the police by use of the non-emergency number 0845 60 70 999.
Safeguarding Investigations Units will be responsible for the following investigations:
Safeguarding Investigations Units work closely with other police officers responsible for the investigation domestic abuse, adult protection, race and hate crime, and the monitoring of registered sex offenders.
In most cases officers from a Safeguarding Investigations Unit will jointly investigate allegations of abuse with social workers.
The police will actively share all relevant information with Children's Social Care
Any decision to prosecute will be taken in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service, and will where possible take account of the views of other agencies. In all cases the wishes and feelings of any child will be considered, and their welfare will remain paramount.
Clinical commissioning groups are one of the three statutory safeguarding partners as set out in chapter 3 of Working Together to Safeguard Children. NHS organisations and agencies are subject to the section 11 duties set out in this chapter. Health practitioners are in a strong position to identify welfare needs or safeguarding concerns regarding individual children and, where appropriate, provide support. This includes understanding risk factors, communicating and sharing information effectively with children and families, liaising with other organisations and agencies, assessing needs and capacity, responding to those needs and contributing to multi-agency assessments and reviews.
A wide range of health practitioners have a critical role to play in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children including: GPs, primary care practitioners, paediatricians, nurses, health visitors, midwives, school nurses, allied health practitioners, those working in maternity, child and adolescent mental health, youth custody establishments, adult mental health, sexual, alcohol and drug services for both adults and children, unscheduled and emergency care settings, highly specialised services and secondary and tertiary care.
Clinical commissioning groups should employ, or have in place, a contractual agreement to secure the expertise of designated practitioners; such as dedicated designated doctors and nurses for safeguarding children and dedicated designated doctors and nurses for looked-after children (and designated doctor or paediatrician for unexpected deaths in childhood).