1.3 Agency Roles and Responsibilities
This chapter was updated in November 2015 in line with Working Together 2015. References to Working Together to Safeguard Children were updated to 2015. Minor amendments and terminology changes were made throughout.
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 of Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2015.
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 Authorities have a number of specific duties to organise and plan services for children; these are set out in more detail in the Legal Framework for Safeguarding Children in Individual Cases Procedure.
As well as the local authority, NHS organisations, Police, British Transport Police, the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies, Governors/Directors of Prisons and Young Offender Institutions, and Prison Services, Youth Offending Teams and Secure Training Centres all have duties under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 to ensure that their functions are discharged with regard 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 (2015).
The governing bodies, management committees or proprietors of the following schools have duties in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of pupils:
- Maintained schools (including maintained nursery schools), further education colleges and sixth form colleges, and pupil referral units;
- Independent schools (including academy schools, free schools and alternative provision academies); and
- Non-maintained special schools.
In addition, boarding schools, residential special schools and Further Education (FE) institutions that provide accommodation for pupils under 18 must have regard to the relevant National Minimum Standards for their establishment, which can be found at the GOV.UK website.
CAFCASS also has a duty under section 12(1) of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children involved in family proceedings in which their welfare is, or may be, in question.
Local authorities have the statutory responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children of service families in the UK. When service families or civilians working with the armed forces are based overseas the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of their children is vested in the Ministry of Defence.
Under Section 11 of the Children Act 2004, Local Authorities, NHS organisations, police, British Transport Police the National Probation Service and Community Rehabilitation Companies, Governors/Directors of Prisons and Young Offender institutions and ,Secure Training centres and colleges and Youth Offending Teams/Services should have in place arrangements that reflect the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, including:
- A clear line of accountability for the commissioning and/or provision of services designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
- A senior board level lead to take leadership responsibility for the organisation's safeguarding arrangements;
- A culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, both in individual decisions and the development of services;
- Arrangements which set out clearly the processes for sharing information, with other professionals and with the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB);
- A designated professional lead (or, for health provider organisations, named professionals) for safeguarding. Their role is to support other professionals in their agencies to recognise the needs of children, including rescue from possible abuse or neglect. Designated professional roles should always be explicitly defined in job descriptions. Professionals should be given sufficient time, funding, supervision and support to fulfil their child welfare and safeguarding responsibilities effectively;
- Safe recruitment practices for individuals whom the organisation will permit to work regularly with children, including policies on when to obtain a criminal record check;
- Appropriate supervision and support for staff, including undertaking safeguarding training:
- Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role;
- Staff should be given a mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child's safety or welfare; and
- All professionals should have regular reviews of their own practice to ensure they improve over time.
- Clear policies in line with those from the LSCB for dealing with allegations against people who work with children. An allegation may relate to a person who works with children who has:
- Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
- Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
- Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children.
- County level and unitary local authorities should ensure that allegations against people who work with children are not dealt with in isolation. Any action necessary to address corresponding welfare concerns in relation to the child or children involved should be taken without delay and in a coordinated manner. Local authorities should, in addition, have designated a particular officer, or team of officers (either as part of multi- agency arrangements or otherwise), to be involved in the management and oversight of allegations against people that work with children. Any such officer, or team of officers, should be sufficiently qualified and experienced to be able to fulfil this role effectively, for example qualified social workers. Any new appointments to such a role, other than current or former designated officers moving between local authorities, should be qualified social workers. Arrangements should be put in place to ensure that any allegations about those who work with children are passed to the designated officer, or team of officers, without delay;
- Local authorities should put in place arrangements to provide advice and guidance on how to deal with allegations against people who work with children to employers and voluntary organisations. Local authorities should also ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to effectively liaise with the police and other agencies to monitor the progress of cases and ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process;
- Employers and voluntary organisations should ensure that they have clear policies in place setting out the process, including timescales, for investigation and what support and advice will be available to individuals against whom allegations have been made. Any allegation against people who work with children should be reported immediately to a senior manager within the organisation. The designated officer, or team of officers, should also be informed within one working day of all allegations that come to an employer’s attention or that are made directly to the police;
- If an organisation removes an individual (paid worker or unpaid volunteer) from work such as looking after children (or would have, had the person not left first) because the person poses a risk of harm to children, the organisation must make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service. It is an offence to fail to make a referral without good reason;
- Agencies should have clear whistle blowing procedures, which reflect the principles in Sir Robert Francis’s Freedom to Speak Up review and are suitably referenced in staff training and codes of conduct, and a culture that enables issues about safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children to be addressed.
Chapter 2 of Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015 also sets out the specific roles and responsibilities of the following:
- Adult Social Care Services;
- Housing Services;
- Health Services;
- Prison Service;
- Secure Estate for Children;
- Youth Offending Teams;
- UK Visas and Immigration, Immigration Enforcement and the Border Force;
- Schools and Colleges;
- Early Years and Childcare;
- Armed Services;
- Voluntary and Private Sectors;
- Faith Organisations.