Working Together to Safeguard Children: changes to statutory guidance

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Closes 31 Dec 2017


This consultation seeks views on significant revisions to ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ – the statutory guidance which sets out what is expected of organisations, individually and jointly, to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. These revisions are being made largely to reflect the legislative changes introduced through the Children and Social Work Act 2017.

The consultation seeks views on the changes to guidance which are needed to support the new system of multi-agency safeguarding arrangements established by the Children and Social Work Act 2017; including views on two sets of statutory instruments (regulations). In broad terms, these changes relate to:

  • the replacement of Local Children Safeguarding Boards with local safeguarding partners
  • the establishment of a new national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel
  • the transfer of responsibility for child death reviews from Local Safeguarding Children Boards to new Child Death Review Partners

The chapters of 'Working Together to Safeguard Children' which require significant or total amendment are:

  • Chapter 3: Multi-agency safeguarding arrangements
  • Chapter 4: Learning from serious cases
  • Chapter 5: Child death reviews

The consultation also seeks views on the separate guidance we intend to issue in order to facilitate a clear and orderly transition from the existing system.

We have also restructured ‘Working Together’ in a number of areas to improve clarity, although core requirements have not changed. However, as minor clarifications we do not intend to consult on these changes.

A draft version of the revised guidance has been published alongside this consultation, and the two documents should be read in conjunction, together with the two sets of regulations as appropriate.

Children and Social Work Act 2017 - Reforms

Alan Wood’s review of the role and functions of Local Safeguarding Children Boards, published in May 2016, found widespread agreement that the current system of local multi-agency child safeguarding arrangements needed to change. He proposed a new model that would ensure collective accountability across local authorities, the police and health. He also recommended a new system of local and national reviews, to replace serious case reviews; and the transfer of responsibility for child death review policy from the Department for Education to the Department of Health.  

The review’s key recommendations are now included in the Children and Social Work Act 2017 (the Act). The Act received Royal Assent in April 2017, but has not yet been commenced.

The Act sets out provisions which will:

  • replace Local Safeguarding Children Boards with new flexible local safeguarding arrangements led by three safeguarding partners (local authorities, chief officers of police, and clinical commissioning groups), and places a duty on those  partners to make arrangements to work together and with any relevant agencies for the purpose of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in their area 
  • require safeguarding partners to identify and arrange for the review of serious child safeguarding cases which they think raise issues of importance in relation to their area
  • provide for the establishment of a national Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel. The Panel will commission and publish reviews of serious child safeguarding cases which it thinks raise issues that are complex or of national importance
  • give clinical commissioning groups and local authorities joint responsibility for child death reviews, and enable a wider geographical footprint for these partnerships in order for them to gain a better understanding of the causes of child deaths

Primary legislation (known as ‘Acts’) set out a legislative framework. Secondary legislation (known as ‘statutory instruments’ or ‘regulations’) provide detail which underpins the primary framework.

There are two draft sets of regulations which are essential to support the reforms set out in the Act. Regulations concerning relevant agencies and regulations concerning national and local reviews Both are subject to Parliamentary approval.

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