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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Council held on 12/12/2006
Corporate Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy




13 ANNEXE 11

Waverley Borough Council
Corporate Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy



Page
1.Introduction
3
2.Why have a policy
3
3.Policy Aim
4
4.The Law
4
5.Roles and Responsibilities
5
6.Definition of Abuse
6
7.Categories of Abuse
6
8.Disclosures
7
9.Referral Process
8
10.Staff Recruitment
9
11.Staff Training
10
12.Good practice guidelines for staff and volunteers
10
13.Allegations against staff
11
14.References
13



1. INTRODUCTION

The Statutory inquiry into the death of Victoria Climbie (2003), and the first joint Chief Inspectors’ report on safeguarding children (2002) highlighted the lack of priority status given to safeguarding. The Governments response to these findings included the Green Paper Every Child Matters, and the provisions, in the Children Act 2004. The Every Child Matters Green Paper identified five outcomes as key to the well being of children and young people, which are:
1. Physical and mental health and emotional well-being (“ to be healthy”)
2. Protection from harm and neglect (“to stay safe”)
3. Education training and recreation (“to enjoy and achieve”)
4. The contribution made by them to society (“to make a positive contribution”)
5. Social and economic well being (“to achieve economic well being”)

And the three of the most important provisions in the Children Act 2004 context are:
1. the creation of children’s trust arrangements under the duty to co-operate,
2. the setting up of Local Safeguarding Boards,
3. and the duty on all agencies to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people.

These duties relate to children and young people from birth to the age of 18, or 25 if the young person has learning or other disability. The fact that a child has become 16 years of age and is living independently, working, is in Further education, is a member of the armed forces, is in hospital or prison does not change their status or entitlement to services or protection under the Children Act 2004. Where “children” are referred to in this policy it is inclusive of any child or young person within the age range above.

This Council wants to achieve the highest possible standards of policy and practice in its work with children and young people aged 0 – 18. The welfare of the child is the Council’s most important consideration and the Policy will address the Council’s legal responsibilities to Safeguarding whilst taking into consideration the five outcomes identified by Every Child Matters as also being key to the process.

This policy will cover all places and departments within the Council, including employees who come into contact with children and young people while carrying out their everyday duties.

2. WHY HAVE A POLICY?

Anyone who comes into contact with children, young people and families in their everyday work, including people who do not have a specific role to safeguarding has a legal responsibility to promote and safeguard the welfare of children and young people.

Having a safeguarding policy brings the need to regulate many of the Council’s services, including recruitment, selection, training and ‘vetting’ procedures (carrying out police and other checks) and procedures for third parties delivering services on behalf of the Council.

It is vital that every person who has contact with children and young people, either caring or working with them, should be able to recognise problems and know how to respond if they are concerned or aware that a child is, or may be, at risk of significant harm. Staff should also be able be able to recognise situations where a child requires extra support to prevent significant impairment to his or her health or development.

3. POLICY AIM

The policy aims to provide procedures and practical guidance for all our employees, services, agencies and other professionals working with the Council to safeguard children and young people.

The policy highlights the main issues and recommends actions when dealing with a possible case of abuse. These include:

a. recruitment policies for those working with children and young people
b. induction and training
c. how to respond to information, suspicions or allegations of abuse; and
d. how to communicate the policy and its aims effectively

4. THE LAW

The Children Act 2004 creates clear accountability for children’s services, to enable improved joint working between agencies and secure a greater focus on safeguarding children. The Act establishes a better basis for the integrated planning, commissioning and delivery of children’s services and confers new duties on district and borough councils in this process to which Waverley must respond.
KEY REQUIREMENTS OF THE CHILDREN ACT

Section 10
This Section of the Act, gives local children’s services authorities (in Surrey this is the County Council) a lead role in securing the co-operation of partners in setting up arrangements to improve the well being of children in the authority’s area in relation to the five outcomes as indicated in the introduction.

The relevant partners as specified in the Act have a duty to co-operate with the children’s services authority in the making of any such arrangements. These partners include the police, strategic health authorities and PCTs for the area and district and borough councils.

The statutory guidance under this section indicates that the functions of a district council that are relevant to children’s trusts will include planning, play and leisure, environmental health and housing. Section 11
This Section requires all designated partner agencies to make arrangements to ensure that their functions are discharged in regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. This duty came into effect on 1 October 2005.

Statutory guidance on Section 11 has been issued which sets out what the relevant agencies, including borough and district councils, need to undertake to ensure they can comply with this duty. Borough and district Councils are to complete Part 2 of the self-assessment form (see Annexe 1) that ensures organisations are fit for purpose to be compliant with the statutory Section 11 guidance. The new Local Safeguarding Board (Surrey) will monitor the implementation of partners’ contribution to safeguarding (see Annexe 2).

Section 13
This Section requires each Children’s Service Authority (Surrey County Council) to establish a Local (countywide) Children’s Safeguarding Board (LCSB) by April 2006. The new Board will replace the current (non statutory) Area Child Protection Committee (ACPC). The Board will be responsible for co-ordinating the partner agencies and ensuring their effectiveness to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in its area.

Section 20
This Section introduces new integrated inspection arrangements, Joint Area Reviews, which will review all services provided by any body receiving public funding. These include voluntary, non-statutory services and borough and district councils. The Joint Area Review for Surrey is scheduled for 2007/8.

5. ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 and section 175 of the Education Act 2002 places duties on all organisations that provide services or delivers work with children and young people to ensure that their functions are discharged with regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Individual agencies are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent and confident in carrying out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare.

Employers should ensure their staff are aware of how to recognise and respond to safeguarding concerns, including signs of possible maltreatment.

Further responsibilities include:
1. have senior managers that are committed to children and young people’s well-being and safety
2. Be clear about people’s responsibilities to safeguard and promote children and young people’s welfare
3. have effective recruitment and human resources procedures including checking all new staff and volunteers in line with CRB procedures to make to make sure they are safe to work with children and young people
4. have procedures for dealing with allegations of abuse against members of staff and volunteers
5. ensure that staff receive appropriate level of child protection training in order to their job well
6. Have procedures about how to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people
7. Have agreements about working with other organisations who deliver services on behalf of the organisation


6. DEFINITION OF CHILD ABUSE

Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by harming, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional setting (for example a care home) or community setting (for example a playgroup) by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger.

Harm is defined by the Children Act 1989 as ill treatment or affecting health or development, including, physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

To understand and identify significant harm, it is necessary to consider:
1. the family’s situation
2. the child’s development within their family’s and wider social and cultural environment
3. any special needs, such as a medical condition, communication difficulties or a disability that may affect the child’s development and care within the family
4. the type of harm, in terms of ill treatment or failure to provide adequate care
5. the effect on the child’s health and development
6. whether the parents are able to provide adequate care

Anyone could abuse a child or young person, no matter what their sex, race, culture or social class. Children or young people may suffer one or more types of abuse such as sexual, physical and emotional or neglect. Children or young people with a disability are particularly vulnerable.

7. CATEGORIES OF ABUSE

Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless, unloved, inadequate or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature (age or developmentally) inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. It may involve causing children to feel frightened or in danger, or exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Neglect
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic and or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It may involve a parent carer failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, or failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Physical Injury
This is probably the most obvious form as injuries can often be seen. Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, scalding, drowning, suffocation or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health to a child, whom they are looking after, (e.g. Munchausen Syndrome).

Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Internet and Photography
There have been concerns about the risks posed directly and indirectly to children and young people who use the Internet, (particularly chat rooms) and through the use of photographs. This policy works alongside the Council’s existing Internet and email instructions the Guide to the use of Photographic Images, which is in the process of being updated.

8. DISCLOSURES

Confidentiality
No service for children or young people, nor any individual, should ever guarantee a child or a young person absolute confidentiality.

Confidentiality is not always interpreted in the same way by individuals or organisations. It is essential to have a clear understanding of what is meant by the confidentiality we offer to children and young people.

Confidentiality becomes relevant to our work with children and young people in respect of safeguarding because we may be assisting them to obtain medical advice or help and they may not wish to tell their parents. It is partly because of the complexity of these issues that the procedure requires immediate referral to the Surrey’s Contact Centre whenever a safeguarding issue arises/is suspected. The Contact Centre will make the decision as to whether the referral needs to go to the Children’s Assessment Team.

When to pass on information
There are situations when the officer concerned must share information.
1. Where there is a safeguarding issue
2. Where the life of the child or a third party is at risk
Any discussion with regard to the next two points should be more about the situation than the individuals involved.
3. When sharing the information with your staff team (where appropriate) or on a need to know basis
4. When in supervision with your line manager

It is the policy of this Council and of the partner agencies that any matter in which there is a safeguarding issue, or way life may be at risk, information will always be disclosed using this Safeguarding Children and Young People Policy.





9. REFERRAL PROCESS

Contact Centre
Surrey County Council underwent a Business Development Review at the end of 2005 and one of the actions from the Review was to create a single pathway for enquiries and referrals, made in writing, by phone or electronically. So from 21 August 2006, the Contact Centre Children’s Team will be the front door to Children’s Social Care services, for public and professionals.

It will also respond to any other enquiry to Children’s Services where the caller requires information on advice, or directing to a particular service (eg SEN Admin, Traveller Support, Early Years).

The Contact Centre public number is: 08456 009 009
Out of office hours, urgent referrals can be made to the emergency Duty Team: 01483 517898

What happens when a referral is made?
Referral and Information Officers (RIO) will first check records to see whether the family are already known to Children’s Social Care. If they are, records will be screened and new information evaluated, to inform how to take the matter forward. An electronic contact will be created within the Integrated Children’s System (ICS) and SWIFT to identify the nature of the concern and its impact on the child’s health and development. The RIO will also need to find out the level of seriousness of the concern in relation to:
o The vulnerability of the child
o Any risk to the child
o Protective or preventative factors which may be present

Where there are significant concerns at the point of referral about a child’s health or development, the referral will move very quickly out of the Contact Centre and an Initial or Core Assessment may be started directly by social work professionals within Children’s Service.

How Information will be Transferred
In-coming
o All enquiry and referral information received by Contact Centre staff will be recorded electronically. Documents received by post will be scanned into electronic records.

Out-going
o Email notification of new information on open cases will be sent to:
1. Caseholder
2. Relevant Team Duty inbox
o Email notification about newly-created referrals and linked documentation will be sent to relevant Children’s Service Team Duty inboxes.
o Transfer of Child Protection Referrals will also be confirmed by phone
o Contact Centre staff will u-date the SWIFT database with the identity of the newly responsible team. Any files with drawn from archives will be forwarded to receiving team.

Police (24 hours)
Or NSPCC (24-hour helpline)
10. STAFF RECRUITMENT

All employers must be alert to the possibility that any person may pose a risk of harm to children. Employers of staff or volunteers who have access to children must guard against the potential abuse, through a rigorous selection process, Criminal Record Bureau (CRB) Check, supervision, training and on-going awareness of staff behaviour.

It is imperative that specific procedures are undertaken to assist the protection of children and young people in the recruitment procedure for those who will be working with them.

Procedures to be in place:

a. Write relevant job descriptions and person specifications and issue along with an application form

b. All posts should be risk assessed

c. All staff/volunteers should complete an application form

d. Request and check qualification and details of competence

e. Seek references including at least one which involves working with children and young people

f. All staff undergo and enhanced Criminal Record Bureau Check (CRB), enhanced checks should be used where ever this is in line with CRB procedures

g. Establish a review procedure appropriate to the role of staff and period of employment

Training and Education

The provision of quality training and information is widely recognised as an essential process in raising awareness and addressing safeguarding issues for the education of staff and volunteers so that they are aware and sensitive to potential situations.

Training to be in place:

a. Provide an appropriate induction programme to familiarise new staff with their role and that of the organisation in general and with safeguarding issues related to their role

b. Provide and promote an ongoing programme of safeguarding training opportunities

c. Ensure that relevant managers are kept updated on current information and policies regarding safeguarding




11. STAFF TRAINING

Staff who come into contact with children and young people should attend appropriate safeguarding training. The Council will set a minimum standard of training for key staff to undertake.

The aims of this are as follows:

a. To provide staff, new to safeguarding issues in Waverley with an opportunity to familiarise themselves with the safeguarding service in the county
b. To build on knowledge and skills gained in order to establish sound interagency safeguarding practice
c. To develop a shared understanding of the respective roles and responsibilities of the different professionals and how they contribute to effective working relationships

Learning Outcomes

a. Discuss what constitutes child abuse
b. Examine attitudes and values, which may affect the practice of safeguarding children and young people
c. Consider the roles and responsibilities of the professional in safeguarding work
d. Develop awareness of relevant legislation, guidance and procedures
e. Develop skills in recognising situations where abuse may be occurring and consider the safeguarding thresholds
f. Examine the process of how suspected abuse is reported and managed
g. Explore issues and develop skills in working together with children, families and the professional network in order to ensure that children are protected from harm

12. GOOD PRACTICE GUIDELINES FOR STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS

Producing and promoting Good Practice Guidelines when working with children and young people is vital for protecting staff and volunteers. All members of staff and volunteers working for and on behalf of Waverley Borough Council should be encouraged to demonstrate exemplary behaviour in order to protect themselves from false allegations. Good practice means

a) Always be publicly open when working with children. Avoid situations where you and individual children are completely unobserved.
b) Treat all children equally and with dignity and respect.
c) Recognising the developmental and physical needs of individual children and young people.
d) Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of children and young people.
e) Always put the welfare of the child first.
f) Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust that empowers children and young people to share in the decision-making process.
g) Where any form of manual support is required, this should be provided openly. You should also be extremely careful, as it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is moving constantly.
h) Where children and young people have to be supervised in toilet or changing facilities always ensure that you work in pairs with another colleague. Encourage an open environment, e.g. no secrets.
i) Where there are mixed groups on off site activities, there should always be a male and female member of staff present.

j) Everyone should be aware, that as a general rule it does not make sense to:

1. spend excessive amounts of time alone with children or young people away from others
2. and you should never:
I. engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay
II. share a room with a child or young person
III. allow or engage in appropriate touching of any form
IV. allow children or young people to use inappropriate language unchallenged
V. make derogatory or sexually suggestive comments to a child or young person even in fun
VI. let allegations a child or person makes go unquestioned, unrecorded or not acted upon
VII. do things of a personal nature that children can do for themselves
VIII. have a child or young person stay at your home with you
IX. take children alone in car journeys, however short If, during your care of a child or young person, you accidentally hurt them, they seem distressed in any manner, appear to be sexually aroused by your actions, or misunderstand or misinterpret something that you have done, report any such incidents as soon as possible to the manager that you are working with and also write it down with date, time and your signature. Parents or carers should be informed of any such instances.

13. ALLEGATIONS AGAINST STAFF

Children and young people are particularly vulnerable to the actions of employees who wilfully or otherwise disregard legislative, Local Safe Guarding Board or Borough Council guidance and regulations. The Council, therefore, needs sound polices and procedures on the management of situations wherever allegations of abuse are made against staff.

If an allegation about abuse or neglect of a child is made about conduct outside of the work role, the general principles and approach outlined in this section will apply.

Considering whether suspension is appropriate

This section relates to Waverley Borough Council’s Disciplinary and Dismissal Procedures. Any investigation under this procedure should not be confused with the separate statutory investigations by Children’s Services or the police.

The suspension of an employee is a traumatic experience. For this reason, despite the need to act quickly, it is essential that the facts of a case are considered carefully in deciding whether to suspend. The decision to suspend is taken after discussion with the Director and Head of Personnel and Central services or their representatives, not by the police or Children’s Services. However, Children’s Services, in collaboration with other agencies, may give advice to ensure the protection of children, protection of employees or safeguarding of information. It is important that all communication with the employee, including the meeting to consider suspension, is conducted with care and sensitivity. In order to achieve this, all communication must be structured and planned. It is appreciated that every case may be different and it is not unreasonable that redeployment could be an option in certain circumstances.

The steps to be taken in suspending a member of staff are determined by Waverley Borough Council’s Disciplinary Procedures.

Any suspension is intended as a neutral act to safeguard the interests of all concerned and does not imply either blame or punishment. This should be communicated at the point of suspension and reiterated throughout the process until such time as a decision is made otherwise.

Suspension is most likely to occur when it is necessary to allow the conduct of the investigation to proceed unimpeded, or where children, young people or others, are at risk. However, a decision to suspend must be based on genuine belief that it is an appropriate course of action in light of all known circumstances.

At the point of suspension the Director or his representative should explain that an allegation has been made in connection with possible child abuse and the member of staff is being suspended. The employee will be told:
1. that he/she will continue to receive his/her normal pay
2. the period anticipated for the suspension, if known
3. of other rules (e.g. that he/she must not return to the workplace or contact children and young people from the area of work they were working on at the time of the allegation)
4. to return any special items required (e.g. keys, computer disks etc)
5. of a named point of contact within the Department during the period of suspension for matters not relating to the allegation
6. whom to contact for support
7. that these arrangements should be confirmed in writing to the employee, within five working days.

Disciplinary Investigations

The Head of Department, in consultation with Personnel, will decided whether or not to investigate under the disciplinary procedure and who would be the appropriate person to do so. Waverley Borough Council’s Disciplinary Procedures must be followed.

Only after such a thorough investigation shall the person be authorised to take the disciplinary action, decide whether or not there is a case to answer.

The individual who has conducted it must inform the employee against whom the allegations have been made in writing of the outcome of the disciplinary investigation.

If the decision is made to progress to a formal hearing, the position of the employer’s decision is based on ‘on the balance of probability’ rather than ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.
Evidence derived from the Child Protection Investigation, e.g. statements, exhibits, transcripts of video recorded interviews with children and young people may be available for use in subsequent disciplinary proceedings.

Where allegations are unsubstantiated the Divisional Head should be responsible for ensuring that a return to work is handled smoothly and sensitively, and to follow up any necessary action to prevent further allegations.

Planned communication with the community media

Decisions on the release of information and resultant media coverage may create extra pressures for all those involved. The Head of Communications should be involved in any discussions and decisions about release of information.

Prior to any hearing or preliminary meeting, details of any complaint should not be discussed with members of the community. It would be advisable at this stage to acknowledge that any complaint is being formally looked into.

Decisions should be agreed about the release of relevant information at a communications meeting between the relevant Chief Officer, Public Relations, Chief Executive. Release of information could include:
a. press statements
b. letter to parents
c. statements to other members of staff

The communications meeting should determine when, how and by whom information is released.


14. References

Working Together to Safeguard Children - Dept.of Health - Paperback - The Stationery Office Books (Jul 2006) - ISBN 0112711871

Children Act, 2004 - Fergus Smith - Children Act Enterprises Ltd (Jan 2005) - ISBN 1899986073

Surrey Safeguarding Children Board Manual of Child Protection Procedures



Comms/council/2006-07/032