Safeguarding is something that everyone who works with children and vulnerable adults should know about. The Care Act 2014 defines safeguarding as “protecting an adult’s (or child’s) right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.”
Safeguarding also means that individuals (including children) are adequately supported to access care and support where this is needed so that they are able to stay well and maintain a high quality of life.
In England, the Department for Education is responsible specifically for child protection
However, In Northern Ireland The Department of Health is responsible for child protection.
In Wales the Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014 is responsible for child protection and provide the legal framework.
In Scotland, the Scottish Government is responsible for child protection.
What legislations and policies surround safeguarding children?
There are many different legislations and policies that surround safeguarding children. It is important that people who work around children and vulnerable adults know these policies and legislations and how to apply them to their work.
The Children Act 2004
This Act ensures that local authorities and professionals work in an appropriate way with children, young people and their families to promote child safety and protection.
The main principles of the Act maintain that:
- Local authorities have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their local area who are identified as being in need.
- Local authorities must assess a child’s needs and promote the upbringing of children by their own families, if it is safe for them to do so.
- Care and supervision orders must be in place to protect the safety and welfare of children who have been identified as being at risk.
- The local authority must provide accommodation for any child in their local area of they do not have a parent or guardian or if they have been abandoned or their parent or guardian can no longer house them.
Equality Act 2010
The Equality Act 2010 aims to protect people or groups of people who have one or more ‘protected characteristics’. These protected characteristics are features of people’s lives upon which discrimination, in the UK is now illegal.
The protected characteristics listed in the Act are:
3. Sexual orientation.
5. Gender reassignment.
6. Marriage and civil partnership.
7. Pregnancy and maternity.
9. Religion and belief.
This means that equal and fair treatment to everyone must be applied in a variety of aspects of everyday life including work, leisure and health and social care. It stipulates the following with regards to how individuals should be treated equally and fairly:
- Every individual has the right to be treated equally and fairly and not be discriminated against regardless of any ‘protected characteristics’.
- Every individual has the right to be treated with respect and dignity.
- Health services have a duty to ensure that services are fair and meet the needs of everyone, regardless of their background or current circumstances.
Children and Families Act 2014
This Act aims to ensure that greater protection is available for children who have been classed as vulnerable. It includes children who may be in foster care and those who are looked after or have additional needs. The Act also ensures that a Education, Health and Care Plan is produced for any child who has been identified as having additional needs.
The United Nations convention on the Rights of the Child 1992
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) underpins many pieces of legislation that relate to the roles of individuals who work with children, such as the Children Act (2004) and the Equality Act 2010. The UNCRC highlights the importance of treating every child as a unique person, which helps to ensure that all of their needs are met in a way that is specific to them, enabling them to have a high quality of life.
The Human Rights Act 1998
Human rights within the United Kingdom are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998, which means that if an individual believes that their human rights have been breached, they can take action against this in a court of law. Examples of rights that are contained within the Act, known as ‘Articles’ are:
- The right to freedom from torture and inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.
- The right to liberty and security.
- The right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
- The right to freedom of expression.
- The right of access to an education.
Although usually associated with adults, this Act provides equal rights to children who are also protected by its content.
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2017
This guidance sets out details of the local authority’s responsibility regarding the protection, safeguarding and welfare of all children. It also sets out details regarding how organisations and individuals should work together when conducting assessments of children. The key principles from the legislation are:
- Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility: for services to be effective each professional and organisation should play their full part.
- A child-centred approach: for services to be effective they should be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of children.
This Act intends to improve support for looked after children and care leavers, as well as promoting the welfare and safeguarding of children. It sets out corporate parenting principles for the local authority to be the ‘best parent it can be’ to children who are in its care.
Local authorities are, under this Act, obliged to publish their support offer to care leavers and promote any educational attainment of children who have been adopted or placed in long-term care arrangements.
Every child matters
In response to the death of Victoria Climbie, whose death was seen as a serious set of failings by lots of authorities who didn’t work together, the Every Child Matters scheme was launched.
The main aims of this act are that every child has the support they need to stay safe, be healthy, enjoy and achieve, make a positive contribution and achieve economic well-being.
Each of the different aims comes with detailed framework that is used by different organisations, to ensure that a multi-agency approach for the welfare of a child is successful. The organisations that use these frameworks are – Education settings (such as nurseries and schools) Social services, primary and secondary healthcare services, child and adolescent mental health services.
The Education Act 2002
The Education Act 2002 places a duty on educational settings such as schools and colleges to ensure that the safeguarding and welfare of children is paramount to the way in which their setting functions.
Specific duties are placed on local education authorities and governing bodies under Section 175 of the Act, which maintains that:
- The local education authority must make arrangements for ensuring that their responsibilities in terms of safeguarding are exercised so that children are safe and that their welfare is promoted.
- The governing body of a school should make arrangements to ensure that their functions concerning the school’s conduct are exercised with a view of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children who attend the school.
- The governing body of a school should ensure that staff receive adequate training related to the safeguarding and promotion of the welfare of children.