Policies and procedures for safeguarding and child protection in England and Wales are the result of the Children Act 1989 and Northern Ireland of the Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995. The children Act 2004 introduced further changes to the way the child protection system is structured and organised in England and Wales.
Children Act 1989 (England and Wales)/Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1995 These Acts aimed to simplify the laws that protected children and young people in the respective UK countries. They were seen as a serious shake up of children’s rights and protection and made it clear to all who worked with children what their duties were and how they should work together in the event of allegations of child abuse. England and Wales produced separates documents – Working together to safeguarding Children (1999) – which emphasised the responsibilities of professionals towards children who are at risk of harm.
Children Act 2004
By 2003 it was clear that services for children were still not working together to identify and protect vulnerable children in our society. This was highlighted by the tragic death of Victoria Climbié at the hands of her carers, resulting in an independent inquiry into her death. The Laming Report in 2003, in common with other inquiries into child deaths over the years, criticised the approach to protecting children in our society. The Laming Report resulted in a green paper. Every Child Matters, which in turn led to the children Act 2004 in England and similar bills and Acts in all four countries in the UK. The main features of the Act included
The integration of children’s services and the introduction of children’s directors with responsibility for local authority education and children’s social services Led councillors for children’s services with political responsibility for local child welfare. The establishment of Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCB) with statutory powers to ensure that social services, the NHS, education services, the police and other services work together to protect vulnerable children. A new Common Assessment Framework to assist agencies in identifying welfare needs. Revised arrangements for sharing information.
The 2006 revised version of this document provides update on safeguarding and a national framework to help agencies work individually and together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. It also reflects changes to safeguarding practice in recent years, specially in the light of the Laming and Bichard Inquires.