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The Department for Education has released the updated version of Working Together to Safeguard Children. The revised version of  Working Together to Safeguard Children makes significant changes to the following chapters,  Chapter 3: Multi-Agency Safeguarding Arrangements, Chapter 4: Improving child protection and safeguarding practice and Chapter 5: Child Death Reviews. Details of the transitional arrangements are set out in Working Together – Transitional Guidance.

An updated version of Keeping Children Safe in Education has already been published, and comes into effect from 3rd September 2018; the updated Keeping Children Safe in Education should be read alongside Working Together to Safeguard Children which states clearly that it also applies in its entirety to all schools.

Chapter 1: Assessing Need and Providing Help

The core requirements in Working Together to Safeguard Children are broadly unchanged. They mainly cover emerging safeguarding themes since the last revision in 2015 and add more detail to the assessment and information sharing processes.

Early Help – Local authorities should work with organisations to develop joined-up early help services based on a clear understanding of local needs. The term professional has been replaced with practitioner throughout so the Lead Professional is now referred to as Lead Practitioner. Early help assessments should be evidence-based, be clear about the action to be taken and services to be provided and focus on improving outcomes. (Page 13)

Thresholds Guidance – The requirement to publish a threshold statement has been retained and requires safeguarding partners to set out the local criteria for action in a way that is transparent, accessible and easily understood. (Page 16)

Vulnerability – The existing guidance has been added to; practitioners should be aware of the additional vulnerabilities for children and young people who are:

  • A risk of gang involvement and association with organised crime groups;
  • Frequently missing/absent from home;
  • Misusing drugs or alcohol themselves;
  • At risk of modern slavery, trafficking, exploitation; or
  • At risk of radicalisation.

The following groups are identified as being potentially vulnerable; privately fostered children, young carers, young people in secure youth establishments, those living in families where there are emerging parental mental health issues or drug and alcohol issues. The right to special protection and help for child refugees is emphasised. (Page 14 and 22)

Assessment and Case Management – There is a repeated theme of the importance of the child’s wishes and feeling informing the assessment process and the provision of services where required. Local agencies are required to have a shared response to meet the needs of disabled children in their area and this needs to be aligned with the short breaks services statement. (Page16)

Sections have been added into the Assessment guidance specifically covering the assessment of young carers and assessment of children in secure youth establishments. (Page 22) If practitioners have concerns that a child may be a potential victim of modern slavery or human trafficking then a referral should be made to the National Referral Mechanism, as soon as possible. (Page 17) There is a new section covering the specific role of health practitioners in providing information to strategy discussions. (Page 41)

The role of social workers in assessment has been expanded including the importance of having access to high quality practice supervision. Principal social workers should support social workers, the local authority and partners to develop their assessment practice and decision making skills and the practice methodology that underpins this. (Page 26)

Social workers and practice supervisors should always reflect the latest research on the impact of abuse and neglect and relevant findings from serious case and practice reviews when analysing the level of need and risk faced by the child. This should be reflected in the case recording. (Page 29) The key components of a ‘good assessment’ are set out. (Page 26)

One of the most significant changes is that the guidance no longer specifically states that the social worker and their manager have to be jointly involved in the decision making process. The descriptors and flow charts in the section for Processes for Managing Individual Cases (pages 32 to 55) now set out the social worker’s responsibility in making decisions. This is a controversial change and Local Authorities may want to use their Local Protocol for Assessment to determine how they wish to address the decision making process in their area.

Contextual Safeguarding – This is a new section which offers an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families; for example exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime networks such as county lines exploiting children to sell drugs; trafficking, online abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation. (Page 23)

Training – The three safeguarding partners should consider what training is needed locally to support practitioners in continuing to develop their knowledge and skills, especially in relation to new and emerging threats to children and young people and how they should monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of any training they commission. (Page13)

Information Sharing – The section on information sharing has been expanded to remind practitioners that they should be proactive in sharing information as early as possible. It is essential for the identification of patterns of behaviour when a child has gone missing, when multiple children appear associated to the same context or locations of risk, or in relation to children in the secure estate where there may be multiple local authorities involved in a child’s care. (Page18)

A myth-busting guide to information sharing has been added covering the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). (Page 20) The Department for Education (DfE)  have also revised Information Sharing Advice for Safeguarding Practitioners which covers the importance of information sharing in more detail.

Child in Need Moving Local Authority Area – Where a child in need has moved permanently to another local authority area, the original authority should ensure that all relevant information (including the child in need plan) is shared with the receiving local authority as soon as possible. The receiving local authority should consider whether support services are still required and discuss with the child and family what might be needed, based on a timely re-assessment of the child’s needs Support should continue to be provided by the original local authority in the intervening period. The receiving authority should work with the original authority to ensure that any changes to the services and support provided are managed carefully. (Page 36)

Chapter 2: Organisational Responsibilities

Additional information has been added into the chapter on Organisational Responsibilities. Under Section 11 duties, the NHS now includes NHS organisations and agencies and the independent sector and has added General Practitioners. The senior board level lead should have the required knowledge, skills and expertise or be sufficiently qualified and experienced. There should be clear escalation policies for staff to follow when their child safeguarding concerns are not being addressed within their organisation or by other agencies and organisations should create a culture of safety, equality and protection within the services they provide.

Organisations and agencies are reminded that, irrespective of whether a referral has been made to local authority children’s social care and/or the designated officer. It is an offence to fail to make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service without good reason, if an individual (paid worker or unpaid volunteer)  is removed from work in regulated activity such as working with children (or would have been removed, had they not left first).

Individual Organisations – Pages 56 to 72 set out organisational responsibilities and should be reread. A separate section has been added setting out the responsibilities of Sports Clubs / Organisations for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. Additional information has been added to other organisations. The NHS definition has been expanded to say NHS organisations and agencies, the independent sector and General Practitioners.

Below are some of the identified changes but the chapter covers other agencies responsibilities to.

Schools and Colleges – Governors and trustees are also accountable. It confirms the definition of what is meant by schools and colleges and emphasises that the guidance applies to all schools. (Page 59)

Early Years and Childcare – Must have and implement a policy and procedures to safeguard children (they also cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in the setting). (Page 60)

Health – Each NHS England region should have a safeguarding lead to ensure regional collaboration and assurance through convening safeguarding forums. A new section has been added on Designated Health Professionals. (Page 62) Clinical commissioning groups should employ a named GP to advise and support GP safeguarding practice leads. GPs should have a lead and deputy lead for safeguarding, who should work closely with the named GP. A section has been added covering the role of Public Health England. (Page 61)

Police – Adds that restrictions and safeguards exist in relation to the circumstances and periods for which children may be taken to or held in police stations. PCCs are responsible for health commissioning in police custody settings and should always ensure that this meets the needs of individual children.  (Page 63)

Prison Service – Are now required to inform the local authority children’s social care services of an offender’s release on temporary licence (ROTL) and release date where they have been identified as a person posing a risk to children (PPRC). Governors/Directors of women’s prisons which have Mother and Baby Units (MBUs) should ensure that there is at all times a member of staff allocated to the MBU, who as a minimum, is trained in first aid.  (Page 66)

Probation Service – Should ask an offender at the earliest opportunity whether they live with, have caring responsibilities for, are in regular contact with, or are seeking contact with children. The risk management plan where an adult offender is assessed as presenting a risk of serious harm to children, should be shared with other organisations and agencies involved in the risk management. (Page 67)

Children’s Homes – This is a new section covering their responsibilities in assessing the risks to each child and ensuring there are arrangements in place to protect them. (Page 68)

Secure Estate for Children – Should work with their local safeguarding partners to agree how they will work together, and with the relevant YOT and placing authority (Youth Custody Service) to make sure that the needs of individual children are met. (Page 68)

Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) – This new section explains how MAPPA should work together with duty to co-operate (DTC) agencies to manage the risks posed by violent and sexual offenders living in the community. (page 71)

Voluntary, Charity, Social Enterprise, Faith-based Organisations and Private Sectors – This section has been expanded to cover roles and responsibilities across the sector. (Page 71)

Sports Clubs / Organisations – This new section details the sector’s responsibility to have safeguarding policies in place. All National Governing Bodies of Sport, that receive funding from either Sport England or UK Sport, must aim to meet the Standards for Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Sport. (Page 72)

Chapter 3: Multi-agency Safeguarding Arrangement

This chapter covers the details for the replacement of Local Children Safeguarding Boards (LCSBs) with local safeguarding partners; the aim of which is to create flexible new local safeguarding arrangements led by three safeguarding partners (local authorities, chief officers of police, and clinical commissioning groups). It places a duty on those three 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. All three safeguarding partners have equal and joint responsibility for local safeguarding arrangements. (Page 73)

Local Arrangements

To be effective, these local arrangements should link to other strategic partnership work happening locally to support children and families. This will include other public boards including Health and Wellbeing Boards, Adult Safeguarding Boards, Channel Panels, Improvement Boards, Community Safety Partnerships, the Local Family Justice Board and MAPPAs. (Page 74)

The local safeguarding partners must ensure there is independent scrutiny of the effectiveness of the local arrangements. The safeguarding arrangements should be published by the safeguarding partners, and the guidance sets out what should be covered in the publication. (Page 78)

Partners must report at least annually on what they have done as a result of the arrangements, including on child safeguarding practice reviews, and how effective these arrangements have been in practice. The guidance sets out what should be included in this report. (Page 81)

Relevant Agencies

A section has been added describing how the safeguarding partners should work with relevant agencies in their area. Relevant agencies are defined as those organisations and agencies whose involvement the safeguarding partners consider necessary to safeguard and promote the welfare of local children. The safeguarding partners must set out in their published arrangements which organisations and agencies they will be working with to safeguard and promote the welfare of children; this is expected to change over time if the local arrangements are to work effectively and responsively for children and families.

A list of relevant agencies is set out in the Child Safeguarding Practice Review and Relevant Agency (England) Regulations 2018. Many agencies and organisations play a crucial role in safeguarding children, and safeguarding partners may include any local or national organisation or agency in their arrangements, regardless of whether they are named in relevant agency regulations. Organisations and agencies who are not named in the relevant agency regulations, whilst not under a statutory duty, should nevertheless cooperate and collaborate with the safeguarding partners particularly as they may have duties under section 10 and/or section 11 of the Children Act 2004. (Page 77)

The safeguarding partners should be clear how they will assure themselves that the relevant agencies have appropriate, robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place and how information will be shared amongst all relevant agencies and the safeguarding partners. (Page 77)

The local arrangements should be shared with all partners and relevant agencies and information should be given about how to escalate concerns and how any disputes will be resolved, as well as details of the independent scrutiny and whistleblowing arrangements. (Page 80)

Schools, Colleges and Other Educational Providers

This section has been strengthened following responses to the consultation, so there is an expectation that local safeguarding partners will name schools, colleges and other educational providers as relevant agencies. Once designated as a relevant agency, schools and colleges, and other educational providers are under a statutory duty to co-operate with the published arrangements. (Page 77) Safeguarding is an important part of the Ofsted Schools Inspection Framework.

Information Requests

Safeguarding partners may require any person or organisation or agency to provide them, any relevant agency for the area, a reviewer or another person or organisation or agency, with specified information. (Page 78)

Independent Scrutiny

The published arrangements should set out the plans for independent scrutiny, including how the arrangements will be reviewed and how any recommendations will be taken forward. The decision on how best to implement a robust system of independent scrutiny is to be made locally, however safeguarding partners should ensure that the scrutiny is objective, acts as a constructive critical friend and promotes reflection to drive continuous improvement. (Page 78)


The three safeguarding partners and relevant agencies for the local authority area should make payments towards the expenditure needed to support the local multi-agency arrangements for safeguarding and promoting welfare of children. The safeguarding partners should agree the level of funding secured from each partner, which should be equitable and proportionate, as well as any contributions from each relevant agency. The funding should be transparent to children and families in the area and sufficient to cover all elements of the arrangements, including the cost of local child safeguarding practice reviews. (Page79)

Transitional Arrangements

From 29th June 2018, local authority areas must begin their transition from LSCBs to safeguarding partner and child death review partner arrangements. They must have published their arrangements by 29th June 2019, but may do so at any time before the end of that period. Following publication of their arrangements, safeguarding partners have up to 3 months from the date of publication to implement the arrangements. All new local arrangements must have been implemented by 29th September 2019.  In the meantime, LSCBs must continue to carry out all of their statutory functions, including commissioning Serious Case Reviews (SCRs) where the criteria are met, until the point at which safeguarding partner arrangements begin to operate in their local area.

Chapter 4: Improving Child Protection and Safeguarding Practice

Where a local authority in England knows or suspects that a child has been abused or neglected, the local authority must notify the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel (the Panel) within 5 working days of becoming aware that the incident has occurred. The local authority must also notify the Secretary of State and Ofsted where a looked after child has died, whether or not abuse or neglect is known or suspected. The Panel is responsible for identifying and overseeing the review of serious child safeguarding cases which raise issues that are complex or of national importance. The Panel will also maintain oversight of the system of national and local reviews and judge how effectively it is operating.

Locally, safeguarding partners must make arrangements to identify and review serious child safeguarding cases which, in their view, raise issues of importance in relation to their area. They must commission and oversee the review of those cases, where they consider it appropriate for a review to be undertaken.

When a serious incident becomes known to the safeguarding partners, they must consider whether the case meets the criteria for a local review. (Page 85) They should carry out a rapid review of the case and complete this within 15 working days of becoming aware of the incident. Once complete, the safeguarding partners should send a copy to the Panel.

They should also share with the Panel their decision about whether a local child safeguarding practice review is appropriate, or whether they think the case may raise issues which are complex or of national importance such that a national review may be appropriate. The chapter contains guidance for determining whether a serious child safeguarding case meets the criteria for a local and national review. (Page 85)

The Child Safeguarding Practice Review and Relevant Agency (England) Regulations 2018 provide the framework for the review of serious child safeguarding cases and the role and remit of the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel which came into operation on the 29th June 2018.

Transitional Arrangements for Serious Case Reviews

After new safeguarding partner arrangements are set up, LSCBs in the area will have a statutory ‘grace’ period of up to 12 months to complete and publish outstanding SCRs.

Chapter 5: Child Death Reviews

Chapter 5 provides guidance for child death review partners. Child death review partners consist of local authorities and any clinical commissioning groups for the local area. Child death review partners for two or more local authority areas may combine and agree that their areas be treated as a single area for the purpose of undertaking child death reviews.

Child death review partners should establish a structure and process to review all deaths of children normally resident in their area and if appropriate the deaths of children not normally resident in their area but who have died there. They must make arrangements for the analysis of information from all deaths reviewed. They must prepare and publish a report covering what they have done as a result of the child death review arrangements in their area and how effective the arrangements have been in practice. Child death review partners can choose if they wish to model their child death review structures and processes on the current Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP) framework.


From 29th June 2018, local authority areas must begin their transition from LSCBs to child death review partner arrangements. The transition must be completed by 29th September 2019. LSCBs must continue to ensure that the review of each death of a child normally resident in the LSCB area, is undertaken by the established Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP), until the point at which new child death review partner arrangements are in place.

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