Voice Official Response: Working Together to Safeguard Children: revisions to statutory guidance
Background: The Department for Education (DfE), Department of Health and Social Care, Home Office, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport, and Youth Justice Board for England and Wales invited views on changes to the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children, new child death review guidance and new regulations.
Summary: There is a risk of creating a diffusion of responsibility. Whilst we agree with the principle of equality between the three core partners, it is essential for there to be a ‘first among equals’; otherwise, there is a risk that no one will take responsibility (each thinking that one of the other partners will take the necessary action). There needs to be a single point of leadership. We also have reservations about leaving each of the core partners to appoint their own representatives. Multi-agency working will only be effective if there is a commitment from the top of each organisation; this proposal risks the prospect of being able to delegate to too low a level (albeit still a senior officer) to ensure full commitment, authority and action. A further reservation is the absence of schools from inclusion as one of the core partners. The impression given is that schools will be cajoled to participate, instead of there being a clear legal duty to do so.
In many respects, we believe that the proposed revisions have not been thought through properly and risk weakening, rather than strengthening, the current system. In particular, more thought needs to be given to ensuring that adequate funding and resources are provided, and that roles and requirements of the various designated groups and agencies are made fully clear. Processes and procedures for monitoring, review, external scrutiny and accountability in general also need to be given further consideration.
If you have any enquiries, please contact Ian Toone either by email or by calling him on 01332 372 337.