Child protection in Wales
Legislation, policy and guidance
The Welsh Government is responsible for child protection in Wales. The Welsh child protection system is similar to England's system. However, when the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 comes into force in April 2016 Wales will have its own framework for social services. Child protection concerns that end up in the courts will continue to be treated in the same way as England.
At the local level regional safeguarding children boards co-ordinate, and ensure the effectiveness of, work to protect and promote the welfare of children. Each regional board includes any: local authority, chief officer of police, Local Health Board, NHS trust and provider of probation services that falls within the safeguarding board area. The regional boards are responsible for local child protection policy, procedure and guidance
Children Act 1989
Currently provides the legislative framework for child protection in Wales. Key principles established by the act include:
- the paramount nature of the child's welfare
- the expectations and requirements around duties of care to children.
Children Act 2004
Strengthens the 1989 Act. Encourages partnerships between agencies and creates more accountability. Part three of the Children Act 2004 applies solely to Wales.
Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
Established the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) to make decisions about individuals who should be barred from working with children and to maintain a list of these individuals.
Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
Merged the Independent Safeguarding Authority with the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) to form a single, new, non-departmental public body called the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014
When the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 comes into force in April 2016 it will provide Wales with its own framework for social services.
The guiding principles of the Act include:
- giving individuals a stronger voice and more control over the care and support they receive;
- encouraging a renewed focus on prevention and early intervention.
Provisions in the Act include:
- strengthening powers for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults;
- establishing eligibility criteria which assess children and families on need rather than just on what services are available locally;
- introducing a National Outcomes Framework for setting out what children and families can expect from social services;
- introducing portable assessments, so that people who move from one part of Wales to another will receive the services they need in their new area;
- introducing equivalent rights for carers so that they receive the same levels of support as the people they care for;
- establishing a National Adoption Service
Education Act 2002
Includes a provision requiring school governing bodies, local education authorities and further education institutions to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
Adoption and Children Act 2002
Amended the Children Act 1989 by expanding the definition of "harm"
to include witnessing domestic violence.
Children and Adoption Act 2006
Gives courts more flexible powers to facilitate child contact and enforce contact orders when separated parents are in dispute.
Children and Young Persons Act 2008
Legislates for the recommendations in the Care Matters white paper (DfES, 2007) to provide high quality care and services for children in care. It covers England and Wales (in part) and also places a duty on registrars to notify the Local Safeguarding Children Board of all child deaths.
Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009
Places a duty on the UK Border Agency to safeguard and promote children's welfare, bringing them in line with other public bodies that have contact with children.
Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009
Legislates for there to be two lay members from the local community sitting on each Local Safeguarding Children Board.
Education Act 2011
Makes changes to provisions on school discipline and places restrictions on the public reporting of allegations made against teachers.
Policy and guidance
Rights to action
Underpinning Wales's approach to child protection is the importance placed in children's rights.
In 2004 the Welsh Assembly Government issued the Children and young people: rights to action framework, a guide for government and service providers to improve the lives of children in Wales. It has seven core aims, each linked to articles in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Progress is measured by the Children and young people well-being monitor.
Children and young people: rights to action says children and young people should:
- have a flying start in life
- have a comprehensive range of education and learning opportunities
- enjoy the best possible health and be free from abuse, victimisation and exploitation
- have access to play, leisure, sporting and cultural activities
- be listened to, treated with respect, and have their race and cultural identity recognised
- have a safe home and a community which supports physical and emotional wellbeing
- not be disadvantaged by poverty
The Rights of Children and Young Persons (Wales) Measure 2011 made Wales the first country in the UK to incorporate the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) into its domestic law. This means that all Welsh policy and legislation has to take into account children's rights.
(Welsh Government, 2011)
Safeguarding children: working together under the Children Act 2004
Sets out the Welsh Government's guidance on child protection and safeguarding for local authorities in Wales.
(Welsh Government, 2004)
All Wales child protection procedures
Provides a common set of child protection procedures for every safeguarding board in Wales.
The Procedures are divided into 5 parts, covering:
- the context for child protection work
- what to do if it is suspected that a child is being abused or at risk of abuse
- the procedures to follow once a report of suspected abuse or neglect has been made
- the management of particular types of child abuse
- protocols developed by the All Wales Child Protection Procedures Review Group since 2002.
(All Wales Child Protection Procedures Review Group, 2008)
Download All Wales child protection procedures
- Child Protection Awareness Course (Level 1)
- Child Protection Advanced One Day Course (Level 2)
- Designated Safeguarding Lead Course (Level 3)
- Designated Safeguarding Lead Update Course
- Designated Safeguarding Lead Bundle
- Child Protection Awareness Online Course (Level 1)
- Child Protection Advanced Online Course (Level 2)
- Child Protection in Sport Online Course
- Information Sharing Online Course
- Safe Working Practice Online Course
- Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults
- Safer Recruitment
- Safeguarding Education Services