By Cllr Dickie - Child Protection
Welcomes the introduction of the Scottish Government’s landmark ‘UNCRC Incorporation (Scotland) Bill to incorporate the UNCRC into Scots law.
Notes, in particular, Article 19 and the right for children and young people to be protected from all forms of violence, abuse, neglect and mistreatment.
Notes, the section on child protection in the Annual Performance Report to Full Council on 25th August, specifically,
‘There has been a steady reduction in the number of children on the Child Protection Register over the last 12 months which is now at historical lows. End of year figures also show reductions over the last four years from 288 in 2016 to 121 in 2019.’
Recognises, the impact of lockdown on children and families, and on normal engagement with them, and that a spike in child protection concerns is possible as children reconnect with trusted adults in school.
Notes that two elected members (Cllr Alison Dickie for child protection and Cllr Ricky Henderson for adult protection) were invited onto the Chief Officers Group for Public Protection last year to promote best practice and an open dialogue about the service provision and processes for ensuring child (and public) protection.
Further notes, the self-evaluation discussion at the COG on Public Protection on 18 June 2019, about the need to provide elected members with sufficient and appropriate information to help them feel fully assured about the protection of children (and the public) in our city, in line with Scottish Government child protection guidance which states that we all have a role to play in keeping children and young people safe.
Acknowledges, the improved information available to support this assurance, particularly the ‘Children’s and Adult’s Dataset Returns Report’ from the Scottish Government, which provides benchmarks on child protection across local authorities and an analysis of trends.
Further acknowledges, the decision to submit the Child Protection Committee’s Annual Report to the Education, Children and Families Committee to further support accountability and scrutiny.
Council therefore requests,
That the Council, as a whole, reaffirms its commitment to the protection of children in our city, and elected members to actively seeking assurance about their protection.
That the Annual Child Protection Committee Report be submitted to Full Council, in one cycle, to ensure the widest commitment to open dialogue and the protection of children – and every year thereafter.
That the ‘Scottish Government and SOLACE Weekly Dataset on Vulnerable Children’ and ‘Children and Adult’s Dataset Returns Report’ be regularly sent to elected members on the COG for Public Protection, and all elected members on the Education, Children and Families Committee.
The Chief Social Worker and Head of Safer and Stronger Communities (and Chair of Edinburgh’s Child Protection Committee) reports to Education, Children and Families Committee in two cycles, referred onto full Council, on any increase in child protection issues that have been reported since the return to school in August.
Recognising that appropriate information for elected members acting on behalf of constituents is essential in child protection case which may relate to whistleblowing reports, asks that a review of the present arrangements be undertaken in order to suggests ways in which it can be improved.
The report to include action that can further promote public awareness of child protection issues and support for young people to speak out.
A review of the training given to all staff working with children and all councillors be undertaken to suggest how this can be improved including information and guidance about elected members assurance in relation to individual child protection cases.
That consideration be given to extending the whistleblowing audit and review to include,
The recommendations of all whistleblowing reports relating to child protection over the past 10 years, reporting the outcomes to the Governance, Risk and Best Value and Education, Children and Families Committees, and those committees consider any ward callings, or callings to any other elected members as appropriate.
A recommendation that all current and forward whistleblowing reports relating to child protection issues go appropriately to the Governance, Risk and Best Value and Education, Children and Families Committees, and those committees consider any ward callings, or callings to any other elected members as appropriate.”