2.3 Agency Roles and Responsibilities

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Reviewed June 2019


1. Shared Responsibilities

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations and individuals to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Various other statutory duties apply to other specific organisations working with children and families and are set out in this chapter.

Section 11 places a duty on:

  • Local authorities and district councils that provide children’s and other types of services, including children’s and adult social care services, public health, housing, sport, culture and leisure services, licensing authorities and youth services;
  • NHS organisations, including the NHS Commissioning Board and clinical commissioning groups, NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts;
  • The police, including police and crime commissioners and the chief officer of each police force in England and the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime in London;
  • The British Transport Police;
  • The Probation Providers;
  • Governors/Directors of Prisons and Young Offender Institutions;
  • Directors of Secure Training Centres; and
  • Youth Offending Teams/Services.

These organisations should have in place arrangements that reflect the importance of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, including:

  • A clear line of accountability for the commissioning and/or provision of services designed to safeguard and promote the welfare of children;
  • A senior board level lead to take leadership responsibility for the organisation’s safeguarding arrangements;

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 details individual organisational responsibilities which are additional to section 11 duties as follows:.

  • A culture of listening to children and taking account of their wishes and feelings, both in individual decisions and the development of services;
  • Arrangements which set out clearly the processes for sharing information, with other professionals and with safeguarding partners;
  • A designated professional lead (or, for health provider organisations, named professionals) for chils safeguarding. Their role is to support other professionals in their agencies to recognise the needs of children, including rescue from possible abuse or neglect. Designated professional roles should always be explicitly defined in job descriptions. Professionals should be given sufficient time, funding, supervision and support to fulfil their child welfare and safeguarding responsibilities effectively;
  • Safe recruitment practices for individuals whom the organisation will permit to work regularly with children, including policies on when to obtain a criminal record check;
  • Appropriate supervision and support for staff, including undertaking safeguarding training:
  • Employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role;
  • Staff should be given a mandatory induction, which includes familiarisation with child protection responsibilities and procedures to be followed if anyone has any concerns about a child’s safety or welfare; and
  • All professionals should have regular reviews of their own practice to ensure they improve over time;
  • Clear policies for dealing with allegations against people who work with children. An allegation may relate to a person who works with children who has;
    • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
    • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
    • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children.

In addition:

  • County level and unitary local authorities should have a Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) to be involved in the management and oversight of individual cases. The LADO should provide advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations, liaising with the police and other agencies and monitoring the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process;
  • Any allegation should be reported immediately to a senior manager within the organisation. The LADO should also be informed within one working day of all allegations that come to an employer’s attention or that are made directly to the police; and
  • If an organisation removes an individual (paid worker or unpaid volunteer) from work such as looking after children (or would have, had the person not left first) because the person poses a risk of harm to children, the organisation must make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service. It is an offence to fail to make a referral without good reason.

2. Schools and Colleges

Section 175 of the Education Act 2002 places a duty on local authorities (in relation to their education functions and governing bodies of maintained schools and further education institutions, which include sixth-form colleges) to exercise their functions with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children who are pupils at a school, or who are students under 18 years of age attending further education institutions. The same duty applies to independent schools (which include Academies and free schools) by virtue of regulations made under section 157 of the same Act.

In order to fulfil their duty under sections 157 and 175 of the Education Act 2002, all educational settings to whom the duty applies should have in place the arrangements set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter. In addition schools should have regard to specific guidance given by the Secretary of State under sections 157 and 175 of the Education Act 2002 namely, Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education and Dealing with allegations of abuse against teachers and other staff.

3. Early Years and Childcare

Early years providers have a duty under section 40 of the Childcare Act 2006 to comply with the welfare requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage.[1] Early years providers should ensure that:

  • they are alert to any issues of concern in the child’s life;
  • they have and implement a policy and procedures to safeguard children. This must include an explanation of the action to be taken when there are safeguarding concerns about a child and in the event of an allegation being made against a member of staff. The policy must also cover the use of mobile phones and cameras in the setting, that staff complete safeguarding training that enables them to understand their safeguarding policy and procedures, have up-to-date knowledge of safeguarding issues, and recognise signs of potential abuse and neglect;
  • they have a practitioner who is designated to take lead responsibility for safeguarding children within each early years setting and who must liaise with local statutory children’s services as appropriate. This lead must also complete child protection training

[1] Early Years Foundation Stage EYFS) Statutory Framework

4. Health Services

NHS organisations are subject to the section 11 duties set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter. Health professionals are in a strong position to identify welfare needs or safeguarding concerns regarding individual children and, where appropriate, provide support. This includes understanding risk factors, communicating effectively with children and families, liaising with other agencies, assessing needs and capacity, responding to those needs and contributing to multi-agency assessments and reviews. 

A wide range of health professionals have a critical role to play in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children including: GP's, primary care professionals, paediatricians, nurses, health visitors, midwives, school nurses, those working in maternity, child and adolescent mental health, adult mental health, alcohol and drug services, unscheduled and emergency care settings and secondary and tertiary care. 

All staff working in healthcare settings - including those who predominantly treat adults - should receive training to ensure they attain the competences appropriate to their role and follow the relevant professional guidance. [2] [3] [4] 

Within the NHS

NHS England’s function is to promote a comprehensive health service so as to improve the health outcomes for people in England. NHS England discharges its responsibilities by:

  • Allocating funds to, guiding and supporting CCGs, and holding them to account.
  • Directly commissioning primary care, specialised health services, health care services for those in secure and detained settings, and for serving personnel and their families, and some public health services 

Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG’s) are statutory NHS bodies with a range of statutory duties, including safeguarding. They are membership organisations that bring together general practices to commission services for their registered populations and for unregistered patients who live in their area. CCGs are responsible for commissioning most hospital and community healthcare services. 

CCGs as commissioners of local health services need to assure themselves that the organisations from which they commission have effective safeguarding arrangements in place. CCGs are responsible for securing the expertise of Designated Professionals on behalf of the local health system. It should be recognised that the Designated Professionals undertake a whole health economy role. It is crucial that Designated Safeguarding Professionals play an integral role in all parts of the commissioning cycle, from procurement to quality assurance if appropriate services are to be commissioned that support children at risk of abuse or neglect, as well as effectively safeguard their well-being. Safeguarding forms part of the NHS standard contract. CCGs must gain assurance from all commissioned services, both NHS and independent healthcare providers to ensure continuous improvement. 

Health providers are required to demonstrate that they have safeguarding leadership, expertise and commitment at all levels of their organisation and that they are fully engaged and in support of local accountability and assurance structures, in particular via the safeguarding partnership, and in regular monitoring meetings with their commissioners.

Designated health professionals:

  • CCGs should employ, or have in place, a contractual agreement to secure the expertise of designated practitioners; such as dedicated designated doctors and nurses for safeguarding children and dedicated designated doctors and nurses for looked-after children (and designated doctor or paediatrician for unexpected deaths in childhood).
  • Designated doctors and nurses, as senior professionals, clinical experts and strategic leaders, are a vital source of safeguarding advice and expertise for all relevant organisations and agencies but particularly the clinical commissioning group, NHS England, and the local authority, and for advice and support to other health practitioners across the health economy. The NHS commissioners and providers should ensure that designated professionals are given sufficient time to be fully engaged, involved and included in the new safeguarding arrangements.
  • All providers of NHS funded health services including NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts should identify a dedicated named doctor and a named nurse (and a named midwife if the organisation or agency provides maternity services) for safeguarding children. In the case of ambulance trusts and independent providers, this should be a named practitioner. Named practitioners have a key role in promoting good professional practice within their organisation and agency, providing advice and expertise for fellow practitioners, and ensuring safeguarding training is in place. They should work closely with their organisation’s/agency’s safeguarding lead on the executive board, designated health professionals for the health economy and other statutory safeguarding partners.
  • CCGs 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 based in the CCG.

[2] RCPCH (2014) Safeguarding children and young people: roles and competences for health care staff Intercollegiate Document Third edition: March 2014 

[3] RCPCH (2015) Looked after children: Knowledge, skills and competences of healthcare staff Intercollegiate Role Framework March 2015 

[4] GMC (2012) Protecting children and young people: The responsibilities of all doctors 

Safeguarding Vulnerable People in the NHS – Accountability and Assurance Framework NHSE July 2015 

Model job descriptions for designated and named professional roles can be found in the: 

  • Safeguarding children and young people: roles and competences for health care staff Intercollegiate Document Third edition: March 2014
  • Looked after children: Knowledge, skills and competences of healthcare staff Intercollegiate Role Framework March 2015

5. Police

The police are subject to the section 11 duties set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter. Under section 1(8)(h) of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011 the police and crime commissioner must hold the Chief Constable to account for the exercise of the latter’s duties in relation to safeguarding children under sections 10 and 11 of the Children Act 2004.

All police officers, and other police employees such as Police Community Support Officers, are well placed to identify early when a child’s welfare is at risk and when a child may need protection from harm. Children have the right to the full protection offered by the criminal law. In addition to identifying when a child may be a victim of a crime, police officers should be aware of the effect of other incidents which might pose safeguarding risks to children and where officers should pay particular attention. For example, an officer attending a domestic abuse incident should be aware of the effect of such behaviour on any children in the household. Children who are encountered as offenders, or alleged offenders, are entitled to the same safeguards and protection as any other child and due regard should be given to their welfare at all times.

The police can hold important information about children who may be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, as well as those who cause such harm. They should always share this information with other organisations where this is necessary to protect children. Similarly, they can expect other organisations to share information to enable the police to carry out their duties. Offences committed against children can be particularly sensitive and usually require the police to work with other organisations such as local authority Surrey Children's Services. All police forces should have officers trained in child abuse investigation.

The police have emergency powers under section 46 of the Children Act 1989 to enter premises and remove a child to ensure their immediate protection. This power can be used if the police have reasonable cause to believe a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. Police emergency powers can help in emergency situations but should be used only when necessary. Wherever possible, the decision to remove a child from a parent or carer should be made by a court.

6. Adult Social Care Services

Local authorities provide services to adults who are responsible for children who may be in need. These services are subject to the section 11 duties set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter. When staff are providing services to adults they should ask whether there are children in the family and consider whether the children need help or protection from harm. Children may be at greater risk of harm or be in need of additional help in families where the adults have mental health problems, misuse substances or alcohol, are in a violent relationship or have complex needs or have learning difficulties.

Adults with parental responsibilities for disabled children have a right to a separate carer’s assessment under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 and the Carers and Disabled Children Act 2000. The results of this assessment should be taken into account when deciding what services, if any, will be provided under the Children Act 1989.

7. Housing Services

Housing and homelessness services in local authorities and others at the front line such as environmental health organisations are subject to the section 11 duties set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter. Professionals working in these services may become aware of conditions that could have an adverse impact on children. Under Part 1 of the Housing Act 2004, authorities must take account of the impact of health and safety hazards in housing on vulnerable occupants, including children, when deciding on the action to be taken by landlords to improve conditions. Housing authorities also have an important role to play in safeguarding vulnerable young people, including young people who are pregnant or leaving care.


8. British Transport Police

The British Transport Police (BTP) is subject to the section 11 duties set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter. In its role as the national police for the railways, the BTP can play an important role in safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, especially in identifying and supporting children who have run away or who are truanting from school or who are being exploited by criminal gangs to move drugs and money.

The BTP should carry out its duties in accordance with its legislative powers. This includes removing a child to a suitable place using their police protection powers under the Children Act 1989 and the protection of children who are truanting from school using powers under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. This involves, for example, the appointment of a designated independent officer in the instance of a child taken into police protection.

9. Prison Service

The Prison Service is subject to the section 11 duties set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter. It also has a responsibility to identify prisoners who pose a risk of harm to children.[7] Where an individual has been identified as presenting a risk of harm to children, the relevant prison establishment:

  • Should inform the local authority Surrey Children's Services of the offender’s reception to prison and subsequent transfers and of the release address of the offender;
  • Should notify the relevant Probation Trust in the case of offenders who have been sentenced to twelve months or more. The police should also be notified of the release address; and [8]
  • May prevent or restrict a prisoner’s contact with children. Decisions on the level of contact, if any, should be based on a multi-agency risk assessment. The assessment should draw on relevant information held by police, probation, prison and local authority Surrey Children's Services.[9]

A prison is also able to monitor an individual’s communication (including letters and telephone calls) to protect children where proportionate and necessary to the risk presented.

Governors/Directors of women’s establishments which have Mother and Baby Units should ensure that:

  • There is at all times a member of staff on duty in the unit who is proficient in child protection, health and safety and first aid/child resuscitation; and
  • Each baby has a child care plan setting out how the best interests of the child will be maintained and promoted during the child’s residence in the unit.

[7] HMP Public Protection Manual
[8] The management of an individual who presents a risk of harm to children. Surrey & Sussex MAPPA
[9] Ministry of Justice Chapter 2, Section 2 of HM Prison Service Public Protection Manual.

10. Probation Providers

Probation Trusts are subject to the section 11 duties set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter. They are primarily responsible for providing reports for courts and working with adult offenders both in the community and in the transition from custody to community to reduce their reoffending. They are, therefore, well placed to identify offenders who pose a risk of harm to children as well as children who may be at heightened risk of involvement in (or exposure to) criminal or anti-social behaviour and of other poor outcomes due to the offending behaviour of their parent/carer(s).

Where an adult offender is assessed as presenting a risk of serious harm to children, the offender manager should develop a risk management plan and supervision plan that contains a specific objective to manage and reduce the risk of harm to children.

In preparing a sentence plan, offender managers should consider how planned interventions might bear on parental responsibilities and whether the planned interventions could contribute to improved outcomes for children known to be in an existing relationship with the offender.

11. The Secure Estate for Children

Governors, managers and directors of the following secure establishments are subject to the section 11 duties set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter:

  • A secure training centre;
  • A young offender institution;
  • A secure college/school.

Each centre holding those aged under 18 should have in place an annually reviewed safeguarding children policy. The policy is designed to promote and safeguard the welfare of children and should cover issues such as child protection, risk of harm, restraint, recruitment and information sharing. A safeguarding children manager should be appointed and will be responsible for implementation of this policy.[10]

[10] Detailed guidance on the safeguarding children policy, the roles of the safeguarding children manager and the safeguarding children committee, and the role of the establishment in relation to the safeguarding partnership can be found in Prison Service Instruction (PSI) 08/2012 ‘Care and Management of Young People’. Ministry of Justice

12. Youth Offending Teams

Youth Offending Teams (YOTs) are subject to the section 11 duties set out in paragraph 4 of this chapter. YOTs are multi-agency teams responsible for the supervision of children and young people subject to pre-court interventions and statutory court disposals. [11] They are therefore well placed to identify children known to relevant organisations as being most at risk of offending and to undertake work to prevent them offending. YOTs should have a lead officer responsible for ensuring safeguarding is at the forefront of their business.

Under section 38 of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, local authorities must, within the delivery of youth justice services, ensure the ‘provision of persons to act as appropriate adults to safeguard the interests of children and young persons detained or questioned by police officers’.

[11] The statutory membership of YOTs is set out in section 39 (5) of the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. 

13. UK Visas and Immigration (Formerly The United Kingdom Border Agency)

Section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 places upon the UK Visas & Immigration a duty to take account of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in discharging its functions. Statutory guidance Arrangements to Safeguard and Promote Children’s Welfare in the UK Visas & Immigration sets out the agency’s responsibilities.[12]

[12] UK VIsa & Immigration Arrangements to Safeguard and Promote Children’s Welfare in the United Kingdom.



14. Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service

The responsibility of the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), as set out in the Children Act 1989, is to safeguard and promote the welfare of individual children who are the subject of family court proceedings. It achieves this by providing independent social work advice to the court.

A Cafcass officer has a statutory right in public law cases to access local authority records relating to the child concerned and any application under the Children Act 1989. That power also extends to other records that relate to the child and the wider functions of the local authority, or records held by an authorised body that relate to that child.

Where a Cafcass officer has been appointed by the court as a child’s guardian and the matter before the court relates to specified proceedings, they should be invited to all formal planning meetings convened by the local authority in respect of the child. This includes statutory reviews of children who are accommodated or looked after, child protection conferences and relevant Adoption Panel meetings.


15. The Armed Services

Local authorities have the statutory responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of the children of service families in the UK. In discharging these responsibilities:

  • Local authorities should ensure that the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Families Association Forces Help, the British Forces Social Work Service or the Naval Personal and Family Service is made aware of any service child who is the subject of a child protection plan and whose family is about to move overseas;[13] and
  • Each local authority with a United States base in its area should establish liaison arrangements with the base commander and relevant staff. The requirements of English child welfare legislation should be explained clearly to the US authorities, so that the local authority can fulfil its statutory duties.

When service families or civilians working with the armed forces are based overseas the responsibility for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of their children is vested in the Ministry of Defence.
[13] There is a single point of contact for British Forces Social Work Service.

16. Voluntary Charity, Social Enterprise, Faith-based Organisations and Private Sectors

Voluntary, charity, social enterprise (VCSE) and private sector organisations and agencies play an important role in delivering services to children. They should have the arrangements described in paragraph 4 of this chapter in place in the same way as organisations in the public sector, and need to work effectively with the safeguarding partnership. Paid and volunteer staff need to be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, how they should respond to child protection concerns and make a referral to local authority Surrey Children's Services or the police if necessary.

17. Children's Homes

The registered person of a children’s home must have regard to the Guide to the Children’s Homes Regulations, including the quality standards (April 2015), in interpreting and meeting the Regulations. The Guide covers the quality standards for children’s homes, which set out the aspirational and positive outcomes that we expect homes to achieve, including the standard for the protection of children. The registered person is responsible for ensuring that staff continually and actively assess the risks to each child and the arrangements in place to protect them. Where there are safeguarding concerns for a child, their placement plan, agreed between the home and their placing authority, must include details of the steps the home will take to manage any assessed risks on a day to day basis.

In addition to the requirements of this standard, the registered person has specific responsibilities under regulation 34 to prepare and implement policies setting out: arrangements for the safeguarding of children from abuse or neglect; clear procedures for referring child protection concerns to the placing authority or local authority where the home is situated if appropriate; and specific procedures to prevent children going missing and take action if they do.

Each home should work with their local safeguarding partners to agree how they will work together, and with the placing authority, to make sure that the needs of the individual children are met.

18. Sports Clubs/Organisations

There are many sports clubs and organisations including voluntary and private sector providers that deliver a wide range of sporting activities to children. Some of these will be community amateur sports clubs, some will be charities. All should have the arrangements described in this chapter in place and should collaborate to work effectively with the safeguarding partners as required by any local safeguarding arrangements. Paid and volunteer staff need to be aware of their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, how they should respond to child protection concerns and how to make a referral to local authority children’s social care or the police if necessary.

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.

This page is correct as printed on Tuesday 5th of December 2023 08:25:01 AM please refer back to this website (http://surreyscb.procedures.org.uk) for updates.