News


Police Scotland unit leads child sex abuse battle

The Scotsman | 29 September 2015

POLICE Scotland’s new national child sex abuse unit has been involved in 65 investigations across the country since it began work in January, it has been revealed.

Its 48 specialist officers, based in Livingston, Inverness, Aberdeen and Dalmarnock, have lent their expertise to inquiries involving abuse carried out in institutions and elsewhere, as well as to operations into child sexual exploitation (CSE). Their work has spanned both historical and recent allegations.

The child sex abuse unit was set up after the report into failings in the investigation of CSE in Rotherham found 1,400 children had been abused between 1997 and 2013.

Further information

Faculty of advocates warns against abuse of legal time limit change

The Herald | 28 September 2015

The body that represents Scotland's top lawyers has spoken out against government plans to lift the legal time limit for survivors of historical abuse to seek damages in the courts.  

The Scottish Government has already announced it intends to end the current three-year time bar for civil action in cases of historical child abuse which has been in place since 1964.  But the Faculty of Advocates has warned against the change, claiming the existing system, where claims dating back more than three years are examined on a case-by-case basis, provides "fairness to both parties".

Full article

New adoption and fostering group

Scottish Government | 24 September 2015

A new organisation to help children and young people find adoptive and foster families has been created, Children’s Minister Aileen Campbell announced today.

The Minister confirmed that £75,000 funding has been invested to allow the Adoption and Fostering Alliance Scotland (AFAS) to take on vital support services following the closure of the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF).

AFAS will be responsible for training, consultancy and expert advice to professionals – areas that BAAF Scotland had led on in the past. BAAF Scotland staff will transfer to the new organisation.

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Protecting free school meals and early learning and childcare

Scottish Government | 24 September 2015

The Scottish Government will act to protect the rights of disadvantaged children to free school meals and early learning and childcare following changes to welfare being made by the UK Government, the First Minister has announced.  

Following changes to working tax credits and child tax credits around 22,000 pupils in Scotland between the ages of 3 to 15 would lose their entitlement to free school meals, while around 2,000 2 year-olds who would benefit most will become ineligible for both early learning and childcare and a free school meal. Universal entitlements for 3 and 4 year-olds to almost 16 hours a week of early learning and childcare, and for P1-3 pupils to have free school meals are unaffected by the changes. However, the First Minister has pledged to safeguard the entitlements of thousands of other children from lower income households by changing the regulations in Scotland to ensure they remain eligible.

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Scottish health board leaps ahead in integrating children’s services

24 September 2015

NHS Dumfries and Galloway has taken a major step in integrating children’s services across health, social care and other public services. This is as a result of a pioneering project that is moving far beyond anything done before within NHS Scotland to link crucial information on patients from across disparate IT systems used by different organisations.

he health board has deployed NextGate’s Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI) system, which helps users confidently identify and match records on patients across different organisations. Representing a major achievement for NHS integration and working towards the Scottish Government’s Getting it right for every child guidelines, the project has now seen the health board and its local authority partner link vital information on children across health and social care. This means clinical staff and social care workers can make more-informed decisions and deliver the best and safest-possible care for children.

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Consultation: New Protections Against Wilful Neglect Of Children (SCOTLAND)

Scottish Government | 23 September 2015

The Scottish Government is consulting on plans to introduce new legal protections against the ill-treatment or wilful neglect of Children under the age of 18 accessing services in Scotland.  

Views are invited on the proposals to introduce of a new criminal offence of ill-treatment or wilful neglect with regard to services for children under the age of 18. The consultation also seeks views on what services should be included.

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New approach to preventing child sexual exploitation

18 September 2015

A pioneering research project is underway in Dundee to help ensure young people at risk of child sexual exploitation are being properly protected.

Funded through Comic Relief, the project is being led by the sociologist Dr Jin Nye Na – a Visiting Research Fellow at Abertay University. Child sexual exploitation is high on the political agenda at the moment but, to date, has only ever been addressed after a scandal has broken – as in the cases of Rotherham and Rochdale.

In a bid to prevent the need for this kind of retrospective investigation, Dundee is taking a radically different approach. Rather than waiting for the worst to happen, the city is tackling the issue head on by carrying out what is believed to be the most detailed piece of research into sexual violence against children that has ever been conducted in Scotland.

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Care not damaging to children’s education, research finds

17 September 2015

A review carried out at Oxford University suggests that being in care does not directly affect children's educational attainment.  A literature review, published today and carried out by the Rees Centre at Oxford University, found that, on average, being in foster or kinship care does not appear to be damaging to children’s education, and called on authorities to focus efforts on providing services that enable these children to thrive.

Although children in care do lag behind in educational attainment compared with those in the general population, being in care may not itself be the reason for this, the review of 28 studies (three from the UK but the majority from the US) found. The study only examined research focused on children in kinship or foster care.

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New blog series explores child poverty

SCCYP | 17 September 2015

The Commissioner's office has launched a short series of blogs where voices from the children's sector discuss child poverty in Scotland.

In the first blog in the series, Head of Policy Máire McCormack discusses how child poverty in the country is increasing, and looks at steps the Scottish Government has taken to cushion its impacts.  

View blog

Adult support and protection App

14 September 2015

This app has been developed to be used as a reference resource for all workers whose role includes supporting or caring for adults. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the worker’s own organisation’s adult support and protection policies and procedures. There are sections on the signs and symptoms of harm and abuse; what workers should do if they have concerns; and the legislation that applies to adult support and protection. There is also a ‘Frequently Asked Questions’ section that covers common issues and dilemmas relating to adult support and protection.

More information 

Lawyers group tells ministers to allow the resurrection of 1000s of time-barred child abuse damages claims

The Herald | 11 September 2015

PERSONAL injury lawyers have told ministers they should should allow the resurrection of potentially thousands of child abuse cases previously rejected, if they are to lift time bar on damages claims.  

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers says those cases previously rejected because they fell foul of a three-year time bar should be allowed to take their cases to court again saying the current system of reparation is "unjust". Alternatively, they suggest that a redress scheme should be set up to provide compensation to those whose case was struck out under the limitation law.

It is estimated that thousands of adults who were abused in Scotland's care homes have been unable to pursue civil damages because they are "time-barred" under Scots Law.

Full article

Joint working key to protecting vulnerable adults, NI Inspectorate report

Care Appointments | 10 September 2015

The need for the criminal justice system to work collaboratively with Health and Social Services to help, support and protect adults who are at risk of harm, has been emphasised in a new report published by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI).  

Speaking following the publication of the Adult Safeguarding report Brendan McGuigan, Northern Ireland's Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice said: "As a result of changes to the make up of the population, increasing numbers of people will at one time or another, be identified as at risk of harm and require protection.

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Children with learning disabilities at higher risk of sexual exploitation

Barnardo's | 10 September 2015

New research reveals that children with learning disabilities are more vulnerable to sexual exploitation than other children, and face additional barriers to protection and to receiving support. This issue is often hidden as there is limited awareness that young people with learning disabilities are sexually exploited. 

A new report, ‘Unprotected, Overprotected’, reveals that significant numbers of children with learning disabilities are not being adequately protected from sexual exploitation because of the false perception that they do not need sex and relationships education or accessible information about how to keep safe online and in the community. 

 The research also reveals that children with learning disabilities are not being adequately protected due to a worrying lack of specialist services and a failure to implement existing national and local policies.

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Thousands of abused children left to fend for themselves

NSPCC Scotland | 10 September 2015

Every six minutes a child is counselled by ChildLine about mental health-related concerns. 

The 2014/15 ChildLine annual review, ‘Always There When I Need You’, also highlights that 1 in 10 contacts is about abuse.

There were 85,000 counselling sessions in which young people spoke about mental health-related issues to our free ChildLine service. Counsellors helped children and young people suffering from unhappiness, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem and diagnosed mental health disorders like bipolar. 

Of these counselling sessions, over 5000 involved children who also sought help for abuse. Tragically, many young people felt they had been left to deal with these problems alone without support services. The number of children unable to get the vital help they need has more than doubled in the last year.

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The Public Awareness Advisory Group (PAAG) of the Scottish Child Protection Committee Chair’s Forum – responds to the press release ‘NSPCC: Thousands of abused children ‘left to fend for themselves’ 

The Public Awareness Advisory Sub Group (PAAG) is a sub-group of the Scottish Child Protection Committee Chairs Forum (SCPCCF) and aims to promote public awareness of child protection issues nationally on behalf of the Forum.

Download the full statement

More support for kinship carers

Scottish Government | 10 September 2015

The Scottish Government will provide £10.1 million to councils to raise kinship care allowances to the same level foster care families receive, the Children’s Minister confirmed today.

The funding announcement follows the First Minister’s pledge last week to ensure that children looked after by relatives are entitled to the same support as those placed with foster care families. This meets a commitment to introduce parity of allowances for children in formal kinship care made in 2007.

This announcement goes further and extends support to those eligible children on the edge of care who are subject to a Section 11 order of the Children (Scotland) Act 1995 which from April 2016 will be known as a Kinship Care Order. The Scottish Government also reiterated its commitment to working with partners towards a unified national allowance in the long term.

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Why the state still has a duty of care to children

The Guardian | 09 September 2015

The refugee crisis was the backdrop to this week’s International Federation of Social Workers’ conference in Edinburgh: a reminder, notes Bridget Robb, both of the vital role of the profession in supporting people whose lives are in upheaval, and the ideals underpinning that work: social justice, human rights and respect for individual dignity.

Defining and protecting social work ethics, practice and values – what social workers do, how and why – is Robb’s task as chief executive of the British Association of Social Workers (Basw). After the demise of the College of Social Work in June, Basw finds itself a key defender and advocate of the profession at a time when its values seem under assault.

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Zero tolerance of abuse and sexual exploitation spelt out at special summit

Perth & Kinross Community Planning Partnership | 09 September 2015

Zero tolerance of child sexual exploitation in Perth and Kinross – that was the clear message from leaders across the public and voluntary sectors locally at a special event held on Tuesday 8 September 2015.

Elected members and senior officers from Perth & Kinross Council, Police Scotland, NHS Tayside and partner organisations gathered at Perth Concert Hall for the leadership summit, which follows on from Scotland's National Action Plan to Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation published by the Scottish Government in November 2014 and a national strategic event in February 2015.

Today's summit further reflects the Council and its partners' commitment to creating a hostile environment towards child sexual exploitation (CSE) as outlined earlier this year in response to an enquiry into CSE in Rotherham. The aim of the event is to raise awareness at a strategic level of the issues of child sexual abuse and exploitation and to put in place measures to prevent this locally. Chief Executive of Perth & Kinross Council and Chair of the Children, Young People and Families Partnership, Bernadette Malone opened the event with a keynote speech focussing on the collective responsibilities of all organisations to prevent abuse and protect children and young people. She also introduced a film emphasizing the views of young people with experience of CSE in Greater Manchester.

Council Leader Councillor Ian Miller reminded delegates about the major role all elected members have in making sure that the systematic failures reported in Rotherham are not repeated in Perth and Kinross. He stated, “This event has given some powerful and hard-hitting messages about the long-term impact of child sexual exploitation on victims and will galvanise all our partner organisations in creating a hostile environment for this terrible form of abuse.” Speaking from personal experience as a survivor of childhood abuse and neglect, acclaimed poet and author Jo McFarlane gave a moving and compelling recital of some of her work. Her specially commissioned poem, “It’s everyone’s job to care” demonstrates persuasively the role of all adults in taking notice of the signs that a child or young person may be experiencing abuse or neglect.

The second keynote speaker, Nazir Afzal OBE, was until recently the Chief Crown Prosecutor of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) for North West England. The first Muslim to be appointed to such a position, Mr Afzal spoke about his instrumental role and the challenges in prosecuting cases of CSE. Bernadette Malone said: "In Perth and Kinross we have a wealth of experience in successful partnership working and this needs to be at its most effective in our joint work to protect vulnerable people. 

Today's summit has brought together all the key partners to heighten awareness on what we can collectively do to create an environment in Perth and Kinross where CSE is never tolerated."

Also as part of the Council's wider remit for protecting people from abuse and neglect, awareness-raising information about CSE has gone live on the Council website at www.pkc.gov.uk/cse  

Named Person decision upheld

09 September 2015

Scotland's most senior court has ruled the Named Person service is in the best interests of children and complies with law. The Named Person role, being introduced to provide a single point of contact for families, builds on the supportive role that teachers and health professionals have long offered to children, young people and parents. The Court's ruling confirmed that the legislation will have no effect on the legal, moral or social relationships within the family.

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WhatDISF? What Do I Stand For?

Voluntary Action Shetland | 09 September 2015

Click the link below to view a short promotional film commissioned by Shetland Adult Protection Committee and created by Forward Directions group, Eric Gray Resource Services to raise awareness of adult protection.

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New measures to support victims and witnesses

Scottish Government | 06 September 2015

New measures to support victims and witnesses will put their interests at the heart of improvements to the justice system.  

The latest package of measures to be implemented from the Victims and Witnesses (Scotland) Act 2014 came into force earlier this week (1 September 2015) and will improve support for vulnerable witnesses. The automatic eligibility for certain support measures, like giving evidence via video link, is being extended to all those aged under 18 and alleged victims of sexual offences, domestic abuse, human trafficking and stalking.

A new category of vulnerability is created, for people likely to suffer significant risk of harm as a result of giving evidence.

Further information

Internet experts share new techniques to battle online child sexual exploitation

WiredGov | 04 September 2015

Industry chiefs met in London yesterday (Thursday 3 September) to discuss innovative methods for tackling online child sexual exploitation. Representatives from companies including Google, Facebook and Microsoft presented techniques to prevent sexual abuse images appearing in search results, identify online grooming and detect and remove videos of children being abused.

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Human rights challenge against ‘named person’ legislation refused by appeal judges

Scottish Legal News | 04 September 2015

A challenge to legislation which will see a “named person” assigned to every child in Scotland has been refused by appeal judges in the Inner House of the Court of Session.

Four charities and three individuals contended that provisions in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 passed by the Scottish Parliament were “incompatible” with the European Convention on Human Rights and EU data protection law, and hence beyond the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament.

However, the Lord Justice Clerk, Lord Carloway, sitting with Lord Bracadale and Lord Malcolm, upheld a decision to refuse a petition for judicial review of the legislation introduced by the Scottish Ministers.

Full article

Named Person: Court rules policy is in best interests of children and complies with law

Scottish Government | 03 September 2015

Commenting on the Court’s ruling of the named person judicial review appeal, which upheld the Lord Ordinary’s decision that the legislation did not contravene ECHR rights or EU law, Children’s Minister Aileen Campbell said: “We welcome this decision by three judges, led by the Lord Justice Clerk, which again upholds the ruling that the named person service does not contravene ECHR rights or EU law. As the ruling states, this policy was informed by experts in child welfare, health and education with the intention of putting the best interests of the child at the heart of decision making.

“We know parents and carers are, with very few exceptions, the best people to raise their children. We are pleased the court has confirmed that the legislation will have no effect on the legal, moral or social relationships within the family and we hope the petitioners and all those who have expressed concern on this aspect also take comfort from that.

“The named person role was introduced to provide a single point of contact for families and builds on the supportive role that teachers and health professionals have long offered to children, young people and parents.

“Today’s decision confirms our aim of the legislation is to promote, support and safe-guard child wellbeing. This now means we can get on with the work of preparing to implement all aspects of the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act and we will continue to consult with a wide range of stakeholders, including parents.”

Background 

The Court of Session’s full ruling can be found here

The court decision on the Named Person Judicial Review appeal found:

  • Part 4 (Named Persons) of the Act does not contravene ECHR rights, EU law or fundamental common law rights. This also applies to the information sharing provisions of the legislation, which the Court found were not in breach of the Data Protection Act 1998. 
  • The provisions of the Act are within the devolved competence of the Scottish Parliament. 

    The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act, including the named person service, was supported by a large majority of those who responded to the public consultation, backed by a wide range of children’s charities and professionals, and endorsed by the Parliament. Among the non-government supporters of the Named Person are the signatories to the attached briefing


Case studies, and other information about the named person role can be found here

The named person will typically be a head teacher, guidance teacher or health visitor the family already knows and will speed things up and save families the time and trouble of having to re-tell their story to different services. The Named Person will not be a social worker. 

In line with the current approach of a school head or guidance teacher, the named person only offers advice and assistance when it’s needed, there is no obligation on parents or children to approach the service. 

The policy has been tested and is already working well in several areas of Scotland where it has been rolled out – such as Highland, Edinburgh, Fife, Angus and South Ayrshire – but all parts of Scotland have been taking it forward positively. 

 Contact Linsey Stewart: 0131 244 3070 / 07580 789 429 

Together’s Development Survey!

Together | 03 September 2015

Together is conducting research to inform the development of a potential new training programme based on children’s rights, especially relating to the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014.  More information

UK Play Industry’s #nowhere2play Campaign

03 September 2015

This campaign looks into the state of playgrounds and areas for children to play and calls on parents and carers across the UK to share their views on the state of local play facilities, their concerns about where their children will play in future and the role of government in protecting children’s right to play.

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Children ‘find ways to cope’ with domestic violence

Children & Young People Now | 03 September 2015

Children are often more resilient than they seem in dealing with the impact of domestic violence in their home, researchers have found. 

A study led by the University of Northampton found that children who experience domestic violence are not just “passive observers”, and often find complex, creative ways to manage and cope with what they have experienced, and have the capacity to be strong and resilient.

The two-year study, which featured interviews with 110 children and young people from the UK, Greece, Italy, and Spain who had experienced domestic violence, found that the perception that children who experience domestic violence are passive and helpless is often inaccurate.  

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Evaluation of Women's Community Justice Centres: findings published

02 September 2015

Over 2013-15, the Scottish Government provided time-limited funding to 16 projects across Scotland to establish new and develop existing community services for women who offend. A national evaluation examined how these services were implemented and to what extent they contributed towards positive outcomes for women (associated with reduced reoffending). This national evaluation was completed at the end of May 2015. It was undertaken by Ruth Dryden and Colleen Souness, former Associates at IRISS.

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Social Networks More Concerned With Profits Than Child Protection, NSPCC

01 September 2015

Social networking sites are not doing enough to protect children from online dangers such as sexual abuse and cyber bullying, the NSPCC has warned. The charity has accused companies of being more concerned about their profits than trying to protect youngsters from predators and bullies.

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New domestic abuse legislation will help protect the vulnerable

Police Scotland | 01 September 2015

Proposals for a new Bill to modernise the law to address the complexities of cases involving domestic abuse was welcomed by Police Scotland today.

Plans for an Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm Bill were set out in Scottish Government’s Programme for Government published today (Tues 1 Sept) which will provide additional powers to ensure effective action can be taken against those who commit domestic abuse, harassment and sexual offences.

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