The aim of Public Protection is to reduce the harm to children and adults at risk. Public protection requires agencies to work together at both strategic and operational level to raise awareness and understanding and co-ordinate an effective response that provides at-risk individuals with the support needed to reduce the risk in their lives. In Fife we have a dedicated Public Protection Unit based within Police Headquarters. Social Work and Health representatives are now embedded within the Public Protection Unit at Police Headquarters to deal with the IRD process. A consistent approach between agencies is required to ensure concise planning and service delivery.
Public Protection is the prevention of harm to vulnerable groups and involves working with both victims and perpetrators. With perpetrators, the aim should be to reduce future risk. At a minimum this may involve ensuring that the right monitoring arrangements are in place to track an individual’s behaviour, but it may also mean working with that individual to help them understand their behaviour and how it impacts on others.
Work within Public Protection is carried out on an inter-agency basis, and it is important that each agency is clear about its own role and responsibility and understands the role of the other agencies involved. Agencies must also agree the outcomes they are working towards. Achieving a balance between the welfare of the child, which should be paramount, and the needs of the adult will require effective management.
The Police role is primarily to collect evidence of an offence, interview suspected abusers, charge where appropriate, and provide reports for both the Procurator Fiscal and the Children’s Reporter on the criminal offences or risks and concerns identified. ‘Cause for concern’ reports produced by police officers are screened by the Youth Issues Team and distributed to the relevant agencies as required.
The primary role of the Social Worker is to assess risk to the child, take any necessary steps to secure the protection of the child and provide appropriate advice and assistance to the family.
Child Protection links to MAPPA (Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements)
The risk that sex offenders pose to children is well recognised by agencies and the public. This area can often be the focus of public anxiety and the arrangements we have in place in Fife aim to address the very serious risk certain offenders pose to children by managing offenders in a robust but proportionate way. The introduction of Multi Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) across Scotland in April 2007 attempted to bring a consistent approach to the management of offenders across all local authority and police force areas by providing a framework for assessing and managing offenders.
In Fife, the MAPPA Strategic Oversight Group is known as the Offender Management Group (OMG) and is composed of strategic leads from the Responsible Authorities. This group provides oversight of the MAPPA process and seeks to ensure that decisions are taken which increase the effectiveness of the delivery of the MAPPA in Fife.
Fife Domestic and Sexual Abuse Partnership
FDASAP is an independent partnership that reports directly to the Community Safety Partnership Group. Fife Domestic and Sexual Abuse Partnership (FDASAP) develop Fife's strategy in relation to domestic abuse including voluntary and statutory sectors. Domestic violence has a significant impact on children and young people in a range of ways.
FDASAP aims to link national and local strategic frameworks and developments to ensure that the needs of women and children who experience or are at risk of violence and abuse, are firmly embedded in local priorities and service initiatives, and that positive outcomes are achieved. This has been supplemented by the National Domestic Abuse Delivery Plan for Children and Young People (2008) which is based on the GIRFEC principles:
- Gender based violence takes the form of actions that result in physical, sexual and psychological harm or suffering to women and children, or affront to their human dignity, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life.
- Violence against women encompasses physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring in the family, within the general community, or in institutions, including: domestic abuse; rape; sexual violence; incest and child sexual abuse; sexual harassment and intimidation at work and in the public sphere; commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution, pornography and trafficking; dowry related violence; female genital mutilation; forced and child marriages; “honour” crimes.
MARAC (Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conferencing)
MARAC is a forum where multiple agencies get together to provide a co-ordinated response. It identifies very high risk victims of domestic abuse and aims to improve service response through appropriate sharing of information across agencies; producing multi-agency safety plans to reduce the risk to victims and any children; sharing an awareness of risk posed by the perpetrator to the victim or third party; and reducing repeat victimisation. There is clear evidence that these conferences are leading to direct interventions to protect children.
The Adult Support and Protection Committee is the primary strategic planning mechanism for inter-agency adult protection work in Fife. Fife Adult Support and Protection Committee has a single Adult Protection number and reporting form which enables any person within any organisation to report the facts and circumstances where he/she knows or believes that an adult is at risk of harm and that action may be necessary to protect them from harm.
Cause for Concern Notifications will, in most cases, come through the social work service’s contact centre via the single adult protection telephone number: 01383 602200 or by e-mail to:SW.ContactCtr@fife.gov.uk
The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 defines ‘adults at risk’ as individuals, aged 16 years or over, who are unable to safeguard their own well-being, property, rights or other interests; and are at risk of harm; and because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than other who are not so affected.
The move from child to adult services presents significant risks. Young people at this transition stage can drop out of services altogether, losing their safety net of support. A collective approach is required by all agencies to responsibly manage this transition effectively. The Lead Professional for the child or young person must ensure a careful and planned transfer of responsibility when another practitioner becomes the Lead Professional and/or when another service becomes the lead agency.
There may sometimes be an overlap between child and adult protection. Assessment and planning processes may need to be aligned and some investigations or assessments may be best undertaken jointly, for example when child and adult protection issues are identified within the same family. The aim should be to maximise the safety and welfare of children and at-risk adults while minimising the impact of the investigation of those involved. Further information is contained in the Fife Multi-Agency Adult Protection Guidance
Fife Alcohol and Drug Partnership
Children Affected by Parental Substance Misuse (CAPSM)
Many children and young people are affected by parental drug and alcohol use in Fife. All agencies providing a service for substance misusing adults should:
- ensure that staff understand the impact of parental or carer drug misuse on children and young people, and are able to identify children and young people who may be at risk of harm (whether from abuse or neglect) as a result of parental drug misuse, or from associates of drug misusing parents;
- adopt policies that ensure child protection issues are considered as an integrated part of each assessment undertaken by the agency;
- establish procedures to ensure that local children and young people’s services are informed of:
- any concerns that a child cared for by their service users may be at risk of harm or neglect;
- the potential need of children and young people cared for by their service users for additional family support;
- ensure that staff are aware of and can help parents access services designed to support parents in caring for their children.
The focus is firmly on early action, before any problem escalates and reinforcing the message to all practitioners that ‘doing nothing is not an option’.
For further information please refer to the Fife Inter Agency Child Protection Guidance 2016 together with your own single agency procedures.
Significant Case Reviews
Chief Officers have approved a Governance Framework for the commissioning, production, delivery, dissemination and publication of Significant Case Reviews (SCR's) within the three public protection disciplines of Adult Protection, Child Protection and Offender Management within Fife. A copy of the framework can be accessed at the link below.