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.

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.

Law Wales: helping you understand Welsh law

Find out more information about constitutional arrangements and law made in Wales.

Visit Law Wales

Legislation

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.

View the Children Act 1989

 

Strengthens the 1989 Act. Encourages partnerships between agencies and creates more accountability. Part three of the Children Act 2004 applies solely to Wales.

View the Children Act 2004

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.

View the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

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).

View the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

When the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 came into force in April 2016 it provided 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

View the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

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.

View section 175 of the Education Act 2002

Amended the Children Act 1989 by expanding the definition of "harm"
to include witnessing domestic violence.

View section 120 of the Adoption and Children Act 2002

As amended by sections 73 and 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015, makes provisions for FGM Protection Orders and the legal duty for regulated social care and health professionals and teachers to make a report to the police if a girl under 18 tells them she has undergone an act of FGM, or if they observe physical signs that a girl under 18 has undergone FGM.

View the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003

View the Serious Crime Act 2015

Gives courts more flexible powers to facilitate child contact and enforce contact orders when separated parents are in dispute.

View the Children and Adoption Act 2006

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.

View the Children and Young Persons Act 2008

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.

View section 55 of the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Legislates for there to be two lay members from the local community sitting on each Local Safeguarding Children Board.

View the Apprenticeships, Skills, Children and Learning Act 2009

Makes changes to provisions on school discipline and places restrictions on the public reporting of allegations made against teachers.

View the Education Act 2011

Puts in place 7 wellbeing goals for everyone living in Wales.

View the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015

Find out more from Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act: the essentials (PDF)

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)

Download Children and young people: rights to action

Safeguarding children

(Welsh Government, 2004)

Sets out the Welsh Government's guidance on child protection and safeguarding for local authorities in Wales.

Safeguarding children: working together under the Children Act 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

Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation
procedural information

This gives health and social care professionals, teachers and the police information on their responsibilities under the female genital mutilation (FGM) mandatory reporting duty which came into force 31 October 2015. Covers: when and how to make a report; next steps following a report; and failure to comply with the duty.

Download Mandatory reporting of female genital mutilation: procedural information (PDF)

(Home Office, 2015)

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