The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for child protection in England. It sets out policy, legislation and statutory guidance on how the child protection system should work.
Why legislation is important for safeguarding children
Legislation provides the framework for safeguarding and child protection in England. It makes clear the expectations and requirements around duties of care to children and creates accountability for these. The main legislation in England is the Children Act 1989, the Children Act 2004 and the Children and Social Work Act 2017.
Who is responsible for safeguarding and child protection
Local safeguarding partners are responsible for child protection policy, procedure and guidance at a local level.
The local safeguarding arrangements are led by three statutory safeguarding partners:
- the local authority
- the integrated care board (ICB, previously clinical commissioning group or 'CCG')
- the police.
Working together with other relevant agencies, they must co-ordinate and ensure the effectiveness of work to protect and promote the welfare of children, including making arrangements to identify and support children at risk of harm.
Reviewing the child protection system in England
In May 2022, two government-commissioned reviews were published about the child protection system in England:
- The National review into the murders of Arthur Labinjo-Hughes and Star Hobson looked at how and why the services intended to protect children were not able to do so (Hudson and Child Safeguarding Review Panel, 2022).
- The independent review of children’s social care looked at the changes needed to better protect and support children and young people (MacAlister, 2022).
In February 2023, the DfE responded to the reviews’ recommendations with a long-term plan for the reform of children’s social care. Consultation on the Stable homes, built on love: implementation strategy (DfE, 2023) ran up to May 2023, with the Government’s response expected in September.
In October 2022, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published its final report and recommendations into child sexual abuse and exploitation in institutions in England and Wales (IICSA, 2022). In May 2023, the Home Office (Home Office, 2023) set out how they would be responding to IICSA’s recommendations.