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safeguarding reform

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Reform

The Children and Social Work Act 2017 provides for the replacement of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) with a new system of multi-agency arrangements, led locally by three safeguarding partners:

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 provides the statutory guidance for the safeguarding partners, who are responsible for setting out local plans to keep children safe and for identifying serious child safeguarding cases which raise issues of importance in relation to the area and review cases where they consider it appropriate.

Multi-agency Safeguarding Partnerships are now in operation in England from 30th September 2019.  There are 131 safeguarding partnerships covering 151 local authority areas.

Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Safeguarding partners have a key role in ensuring all children and families get the support they need during the current pandemic. We would be extremely grateful if safeguarding partners could spare some time to let us know how your safeguarding partners are responding together to the challenges of safeguarding children in the context of Covid-19. We are looking for practice examples which can be shared, and help inform policy decisions. You can contact us through our mail box:

Statutory Safeguarding Partners: Responses to safeguarding during Covid-19

Examples of practice from safeguarding partners:

• Snapshot Multi Agency Assurance survey with all relevant agencies to provide assurance to the Executive, identify good practice and areas for development.

• Sharing of business continuity plans to provide further assurance and share information and signposting to all.

• Virtual meetings of Safeguarding Partners held more frequently – focusing on safeguarding issues which especially benefit from all partners to problem solve and finding a way forward. The response to Domestic Abuse, for example, has been addressed by jointly reviewing national messages, data from all partners, community safety colleagues and multi-agency DA teams.

• Initial Child Protection Conference / review conferences partnership spreadsheet and weekly meetings – including Health, Police, IRO Managers and Children’s Social Care to ensure coverage of Initial Child Protection Conference and review conferences to identify issues and discuss family engagement.

• Reviewing together safeguarding issues as they play out, but also invest in thinking and planning ahead for when the area comes out of lockdown and the likely challenges.

• Spreading good practice across police areas through their connections with neighbouring Safeguarding Partners.

• Working with relevant agencies and the wider community – Partners have been bringing in wider partners and together functioning as the main Covid-19 coordination of response, others have joining wider strategic meetings – either approach has been used to use the structures to build on existing Safeguarding Partners relationships and create new ones.

Early Adopters

The National Children’s Bureau (NCB) has published a report giving an overview of learning from the Safeguarding Early Adopter Programme, a cross-government initiative which brought together 17 projects in England to develop approaches to the new multi-agency arrangements for safeguarding children introduced by the 2017 Children and Social Work Act.

Findings include: the changes to the statutory framework presents opportunities for partners to be innovative and facilitate improvements in their local safeguarding arrangements; attention should be paid to ensuring leaders in local authorities, police and health come together in equal partnership and also how partners engage other relevant agencies and practitioners including those in education organisations and the voluntary and community sector.

Read the report: Safeguarding Early Adopters: developing the learning on multi-agency safeguarding arrangements (PDF)

Analysis of the Early Adopter Programme –


Sector Expert

The Department for Education has appointed Sir Alan Wood CBE to work with the cross-Whitehall safeguarding implementation working group to review how the new multi-agency safeguarding arrangements for local areas (introduced in July 2019), are addressing key issues outlined in the Wood Review 2016 and criteria set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 guidance.

Sir Alan will provide in depth analysis of weak and strong areas of MAA identified from plans, with additional support to some areas who are currently implementing specific themes/issues such as independent scrutiny arrangements, working with schools or using data to improve local safeguarding arrangements. He will identify local areas that may require additional support that is more systemic and will work with police and health facilitators to manage the support offered locally. He will provide a report in winter 2020 on his findings.

Behavioural Insights

The Department has also appointed Kantar Ltd to examine the best ways to achieve a cultural shift in the approach of local areas to multi-agency safeguarding, now that there is a shared and equal duty on the safeguarding partners to work together on local safeguarding arrangements. This research will identify how the three lead agencies are building, developing and maintaining strong working relationships, to improve local safeguarding approaches. The research aims to identify and understand key behaviours for successful multi-agency working. Findings from the research will be available autumn 2020.


Safeguarding Partners evidence base

Peer review of multi-agency safeguarding arrangements

Independent Scrutiny Arrangements

  • Safeguarding Partnership report

Multi-Agency practice improvement to safeguard vulnerable children

  • Safeguarding Partnership report