Child protection updates

This page contains the latest updates in child protection research, policy and national standards.

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Get involved! There are a number of opportunities to represent RCPCH on key governmental and other advisory groups, which all give you the chance to influence policy and practice. If you are interested in becoming more involved with the child protection activity of the College, please contact

2015 updates

New duty to notify the Home Office of victims of modern slavery

On 1 November, a provision in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 requiring public authorities to notify the Home Office when they encounter a potential victim of modern slavery came into force.  Doctors, GPs, nurses and other healthcare workers are encouraged to make a voluntary notification despite not being bound by the duty, in order to help build the picture of modern slavery in the UK. 

Full guidance on how to notify the Home Office, alongside the National Referral Mechanism and notification forms, has been published.  If you need additional guidance, please contact Suzanne Farrell in the Home Office’s Modern Slavery Unit

Mandatory reporting and the Serious Crime Act

The Government has announced that the new female genital mutilation mandatory reporting duty will come into force from 31 October 2015, and has published information for professionals and the police on the new duty.

The duty will require regulated health and social care professionals and teachers in England and Wales to report ‘known’ (visually identified or verbally disclosed) cases of FGM in under 18s to the police. The duty will not apply in relation to at risk or suspected cases, or in cases where the woman is over 18. In these cases, professionals should follow existing local safeguarding procedures.

Further guidance to follow prior to implementation of the duty.

Service specification for the clinical evaluation of children and young who may have been sexually abused (September 2015)

The RCPCH has published a revised ‘Service specification for the clinical evaluation of children and young who may have been sexually abused’. This document outlines the standards for the provision of a paediatric forensic medical service for children and young people who may have been sexually abused. It has been prepared by a working group of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) Child Protection Standing Committee in partnership with the Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine to inform the establishment of these services in the UK

Service specification for the clinical evaluation of children and young who may have been sexually abused 2015
(PDF, 520KB, 27 pages)

Updated edition of Physical signs of child sexual abuse (May 2015)


This 2015 evidence-based review and guidance for best practice is a revision of the 2008 Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) publication 'The Physical Signs of Child Sexual Abuse’.

Based on the best available evidence, it has been produced in collaboration with the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the Royal College of Physicians of London (RCP) and The Faculty of Forensic and Legal Medicine (FFLM).

More about the Physical signs of sexual abuse publication

New guidance for physicians to help tackle child sexual exploitation (May 2015)

The RCP has produced new guidance to support physicians to help tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE).

An awareness of CSE is essential for physicians, who could be working with current victims of CSE, young people at risk of CSE, or children and adults who have previously been victims of CSE.

This guidance is designed to support physicians to recognise potential cases of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and seek support to protect vulnerable children and young people. It should be considered essential reading for physicians.

Government release Rotherham response and release action plan from the Sexual Violence against Children and Vulnerable People National Group (March 2015)

Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation

National Group on Sexual Violence against Children and Vulnerable People Action Plan

New FGM guidance from the Department of Health (March 2015)

Safeguarding women and girls at risk of FGM - provides practical help to support NHS organisations developing new safeguarding policies and procedures for female genital mutilation (FGM)

Commissioning services to support women and girls with FGM - sets out what some elements of a successful and safe service to support women and girls with female genital mutilation (FGM) might look like

FGM eLearning - three more eLearning sessions were released on Tuesday, and the Health Education England eFGM programme is live.  

Monthly statistics (March 2015)

HSCIC have released another report of the FGM Prevalence Dataset returns today. Click here to access the downloads for the report covering February 2015. 

New and updated safeguarding guidance from the Department for Education (March 2015)

Alongside these documents, DfE also published the government response to the consultation on Working Together, which closed early last month.

Read the RCPCH response (PDF, 252KB, 3 pages)

Updated guidance from Department of Health and Department of Education for looked after children (March 2015)

This document replaces statutory guidance on ‘Promoting the health and wellbeing of looked-after children’ issued in 2009 and aims to ensure looked-after children have access to any physical or mental health care they may need.

The Department for Education and the Department for Health undertook a public consultation to support this update.  Read the RCPCH response (PDF, 489KB, 8 pages) to this consultation.

Mandatory reporting of FGM (March 2015)

The Serious Crime Act introduces mandatory reporting requirements for health professionals regarding female genital mutilation (FGM). Regulated professionals must notify the police if they discover in the course of their work that an act of FGM appears to have been carried out on a girl under 18.

The duty will not come into place immediately - we will keep you updated on confirmed dates.

Read the College’s response to the Home Office consultation on mandatory reporting

Also see our webpage of information and resources on FGM.

2014 updates

Child protection and the anaesthetist update (July 2014)

The primary aim of this guidance is to assist anaesthetists and theatre personnel if concerns are raised during the course of a routine anaesthetic or perioperative care that suggest a child may have been deliberately harmed, or that a child or other children in the family may be the victim of harm or neglect in the future. The second part of the document (Appendix 1) deals with the process that surrounds a planned anaesthetic for a formal (‘forensic’) examination, when signs of possible child sexual abuse are to be investigated.

Dr Kathy Wilkinson was responsible for chairing the working group, including representatives from the AAGBI, APA, RCoA and RCPCH, to revise the intercollegiate guidance ‘Child Protection and the Anaesthetist: Safeguarding Children in the Operating Theatre’ last published in March 2007.

All guidance should be used in conjunction with your local child protection procedures in order that the correct lines of communication are followed.  The guidance will be reviewed again in 2017.

Download publication (PDF, 1002KB, 15 Pages)

Best practice for use of intimate images (July 2014)

Guidance for best practice for the management of intimate images that may become evidence in court (PDF, 4 pages, 522KB) 

Safeguarding children and young people: roles and competences for health care staff (April 2014)

All health staff must have the competences to recognise child maltreatment and to take effective action as appropriate to their role. They must also clearly understand their responsibilities, and should be supported by their employing organisation to fulfil their duties. Chief Executive officers and independent contractors such as GPs, in particular have a responsibility to ensure that all staff across the organisation have the knowledge and skills to be able to meet this requirement.

The latest version of Safeguarding children and young people: roles and competences for health care staff jointly published by the Royal Colleges and professional bodies has been updated to emphasise the crucial role of the Executive Team and Board members, while also taking into account the structural changes which have occurred across the NHS. The framework is applicable across all four countries of the UK and sets the standards and requirements expected of all health staff.

During the review process a considerable number of suggestions from across a wide range of professional groups were received. The Framework was refined and the document restructured in light of comments received. 

While the responsibility of ensuring staff have access to appropriate safeguarding training and learning opportunities rests with healthcare organisations, the emphasis in the framework continues to be upon maximising flexible learning opportunities to acquire and maintain knowledge and skills, drawing upon lessons from research, case studies and serious case reviews.

The framework will be reviewed again in 2017.

Safeguarding children and young people: roles and competences for health care staff (PDF, 102 pages, 508KB)


Older updates - click to expand


November 2013

Child Protection Digest
The third edition of the child protection newsletter has been published, highlighting key updates, events and training, publications and policies in child protection.

View the newsletter

Scottish Child Protection Study Day – presentation

Named and designated doctors for safeguarding: securing the future - report 

Court proceedings in England and Wales relating to children - your views needed

The College has received mixed reports from colleagues of their experiences acting as witnesses in court proceedings in England and Wales relating to children. The College wishes to gather as much information as possible from all of our members about experiences, both positive and negative, of interacting with the court system in any capacity.

This includes any work as a professional or expert witness in any type of court proceedings, giving witness statements, court appearances or any interactions with any aspect of court proceedings.

Please email Nick Libell to submit your views or a case study of your experiences, or for a confidential discussion please contact Dr Heather Payne on 02920 821 489. Please submit your views by 2 January 2014. The aim of this piece of work is to explore the issues affecting our members, to collate those and to work with members of the legal profession to ensure improvement in those proceedings. Your submissions will remain confidential, although learning points from your case studies will be presented anonymously in our discussions with colleagues in the legal profession.

October 2013

The NSPCC have recently published No one noticed, no one heard, which describes the childhood experiences of abuse of young men and women and how they disclosed this abuse and sought help. The report contains a number of key findings, including that on average it took 7 years for the young people to disclose sexual abuse.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) has recently published Partnership working in child protection: improving liaison between acute paediatric and child protection services’, which looks at how acute paediatric and local authority statutory child protection services in England work together in cases of suspected child maltreatment.

June 2013

Child Protection Companion - 2nd Edition

The Child Protection Companion 2013 is now available. All RCPCH members have free access to the entire document via a bespoke interactive website, which can be accessed at RCPCH members also have the opportunity to purchase a hard copy for £25.00 – available via the same link.
Non RCPCH members can purchase access to the website for £20.00 per annum, purchase a hard copy only for £32.00 or purchase a dual subscription to both the electronic and hard copy for £39.00. Again, this is available via
The 2013 Companion contains 20 chapters and is 266 pages in total. 

Child Protection Digest

The second edition of the child protection newsletter has been published, highlighting key updates, events and training, publications and policies in child protection.
New national guidance for safeguarding children

The Department for Education have today published Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013, which replaces the previous edition and acts as revised statutory guidance on safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people.

The single document is substantially shorter than previous editions and aims to cover the legislative requirements and expectations for all agencies and professionals.

The NHS Commissioning Board have also today published Safeguarding Vulnerable People in the Reformed NHS: Accountability and Assurance Framework which builds on Working Together and provides more detailed advice on how NHS organisations can fulfil their responsibilities and this should be read by all health professionals in conjunction with the statutory guidance.

The College has now published a summary(PDF, 5 pages, 66KB) of the new guidance which highlights the key changes and the implications for paediatricians.

Tri-x, a children’s services consultancy, have also produced a short briefing on the new edition

Guidance produced for Clinical Commissioning Groups

RCPCH have published a short advice document(PDF, 4 pages, 44KB) for Clinical Commissioning Groups regarding Designated Doctor for Safeguarding appointments. The advice clearly sets out the existing guidance, relevant contact details for further advice, principles and recommendations and finally a Frequent Asked Questions sheet.

Training guidance includes safeguarding children

Skills for Health have developed the UK Core Skills Training Framework; which is common guidance for the enhancing the quality and delivery of statutory and mandatory training. One of the chapters relates to safeguarding children and that has been developed in conjunction with RCPCH and the Department of Health. The chapter contains current legislation and guidance and learning outcomes for Levels 1, 2 and 3 of the intercollegiate safeguarding competences.

February 2013

RCPCH have produced a New Year 2013 child protection update, featuring items on events, training, publications and national policy.

Important update for expert witnesses

The Ministry of Justice recently published the Civil Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2013 (CPR), which has direct implications for expert witnesses. Find out more here (PDF, 1 page, 17 KB).

Child Protection Companion

After two long years we are almost ready to publish the Child Protection Companion 2013 edition. This textbook is for all paediatricians and provides information on all forms of abuse and the child protection processes across the continuum; from examination to identification to referral and to court. We have compiled the latest evidence, research, guidance, publications and standards and hope that this book is an essential tool for all paediatricians. It should provide you with all the information you need and allow you to approach child protection work with competence and confidence.

We are developing an interactive website which will be open, for free, for all of our members. We will also be producing a hard copy for purchase. Look out for publication this spring!

Expert witnesses in child protection: developing excellence

We have confirmed that we will be holding our course for expert witnesses in child protection on 4th and 5th July 2013. Find out more and register here.

Safeguarding Special Interest module

We are working hard to revise and update the Safeguarding SPIN module, published originally in 2010. The new module will go live this August and will be open to both trainees and consultants; providing a pathway to broaden your knowledge, skills, confidence and competence in this complex and difficult area of clinical practice.

Level 4/5 training

We are beginning to scope a project which will seek to provide training materials and/or courses for named and designated doctors – more information will be available soon. 

Safeguarding Children and Young people: roles and competences for health care staff

We are looking to revise the intercollegiate safeguarding competences to reflect some of the major policy and practice changes over the last three years.

January 2013

FII - update statement issued

Fabricated or Induced Illness by Carers (FII): A practical guide for paediatricians (PDF, 826KB, 60 pages) was published in October 2009. A short update statement has been produced which confirms that the 2009 guidance remains relevant, valid and up-to-date.

Child Protection Information Sharing Project

As you may have seen in the media over the festive period, RCPCH is involved in a project sponsored by DH and supported by DfE regarding NHS and social care information sharing. The Guardian reported the story; following this, the Department of Health have released a letter which sets out the aims and objectives of the project in greater detail. CP-IS will deliver a solution by 2015 which will enable unscheduled care settings to receive a flag on the medical record if the child or young person is subject to a Child Protection Plan or is looked after. This project only applies to England and first waves will be conducted in NE London and Lancashire in 2014. It is also important to recognise that the system will only record multiple unscheduled care attendances for children on CPPs or who are looked after; rather than all children.

You can also find out more about the project by reading the project fact sheet and frequently asked questions.



November 2012

Education Select Committee inquiry – report published

The Education Select Committee published Children first: The child protection system in England on 7 November, including 40 recommendations focused on three areas – neglect, adolescents and thresholds for intervention. The College produced written evidence for the Committee, met personally with several members and gave oral evidence in May 2012. A significant number of the recommendations are directly in line with our contributions and we look forward to the government’s response in due course.

View a summary of the key recommendations in the report

September 2012

NHS advice for commissioning safeguarding

The NHS Commissioning Board published Arrangements to secure children’s and adult safeguarding in the future NHS, which provides interim advice for CCGs on an accountability and assurance framework for safeguarding.

This is an important part of ensuring through the authorisation process that CCGs can demonstrate robust standards for safeguarding.

Download the document

RCPCH response: Working Together consultation

RCPCH has responded robustly to the revised safeguarding statutory guidance issued by DfE and will be continuing to lobby hard for changes to the documents to reflect the concerns raised in our submission.

View our response

August 2012

GMC child protection guidance – released

The GMC has launched new guidance for all doctors in the UK on protecting children and young people. This guidance is both timely and comprehensive and the College urges all members to read it and disseminate it widely amongst colleagues.

July 2012

Education Select Committee inquiry on child protection

The College has submitted supplementary written evidence to the Select Committee inquiry.  This briefing includes the College’s position on a wide range of issues, including neglect, adolescent maltreatment, thresholds for intervention, information sharing, implications of the Health and Social Care Act, the role of primary care in child protection and early help.

June 2012

Munro Progress Report

Professor Eileen Munro has published a “one year on” report following her review of child protection last year. The College supports much of what Professor Munro has said and submitted evidence to her recently to support the development of her report. We are very pleased to see many of our key briefing messages included in her final report, including a direct mention of the College’s Safeguarding 2012 publication. Eileen formally supported our call for a national quality standard for safeguarding and called for clarity on safeguarding responsibilities in the new NHS (paragraphs 3.24-3.28).

May 2012

Peer review

The College has published short guidance on peer review, outlining its purpose, aims, process and pitfalls and including a series of good practice recommendations as well as a template terms of reference.

Safeguarding Children Training Directory

ChiMat has published a directory of safeguarding training covering all six levels of the intercollegiate safeguarding competences. This includes all RCPCH course and details of others in your local area and nationally.

CCG authorisation

The NHS Commissioning Board has developed guidance for Clinical Commissioning Groups. It includes some safeguarding guidance; including the need to establish appropriate systems, plans to train all staff, access to designated expertise and clear lines of accountability and cooperation.

Education Select Committee

The College gave oral evidence to the Education Select Committee inquiry on child protection. The focus of the inquiry is neglect, adolescents and thresholds. This is the first time in the history of the College that evidence has been given and activity such as this forms part of our aim to influence national reforms and policy development.

Education Select Committee inquiry on child protection

The College has submitted supplementary written evidenceto the Select Committee inquiry.  This briefing includes the College’s position on a wide range of issues, including neglect, adolescent maltreatment, thresholds for intervention, information sharing, implications of the Health and Social Care Act, the role of primary care in child protection and early help.

April 2012

  • 'Safeguarding in 2012: views from the frontline' (PDF, 63KB, 22 pages) makes recommendations intended for all practitioners, agencies and policymakers that will inform national developments and the direction of child protection policy and training at the College. 

March 2012

  • The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) are inviting all trusts to complete an online survey to build up an understanding of current arrangements for providing social work services to acute hospitals. It focuses on arrangements for liaison, information sharing and joint working in cases of suspected child maltreatment and what helps to support effective joint work. The study looks particularly at arrangements in the Emergency Department but also includes some questions about the trust more widely. Click here to complete the survey; please contact if you have any questions.

January 2012

SCIE have opened a call for evidence on seeking examples of good practice in liaison between acute settings and local authorities in cases of suspected maltreatment. The deadline for submission is 23 January 2012.


December 2011

  • Expert fees in publicly funded cases - The Legal Services Commission has recently introduced changes to the amounts paid to expert witnesses. To find out more, please visit the UK Register of Expert Witnesses website.

November 2011

October 2011

  • The College has also submitted written evidence(PDF, 63KB, 4 pages) to the Select Committee in conjunction with the NSPCC, following a roundtable held in September 2011.

September 2011

  • As part of the government response to the Munro Review of Child Protection (PDF, 217KB, 34 pages), the Department of Health and the Department for Education have developed a joint work programme exploring the implications of the health reforms for child protection. The College is a key stakeholder in this programme and continues to contribute on many areas, including child protection commissioning arrangements, ensuring expertise and leadership in the new system, the development of Health and Wellbeing Boards, Clinical Commissioning Groups and Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards, training and inspection.
  • The College is part of the working group tasked with developing the revised statutory guidance, Working Together to Safeguard Children. An interim statement will be produced by the end of the year with full revised guidance due in mid-2012.
  • As a continuing programme of work, the College has developed strong links with stakeholder organisations on various pieces of work, such as the Officer of the Children’s Commissioner and the impending launch of the inquiry into child sexual exploitation, the UK Border Agency in relation to the detention of children and young people for the purposes of immigration, Ofsted with regards to the proposed revised inspection framework for children’s services, the DfE in relation to the Special Educational Needs and Disability Green Paper, and the Family Justice Review; which is due to be published in October/November.

July 2011

  • In June the GMC published revised draft child protection guidance,' Protecting children and young people: the responsibilities of all doctors'. The consultation was open until October and we encouraged all members to raise awareness of this in their local organisations and contribute to the consultation. This guidance applies to all doctors and will affect everyone's day-to-day practice.

  • The College has submitted a response to the Family Justice Review following the publication of their interim report in March 2011. We have produced a short paper (PDF, 25KB, 4 pages) which sets out the key recommendations for health professionals and outlines the main points from the RCPCH submission. 

  • The College has submitted a response (PDF, 256KB, 8 pages) to the SEN and Disability Green Paper (PDF, 1.5MB, 131 pages) 'Support and aspiration: A new approach to special educational needs and disability'. 

June 2011

  • RCPCH and RCN joint statement(PDF, 42KB, 3 pages) on the role, function and future of designated safeguarding professionals in the NHS. The statement advocates that designated professionals should remain in the NHS and that commissioning consortia collaborate to share expertise. We hope that this statement provides clarity and outlines a long-term model which will ensure safeguarding is protected within the emerging health landscape.
  • The Supreme Court recently overturned the longstanding immunity for expert witnesses from being sued. The College has produced a short document(PDF, 12KB, 2 pages) summarising the case and outlining the implications for paediatricians.
  • The College has submitted a response to the Family Justice Review following the publication of their interim report in March 2011. We have produced a short paper(PDF, 25KB, 4 pages) which sets out the key recommendations for health professionals and outlines the key points of the RCPCH submission.
  • The College has submitted a response to the SEN and Disability Green Paper (PDF, 1.5MB, 131 pages). See the RCPCH response(PDF, 265KB, 8 pages).

May 2011

  • Final Report of Munro Review of Child Protection.
    The College has produced a short response(MS Doc, 945KB, 2 pages) outlining the key issues for health professionals.

March 2011

  • Intercollegiate statement on the role of designated professionals. RCPCH and RCN have produced an intercollegiate statement(PDF, 32KB, 4 pages) on the role of designated professionals, considering the implications of national developments such as the Health and Social Care Bill, the Munro Review of Child Protection, and the Public Health White Paper.

February 2011

  • RCPCH response to The Munro Review. The College has published a short response (MS Doc, 945KB, 2 pages) to the publication of Professor Munro's Interim Report, The Child's Journey. The final report is due to be published in April/May 2011.
  • Intercollegiate Competences for Looked After Children
    This document, which provides competences, knowledge and skills for healthcare staff and commissioners of services in promoting the health and well-being of Looked After Children, will be published in early 2012 by RCPCH.
  • DfE/DH Safeguarding Children Research Initiative
    This report is due to be published in Autumn 2011. In the meantime, find out more.
  • The Crown Prosecution Service issued revised guidelines in January 2011 in relation to Non Accidental Head Injury Cases (formerly referred to as Shaken Baby Syndrome).


  • New Child Protection Officer appointed (December 2010)
    We are pleased to confirm that Dr Amanda Thomas has been appointed to the post of Officer for child protection. Mandy is a Consultant Community Paediatrician and also Medical Director at NHS Leeds Community Healthcare. Mandy will formally take over from Rosalyn Proops as the Officer for Child Protection in April 2011 and has been a long standing member of the RCPCH Child Protection Standing Committee.
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