Safeguarding Children

Section 28 Child Safeguarding Responsibilities for the OPCC

Improving the way key people and bodies safeguard and promote the welfare of children is crucial to developing positive outcomes for children.  Section 28 (S28) of the Children Act 2004 places a statutory duty on key organisations to make arrangements to ensure that, in discharging their functions, they have regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

S28 compliance is a mandatory requirement for:

  • Local authorities

  • NHS Trusts and Health Boards

  • Police (including British Transport Police)

  • Probation and Prison Services (under NOMS)

  • Youth Offending Teams

  • Secure Training Centres

Under the revisions made to S28 through the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act (PRSRA) 2011, the Police and Crime Commissioner must also make arrangements for ensuring that:

(a)  (their) functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children; and

(b)  any services provided by another person pursuant to arrangements made by the person or body in the discharge of their functions are provided having regard to their need.

Similarly, the PRSRA requires the Commissioner to hold the Chief Constable to account for the exercise of the above duties.

How the Commissioner discharges these duties

The Commissioner has a number of mechanisms in place to ensure that the S28 duties are discharged in respect of the activities of the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC).

  • The Police and Crime Plan 2013-2017 has a particular focus of protecting people from serious harm.  The most recent review of the plan (to be published by the end of March 2015) has included a specific focus on young people and implicit in this is the duty to safeguard and promote welfare through the discharge of the Commissioner’s statutory duties in addition to monitoring the Force’s activity in this area. 

  • The OPCC produces an Annual Report that evidences both its and the Force’s progress against the Commissioner’s Police and Crime Priorities.  This report is provided to the Police and Crime Panel by way of their function to hold him to account for the effective undertaking of his duties.  The report is also made available to the public through the OPCC website.

  • Overall Force performance against the Priorities, which include Public Protection, is monitored quarterly at the OPCC Strategy and Performance Board, the forum at which the Commissioner holds the Chief Constable to account.

  • The Commissioner is represented on a number of internal and external bodies that consider safeguarding as part of their business.  For example, attendance at four of the five Local Service Boards; representation at the Local Criminal Justice Board; through the OPCC Strategic Commissioning Board.  The Commissioner is also a signatory to the South East Wales Safeguarding Children Board and, through the Chief Constable’s representative, supports its work.

  • All OPCC policies are subject to an Equality Impact Assessment process which covers children’s issues by way of the ‘Age’ protected characteristic.

  • Where the Commissioner supports services through grant funding or commissioning, there are clear guidelines to recipient organisations regarding the duties, policies and procedures required to be in place to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.  Considered as part of the OPCC’s evaluation process, the guidelines require these organisations to demonstrate how their services or projects safeguard children, whether victims or perpetrators.

  • An integral part of the operation of the Gwent-wide victim and witness care hub Connect Gwent - launching in April 2015 – will be to protect and promote the welfare of young people and will include links to established mechanisms for dealing with child victims of serious crimes.  The hub has been developed jointly between the OPCC, the Force and partners (including local authorities, Aneurin Bevan Health Board, the voluntary sector and registered social landlords).