Minister for Social Services and Public Health, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Children, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Well-being and Sport
Cabinet Secretary for Education.
Safeguarding Boards in Wales have designated the week commencing 14 November as Safeguarding Week. We welcome this opportunity to recognise the work of frontline staff and to raise awareness of the role everybody has to play in safeguarding both children and adults. The week will be marked by training, workshops and conferences for professionals and the general public on a wide range of issues including adult and child protection, domestic abuse, alcohol awareness, child sexual exploitation and Practice Reviews.
Protecting vulnerable people is everyone’s responsibility. This continues to drive our approach in Wales, working collaboratively with statutory agencies which have key safeguarding responsibilities, and the third sector which also plays a vital role. Abuse in any form will not be tolerated. We must be vigilant that there are effective protection arrangements in place which safeguard individuals.
Through the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014, which came into force in April this year, we have strengthened safeguarding arrangements, partnership working and collaboration. The National Independent Safeguard Board, established under the Act, has aligned itself to the Safeguarding Boards to better understand how they work, promote good practice and advise Ministers on how safeguarding can be improved. The National Board will be publishing its first annual report in December.
We have consistently demonstrated our ability to work across devolved and non-devolved agencies to secure better outcomes for people. Earlier this year, we published our first National Action Plan to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation. It provides a comprehensive and coherent framework through which the wide array of safeguarding partners can undertake co-ordinated cross-agency action to protect children from abuse.
Working with stakeholders, we have ensured that people working in education have the tools and information they need to keep pupils safe.
Schools play a central role in the life of a child, and school staff are ideally placed to identify safeguarding concerns and respond to them, alongside social services and the police. Last year, we published new statutory guidance – Keeping learners safe – clearly setting out the legal duties on education services to create and maintain a safe learning environment for children and young people. We have published e-learning modules on the Welsh Government’s education platform - Hwb - for all education staff to strengthen safeguarding arrangements.
We have worked with Barnardo’s Cymru to develop a dedicated education resource. ‘Hidden’ is being delivered in schools to ensure young people are equipped with the knowledge and resilience to help keep themselves safe. We have trained more than 200 practitioners on a multi-agency basis, and plan to ensure that further training opportunities for education services are available early in 2017.
Operation Net Safe launched last week. It is led by South Wales Police in partnership with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, and is an example of an innovative campaign to help stop the creation, viewing and sharing online of indecent images of children.
We welcome the launch on 26 October of the Welsh office of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse and its Truth Project in Wales. We hope that people will feel supported and have the confidence to come forward to disclose when abuse has taken place.
Effective work is happening on a national, regional and local level and we will continue to drive this agenda forward.