The fire and rescue national framework documents provide clear instruction on the delivery of core functions, which includes prevention and protection. There is a clear expectation that fire and rescue services develop partnerships for those identified as vulnerable and at risk from exploitation or abuse. Fire and rescue services must also have appropriate safeguarding arrangements in place to provide the public with the reassurance and confidence that they have every right to expect.
The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service fully support the aims, purpose and sentiment of the NFCC Safeguarding Guidance whilst acknowledging Scotland has different legislative and policy frameworks than colleagues in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and as such Scottish Fire and Rescue Service personnel should refer to their own guidance. This document has been designed to outline key legal duties together with key core themes which are underpinned by the standards set out in Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 and Section 42 – 46 of the Care Act 2014. It should be read in conjunction with other NFCC guidance relating to children, young people and adults with complex needs and vulnerabilities.
Fire and rescue personnel and people working on behalf of the service undertake on a daily basis a wide range of public facing roles, which includes education and engagement with all members of our communities including children, young people, and adults with complex needs and vulnerabilities. Employees and people working on behalf of the service have a legal and moral obligation to recognise and report concerns about abuse or neglect, they should also have the necessary skills and training to ensure that they are safe and effective practitioners. Fire and rescue services also have a responsibility to safeguard and protect those that represent their service, and it is therefore imperative that they are provided with guidance and support in order to effectively safeguard themselves and others. There are various safeguarding concerns which can be encountered, and these may occur as a result of a single action, repeated actions or lack of action. Children and adult social care services are required to investigate reports that meet the threshold for enquiry and will carry out assessments under the legal framework to determine what action to take.
The value and importance of partnership and inter-agency working is key to ensuring that children, young people and adults at risk have that risk mitigated wherever reasonably possible. There are a range of models employed across the UK.
Where there are safeguarding concerns, fire and rescue services should consider prevention, protection and response activities as well as universal services, local signposting or indeed a referral to the relevant health and social care provider. This document applies to people who work for or on behalf of the fire and rescue service including volunteers and those commissioned to work on their behalf.
NFCC recognises that fire and rescue services use various titles for those who have designated safeguarding responsibilities. It is the responsibility of each individual service to read this guidance in line with their own structures, policies and procedures.
The above information references legislation, which is applicable in England but in essence the legal duties relating to safeguarding are very similar. The relevant legislations are listed below.
“The fire and rescue service have a key role in safeguarding the most vulnerable people in our communities, our access into people's homes, which is built on trust and respect means we see things that others may not. Itis our duty to act in order to safeguard, a duty which we take incredibly seriously.”
Phil Garrigan, NFCC CYP Chair
“It is imperative that efficient and effective safeguarding becomes business as usual within our sector. This will ensure we maintain the trusted and relied upon position the fire and rescue service rightly holds within communities. This document provides guidance for the sector to appropriately discharge their legal and moral obligations with regards to safeguarding practices.”
Donna Bentley MBE, NFCC Safeguarding Chair