Working Together to Safeguard Children: A Summary

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018, more commonly known as Working Together, has been created by HM Government and its purpose is to outline how all practitioners working with children (defined as anyone under the age of 18 and including unborn children) should be working together to safeguard all children. It was published in 1999 and set out how agencies should work together but following the death of Victoria Climbié, it was revised in 2006.

Content Warning: Please be advised that the content below is sensitive and contains detailed information concerning child abuse. This may be triggering for some readers, discretion is advised. 

Victoria Climbié

Victoria Climbié died in the intensive care unit of St Mary’s Hospital Paddington on 25 February 2000, aged 8 years and 3 months. Her death was caused by multiple injuries arising from months of ill-treatment and abuse by her great-aunt, Marie-Therese Kouao and her great-aunt’s partner, Carl John Manning. 

Victoria was born near Abidjan in the Ivory Coast on 2 November 1991, the fifth of seven children. According to her parents, she had a happy and healthy childhood and did well when she started at school-aged six. In October 1998, Marie-Therese Kouao, the aunt of Victoria’s father visited the family and said that she could take care of one of their children back in France. Victoria was chosen.  

She was taken to France and enrolled into a school but in a short amount of time, they had concerns and reported a Child at Risk Emergency. Shortly after, Victoria was removed from France and taken to London. Once they had arrived in London, a distant relative that they were staying with made 2 anonymous phone calls to social services. 

Kouao swiftly moved in with Manning and this is where Victoria’s abuse continued. She was abused with blunt and sharp objects, she was forced to sleep in a bath, tied up and given food to eat off the floor and locked in a room continuously. 

There were several times throughout Victoria’s short life when different organisations were involved with the family but because each organisation had kept their information internal, it meant that the pieces in a puzzle weren’t put together in time. 

Victoria’s last days of life were in St Mary’s hospital. The House of Common Report states: 

The cause of death was found to be hypothermia caused by malnourishment, a damp environment and restricted movement. The pathologist found 128 separate injuries on Victoria’s body caused by both sharp and blunt instruments. No part of her body was spared injury. Marks on her wrists and ankles indicated that Victoria had been tied up. The pathologist reported that it was “the worst case of deliberate harm to a child he had ever seen.”

The horrors that Victoria faced are totally unimaginable but we had to look at ways to improve so that, hopefully, these horrors wouldn’t be faced by another child. This horrendous event made the government review and update the Working Together statutory guidance.  

 

Working Together 2018 

The most recent update in 2018 continues a focus on the need for early help but also focuses on complex and contextual safeguarding as well as a review of how local safeguarding arrangements are implemented and governed following a review of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) by Sir Alan Wood in 2017. 

Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding and responding to, young people's experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships that young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse. 

Working Together 2018 places a statutory duty on three key agencies to hold local responsibility for safeguarding; the Local Authority, the Police and Health (through the Clinical Commissioning Groups — CCGs). It provides these three agencies with the freedom to develop local multi-agency safeguarding arrangements in line with the needs of their locality, whilst removing the statutory requirement for Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB). Working Together 2018 provides guidance with regards to what new arrangements in local authorities should include. 

You can read more about Working Together to Safeguard Children here. 

 

For Support

NSPCC Helpline - call 0808 800 5000 or email help@nspcc.org.uk

Childline - call 0800 1111 or use the 1-2-1 online chat

Education Support helpline - immediate, confidential emotional support for teaching staff 0800 562 561

Author
Vikkey Chaffe
Head of Community Relations

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