Statutory guidance

Working together to safeguard children

Statutory guidance on multi-agency working to help, protect and promote the welfare of children.

Applies to England



This guidance is for:

  • statutory safeguarding partners (health, local authorities, and police)
  • directors of children’s services
  • education and childcare settings
  • social workers
  • health professionals
  • police (including British Transport Police)
  • adult social care services
  • housing and homelessness services
  • Prison and Probation Services
  • children’s homes
  • secure establishments (secure training centres and young offender institutions)
  • youth offending teams
  • UK Visas and Immigration, Immigration Enforcement, and Border Force
  • Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass)
  • the armed services
  • Channel panels
  • voluntary, charity, social enterprise (VCSE) and faith-based organisations, and private sectors
  • sports clubs and organisations

It applies to:

  • all organisations and agencies that have functions relating to children
  • all education providers and childcare settings

Statutory guidance is issued by law. You must follow it unless there’s a good reason not to.

Working together to safeguard children 2023

This revision to the guidance focuses on strengthening multi-agency working across the whole system of help, support and protection for children and their families, keeping a child-centred approach while bringing a whole-family focus, and embedding strong, effective and consistent multi-agency child protection practice.

The update includes:

  • principles for working with parents and carers that centre the importance of building positive, trusting and co-operative relationships to deliver tailored support to families
  • expectations for multi-agency working that apply to all individuals, agencies and organisations working with children and their families, across a range of roles and activities
  • new national multi-agency child protection standards that set out actions, considerations and behaviours for improved child protection practice and better outcomes for children

Statutory framework

The updated statutory framework sets out the legislation relevant to safeguarding. It should be read alongside the statutory guidance.

Improving practice with children, young people and families

Improving practice with children, young people and families provides advice for local areas on embedding working together to safeguard children and the children’s social care national framework.

Updates to this page

Published 26 March 2015
Last updated 23 February 2024 + show all updates
  1. Pg 26, paragraph 48: amended the wording used to describe lead safeguarding partners. Pg 42: corrected the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel email address. Pg 161: updated the glossary definition of 'safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children' to match that on pg 7 to 8. Pg 167: linked to the latest version of 'Good practice guidance on working with parents with a learning disability'.

  2. Added 'Working together to safeguard children 2023: statutory guidance', 'Working together to safeguard children: summary of changes' and 'Working together to safeguard children: statutory framework'.

  3. Page updated to reflect recent changes in legislation in relation to 'Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018'.

  4. Updated 'Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018' with factual changes in relation to information sharing, homelessness duty and references to domestic abuse. Removed 'Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015' and 'Working Together: transitional guidance'.

  5. Updated 'Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018' to reflect how local authorities should notify the Child Safeguarding Panel.

  6. Corrected a small error in chapter 5, footnote 99.

  7. Added the Working Together 2018 version, transitional arrangements, statutory framework, and introductory letters from DfE and the Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel.

  8. Minor amendment to the guidance to add the definition of child sexual exploitation.

  9. First published.

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