Chapter 5: Specific issues to be considered by agencies working with, or providing services to, children and young people
Existing multi-agency guidance about children and young people
94. There is existing multi-agency statutory and non-statutory guidance for protecting children. This includes A Guide to Implementing Getting it right for every child, published in 2010, and its supporting briefings  which are key documents for people at all levels who are involved in improving outcomes for children and young people.
95. The Getting it right guidance sets out: the role of the Named Person to take initial action if a child needs extra help; the role of the Lead Professional to co-ordinate multi-agency planning where necessary; how to identify, record and share concerns; using the My World Triangle to assess the strengths and pressures in all aspects of a child or young person's life; the use of the Resilience Matrix and the Child's Plan; and the contribution of Getting it right to the Children's Hearings System.
96. The new National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland was published in December 2010. It gives a national framework to help shape local practices and procedures in child protection. It is based on the principles of Getting it right for every child by focusing on putting the child at the centre and better outcomes for children in need of protection at the earliest possible stage. It includes key messages for practitioners on cases of forced marriage.
The danger of involving the family and the community
97. One of the underpinning principles of Getting it right is the involvement of the child's or young person's family wherever possible. However, in cases of forced marriage, involvement may increase the risk of significant harm to the child or young person and any siblings as the family may deny that the child or young person is being forced to marry and they may expedite any travel arrangements and bring forward the marriage. Efforts should be made to ensure that families are not alerted to a concern that may result in them removing the child or young person from the country or placing them in further danger.
98. The primary principle of Getting it right is to act in the best interests of the child and young person. Child protection guidance states that discussion with family and the family's agreement to refer to local authority children and families social work should only be done where such discussion and agreement-seeking will not place a child at increased risk of significant harm. Consequently, agencies should not approach or involve families if forced marriage is suspected.
99. Children's Hearings are independent tribunals which operate under the Children's Hearings (Scotland) Rules 1996 . Under rule 9, the Principal Reporter may withhold information relating to the whereabouts of the child. For example, if a child is kept in a place of safety, that address may not be disclosed to persons where disclosure would risk serious harm to the child.
100. The Children's Hearings (Scotland) Rules 1996, rule 12 provides a power for the hearing to exclude relevant persons (or a father of the child as defined under rule 5(3)(b)) or their representatives from attending any parts of the hearing for so long as is necessary in the interests of the child in order to obtain the views of the child where the presence of such a person may cause or is likely to cause significant distress to the child. This power must, however, be exercised with caution, balancing the rights of the relevant persons to attend the hearing against the needs of the child to express a view. Current practice allows for a single hearing to achieve this by allowing a child and relevant person to attend separately where risk is identified as above, however this would still be on the same day at the same time.
101. The Children's Hearings (Scotland) Act 2011 includes provisions to allow a sheriff to include an information non-disclosure direction under section 40 of the Act when making a child protection order. The Hearing can also exclude relevant persons and/or their representatives under sections 76 and 77 of the Act.
102. In care proceedings, local authorities are required to demonstrate to the court that they have considered family members and friends as potential carers at each stage of their decision-making. However, in cases of forced marriage, professionals should exercise extreme caution in how they evidence this. Family group conferences are not appropriate where a young person is at risk of forced marriage because of the physical danger and potential emotional manipulation they may experience during this type of session with their parents and other members of their family or community. There must not be any burden on the child or young person to agree to a family conference (see paragraph 85-86 - The danger of family counselling, mediation, arbitration and reconciliation).
103. In addition, if children are being placed into foster care, it should be stressed that foster carers are not from the same community and local area as:
- They might through a sense of community and belief that family mediation is the best route let the family know the whereabouts of the child or young person
- Foster carers themselves might be put at risk of harm from the community for caring for the child or young person
104. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that staff have appropriate training in order to:
- Understand the danger of involving the family and the community in cases of forced marriage
- Recognise that they should not approach or involve families if forced marriage is suspected
- Understand that family group conferences are not normally appropriate in cases of forced marriage because it often places the child or young person at greater risk of harm
Getting it right for every child
105.Getting it right for every child is the national programme that aims to improve outcomes for all children and young people in Scotland. It seeks to do this by providing a framework for all services and agencies working with children and families to deliver a co-ordinated approach which is appropriate, proportionate and timely.
106. However an assessment may not highlight any problems concerning some children and young people facing forced marriage. They often come from very loving families where the parents' capacity to provide safety, emotional warmth and stability is excellent.
107. The children are often high achievers at school, their health is good, they are well integrated into the local community and have good relations with the wider family - they may not exhibit the warning signs described in chapter 4.
108. Therefore, professionals working with children and young people facing forced marriage require additional training in assessing families to identify those where forced marriage may be an issue. The Getting it right Principles and Values state that professionals should work in partnership with families whilst promoting opportunities and valuing diversity amongst children and young people. However practioners must be clear that child abuse cannot be condoned for any perceived religious or cultural reasons.
109. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that:
- Staff have appropriate training in order to enable them to effectively assess children and young people facing forced marriage using the Getting it right Assessment Framework.
Protecting children and young people from harm by sharing information or to prevent a crime being committed
110. Although there is no specific offence of "forcing someone to marry", criminal offences may nevertheless be committed. Perpetrators - usually parents or family members - could be prosecuted for offences including, assault, kidnap, abduction, threats to kill, and murder. Sexual intercourse without consent is rape, regardless of whether this occurs within a marriage.
111. Child protection guidance says social work staff should always confer with police officers when they believe a response under child protection may be required, ensuring that the police are in a position to consider carefully their role in investigating any crimes against children.
112. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that:
- Forced marriage is automatically handled as a child protection issue
- Staff have appropriate training in order to understand the importance of sharing information with other agencies at the earliest opportunity to protect children and young people from significant harm or to prevent a crime being committed
- Staff share information promptly when a child or young person is at risk of forced marriage
- Staff provide information to the Forced Marriage Unit especially if there is a risk of the victim being taken out of the country
- Staff understand the difference between breaking confidence (involving the child or young person's family without consent) and sharing information with, or without consent with other appropriate professionals, to prevent the child or young person being at risk of significant harm
113. Ideally, professionals should discuss cases of forced marriage with, and seek advice from, a designated professional or another statutory agency; however, there may be occasions when immediate emergency action is necessary to protect a child or young person from being forced to marry or abducted e.g. police protection or legal measures for the emergency protection of children, contained within the Children (Scotland) Act 1995. In this case, a strategy discussion should take place as soon as possible after the immediate protection to plan the next steps .
114. It should be noted that the point at which the family become aware of intervention ( i.e. when immediate protection measures are instigated) is a point of increased risk for the victim and any siblings. The emphasis should be on swift but comprehensive planning of intervention in order to not inadvertently alert the family / community to the fact that concerns have been identified and protective steps are being taken. There should also be emphasis on the fact that, similar to domestic abuse, separation from perpetrators does not guarantee safety.
115. Chief Executives, Directors and senior managers should ensure that staff have appropriate training in order to:
- Recognise the importance and relevance of immediate protection
- Recognise the risk to other siblings in the household who might also be threatened with, or already in, a forced marriage
- Understand that in almost no circumstances will it be sufficient to protect a child or young person by removing the alleged perpetrator from the household (as in the significant majority of cases the extended family and wider community are also involved)
- Recognise that placing the child or young person with a family member or member of the same community may place them at risk of significant harm from other family members or individuals acting on the family's behalf
- Understand that if a Forced Marriage Protection Order is in place and is breached that the police should be informed as soon as possible