“Having the police on it [the steering group], it was helpful because that really helped forge links. And I know from [our] point of view, our links now with the police in that area have never been stronger. And it’s so much easier now just picking up the phone being like we’ve got concerns about so and so. Are you aware? Can you tell us anything?” (Interview/Focus Group Participant)
Between July 2022 and June 2023 Action for Children and Edinburgh City Council sought to introduce Contextual Safeguarding to Northwest Edinburgh, focusing specifically on using this approach to tackle Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE). This work was funded via A Good Childhood Fund, administered by Corra, as part of The Promise Partnership.
CYCJ were commissioned to run a small-scale evaluation of the pilot; conducting interviews/focus groups, a survey of external partners and an analysis of data collated throughout the project CYCJ’s Holly Maclean was able to identify the strengths and achievements of the pilot, as well as areas in need of further development.
Fiona Steel, National Director for Scotland at Action for Children, said:
“This report showcases the value of working collaboratively to innovate new ways of safeguarding for children and young people to address extra-familial harm within community contexts.
“It found by building strong collaborative relationships between local agencies and the community, we can gain huge insights on the risks presented for children and young people in a geographic area and begin to identify solutions to minimise those risks.
“The practical application showed in one case youth groups operating in the area worked together to change their schedules so a local park which had been identified as unsafe now has a regular presence of youth workers. That will make a real difference to children and young people feeling safe, and that’s what it’s all about.”
CYCJ Director Fiona Dyer said:
“This pilot demonstrates both the potential and the challenge of incorporating contextual safeguarding into responses to children. There is a lot of good to come from the pilot, including raising awareness of the contextual safeguarding approach, shifts in language and attitudes, and improving lines of communication between agencies, all of which should make it easier to tackle CCE in Northwest Edinburgh. The safety mapping work conducted by the pilot team also provides an excellent example of contextual safeguarding in action, and demonstrates the importance of working with children, young people and the community.
“The failure to formally embed contextual safeguarding as an approach within policy and guidance – due to a lack of time and resource – mirrors challenges faced by comparable pilots within Scotland. However, this should not detract from the significant amount that the team achieved, or the potential of contextual safeguarding as a tool in the collective effort to protect children and young people from extra-familial risk and harm.”