Part 4: Specific support needs and concerns 200 National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2021 Version 1.0 September 2021 4.404 Chief Officers should be alerted in such circumstances, including where the concerns involve a child or children outside the area. Senior managers from social work services and the police should ensure that arrangements for the investigation of linked cases are in place, so that children and adults are adequately protected. 4.405 When cases involve several children and adults in different households , it will be in the interests of the criminal investigation to prevent suspects from communicating with each other and destroying evidence. This will require careful co‑ordination of investigations, interviews, and other assessments. 4.406 If a number of families, parents and carers are involved, the local authority should make clear arrangements to keep them informed of events and plans. Parents/carers are usually entitled to the fullest possible information. If it is unclear how many families are involved, decisions regarding information-sharing will be particularly complex. Agencies may need to restrict information provided to families and the public to avoid prejudicing criminal enquiries. This should be considered in the planning process. Parental involvement may need to be limited in order to safeguard the child. The reasons for this must be recorded. 4.407 Early involvement of the Procurator Fiscal and the Principal Reporter will be necessary. Police and social work services should agree a media and public communication strategy. 4.408 Specialist skills. The investigation of complex child abuse requires an investigating team with appropriate expertise. A teamwork approach is essential. It may be necessary to involve agencies which are trusted by the child or other witnesses. Specialist advice and support may be required from agencies with particular knowledge of the issues. 4.409 Systemic issues. Where there is evidence of institutional abuse, operational and strategic analysis should consider not only the responsibility of individuals, but also the contribution of culture, belief and systems within those institutions, organisations or communities which carried out the abuse. Common features include the isolation of victims and the privacy which may provide individuals with opportunity for the exploitation of power. 4.410 Partnership across areas. In anticipation of strategic and operational partnership that may be required from time to time, lead agencies should consider establishing links with neighbouring authorities and agencies to ensure access to necessary resources – including skilled staff and specific facilities such as interview suites – when dealing with complex multiple or organised abuse cases. Inter-agency procedures should reflect local arrangements to provide support, de-briefing or counselling for practitioners as necessary. For further information on supporting child witnesses, see the section on criminal prosecutions. Resources and References - Complex investigations Female genital mutilation 4.411 Article 24.(3) of the UNCRC requires public authorities to take all effective and appropriate measures with a view to abolishing traditional practices prejudicial to the health of children. 4.412 Female genital mutilation (FGM) is child abuse. This traditional practice is an extreme form of gender-based abuse, causing significant and lifelong physical and emotional harm. Cultural considerations and sensitivities should not override the need of professionals to take action to protect a child at risk.