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Amendments

Shared Board Amendments

ChapterDetailsDate

Title amended to include peer on peer abuse

17-10-2019

Updated mandatory reporting requirements

17-10-2019

Added related guidance

17-10-2019

Taken out text 'absent' not being used in West Mercia.

02-09-2019

Removed paragraph on the use of 'absent' in the different areas.

02-09-2019

Corrected name of procedure

02-09-2019

Changed WT 2015 to 2018

02-09-2019

Added early years online safety considerations link.

21-08-2019

Paragraph on live streaming added.

21-08-2019

WT2018.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amend.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Removal of 'LSCB'.

26-04-2019

Under review

26-04-2019

Under review

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

This procedure is currently under review. National guidance on child deaths is available.

 

Each LSCB must ensure that a review is undertaken of every child death in their area by a Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP).

The death of a child is a tragedy and enquiries should keep an appropriate balance between forensic and medical requirements and supporting the family at a difficult time. Professionals supporting parents and family members should assure them that the objective of the child death review process is not to allocate blame, but to learn lessons that could help prevent further child deaths.

The responsibility for ensuring a review takes place rests with the LSCB for the area where the child is normally resident. (If it is unclear in which area the child normally resided, the relevant CDOP Chairs should negotiate and agree who will lead the review.)

Other LSCBs or local organisations who have had involvement in the case should co-operate in jointly planning and undertaking the child death review.

In the case of a looked after child, the LSCB for the area of the local authority looking after the child should take lead responsibility for conducting the child death review, involving other LSCBs with an interest or whose lead agencies have had contact with the child.

Clich here for national CDOP templates.

Section under review.

26-04-2019

Organised or multiple abuse is defined as abuse involving one or more abusers and a number of children. It can occur both as part of a network of abuse across a family or community and within institutions such as residential homes or schools. There will also be cases of children being abused via the use of the Internet.

Although in most cases of complex and organised abuse the abuser(s) is an adult, it is also possible for children/young people to be the perpetrators of such harm, with or without adult abusers.

Each investigation of complex and organised abuse will be different, according to the characteristics of each situation and the scale and complexity of the investigation. But all will require thorough planning, collaborative inter-agency working and attention to the needs of the child victim/s involved.

The child

The most important consideration should always be the safety and well-being of the child or children. The needs of each child should be considered individually and remain the focus of investigation even where a large group of children is involved.

A victim support strategy and protocol should be established at the outset. Support will be required in pre-trial, trial and post-trial periods if the case proceeds to court. Minimum periods for contact should be established. Research following complex investigations has found that many victims and families feel it is important to remain in contact with the same staff throughout the investigative process.

Referrals

Any practitioner who receives information which may indicate organised or multiple abuse should immediately refer the matter to the relevant local authority children’s social care team. For information on how to make a referral see the chapter on Referrals in these procedures.

If any person who works with children (paid or unpaid) is implicated, the matter should be referred under the procedure for managing allegations against staff or volunteers.

The strategy meeting/discussion

A multi-agency strategy meeting/discussion should to take place within one working day to agree the action to be taken, including whether a criminal investigation should commence.

A decision will need to be made whether the enquiries/investigation can be managed in the conventional way or whether a specialist approach is required (for example, from a dedicated team outside the service.)

This will usually depend on the number, geographical spread and age range of potential interviewees, as well as whether those implicated are foster carers or employees of any member agency.

Where the strategy meeting/discussion confirms that the investigation will relate to complex and organised abuse, it should appoint a multi-agency Strategic Management Group (see below) to oversee the process. 

The Strategic Management Group

The Strategic Management Group should be chaired by a senior officer from local authority children’s social care and should:

  • Complete the mapping process started by the strategy meeting.
  • Establish the strategic lead agency/agencies in the investigation.
  • Bring together a team of people with the necessary training, experience and objectivity to manage and conduct the criminal investigation and/or section 47 enquiry on a day to day basis. (Line managers or colleagues of any person implicated in the investigation must not be involved and the involvement of any person from the workplace under investigation must be considered with particular care).
  • Review the need for an independent team to investigate the allegations, particularly where the alleged perpetrators are foster carers, prospective adopters or members of staff employed by a member agency of one of the safeguarding organisations.
  • Decide the terms of reference and accountability for the investigating team, including the parameters and timescales of their enquiries/investigation.
  • Where it would assist the co-ordination of the investigation, appoint an Investigation Management Group (IMG) (see below).
  • Ensure that appropriate resources are deployed to the investigation including access to legal and other specialist advice, resources and information.
  • Ensure the investigating team are themselves supported with personal counselling if necessary and that issues of staff safety are addressed.
  • Ensure that suitable accommodation and administrative support are available for the investigation.
  • Ensure that an appropriate venue is available for interviews and the interviews are conducted in accordance with appropriate guidance on achieving best evidence.
  • Ensure that appropriate resources are available to meet the needs of the children and families or adult survivors, including any specific health issues arising from the abuse.
  • Liaise as necessary with the Crown Prosecution Service at an early stage before arranging services for a child in need of counselling or therapeutic help so that the help can be given in a way which is consistent with the conduct of the criminal investigation.
  • Agree a communications strategy including the handling of political and media issues, and communication as necessary with Ofsted.
  • Ensure that records are kept safely and securely stored and a high level of confidentiality maintained at all times.
  • Hold regular meetings and reviews, which must be recorded, to consider progress, including the effectiveness of the joint working, the need for additional resources and next steps.

The Investigation Management Group

In cases of considerable complexity and scale, a multi-agency Investigation Management Group should be appointed.

The tasks and functions of the Group will be subject to the terms of reference agreed by the Strategic Management Group (see above) and are likely to include the following:

  • to provide a forum where professionals can meet, exchange information and discuss the implementation of the agreed investigation strategy
  • to ensure a consistent strategy for interviewing victims within and outside the council’s area
  • to keep the Strategic Management Group informed of resources and any shortfalls
  • to ensure a consistent and appropriate inter-agency approach to support victims and their families
  • to coordinate the inter-agency response to families and provide consistent information
  • to ensure information is shared appropriately with other agencies not represented on the Strategic Management Group or the Investigation Management Group
  • to ensure clarity of roles and responsibilities for staff involved in the investigation and ensure investigators will have access to all records and key information
  • to ensure that relevant intelligence is passed between agencies and to the police Major Incident Room.

End of enquiry investigation meeting and report

It is possible that an investigation will identify individuals who are suspected abusers but against whom prosecutions are not brought. If a suspected abuser is working with children, evidence and information should be shared to support disciplinary proceedings and to enable, where appropriate, the referral of suspected abusers to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and the relevant regulatory bodies.

At the conclusion of the enquiry /investigation, the Strategic Management Group should evaluate the investigation, identify the lessons learned and prepare an Overview Report with recommendations and an action plan for the safeguarding organisations. This report should highlight any practices, procedures or policies which may need further attention and require either inter-agency or individual agency action plans.

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

If there are disagreements between agencies or individuals over the handling of concerns about children, or associated decision-making by an individual agency, and the agencies/professionals are unable to resolve differences through discussion and/or meetings, their disagreements must be brought to the attention of managers. If agreement still cannot be reached, the issue must be referred to the senior managers.

An agency or individual who does not agree with a decision must feel able to, and know how to, use the local escalation process for professional disagreements. Agencies should act on their concerns in a timeframe that is consistent with the degree of concern they hold and immediate action should be taken in the event that there is a concern that the child is at risk of abuse or neglect.

Records of any disagreements much be maintained by all the agencies involved.

WT2018 amends.

 

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends

26-04-2019

WT2018 amends.

 

26-04-2019

Professional responsibilities

Professionals in all agencies have a responsibility to refer a child to local authority children's social care when it is believed or suspected that the child or unborn child:

  • has suffered significant harm
  • is likely to suffer significant harm
  • has a disability, developmental and welfare needs which are likely only to be met through provision of social work led family support services (with agreement of the child's parent) under the Children Act 1989
  • is a Child in Need whose development is likely to be impaired without provision of services.

Before making a referral it is important that professionals understand their responsibilities outlined in the previous chapters, particularly in relation to:

Making a referral

Referrals should be made to the local authority children’s social care for the area where the child is living or is found. For these purposes, 'found' means the physical location where the child suffers, or is identified to be at risk of, harm or neglect.

If the child is known to have an allocated social worker, the referral should be made to them, or in their absence to the social worker’s manager/the duty children’s social worker. Referrals should not be delayed if it the child’s allocated social worker cannot be contacted.

Pre-birth referrals should be made as early as possible so that a full assessment can be undertaken and support offered to enable the parent/s (wherever possible) to provide safe care. For more information, read the section on pre-birth referral.

Where there aer concerns about a child, these should be raised as per local procedures, often via the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) or similar 'front-door' arrangements. Current referral arrangements, threshold/level of need criteria documents, referral forms, and contact numbers (including referrals outside of normal working hours) for each of the areas are available for each local area.

Information required for referrals

The referrer should outline their concerns and will be asked to provide information to explain what they are concerned about and why, particularly in relation to the welfare and immediate safety of the child.

If an assessment (such as an early help assessment) has been completed prior to the referral, these details should be provided. Any information the referrer has about the child's developmental needs and the capacity of their parents and carers to meet these should also be provided.

The referrer will have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker and is likely to be asked for the following information:

  • Full names (including aliases and spelling variations), date of birth and gender of all children in the household.
  • Family address and (where relevant) school/nursery attended.
  • Identity of those with parental responsibility and any other significant adults who may be involved in caring for the child such as grandparents.
  • Any other known adults in the household (such as lodgers) or adults who frequently visit the household.
  • Names and date of birth of all household members, if available.
  • Where available, the child’s NHS number and education Unique Pupil Number (UPN) number.
  • Ethnicity, first language and religion of children and parents/carers.
  • Any special needs of children or parents/carers.
  • Any significant/important recent or historical events/incidents in child or family's life.
  • Cause for concern including details of any allegations, their sources, timing and location.
  • Child's current location and emotional and physical condition.
  • Whether the child needs immediate protection.
  • Details of alleged perpetrator, if relevant.
  • Referrer's relationship and knowledge of child and parents/carers.
  • Known involvement of other agencies/professionals (for example, GP).
  • Whether the parents know about, and whether they have consented to, the referral.
  • The child’s views and wishes, if known.

The referrer must not delay making a referral because they lack some of the information as the welfare of the child is the priority.

Professionals making a referral should confirm verbal and telephone referrals in writing within 48 hours.

Recording

The referrer should keep a formal record, whether hardcopy or electronic, of:

  • discussions with the child
  • discussions with the parent/carer
  • discussions with their managers
  • information provided to local authority children’s social care
  • decisions and actions taken (with time and date clearly noted, and signed).

Responding to a referral

Local authority children’s social care must make a decision about the course of action to be taken within one working day of receiving a referral. The social worker will make a professional judgment as to what type and level of help and support is needed, record this, and feedback in writing to the referrer, all relevant agencies, the child and their family.

In the case of referrals from members of the public, feedback must be consistent with the rights to confidentiality of the child and their family.

The police must be informed at the earliest opportunity if a crime may have been committed. The police will decide whether to commence a criminal investigation and a discussion should take place to plan how parents are to be informed of concerns without jeopardising police investigations.

The immediate response to referrals may be:

  • No further action at this stage.
  • Signposting to other agencies and services.
  • Re-direction to appropriate early help arrangements.
  • Provision of services.
  • Emergency action to protect a child.
  • An assessment of needs with a stated timescale and plan including regular reviews.
  • A section 47 strategy meeting/discussion.

If a response is not received within three working days, the referrer should contact local authority children’s social care again and, if necessary, ask to speak to a line manager to establish progress.

If the referrer disagrees with the decisions made by another agency, they may consider raising their concerns under the relevant local multi-agency escalation policy.

The child and parents/carers should be routinely informed about local procedures for raising complaints and local advocacy services.

Where there is to be no further children's social care action, feedback should be provided to the child, the family and referrers. This should include the reasons why a case may not meet the statutory threshold to be considered by local authority children's social care for assessment and suggestions for other sources of more suitable support.

Where it becomes clear that statutory intervention maybe needed, local authority children’s social care is responsible for making rigorous enquires to map who is involved in that child and family’s life.

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

Responding to concerns about a child

Anyone who has concerns about a child’s welfare should make a referral to local authority children’s social care and should do so immediately if there is a concern that the child is suffering significant harm or is likely to do so. This includes professionals who work with children and their families but could also be the child themselves, family members or members of the public. Practitioners who make a referral should always follow up their concerns if they are not satisfied with the response.

The Children Act 1989 introduced the concept of significant harm as the threshold which justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of children. Section 47 of the Act places a duty on local authorities to make enquiries, or cause enquiries to be made, where it has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm.

It is therefore important that all professionals working with children and families understand the concept of significant harm and also what constitutes abuse and neglect.

Responding to risks of harm to an unborn child

In some circumstances, agencies or individuals are able to anticipate where an expected baby is likely to suffer significant harm (e.g. domestic violence, parental substance misuse or mental ill health).

These concerns should be addressed as early as possible before the birth so that a full assessment can be undertaken and support offered to enable the parent/s (wherever possible) to provide safe care. For more information, see the pre-birth procedures.

Responsibilities of agencies and organisations

Each organisation should have internal child protection procedures which are compliant with these regional procedures: each of the nine safeguarding partnerships within participating areas  are responsible for confirming agencies and organisations have these procedures in place.

Each organisation’s own internal child protection procedures must provide instruction to professionals in:

  • identifying potential or actual harm to children
  • discussing and recording concerns with a first line manager/in supervision
  • analysing concerns by completing an assessment
  • discussing concerns with the organisation’s designated safeguarding lead (who should be able to offer advice and decide upon the necessity for a referral to local authority children's social care).

Professionals in all organisations should be sufficiently knowledgeable and competent to contact local authority children's social care or the police about their concerns directly and to complete the appropriate referral form. Where advice is required, professionals should feel comfortable contacting their local authority children’s social care or Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (if one exists in the area) to discuss the case.

If it appears that the child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, a formal referral to local authority children's social care, the police or emergency services (for any urgent medical treatment) must not be delayed by the need for consultation with management or the designated safeguarding practitioner lead, or the completion of an assessment.  

Responsibilities of professionals

Professionals in all agencies and organisations (including public services, commissioned provider services and voluntary organisations; whether paid or a volunteer) who come into contact with children, who work with adult parents/carers or who gain knowledge about children through working with adults, should:

  • be alert to potential indicators of abuse or neglect
  • be alert to the risks which individual abusers, or potential abusers, may pose to children
  • be alert to the impact on the child of any concerns of abuse or maltreatment
  • be able to gather and analyse information as part of an assessment of the child’s needs.

The law empowers anyone who has care of a child to do all that is reasonable in the circumstances to safeguard their welfare. Accordingly, professionals in all agencies should take appropriate action wherever necessary to ensure that no child is left in immediate danger, e.g. a teacher, foster carer, childminder, a volunteer or any professional should take all reasonable steps to offer a child immediate protection (including from an aggressive parent).

Charity trustees are responsible for ensuring that those benefiting from, or working with, their charity, are not harmed in any way through contact with it.

Duty to co-operate and refer

All professionals in agencies with contact with children and members of their families must make a referral to local authority children's social care if there are signs that a child or an unborn baby:

The timing of such referrals should reflect the level of perceived risk to the child or unborn baby and should be within one working day of identification or disclosure of the harm or risk of harm.

In urgent situations out of office hours the referral should be made to the local authority children's social care emergency duty team/out of hour’s team.

Where a child or unborn baby has an allocated social worker and a professional has new or additional information this must be documented and passed without delay to the allocated social worker or case manager for consideration by children's social care.  In the event the allocated social worker and/or case manager are unavailable the person holding information should follow the arrangements for passing on information to the relevant team.  As above, if it is outside of office hours the local authority children's social care emergency duty team/out of hours team should be contacted if the concern is high.  In emergencies, such as if a child is in immediate danger, the Police should be called for assistance.

Listening to the child

Whenever a child reports that they are suffering or have suffered significant harm through abuse or neglect, or have caused or are causing physical or sexual harm to others, the initial response from all professionals should be limited to listening carefully to what the child says to:

  • clarify the concerns
  • offer re-assurance about how the child will be kept safe
  • explain what action will be taken and within what timeframe.

Consideration should be given to additional support or advocacy for children with communication difficulties or disabilities and those who do not speak English (particularly unaccompanied children, refugees or those trafficked from abroad). The child must not be pressed for information, led or cross-examined or given false assurances of absolute confidentiality, as this could prejudice police investigations, especially in cases of sexual abuse.

If the child can understand the significance and consequences of making a referral to local authority children's social care, they should be asked their view.

However, it should be explained to the child that, whilst their view will be taken into account, the professional has a responsibility to take whatever action is required to ensure the child's safety and the safety of other children.

Consulting parents  

Where practicable, concerns should be discussed with the parent and agreement sought for a referral to local authority children's social care unless seeking agreement is likely to:

  • place the child at risk of significant harm through delay or the parent's actions or reactions
  • lead to the risk of loss of evidential material. For example in circumstances where there are concerns or suspicions that a serious crime such as sexual abuse or induced illness has taken place.

Where a professional decides not to seek parental permission before making a referral to local authority children's social care, the decision must be recorded in the child's file with reasons, dated and signed and confirmed in the referral to local authority children's social care.

A child protection referral from a professional cannot be treated as anonymous, so the parent will ultimately become aware of the identity of the referrer. Where the parent refuses to give permission for the referral, unless it would cause undue delay, further advice should be sought from a manager or the nominated child protection adviser and the outcome fully recorded.

If, having taken full account of the parents' wishes, it is still considered that there is a need for referral:

  • the reason for proceeding without parental agreement must be recorded
  • the parent's withholding of permission must form part of the verbal and written referral to local authority children's social care
  • the parent should be contacted to inform them that, after considering their wishes, a referral has been made.

Considering diversity

At all stages of the child protection process, consideration must be given to issues of diversity, taking into account:

  • the impact of cultural expectations and obligations on the family
  • the family's knowledge and understanding of UK law in relation to parenting and child welfare
  • the impact on the family if recently arrived in the UK and their immigrant status
  • the need to use safe and independent interpreters for discussions about parenting and child welfare, even though the family's day-to-day English may appear/be adequate.

The analysis of the child’s and families cultural needs must not result in a lowering of expectations when applying standards of good practice to safeguarding the child.

Seeking urgent medical attention

If the child is suffering from a serious injury, the professional must seek immediate medical attention from emergency services and must inform local authority children's social care, and the duty consultant paediatrician at the hospital.

Where abuse is alleged, suspected or confirmed in a child admitted to hospital, the child must not be discharged until:

  • the local authority children's social care for the area where the hospital is located and for the child's home address are notified by telephone that there are child protection concerns. (This may be two different local authority children's social care teams)
  • a strategy meeting/discussion has been held, if appropriate, which should include relevant hospital and other professionals.

Responding to concerns raised by members of the public

When a member of the public telephones or approaches any agency with concerns, about the welfare of a child or an unborn baby, the professional who receives the contact should always:

  • Gather as much information as possible in order to make a judgement about the seriousness of the concerns.
  • Take basic details:
  • Name, address, gender and date of birth of child
  • Name and contact details for parent/s, educational setting (e.g. nursery, school), primary medical practitioner (e.g. GP practice), professionals providing other services, a lead practitioner for the child.
  • Discuss the case with their manager and the agency's designated safeguarding professional lead to decide whether to:
    • make a referral to local authority children's social care
    • make a referral to the lead practitioner, if the case is open and there is one
    • make a referral to a specialist agency or professional e.g. educational psychology or a speech and language therapist
    • undertake an assessment.
  • Record the referral with the detail of information received and given, separating out fact from opinion as far as possible.
  • Inform the referrer about what happens next.

The member of the public should also be given the number for their local authority children's social care and encouraged to contact them directly. The agency receiving the initial concern should always make a referral to local authority children's social care (and to the lead professional if there is one) in case the member of the public does not follow through (a common occurrence).

If there is a risk that the member of the public will disengage without giving sufficient information to enable agencies to investigate concerns about a child, the NSPCC national 24 hour Child Protection Helpline (0808 800 5000) and Childline (0800 1111) can be offered as an alternative means of reporting concerns.

Individuals may prefer not to give their name to local authority children's social care or the NSPCC. Alternatively they may disclose their identity, but not wish for it to be revealed to the parent/s of the child concerned. Wherever possible, professionals should respect the referrer's request for anonymity. However professionals should not give referrers any guarantees of confidentiality as there are certain limited circumstances in which the identity of a referrer may have to be given (e.g. the court arena).

Local publicity material should make the above position clear to potential referrers.

Local authority children's social care should offer the referrer the opportunity of an interview.

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

Sharing information between professionals and local agencies is essential to provide effective early help and to put in place child protection services. Often it is only when information is shared that it becomes clear a child may be at risk of significant harm. Indeed, Serious Case Reviews have shown that poor information sharing has contributed to deaths or serious injuries of children.

Consent to share information should always be sought unless doing so is likely to place the child at risk of significant harm through delay, or the parent's actions or reactions, or lead to the loss of evidential material. Information may be shared without consent if it is to promote the welfare and protect the safety of children. Further information can be found in Section 2.10 of these procedures.

All professionals should ensure that they understand the guidance on information sharing in Part 2 of these procedures.

It is also worth reading the government guidance on information sharing: Information sharing: advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers (July 2018).   

This outlines the seven golden rules to sharing information:

  1. Remember that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Data Protection Act 2018 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
  2. Be open and honest with the individual (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  3. Seek advice from other practitioners if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
  4. Where possible, share information with consent, and where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to having their information shared. Under the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 you may share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is a lawful basis to do so, such as where safety may be at risk. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case. When you are sharing or requesting personal information from someone, be clear of the basis upon which you are doing so. Where you do not have consent, be mindful that an individual might not expect information to be shared.
  5. Consider safety and well-being: Base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and well-being of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
  6. Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, accurate, timely and secure: Ensure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those individuals who need to have it, is accurate and up-to-date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely.
  7. Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it – whether it is to share information or not. If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose.

No professional should assume that someone else will pass on information which they think may be critical to keeping a child safe. If a professional has concerns about a child’s welfare and believes they are suffering, or likely to suffer, harm, they should share the information with children’s social care in the relevant local authority.

Also see the information sharing confidentiality protocol.

WT2018 amends.

26-04-2019

Providing ‘early help’ is more effective in promoting the welfare of children than reacting when problems become more serious. This help may be needed at any point in a child’s life, from early to teenage years.

All professionals, particularly those in universal services, should be alert to signs that a child may require early help. This may include a child who:

  • is disabled and has specific additional needs
  • has special educational needs
  • is a young carer
  • is showing signs of engaging in anti-social or criminal behaviour, including gang involvement and association with organised crime groups
  • is frequently missing/goes missing from care or from home
  • is at risk of modern slavery, trafficking or exploitation
  • is at risk of being radicalised or exploited
  • is in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as drug and alcohol abuse, adult mental health problems and domestic violence
  • is misusing drugs or alcohol themselves
  • has returned home to their family from care
  • is a privately fostered child.

If a professional identifies a need for early help, they have a responsibility to share that information and work together with other agencies to provide children with the support they need. Indeed, effective early help relies upon local agencies working together to:

  • identify children and families who would benefit from early help
  • assess the need for early help, and
  • provide targeted early help services to address the assessed needs of a child and their family in order to improve outcomes for the child.

Further guidance is available in the thresholds/level of need criteria guidance in Section 3 of these procedures. These explain the inter-agency processes for early help assessments and the type of early help services provided.

WT2018 amends

26-04-2019

Children are best protected when professionals are clear about what is required of them individually and understand how they need to work together. Research has also demonstrated that every day counts for children who need additional help and co-ordinated multi-agency action can be crucial to safeguard and promote their welfare.

This document describes the core procedures that should be followed by professionals (including unqualified staff and volunteers) and managers in agencies who provide services for children, families or parents in the nine participating areas.

For these purposes a child is defined as any child or young person who has not yet reached their 18th birthday and the participating areas cover the following nine local authority areas: Birmingham, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire.

These procedures are in line with the guidance in Working Together to Safeguard Children (July 2018) and underpinned by two key principles:

  1. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility: for services to be effective each professional and organisation should play their full part.

Children live in families and communities so everyone potentially has information that is important including: the child, family, neighbours, school, early years, NHS, and other services involved including adult services, private and third sector organisations, housing, police and probation services.

  1. A child-centred approach: for services to be effective they should be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of children.

Working Together to Safeguard Children defines safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children's health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care, and
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

WT2018 amends

26-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

MIND link added

 

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Removed old Ofsted report.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

New section.

24-04-2019

New section.

24-04-2019

New section

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Revised procedure as per procedures group direction.

24-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procudure group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procedures group request.

08-04-2019

Updated as per procuredure group request.

08-04-2019

Home Office guidance link added: 'Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerabe adults: county lines'.

13-02-2019

Added new definition of a bully (The Diana Award).

08-11-2018

Updated information sharing link

08-11-2018

Updated government guidance on information sharing (2018)

08-11-2018

Updated government guidance on information sharing (2018)

08-11-2018

Sharing information between professionals and local agencies is essential to provide effective early help and to put in place child protection services. Often it is only when information is shared that it becomes clear a child may be at risk of significant harm. Indeed, Serious Case Reviews have shown that poor information sharing has contributed to deaths or serious injuries of children.

Consent to share information should always be sought unless doing so is likely to place the child at risk of significant harm through delay, or the parent's actions or reactions, or lead to the loss of evidential material. Information may be shared without consent if it is to promote the welfare and protect the safety of children.

All professionals should ensure that they understand the guidance on information sharing in Part 2 of these procedures.

It is also worth reading the government guidance on information sharing: Information sharing: advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers (July 2018).   

This outlines the seven golden rules to sharing information:

  1. Remember that the Data Protection Act 1998 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
  2. Be open and honest with the individual (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  3. Seek advice from other practitioners if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
  4. Where possible, share information with consent, and where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to having their information shared. Under the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 you may share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is a lawful basis to do so, such as where safety may be at risk. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case. When you are sharing or requesting personal information from someone, be clear of the basis upon which you are doing so. Where you do not have consent, be mindful that an individual might not expect information to be shared.
  5. Consider safety and well-being: Base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and well-being of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
  6. Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, accurate, timely and secure: Ensure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those individuals who need to have it, is accurate and up-to-date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely.
  7. Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it – whether it is to share information or not. If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose.

No professional should assume that someone else will pass on information which they think may be critical to keeping a child safe. If a professional has concerns about a child’s welfare and believes they are suffering, or likely to suffer, harm, they should share the information with children’s social care in the relevant local authority.

Also see the information sharing confidentiality protocol.

Updated 'Seven golden rules to sharing information' and links to government guidance on information sharing (updated 2018).

08-11-2018

Added Department of Education guidance: Approaches to preventing and tackling bullying

08-11-2018

Updated Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018

08-11-2018

Updated Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018

08-11-2018

Updated Keeping Children Safe in Education (2018)

08-11-2018

Updated Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018

08-11-2018

Updated Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018

08-11-2018

Updated Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018

08-11-2018

Updating Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018.

08-11-2018

Each LSCB must ensure that a review is undertaken of every child death in their area by a Child Death Overview Panel (CDOP).

The death of a child is a tragedy and enquiries should keep an appropriate balance between forensic and medical requirements and supporting the family at a difficult time. Professionals supporting parents and family members should assure them that the objective of the child death review process is not to allocate blame, but to learn lessons that could help prevent further child deaths.

The responsibility for ensuring a review takes place rests with the LSCB for the area where the child is normally resident. (If it is unclear in which area the child normally resided, the relevant CDOP Chairs should negotiate and agree who will lead the review.)

Other LSCBs or local organisations who have had involvement in the case should co-operate in jointly planning and undertaking the child death review.

In the case of a looked after child, the LSCB for the area of the local authority looking after the child should take lead responsibility for conducting the child death review, involving other LSCBs with an interest or whose lead agencies have had contact with the child.

Clich here for national CDOP templates.

Added link to national forms / DfE website.

29-10-2018

Updated link to DVRIM website.

02-08-2018

Updated link to current guidance in 'Protection and action to be taken'

09-05-2018

Added Early Help Assessment (EHA) as an alternative to Common Assessment Framwork (CAF)

09-05-2018

Responding to concerns about a child

Anyone who has concerns about a child’s welfare should make a referral to local authority children’s social care. This includes professionals who work with children and their families but could also be the child themselves, family members or members of the public.

The Children Act 1989 introduced the concept of significant harm as the threshold which justifies compulsory intervention in family life in the best interests of children. Section 47 of the Act places a duty on local authorities to make enquiries, or cause enquiries to be made, where it has reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm.

It is therefore important that all professionals working with children and families understand the concept of significant harm and also what constitutes abuse and neglect.

Responding to risks of harm to an unborn child

In some circumstances, agencies or individuals are able to anticipate where an expected baby is likely to suffer significant harm (e.g. domestic violence, parental substance misuse or mental ill health).

These concerns should be addressed as early as possible before the birth so that a full assessment can be undertaken and support offered to enable the parent/s (wherever possible) to provide safe care. For more information, see the pre-birth procedures.

Responsibilities of agencies and organisations

Each organisation should have internal child protection procedures which are compliant with these regional procedures: the 10 Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs) within the wider West Midlands area are responsible for confirming agencies and organisations have these procedures in place.

Each organisation’s own internal child protection procedures must provide instruction to professionals in:

  • identifying potential or actual harm to children
  • discussing and recording concerns with a first line manager/in supervision
  • analysing concerns by completing an assessment
  • discussing concerns with the organisation’s designated safeguarding lead (who should be able to offer advice and decide upon the necessity for a referral to local authority children's social care).

Professionals in all organisations should be sufficiently knowledgeable and competent to contact local authority children's social care or the police about their concerns directly and to complete the appropriate referral form. Where advice is required, professionals should feel comfortable contacting their local authority children’s social care or Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (if one exists in the area) to discuss the case.

If it appears that the child is suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm, a formal referral to local authority children's social care, the police or emergency services (for any urgent medical treatment) must not be delayed by the need for consultation with management or the designated safeguarding professional lead, or the completion of an assessment.  

Responsibilities of professionals

Professionals in all agencies and organisations (including public services, commissioned provider services and voluntary organisations) who come into contact with children, who work with adult parents/carers or who gain knowledge about children through working with adults, should:

  • be alert to potential indicators of abuse or neglect
  • be alert to the risks which individual abusers, or potential abusers, may pose to children
  • be alert to the impact on the child of any concerns of abuse or maltreatment
  • be able to gather and analyse information as part of an assessment of the child’s needs.

The law empowers anyone who has care of a child to do all that is reasonable in the circumstances to safeguard their welfare. Accordingly, professionals in all agencies should take appropriate action wherever necessary to ensure that no child is left in immediate danger, e.g. a teacher, foster carer, childminder, a volunteer or any professional should take all reasonable steps to offer a child immediate protection (including from an aggressive parent).

Duty to co-operate and refer

All professionals in agencies with contact with children and members of their families must make a referral to local authority children's social care if there are signs that a child or an unborn baby:

The timing of such referrals should reflect the level of perceived risk to the child or unborn baby and should be within one working day of identification or disclosure of the harm or risk of harm.

In urgent situations out of office hours the referral should be made to the local authority children's social care emergency duty team/out of hour’s team.

Where a child or unborn baby has an allocated social worker and a professional has new or additional information this must be documented and passed without delay to the allocated social worker or case manager for consideration by children's social care.  In the event the allocated scial worker and/or case manager are unavailable the person holding information should follow the arrangements for passing on information to the relevant team.  As above, if it is outside of office hours the local authority children's social care emergency duty team/out of hours team should be contacted if the concern is high.  In emergencies, such as if a child is in immediate danger, the Police should be called for assistance.

Listening to the child

Whenever a child reports that they are suffering or have suffered significant harm through abuse or neglect, or have caused or are causing physical or sexual harm to others, the initial response from all professionals should be limited to listening carefully to what the child says to:

  • clarify the concerns
  • offer re-assurance about how the child will be kept safe
  • explain what action will be taken and within what timeframe.

Additional measures may be required for a child with communication difficulties e.g. in consequence of a disability.

The child must not be pressed for information, led or cross-examined or given false assurances of absolute confidentiality, as this could prejudice police investigations, especially in cases of sexual abuse.

If the child can understand the significance and consequences of making a referral to local authority children's social care, they should be asked their view.

However, it should be explained to the child that, whilst their view will be taken into account, the professional has a responsibility to take whatever action is required to ensure the child's safety and the safety of other children.

Consulting parents  

Where practicable, concerns should be discussed with the parent and agreement sought for a referral to local authority children's social care unless seeking agreement is likely to:

  • place the child at risk of significant harm through delay or the parent's actions or reactions
  • lead to the risk of loss of evidential material. For example in circumstances where there are concerns or suspicions that a serious crime such as sexual abuse or induced illness has taken place.

Where a professional decides not to seek parental permission before making a referral to local authority children's social care, the decision must be recorded in the child's file with reasons, dated and signed and confirmed in the referral to local authority children's social care.

A child protection referral from a professional cannot be treated as anonymous, so the parent will ultimately become aware of the identity of the referrer. Where the parent refuses to give permission for the referral, unless it would cause undue delay, further advice should be sought from a manager or the nominated child protection adviser and the outcome fully recorded.

If, having taken full account of the parents' wishes, it is still considered that there is a need for referral:

  • the reason for proceeding without parental agreement must be recorded
  • the parent's withholding of permission must form part of the verbal and written referral to local authority children's social care
  • the parent should be contacted to inform them that, after considering their wishes, a referral has been made.

Considering diversity

At all stages of the child protection process, consideration must be given to issues of diversity, taking into account:

  • the impact of cultural expectations and obligations on the family
  • the family's knowledge and understanding of UK law in relation to parenting and child welfare
  • the impact on the family if recently arrived in the UK and their immigrant status
  • the need to use safe and independent interpreters for discussions about parenting and child welfare, even though the family's day-to-day English may appear/be adequate.

The analysis of the child’s and families cultural needs must not result in a lowering of expectations when applying standards of good practice to safeguarding the child.

Seeking urgent medical attention

If the child is suffering from a serious injury, the professional must seek immediate medical attention from emergency services and must inform local authority children's social care, and the duty consultant paediatrician at the hospital.

Where abuse is alleged, suspected or confirmed in a child admitted to hospital, the child must not be discharged until:

  • the local authority children's social care for the area where the hospital is located and for the child's home address are notified by telephone that there are child protection concerns. (This may be two different local authority children's social care teams)
  • a strategy meeting/discussion has been held, if appropriate, which should include relevant hospital and other professionals.

Responding to concerns raised by members of the public

When a member of the public telephones or approaches any agency with concerns, about the welfare of a child or an unborn baby, the professional who receives the contact should always:

  • Gather as much information as possible in order to make a judgement about the seriousness of the concerns.
  • Take basic details:
  • Name, address, gender and date of birth of child
  • Name and contact details for parent/s, educational setting (e.g. nursery, school), primary medical practitioner (e.g. GP practice), professionals providing other services, a lead professional for the child.
  • Discuss the case with their manager and the agency's designated safeguarding professional lead to decide whether to:
    • make a referral to local authority children's social care
    • make a referral to the lead professional, if the case is open and there is one
    • make a referral to a specialist agency or professional e.g. educational psychology or a speech and language therapist
    • undertake an assessment.
  • Record the referral with the detail of information received and given, separating out fact from opinion as far as possible.
  • Inform the referrer about what happens next.

The member of the public should also be given the number for their local authority children's social care and encouraged to contact them directly. The agency receiving the initial concern should always make a referral to local authority children's social care (and to the lead professional if there is one) in case the member of the public does not follow through (a common occurrence).

If there is a risk that the member of the public will disengage without giving sufficient information to enable agencies to investigate concerns about a child, the NSPCC national 24 hour Child Protection Helpline (0808 800 5000) and Childline (0800 1111) can be offered as an alternative means of reporting concerns.

Individuals may prefer not to give their name to local authority children's social care or the NSPCC. Alternatively they may disclose their identity, but not wish for it to be revealed to the parent/s of the child concerned. Wherever possible, professionals should respect the referrer's request for anonymity. However professionals should not give referrers any guarantees of confidentiality as there are certain limited circumstances in which the identity of a referrer may have to be given (e.g. the court arena).

Local publicity material should make the above position clear to potential referrers.

Local authority children's social care should offer the referrer the opportunity of an interview.

Addition to 'Duty to co-operate and refer'

Where a child or unborn baby has an allocated social worker and a professional has new or additional information this must be documented and passed without delay to the allocated social worker or case manager for consideration by children's social care.  In the event the allocated scial worker and/or case manager are unavailable the person holding information should follow the arrangements for passing on information to the relevant team.  As above, if it is outside of office hours the local authority children's social care emergency duty team/out of hours team should be contacted if the concern is high.  In emergencies, such as if a child is in immediate danger, the Police should be called for assistance.

 

08-05-2018

The decision to discontinue a child protection plan will normally be made by a Review conference. A child may no longer need a child protection plan if:

  • the review conference judges that the child is no longer likely to suffer significant harm and no longer requires safeguarding by means of a child protection plan
  • the child has moved permanently to another local authority and a Transfer-in conference has taken place and, where appropriate, local authority children’s social care in the new area has confirmed responsibility for case management in writing)
  • the child has reached 18 years of age (to end the child protection plan, the local authority should have a review around the child's birthday and this should be planned in advance)
  • the child has been judged to have permanently left the UK (unless there are specific concerns that require the plan to continue)
  • the child is no longer deemed at risk of significant harm due to becoming a Looked After Child (this decision could be made at a Review Conference or via formal correspondence with conference members (e.g. letter) dependant on local process)
  • the child has died.

It is permissible for the local authority child protection manager to agree the discontinuing of a child protection plan without the need to convene a child protection review conference if one of these criteria has been met AND they have consulted with all relevant agencies present at the conference that first concluded that a child protection plan was required. The decision to discontinue the child protection plan must then be clearly recorded in the local authority children's social care child's record.

When a child protection plan is discontinued notification should be sent to all the agencies represented or who were invited to the initial child protection conference that led to the plan.

The discontinuation of the child protection plan does not necessarily mean that the family is no longer in need of services and/or support. When a decision is made to discontinue a child protection plan arrangements should always be in place to consider with the family what further help and support might be offered through a child in need/family support plan.

  • the child is no longer deemed at risk of significant harm due to becoming a Looked After Child (this decision could be made at a Review Conference or via formal correspondence with conference members (e.g. letter) dependant on local process)
08-05-2018

Whenever there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, a strategy meeting/discussion should be held.

Strategy discussions should ideally be face-to-face but telephone discussions (for example, by a conference call or virtual meeting) may be adequate in some circumstances.

Strategy meetings should be multi-agency as far as possible and should involve all key professionals known to, or involved with, the child and family. Local authority children’s social care, health and the police should always attend. Where the child is in hospital, the appropriate clinician should also be included.

 

Added 'health' to the list of agencies that should always attend strategy meetings

08-05-2018

Added Yoti app for reporting explicit images into the further information section.

27-02-2018

Changed 'sexting' to 'youth produced sexual imagery', as per UK Council for Child Internet Safety guidance

27-02-2018

Changed 'sexting' to 'youth produced sexual imagery', as per UK Council for Child Internet Safety guidance

27-02-2018

Changed 'sexting' to 'youth produced sexual imagery', as per UK Council for Child Internet Safety guidance

27-02-2018

Changed 'sexting' to 'youth produced sexual imagery', as per UK Council for Child Internet Safety guidance

27-02-2018

Added Department for Education guidance.

27-02-2018

Added NICE guidance to end of section on Indicators.

27-02-2018

Added NICE guidance to end of Definitions section.

27-02-2018

Changed 2014 statutory guidance to 2017 statutory guidance

27-02-2018

Changed the name and link of statutory guidance 2014 to updated guidance 2017

27-02-2018

Updated statutory guidance from 2014 guidance to 2017 guidance.

27-02-2018

Removed Solihull reference

04-07-2017

Children are best protected when professionals are clear about what is required of them individually and understand how they need to work together. Research has also demonstrated that every day counts for children who need additional help and co-ordinated multi-agency action can be crucial to safeguard and promote their welfare.

This document describes the core procedures that should be followed by professionals (including unqualified staff and volunteers) and managers in agencies who provide services for children, families or parents in the participating LSCB areas.

For these purposes a child is defined as any child or young person who has not yet reached their 18th birthday and the participating LSCB areas cover the following nine local authority areas: Birmingham, Dudley, Herefordshire, Sandwell, Shropshire, Telford & Wrekin, Walsall, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire.

These procedures are in line with the guidance in Working Together to Safeguard Children (March 2015) and underpinned by two key principles:

  1. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility: for services to be effective each professional and organisation should play their full part.

Children live in families and communities so everyone potentially has information that is important including: the child, family, neighbours, school, early years, NHS, and other services involved including adult services, private and third sector organisations, housing, police and probation services.

  1. A child-centred approach: for services to be effective they should be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of children.

Working Together to Safeguard Children defines safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children's health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care, and
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

Removed Solihull and changed 10 boards to nine

04-07-2017

For more detailed information on child protection enquiries, see the West Midlands Joint Protocol: Child Protection Enquiries and Related Criminal Investigations or West Mercia Police and Children Services Protocol - Section 47 Enquiries and Criminal Investigations (please note that this document is under review during 2017).

 

Changed text regarding review of West Mercia Police and Children's Servcies Protocol in 'Summary'

31-03-2017

Please select a board to see additional information:

This page is correct as printed on Sunday 20th of October 2019 09:47:44 AM please refer back to this website (http://westmidlands.procedures.org.uk) for updates.
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