Back to Decision making and initial child protection conferences

Concluding s47 enquiries

The s47 enquiries conclude when an informed decision is made, taking into account all information available, that the child or children is or is not at continuing risk of significant harm.

N.B. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THE REFERENCES TO ‘HARM’, IN RELATION TO s47 ENQUIRIES, REFERRED TO IN HANDLING INDIVIDUAL CASES VOL 5, MEANS SIGNIFICANT HARM.

Establishing ‘significant harm’

(See significant harm section 3 part 1)

The Social Services and Well-being Act (Wales) 2014, has not changed the purpose of s47 enquiries as set out in the Children’s Act 1989. In this Act the concept of ‘significant harm’ is used.

The concept applies to statutory duties on the local authority to investigate and make enquiries , provide emergency protection if necessary or initiate care proceedings under Parts IV and V of the Act.

Therefore, practitioners must:

Where the question of whether harm suffered by a child is significant turns on the child’s health or development, the child’s health or development is to be compared with that which could reasonably be expected of a similar child.

When making this decision, practitioners must keep in mind the definition of ‘harm’ included in the Social Services and Well-being Act (Wales) 2014: “harm” in relation to a child or children, means abuse or the impairment of —

  1. physical or mental health, or
  2. physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development.

Practitioners establishing whether the child is at risk and/or has experienced significant harm should consider the following:

It is important to note, at this stage in the process, there may be limited evidence/information available to evaluate care and support protection needs. Therefore, if practitioners are not sure, based on the information obtained, that the child is safe from harm then a recommendation should be made for further assessment.

Pointers for Practice: Assessing Significant Harm