Back to Decision making and initial child protection conferences

The initial child protection conference: process

The child protection conference should follow a process that ensures the focus remains on the child and their care and support protection needs.

Chairing the child protection conference

The conference chair should be:

The primary role of the conference chair is to ensure that the conference is child-centred and that the care and support protection needs of the child/ren are identified and addressed.

This should be achieved by:

The agenda

The chair is responsible for ensuring the conference remains child-centred. The agenda is designed to achieve this and should cover:

Pointers for Practice: Translating the Agenda into A Child-Centred Conference Process

Confidentiality and the sharing of information at child protection conferences

Successful multi-agency co-operation in protecting children is rooted in the exchange and sharing of relevant information and there is a duty to co-operate placed on all relevant partners.

Practitioner requests to withhold confidential information from the family

It is good practice for the chair to ask practitioners, in advance of the conference, whether there is anything a practitioner is unable to share with parents.

The chair will facilitate a discussion with practitioner attendees as how this information is to be shared.

Any agency that wishes to withhold any confidential information from the conference, must discuss this with the conference chair at the earliest possible opportunity.

Request during conference

In the event of any member of the conference exercising their right to withhold confidential information from the family members after the conference has started, the family will be asked to leave the conference briefly for a closed session.

Circumstances when information must be disclosed

There are some situations when information must be disclosed. These are:

1: Right to request personal information.

Subject to limited exceptions, any person has a right to request access to personal information held about them. This includes information contained in child protection conference records and this must be disclosed upon request whether the individual attends the conference or not.

It should be noted that non-family members might also apply to see information about themselves that may be contained in child protection conference records.

2: Court and legal proceedings

If there are court proceedings child protection conference records may be disclosed to the parties. Records will generally only be disclosed to the parties following an order of the court This applies to both family proceedings and to criminal proceedings. Conference members may be asked or ordered to attend court to give evidence.

If there are legal or private proceedings, the CAFCASS children’s guardian may see the child protection conference records, and any strategy meeting records and may refer to them in their reports.

Where there are criminal proceedings, the police will disclose the records to the Crown Prosecution Service and if they contain any information, which either undermines the prosecution case or assists the defence case, also to the defence.

3: Practitioner disclosure

To other practitioners involved with the child who have not attended the conference. Permission should be obtained from the conference chair before passing information to a third party including other agencies.

4: Public interest

Disclosure of confidential information when necessary, in the public interest when persons may be at risk of harm. The public interest in child protection overrides the public interest of maintaining confidentiality.

Disclosures should be justifiable in each case and legal advice should be sought.

Working together to safeguard people: Information sharing.