Practitioners should try and seek consent from the parents. The reasons for this are that involving families and carers are more likely to:
promote an effective working partnership with the family.
Children, if competent, should also be consulted and their consent obtained. It is important to engage children in the process as early as possible to ensure their wishes and feelings are taken into consideration where possible and to avoid them becoming mere ‘objects of concern’.
However, the safety and welfare of the child is the paramount consideration in terms of seeking consent. If unsure, please contact your local social services team for advice.
For futher guidance see: (Working Together to Safeguard People; Information sharing to Safeguard Children)
In some circumstances, practitioners may need to speak to a child without the knowledge or consent of the parent or carer as children are sometimes the only source of information about what has happened to them.
Where a decision is made not to seek parental consent relevant circumstances for this decision must be recorded and could include:
the possibility that the child would be put at further risk;
the possibility that a child would be threatened or otherwise coerced into silence;
a strong likelihood that important evidence would be destroyed/lost;
the parent identified as the alleged abuser;
the child in question not wishing the parent to be involved at that stage and is competent to take that decision;
it is in the public interest.
Practitioners should discuss whether it is appropriate to seek consent from the child and parents with their agency's designated safeguarding person (DSP).
The child and parent/s wish not to report may be over-ridden if it is considered by practitioners that there is still a need for a report.
In this situation:
the reason for proceeding without parental agreement must be recorded;
social services must be informed that the parent has not given their permission;
the parent/s should be informed by the report-maker that a report has been made despite their wishes, unless to inform them would place the child at risk of harm or further harm.
Social services must be informed at the point of report:
whether consent has been given or withheld;
who was contacted to obtain consent, their response, wishes and desired outcomes;
if the child is aware of the report and has given consent;
when consent has been refused that the child and parent/s have still been informed of the report;
why there have been no attempts made to seek consent.