Back to The duty to report a child at risk of abuse, neglect and/ or harm

Seeking consent to a report

The interests of the child at risk of harm must be the overriding consideration when making decisions as to whether to seek child and/or parental consent, prior to making a report.

Practitioners should try and seek consent from the parents. The reasons for this are that involving families and carers are more likely to:

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)

Pointers for Practice: Seeking Consent: Obtaining Consent from Children and Young People

Making a report without parental consent

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:

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:

Social services must be informed at the point of report: