This section includes procedures relating to practitioner roles and responsibilities, following receipt of a report by social services about a child at risk of harm, abuse or neglect. It is essential that practitioners understand what is meant by significant harm when assessing and intervening following a report about a child at risk of harm, abuse or neglect.
The first part of this section covers the procedures relating to specific practitioner responsibilities when responding to a report.
understanding the task
knowing what a report-maker needs and what will be asked of practitioners as part of information-gathering by the report-maker
social service practitioner role as report-taker when receiving a report
clarifying next steps with the report-maker
managing reports out of usual office hours
Having obtained information from the report-maker and other practitioners, social services must decide on the action following a report: initial checks and decisions.
completing initial checks
the initial decision
deciding what to do when the initial decision is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is at risk of significant harm
managing emerging/accumulative concerns regarding significant harm whilst the child has a care and support plan
‘seeing’ the child
informing the family of the report
informing the family of the initial decision
informing the family of the initiation of s47 enquiries under the children act
Immediate protection and urgent action may be required at any stage of the safeguarding process. It is important practitioners understand:
planning emergency action
options for securing the immediate protection of a child
the use of compulsory powers
initiating emergency protection orders
refusal relating to medical examination
Police Powers of Protection.
If the initial checks, following a report, conclude that social services have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is at risk of significant harm they should convene a strategy discussion/meeting.
The procedures cover:
the purpose of the discussion/meeting
whether to hold a strategy meeting or discussion
multi-agency participation in strategy discussions/meetings.
recording the strategy discussion/meeting and decisions
further/additional strategy meetings/discussions
local authority boundary issues.
Key decision made at the strategy meeting/discussion is whether any s47 enquiry ensuing S47 enquiries should be:
involving the child in police investigations
the investigative interview with the child
interviewing child witnesses without parental consent
The s47 enquiries commence once a strategy discussion/meeting decides that the evidence indicates they are necessary. In this case it is important that practitioners understand S47 enquiries: key considerations. Those engaged in the enquiries should know their roles and responsibilities in relation to:
the role of the social worker
planning section 47 enquiries
information gathering from parent/s
information gathering from children
speaking to the child without the knowledge of the parent or caregiver
gathering information from other agencies
information-sharing and data protection
sharing information with the family
children who move during child protection s47 enquiries
timing of the medical examination
standards for medical examinations
consent to the medical examination
consent and young people – medical examination
obtaining informed consent
the medical report following examination
Those involved in the strategy meetings/discussions need to play a part in S47 enquiries: analysis and decision-making.
drawing on the s47 analysis and making decisions: ‘determinations’
analysis and making sense of the information gathered
Recording: s47 information and key decisions is essential throughout the process.
Practitioners need to know about:
social services recording
The way in which the child and family are involved in the s47 enquiry process can impact on subsequent work that is undertaken with them. It is important therefore practitioners are working with the child and family during section 47 enquiries.
involving parents or caregivers in s47 enquiries
considering what to do where parents or caregivers refuse to co-operate and emergency action is required
involving children and young people in s47 enquiries