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

Working with the child and family during s47 enquiries

Whilst parents do not need to consent to s47 enquiries they should be consulted and where possible engaged as active participants in the process.

Child-focused relationships between practitioners and families are most likely to develop if parents are:

The child and family should always be empowered to participate fully in the enquiry, unless this is inconsistent with the protection of the child.

The following should be considered:

Involving parents or caregivers in s47 enquiries

The following process should be followed:

Explain the purpose

Social services must explain the purpose of the s47 enquiries to the parents, having regard to their level of understanding and be prepared to answer questions openly, unless doing so would affect the safety and welfare of the child.

It is particularly helpful for families if social services provide written information about the purpose, process and potential outcomes of child protection s47 enquiries.

This should:

Involve the family

The parents or caregivers should be involved throughout the s47 enquiries as far as possible, subject to this being in the best interests of the child.

The social worker and/or police officer undertaking the enquiries should:

For example: a parent may be on medication that slows down their ability to process information, so they may require information repeated a number of times. Alternatively, if English is not their first language, they may require an interpreter.

Inform about criminal investigations

As the police lead all criminal investigations it will be their responsibility to inform the parents/caregivers about criminal investigations.

Advise family of outcomes

It is the responsibility of the social worker leading the s47 enquiry to inform the family of the outcome of the enquiries i.e. the ‘determination’ and the implications of that decision.

Where parents or caregivers refuse to co-operate and emergency action is required

Every effort should be made to secure the co-operation of parents who will need reassurance about the s47 process. However, in some cases, caregivers will refuse to co-operate and practitioners may need to draw on protocols to assist in working with these types of situation. Most Regional Safeguarding Boards have protocols for managing these situations.

Emergency action should be considered where parents refuse to co-operate or take a particular action, and this is likely to cause the child harm.

Emergency action might be necessary as soon as a report is received or at any stage of the process.

Legal actions that can be taken are:

Where consent is not readily available or is refused by a parent, the matter should be discussed with social services regarding the need for legal advice and action to obtain a valid consent.

It should be noted that neither Section 47 Enquiries, Emergency Protection Orders nor Police Powers of Protection include consent for a medical examination. When applying for an Emergency Protection Order and a medical examination is required, directions for a medical examination need to be requested. However, a Child Assessment Order may be more appropriate.

Pointers for Practice: Managing Resistance to s47 enquiries

Pointers for Practice: Practitioner Responses to Resistance and Aggression

Involving children and young people in s47 enquiries

It is the responsibility of participants at the strategy meeting/discussion to decide:

When involving children and young people practitioners should recognise that they often have a clear perception of what needs to be done to ensure their safety and well-being.

The child should:

Throughout the s47 enquiries consideration must be given to the immediate safety of the child and any other children at risk.