In December 2017 additional information regarding disagreement between Police and Social Care was added to Section 1, Dissent at Referral/Enquiry Stage.
- Dissent at Referral/Enquiry Stage
- Dissent about Need for Child Protection Conference
- Dissent at Child Protection Conferences
- Dissent Regarding the Implementation of the Child Protection Plan
- Where Professional Differences Remain (LSCB Appeals Process)
- Local Information
1. Dissent at Referral/Enquiry Stage
Principle: At no time must professional dissent detract from ensuring that the child is safeguarded. The child's welfare and safety must remain paramount throughout.
Disagreements over the handling of concerns reported to Children's Social Work Services typically occur when:
- The Referral is not considered to meet eligibility criteria for assessment by Children's Social Care Services;
- Children's Social Care Services conclude that further information should be sought by the referrer before the referral is progressed;
- There is disagreement as to whether child protection procedures should be invoked;
- Children's Social Care Services and the Police place different interpretations on the need for single/joint agency response;
- There is disagreement regarding the need to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference (see Section 2, Dissent about Need for Child Protection Conference).
If the professionals are unable to resolve differences through discussion and/or meeting within a time scale which is acceptable to both of them, their disagreement must be addressed by more experienced or more senior staff.
With respect to most day to day issues, this will require a Children's Services Social Care team manager or assistant team manager liaising with her/his equivalent in the relevant agency.
If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between the above 'first line' managers (who should normally seek advice from her/his line manager or designated/named/lead officer) the issue must be referred without delay through the line management of the respective agency/agencies structure. In agencies where the management chain has already been exhausted the most senior staff member should escalate their concerns to the next tier of management in Children's Services, (i.e. Team Manager). This principle applies to all escalation sections within this policy. Please contact your local MASH or LSCB for details of your local contacts.
Alternatively, and more commonly in health services, input may be sought directly from the Designated or Named Professional in preference to the use of line management.
At this point a discussion / meeting should be called to discuss the situation involving all parties. Records of discussions must be maintained by all the agencies involved. The outcome of discussions and agreed actions should also be recorded.
In the particular circumstances where there is disagreement between police and social care as to whether a joint agency approach is required the matter should be escalated from Team Manager/Sergeant to District or Service Manager/Inspector level. If there is still no agreement (such circumstances should be rare) further escalation can occur to Area Director (or equivalent)/Chief Inspector level for final resolution.Where there has been a dispute the rationale for decisions on joint agency working should be recorded on strategy meetings for all levels of decision making.
2. Dissent about Need for Child Protection Conference
The decision whether or not to convene a Child Protection Conference rests with Children's Social Care Services. However, those professionals and agencies who are most involved with the child and family, and those who have taken part in a Section 47 Enquiry, have the right to request that Children's Social Care Services convene a Child Protection Conference if they have serious concerns that a child's welfare may not otherwise be adequately safeguarded.
Any such request that is supported by a senior manager, or a Designated or Named Professional, should normally be agreed. Where there remain differences of view over the necessity for a conference in a specific case, the concerns should be escalated via the line management of Children's Services and the other agency involved. Every effort should be made to resolve them through discussion and explanation.
3. Dissent at Child Protection Conferences
If a Child Protection Conference is unable to achieve a consensus as to the outcome, the Conference Chair will make a decision and note any dissenting views. This will include the situation where there is no majority view and where the Conference Chair exercises his or her decision making powers. The Chair will take the views of the Conference into account but can overrule the majority view if necessary. The Chair's decision is final.
The agency or individual who dissents from the Chair's decision must determine whether s/he wishes to further challenge the result.
If the dissenting professional believes that the decision reached by the Conference Chair places a child at (further) risk of Significant Harm, it is expected that s/he will formally raise the matter with their line manager and/or Designated or Named Professional in their agency.
This will require a discussion between a Children's Services Social Care senior manager and their equivalent in the relevant agency.
If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between the above managers the issue must be referred without delay through the line management of the respective agency/agencies structure.
At this point a meeting should be called to discuss the situation involving all parties. Records of discussions must be maintained by all the agencies involved. The outcome of discussions and agreed actions should also be recorded. If the concern still remains at this stage the dissenting professional / agency can appeal via the LSCB (see Section 5, Where Professional Differences Remain (LSCB Appeals Process)).
4. Dissent Regarding the Implementation of the Child Protection Plan
Concern or disagreement may arise over another professional's decisions, actions or lack of actions in the implementation of the Child Protection Plan, including participation in Core Group meetings.
The line managers of the professionals involved should first address these concerns.
If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between the above 'first line' managers, the issue must be referred without delay through the line management of each agency.
Alternatively, and more commonly in health services, input may be sought directly from the Designated or Named Professional in preference to use of line management.
Where the issue cannot be resolved, consideration should be given to convening a Child Protection Review Conference.
5. Where Professional Differences Remain (LSCB Appeals Process)
If professional disagreements remain unresolved, by the steps described above and/or the discussions raise significant policy issues the matter must be referred to your LSCB Chair.
You should contact your LSCB office (see Local Contacts) who will determine an appropriate course of action with the LSCB Chair.
Further local information may be added here as required.