South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures
South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Procedures

1.3.5 Strategy Meetings

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter details the policy and protocol with regard to convening Strategy meetings when there are safeguarding concerns and Child Protection Enquiries.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

South West Safeguarding and Child Protection Group Procedures, Strategy Discussion


Contents

  1. Purpose
  2. Complex Strategy Meetings
  3. How to Arrange a Complex Strategy Meeting
  4. Strategy Meetings Chaired by Team Managers
  5. How
  6. Who
  7. How to do it

    Appendix 1: Strategy Meetings Matrix


1. Purpose

The purpose of a strategy discussion is to decide whether to start an enquiry into suspicions about Significant Harm (Section 47 Enquiry) and, if yes, to plan the enquiry and monitor its progress. A Core Assessment is the means by which the Section 47 enquiries will be carried out. Strategy Discussions should be thought of as a process rather than a one-off event. They are the means for keeping relevant professionals involved in a child protection enquiry.

There are two types of strategy meeting one which is normally chaired by a Team Manager and one (complex) which is chaired by a Safeguarding and Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) who is based within the Safeguarding Unit.


2. Complex Strategy Meetings

These are arranged when the following concerns are identified or suspected:

  1. Where a child has made an allegation against a member of staff, volunteer, or someone in a position of trust including, staff, professional and volunteers and foster paid or unpaid carers;
  2. Children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation;
  3. Where there is more than one alleged perpetrator;
  4. Where there is more than one child involved who does not live in the same family;
  5. Any indicators or organized or ritualistic abuse;
  6. Young people and children who are or who are suspected of displaying sexually harmful behaviours;
  7. Where there is a concern or indicators of Fabricated Illness.

This list is not exhaustive and the Safeguarding Unit may chair other strategy meetings which require an independent view or because the issues involved are complex in nature.


3. How to Arrange a Complex Strategy Meeting

The Team Manager responsible must contact the Duty Safeguarding and Independent Reviewing Office to discuss arranging a complex strategy meeting. In the case of allegations made against a person in a position of trust a LADO referral from must be completed and either discussed with the LADO or Duty Safeguarding and Reviewing Officer. There will be a discussion regarding the timing of the meeting, invitations and what further information is required. The meeting must be held within three days of the referral being made.

Minutes will be taken, signed by the chair and distributed by the Safeguarding Unit. These will be held on PARIS and will be distributed within 5 working days of the meeting. However, the recommendations and decision must be distributed within 24 hours of the meeting.


4. Strategy Meetings Chaired by Team Managers

Where there are concerns that there is a significant risk of harm to the child, strategy discussions should take place as soon as possible. Only in exceptional circumstances, where delay might place a child or young person at additional risk, should an enquiry into suspicions about significant harm (Section 47) be begun without a strategy discussion first being held. In such cases, a strategy discussion must take place within 24 hours of starting the Section 47 enquiry. In all other situations, a strategy discussion must be held before the enquiry begins.

In the event that the alleged abuser is under the age of eighteen a separate strategy discussion must be considered to determine whether they should themselves be subject to Section 47 enquiries in their own right.


5. How

Strategy discussions may be face-to-face, or by telephone. In more complex cases a face to face strategy meeting should be held. The time and venue of the meeting should be decided in advance to allow as many relevant people as possible to attend.

Where there are allegations of recent Sexual Abuse, the first strategy discussion should be held on the same day as the referral is made, as it may be important to get forensic evidence, or to protect other children.

All parties to strategy discussions should be notified in writing of the results of the enquiries as soon as they are completed.

A strategy discussion should be reconvened if the Section 47 enquiry concludes that a different plan is needed from that agreed in the original strategy discussion, for example if it is thought a child protection conference is no longer necessary.

It is important to keep all parties involved in the progress of the child protection enquiry.


6. Who

Strategy discussions should involve the following:

  • Team Manager  children’s social care;
  • A police representative;
  • A health representative (see below);
  • Other agencies as appropriate, for example, schools, adult mental health services, substance misuse services;
  • The referrer, if they are a professional (but not if they are a member of the public).

The discussion should have information available from the referring agency and all other relevant agencies.

The following health professionals should be involved in the strategy meeting where appropriate:

  • A senior doctor from the service that would examine the child (where it is thought a medical examination may be needed);
  • The medical consultant for the child’s health care (where the child is an in or out hospital patient or is receiving services from a child development team);
  • The senior ward nurse (where the child is an in-patient);
  • A local authority legal adviser should attend the strategy discussion if it is considered appropriate.


7. How to do it

Outcomes of strategy discussions should be recorded by the chair of the discussion or meeting. They should include any information shared, all decisions reached, and the basis for these decisions. Decisions and recommendations from the meeting must be distributed with 24 hours of the meeting. To all professionals involved. 

The strategy discussion should determine whether there are grounds to dispense with parental consent to interview the child and to seek and share information with other agencies. Where social workers or police officers fear that giving parents information, or seeking consent for an interview with the child, might lead to the child, (or another person) being put at risk of significant harm, or where the police believe it might seriously damage a criminal investigation, parental consent is not necessary. Similarly, if the child or young person is judged to be competent to consent to an interview, parental consent is not required. However, these circumstances should be exceptional and the timing of achieving the consent and involvement of family members should be considered and agreed at the strategy discussion, and the rationale for the action taken should be clearly recorded.

It is vital that strategy discussions takes place in a way which ensures that all key people are available and able to be fully involved. The venue may be a school or hospital, police station or children’s social care office - wherever the most relevant people can attend and contribute.

The purpose of the strategy meeting is:

  • Share available information;
  • Agree the conduct and timing of any criminal investigation;
  • Decide whether a core assessment under Section 47 should be started, or continued if it has already begun;
  • Plan how the Section 47 enquiries(core assessment) should be undertaken, including:
    • Whether medical assessment and/or treatment is needed;
    • Who will carry out which actions, by when and for what purpose;
    • When the child soon be seen.
  • Agree what action is required immediately to protect the child, and/or provide interim services and support. If the child is in hospital, decisions should also be made about how to secure the safe discharge of the child;
  • Determine what information will be shared with the family;
  • Determine if legal action is required.

Relevant matters will include:

  • Agreeing a plan for how the core assessment under Section 47 will be carried out, what further information is required about the child and family, and how it should be obtained and recorded;
  • Agreeing who should be interviewed, who by, for what purpose, and when;
  • Agreeing how the child’s views will be sought agreeing, in particular, when the child will be seen alone by the lead social worker during the course of these enquiries (unless to do so would be inappropriate for the child) and the methods by which the child’s wishes and feelings will be ascertained;
  • Considering any arrangements necessary taking into account the race and ethnicity of the child and family;
  • Considering the needs of other children who may be affected, for example siblings, other children living in the same premises, or children and young persons in contact with alleged abusers.

Recording

The minutes, recommendations and decision will be recorded on PARIS and attached to the strategy documentation contained with the CP Module in PARIS. This will be recorded separately for each child. For guidance on recording pleas see PARIS Guide and Recording guidelines and standards.


Appendices

Appendix 1: Strategy Meetings Matrix

End