This chapter should be read in conjunction with the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children.
This chapter was amended in October 2019 by adding a link to Practice Guidance for Strategy Discussions and Consultations with the Child Protection Chairs. Please ensure familiarity of this. Links were also added to the Escalation Policy for Child Protection and Looked After Children, and to the Child Protection Medical Pathway.
Where information results in the social worker suspecting that the child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, a Strategy Discussion Meeting should be held to decide whether to initiate enquiries under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989. Strategy Discussions/Meetings should be held as soon as possible, bearing in mind the needs of the child and must take place within 3 days.
A Section 47 Enquiry is initiated to decide whether and what type of action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child who is suspected of, or likely to be, suffering significant harm. The enquiry is carried out by undertaking or continuing with an assessment in accordance with the guidelines set out in this chapter and following the principles and parameters of a good assessment (see Assessments Procedure for further details).
A multi-agency assessment (see Assessments Procedure) is the means by which Section 47 Enquiries are carried out. Enquiries under Section 47 must be available in time for an Initial Child Protection Conference. The timing of the Initial Child Protection Conference should depend on the urgency of the case and respond to the needs of the child and the nature and severity of the harm they may be facing. It should take place within 15 working days of a Strategy Discussion, at which section 47 enquiries were initiated if more than one has been held.
Local authority social workers have a statutory duty to lead Section 47 Enquiries. The police, health professionals, teachers and other relevant professionals should attend the strategy meeting and support the local authority in undertaking its enquiries. The Children's Social Care Manager has responsibility for chairing the strategy meeting and authorising a Section 47 Enquiry.
The Section 47 Enquiry and assessment must be allocated to and led by a qualified and experienced social worker from Children's social care, who will be responsible for its coordination and completion.
For all further guidance and procedures on conducting strategy meetings and Section 47 Child Protection enquiries refer to:
- London Child Protection Procedures;
- Missing from Home, Care & Education – Child Sexual Exploitation: Joint Operating Procedures & Practice Guidance (Bexley Children's Social Care and Bexley Borough Police);