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3.5 Initial Child Protection Conferences

NOTE

Timescale: An Initial Child Protection Conference must be held within a maximum of 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion or Meeting at which the Section 47 enquiries were initiated, if more than one has been held.

The urgency of the situation, however, may dictate that the timescale is shorter.

Where the outcome of a Section 47 Enquiry is that an Initial Child Protection Conference should be held, an interim Child Protection Plan must be agreed, based on the outcome of Section 47 Enquiries, with clear roles and responsibilities in order to ensure that the child is safeguarded until the Initial Child Protection Conference is convened - see Section 47 Enquiries and Social Work Assessment Procedure.

NB This chapter should be read in conjunction with the Recording Principles.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in April 2017. Section 14, Dissent From the Conference Decision has been updated with the process for when a Child Protection Conference Chair is unable to achieve a consensus as to the need for a Child Protection Plan. The link to the Agency Report for Child Protection Conference in Section 15, Record of Child Protection Conferences, has been updated. Section 13.2, At the Start of the Conference has been updated to note Law Society guidance ‘Attendance of Solicitors at Local Authority Children Act Meetings’ and the ‘Related Code of Conduct (2011)’ where the child or family who attend reviews are supported by a legal representative.


Contents

  1. Purpose of Initial Child Protection Conference
  2. When an Initial Child Protection Conference Should be Convened
  3. Timing of Initial Child Protection Conference
  4. Who Should Attend
  5. Quorate Conferences
  6. Enabling Parental Participation
  7. Criteria for Excluding Parents or Restricting Their Participation
  8. Enabling Children’s Participation
  9. Pre-Birth Conferences
  10. Convening the Conference
  11. Responsibilities of Social Worker Before the Conference
  12. Responsibilities of Other Professionals / Agencies
  13. Responsibilities of the Conference Chair
  14. Dissent From the Conference Decision
  15. Record of Child Protection Conferences


1. Purpose of Initial Child Protection Conference

1.1 The Initial Child Protection Conference brings together family members, the child who is the subject of the conference (where appropriate), supporters/advocates and those professionals most involved with the child and family to share information and to consider the nature of the agreed plan and identify services, with the child’s safety and welfare as its paramount aim.
1.2

Within this, there are the following tasks:

  1. To bring together and analyse in an inter-agency the information that has been obtained about the child’s developmental needs and the parents’ or carer’s capacity to respond to these needs to ensure the child’s safety and promote the child’s health and development within the context of their wider family and environment;
  2. To consider the evidence presented to the conference and, taking into account the child’s present situation and information about his or her family history, and present and past family functioning, make judgments about the likelihood of a child suffering Significant Harm in future, and decide whether the child is continuing to, or is likely to, suffer Significant Harm;
  3. To decide what future action is required in order to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, including the child becoming the subject of a Child Protection Plan, what the planned developmental outcomes are the for the child and how best to intervene to achieve these - this will form the basis of the outline Child Protection Plan;
  4. Where a Child Protection Plan is required to nominate a Lead Social Worker, and to develop, co-ordinate and implement the Child Protection Plan;
  5. Where a Child Protection Plan is required to identify the membership of the multi agency Core Group to develop and monitor the Child Protection Plan;
  6. To set the date for the first Core Group meeting. (This should take place within 10 working days of the Conference);
  7. To set the date for the Child Protection Review Conference (This should take place within 3 months of the Conference);
  8. Where the child does not require a Child Protection Plan but is considered to be a Child in Need, to recommend if appropriate that services are provided under the Early Help Strategy to promote their health or development and/or a continuation of the Social Work Assessment.


2. When an Initial Child Protection Conference Should be Convened

2.1 An Initial Child Protection Conference must be convened when it is believed that a child may continue to suffer or to be likely to suffer Significant Harm.
2.2 The conference must consider all the children in the household, even if concerns are only being expressed about one child.
2.3 The Children’s Social Work Services Team Manager/Assistant Team Manager is responsible for making the decision to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference on the recommendation of the Assistant Team Manager/Team Manager and the reasons for calling the conference must be recorded on the child’s record.
2.4 Where a senior manager from another agency requests that an Initial Child Protection Conference is convened, this request will be given serious consideration by the Children’s Social Work Services Team Manager/Assistant Team Manager and a response will be given in writing. Where an issue of professional difference is not resolved, see Dispute Resolution / Escalation Procedures.
2.5

An Initial Child Protection Conference will normally be convened following a Section 47 Enquiry under the following circumstances:

  1. Where it is believed that a child is likely to suffer or may continue to suffer Significant Harm;
  2. Where a child is living in a household with a person assessed as presenting a risk to children or such a person is regularly visiting or about to become a member of a household with children;
  3. Where a Child Assessment Order or Emergency Protection Order has been made;
  4. Where a child lives in, or is born to, a household in which resides another child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
  5. Where a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan moves into the area, unless the other authority is to retain responsibility for the case.

    These children will be the subject of an Social Work Assessment initiated at the point of notification to Children’s Social Work Services that the child is residing in the area and where there is a request for transfer of case responsibility. The outcome of the Assessment will inform the Initial Child Protection Conference at the point of transfer;
  6. Where a child returns to the care of or resumes direct contact with an adult who may have previously caused significant harm to this or another child;
  7. Where the risks to an unborn child may be such as to indicate the need to develop a Child Protection Plan;
  8. Where a child appears to be involved in prostitution or subject to sexual exploitation, including involvement in internet pornography, and there is concern about the part played by the parents or carers.


3. Timing of Initial Child Protection Conference

3.1

The initial Child Protection Conference should take place within 15 working days of the:

  • Strategy Discussion or Meeting at which the Section 47 Enquiries were initiated, if more than one has been held;
  • Notification by another local authority that a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan has moved into the area.
3.2 In the exceptional circumstance of complex enquiries or pre-birth assessments, the Initial Child Protection Conference may be delayed.
3.3 Any such delay must have written authorisation from the Team Manager /Assistant Team Manager in Children’s Social Work Services (including reasons for the delay) and the Children’s Social Work Services Team Manager/Assistant Team Manager must notify all relevant agencies of the delay and ensure the risks to the child are monitored and an interim Child Protection Plan is in place.


4. Who Should Attend

See Section 6, Enabling Parental Participation, and Section 8, Enabling Child Participation.

4.1

The conference should consist of the smallest number of people consistent with effective case management, but the following should normally be invited:

  • The child or his/her representative and/or advocate;
  • Family members (including the wider family);
  • Children’s Social Work Services staff who have led and been involved in an assessment of the child and family;
  • Foster carers (current or former);
  • Residential care staff;
  • Professionals involved with the child (e.g. health visitors, midwife, school nurse, Children’s Guardian, paediatrician, school staff, early years staff, the GP, NHS Choices, staff in the youth justice system including the secure estate);
  • Professionals involved with the parents or other family members (e.g. Family Support Services, Adult Services (in particular, those from mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence and learning disability), Probation Provider, the GP, NHS Choices);
  • Professionals with expertise in the particular type of harm suffered by the child or in the child’s particular condition - e.g. a disability or long-term illness;
  • Those involved in investigations (e.g. the Police); 
  • Local authority legal services (child welfare);
  • NSPCC or other involved voluntary organisations;
  • A representative of the armed services, in cases where there is a service connection.
4.2 A professional observer can only attend with the prior consent of the Conference Chair and the family, and must not take part in discussions or decision-making. There will only be one observer at any conference. It is the responsibility of the professional requesting the attendance of the observer to seek the permission of the family at least one day before the conference. It is also expected that the observer will have met the family prior to the conference.
4.3

Professionals who are invited but unable to attend for unavoidable reasons should:

  • Arrange wherever possible for another well briefed agency representative to attend;
  • Inform the conference administrator and Conference Chair; and
  • Submit a written report - see Section 12.2, Reports to Conference.
4.4 The time of day at which a conference is convened should be determined to facilitate attendance of the family and key contributors.


5. Quorate Conferences

5.1 The primary principle for determining quoracy is that there should be sufficient agencies present to enable safe decisions to be made in the individual circumstances.
5.2 Normally, minimum representation is the social worker and at least two other agencies which have had direct contact with the child and family.
5.3

Where a conference is inquorate it should not ordinarily proceed and in such circumstances the Chair must ensure that either:

  • An interim Child Protection Plan is produced; or
  • The existing plan is reviewed with the professionals and family members that do attend, in order to safeguard the welfare of the child/ren;
  • Another conference date must be set immediately.
5.4 In exceptional circumstances, and having regard to the impact upon the child and family of a postponement, the Chair may decide to proceed with the conference despite lack of agency representation.
5.5

This would be relevant where:

  • The child has not had relevant contact with 3 agencies - e.g. pre-birth conferences;
  • Where sufficient information is available, including where written reports from non-attendees have been submitted;
  • Where previous conferences have been inquorate and/or there is unlikely to be greater attendance at a future conference; and
  • A delay will be detrimental to the child.
5.6 Where an inquorate conference is held, any decisions made will be regarded as provisional and the Chair will write to the agencies invited but not represented seeking their views in writing within 14 days of receiving the record of the conference. The final decisions will then be confirmed in writing to the child (if of sufficient age and understanding), the parents and all relevant agencies within 28 days of the record of the conference being distributed. In the event of a disagreement with the provisional decision, the Chair will consider the appropriate course of action including the need for an early Child Protection Review Conference to be arranged.


6. Enabling Parental Participation

6.1 All parents and persons with Parental Responsibility must be invited to conferences (unless exclusion is justified as described below). Parents will be encouraged to contribute to conferences; usually by attending, unless it is likely to prejudice the welfare of the child. 
6.2 See Section 7, Criteria for Excluding Parents or Restricting Their Participation.
6.3 The social worker must facilitate the constructive involvement of the parents by ensuring in advance of the conference that they are given sufficient information and practical support to make a meaningful contribution.
6.4 Invitations for the parent(s) to attend the conference should be conveyed verbally by the social worker and will be confirmed in writing by the Child Protection and Review Unit.
6.5 The social worker must explain to parents/carers the purpose of the meeting, who will attend, the way in which it will operate, the purpose and meaning if their child is deemed to require a Child Protection Plan and the complaints process.
6.6 Provision should be made to ensure that visually or hearing impaired or otherwise disabled parents/carers are enabled to participate, including whether they need assistance with transport to enable their attendance.
6.7 Preparation should also include consideration of child care arrangements to enable the attendance of parents.
6.8 Those for whom spoken English is not a first language must be offered and provided with an interpreter, if required. A family member should not be expected to act as an interpreter of spoken or signed language.
6.9 The parents should be advised about their right to bring a friend, supporter (including an advocate) or solicitor (in the role of supporter), and the details of any local advocacy services that they may be eligible to access should be provided. If a parent meets the referral criteria of any local advocacy service, they should be assisted in accessing those services. The parents should also be advised about the conference Complaints Procedure.
6.10

If parents do not wish to attend the conference they must be provided with full opportunities to contribute their views. The social worker must facilitate this by:

  • The use of an advocate or supporter to attend on behalf of the parent (subject to the Conference Chairs agreement);
  • Enabling the parent to write, or tape, or use drawings to represent their views;
  • Meeting the Conference Chair prior to conference;
  • Agreeing that the social worker, or any other professional, expresses their views.
6.11 The level and manner of the supporters involvement in the conference will be negotiated beforehand with the Conference Chair. Supporters may seek clarification of information given by a conference member through the Conference Chair, but they will not be allowed to question conference members directly. Prior to the conference, supporters will be given a letter setting out the parameters of their involvement, together with the need to maintain confidentiality and will be asked to sign the letter to confirm their understanding of and commitment to these principles.
6.12 Explicit consideration should be given to the potential of conflict between family members and possible need for children or adults to speak without other family members present.
6.13 For further information in relation to the responsibilities of the Conference Chair before, during and after the conference, see Section 13, Responsibilities of the Conference Chair.


7. Criteria for Excluding Parents or Restricting Their Participation

7.1 In circumstances where it may be necessary to exclude one or more family members from part or all of a conference the request to exclude or restrict a parents participation should be discussed with the Conference Chair and confirmed in writing if possible at least 3 days in advance.
7.2 The agency requesting a conference must indicate which of the grounds it believes is met and the information or evidence the request is based on. The Conference Chair must consider the representation carefully and may need legal advice.
7.3 Before making a decision, the Conference Chair should obtain and consider the views of all professionals invited. 
7.4

The Conference Chair should make a decision according to the following criteria:

  • Indications that the presence of the parent may seriously prejudice the welfare of the child, for example where information shared could further victimise the child or increase the child’s vulnerability to further abuse;
  • Sufficient evidence that a parent/carer may behave in such a way as to disrupt the conference such as violence, threats of violence, racist, or other forms of discriminatory or oppressive behaviour or being in an unfit state e.g. through drug, alcohol consumption or acute mental ill health (but in their absence a friend or advocate may represent them at the conference);
  • A child requests that the parent/person with parental responsibility or carer is not present while s/he is present;
  • The presence of parents would prevent a participant from making her/his proper contribution;
  • The need (agreed in advance with the Conference Chair) for members to receive confidential information that would otherwise be unavailable, such as legal advice or information about a third party or criminal investigation;
  • High levels of conflict between different family members who may not be able to attend at the same time, including situations of domestic abuse;
  • It is necessary to present information to the conference which, if shared with certain family members, might increase the risk to the child;
  • Attendance by a known, alleged or suspected perpetrator may threaten or otherwise place the child at risk;
  • Their presence may prejudice any legal proceedings or Police investigation, for example because they have yet to be interviewed or because bail conditions restrict their participation;
  • There is a serious threat of violence toward any person at the conference.
7.5 Exclusion at one conference is not reason enough in itself for exclusion at further conferences.
7.6 The possibility that the parent may be prosecuted for an offence against a child is not in itself a reason for exclusion although in these circumstances the Conference Chair may take advice from the Police and, if criminal proceedings have been initiated, the Crown Prosecution Service, about the implications arising from an alleged perpetrators attendance.
7.7

If the Conference Chair makes a decision to exclude or restrict the participation of a parent, the decision should be communicated in writing to the following people:

  1. The parent concerned - unless a decision is made that they should not be informed at all of the conference (see below);
  2. The person making the request;
  3. All other professionals invited to the meeting.
7.8

The letter must be signed by the Conference Chair and set out:

  • The reason for exclusion or restriction;
  • An explanation of any other methods the parents have open to them to ensure their views and wishes are considered;
  • How the parents will be told the outcome of the conference;
  • The complaints procedure.
7.9 Any exclusion period should be for the minimum duration necessary and the decision to exclude must be clearly recorded in the record of the conference.
7.10 Those excluded should usually be provided with a copy of the social workers report to the conference and be provided with the opportunity to have their views recorded and presented to the conference.
7.11 If, in planning a conference, it becomes clear to the Conference Chair that there may be conflict of interests between the children and parents, the conference should be planned so that the welfare of the child can remain paramount.
7.12 This may mean arranging for the child and parents to participate in separate parts of the conference and make separate waiting arrangements.
7.13 It may also become clear in the course of a conference, that its effectiveness will be seriously impaired by the presence of the parent/s. In these circumstances, the Conference Chair may ask them to leave.
7.14 Where a parent is on bail, or subject to an active police investigation, it is the responsibility of the Conference Chair to ensure that the Police can fully present their information and views and also that the parents participate as fully as circumstances allow.
7.15 The decision of the Conference Chair over matters of exclusion is final.
7.16 Where a parent/carer attends only part of a conference as a result of exclusion, s/he will receive the record of the conference. The Conference Chair should decide if the entire record is provided or only that part attended by the excluded parent/carer.
7.17 On rare occasions, e.g. where organised abuse is suspected, it may be appropriate to convene a conference without informing parents.


8. Enabling Children’s Participation

8.1 Involving the Child

The child must be kept informed and involved throughout the Section 47 Enquiry and, if their age and level of understanding is sufficient, should be invited to contribute to the conference; which can include attendance. In practice, the appropriateness of enabling an individual child to attend must be assessed in advance and relevant arrangements made to facilitate attendance at all or part of the conference. 

In addition a referral for an independent advocate must be made for all eligible children - see 8.6 below.

8.2 Criteria for Attendance of Child at Conference

The key considerations are:

  • Does the child have sufficient understanding of the process;
  • Has s/he expressed an explicit or implicit wish to be involved;
  • What are the parents’ views about the child’s proposed presence;
  • Is inclusion assessed to be not harmful to the child.

The test of ‘sufficient understanding’, is partly a function of age and partly the child’s capacity to understand. A guiding principle is that usually a child under 10 should not be invited.

In order to establish her/his wish with respect to attendance the child must be first provided with a full and clear explanation of the purpose, conduct, membership of the conference and potential provision of an independent advocate - see Section 8.6, The Child's Independent Advocate.

Written information translated into the appropriate language should be provided to those able to read and an alternative medium e.g. tape, offered those who cannot read.

A declared wish not to attend a conference (having been given such an explanation) must be respected.

Consideration should be given to the views of and impact on parent/s of their child’s proposed attendance; however, where there is a conflict between the wishes of the child and the views of the parents, the child’s interests must be the priority.

Consideration must be given to the impact of the conference on the child e.g. if they have a significant learning difficulty. Where it will be impossible to ensure they are kept apart from a parent who may be hostile and/or attribute responsibility to them, separate attendance should be considered.

8.3 Decision That a Child Should or Should not Attend

A decision about whether to invite the child should be made in advance of the conference by the Conference Chair, in consultation with the social worker, their manager and any other relevant professional, including the child’s independent advocate where relevant.

In making this decision, the views of the parents and of professionals who know the child should be taken into consideration.

Any decision that a child should not attend conference should be made using the following criteria:

  • The child’s age and understanding indicate that attendance would be inappropriate;
  • Criminal charges or Court appearances of the parent are pending and the child is to be a witness, separate attendance can be considered.

The decision of the Conference Chair should be recorded, with reasons. 

8.4 Indirect Participation

If it is decided that the child should not attend or to restrict participation, every effort should be made by the social worker to obtain and present the views and wishes of the child, which can include:

  • The child’s views and wishes represented by the social worker;
  • A submission by letter, email, text message, a picture, an audio or video tape - prepared alone or with support;
  • The child’s independent advocate (see Section 8.6, The Child's Independent Advocate) or other professional speaking on the child’s behalf (for example, a person with specialist skills or knowledge);
  • The child meeting the Conference Chair before the conference to share their views;
  • The child attending to observe rather than to contribute him or herself.

8.5 Direct Participation

If the decision is that the child is to attend the conference, the social worker should:

  • Identify and agree a supporter/independent advocate with the child (see Section 8.6, The Child's Independent Advocate);
  • Ensure that the child has an opportunity to discuss any concerns that he/she may have about attendance;
  • Explain to the child who will be at the conference, their roles and responsibilities in the meeting, the information likely to be discussed and the possible outcomes;
  • Decide with the child the extent to which he/she wishes to participate and how his/her wishes and views will be presented;
  • Share and discuss the content of the social work report for the Conference.

If the child is attending the Conference it is the responsibility of the Conference Chair to:

  • Clarify with the social worker what information will be available to the child both before and during the conference;
  • Meet with the child and independent advocate/supporter separately to the parents prior to the conference;
  • Ensure that the child has sufficient support to present their wishes and views during the conference;
  • Monitor the child’s welfare throughout the conference, and arrange for them to have a break if necessary;
  • Ensure that the child is informed of the decisions and recommendations of the conference;
  • Write personally to the child to confirm the decision and recommendations;
  • Ensure that the conference record adequately reflects the child’s contribution.

If the child is attending the conference, it is the responsibility of all professionals to:

  • Complete separate reports on different children in the family;
  • Make it clear which parts of the report can be shared with the child;
  • Share and discuss the report with the child prior to the conference;
  • Use language that is understandable to both the child and their family;
  • Discuss with the social worker any potential difficulties arising from the child’s participation.

It is essential that planning takes place prior to the conference to ensure that the practical arrangements are suitable. The social worker should in discussion with the Conference Chair:

  • Identify a venue where the child will feel comfortable;
  • Identify and meet any special needs;
  • Arrange the timing of the conference to minimise disruption to the child’s normal routine;
  • Ensure that sufficient time is available before the start for the child and his/her independent advocate to meet with the Conference Chair;
  • Arrange transport to and from the venue;
  • Identify a separate, comfortable waiting area for the child and the supporter (with suitable refreshments and accessible toilets).

8.6 The Child’s Independent Advocate

The social worker should inform the child about the advocacy service (provided by NYAS) and help them to contact National Youth Advocacy Service (NYAS) if they wish to contact the service themselves. The following children/young people are eligible for this service:

  • Children over the age of 10;
  • Children under 10 who would, according to the social workers assessment, benefit from their views being independently represented;
  • Children under 10 who have an older sibling referred for an advocate;
  • All disabled children of whatever age;
  • Any Looked After young person or care leaver who is a parent where there are child protection concerns in relation to their child or expected child.

When a conference is being convened, a referral for an independent advocate should automatically be made by the social worker in relation to all eligible children, subject to the child’s consent. The advocate should only be given information which is available to the child.

Where access to the advocacy service is denied, this should be discussed with the Conference Chair in advance of the conference, and shared with NYAS. Where this is because of the lack of parental consent, this should be included in the social workers assessment report to the conference.

The advocate will attend the conference with the child, subject to the child’s consent, and present a written report presenting the child’s views. The advocate will not be present for any part of the conference where information is presented which will not be made available to the child. It is not the advocate's role to contribute to any professional assessment. Advocacy practice will be guided by the National Advocacy Standards (November 2002).

8.7 Support to the Child After the Conference

The advocate should ensure that immediately after the conference the child has an opportunity to discuss what happened during the conference, the decisions made and, where appropriate the outline child protection plan. If the advocate has concerns about the child these should be discussed immediately with the social worker.

The social worker should meet with the child as soon as possible after the conference to:

  • Feedback and discuss the outcomes of the conference and to allow the child to ask any questions about the decisions made;
  • Identify what support they want informally through family, friends and the professional network.

Identify what actions and outcomes the child believes should be included in any plan of intervention. This would include the Child Protection Plan.


9. Pre-Birth Conferences

See also Unborn Babies at Risk of Significant Harm Procedure.

A pre-birth conference is an Initial Child Protection Conference concerning an unborn child. Such a conference has the same status and purpose and must be conducted in a comparable manner to an Initial Child Protection Conference.

Pre-birth conferences should be convened following Section 47 Enquiries, where there is evidence that the unborn child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm and where there is a need to consider if a Child Protection Plan is required.

This decision will usually follow from a pre-birth Social Work Assessment and a conference should be held:

  • Where a pre-birth assessment gives rise to concerns that an unborn child may be likely to suffer Significant Harm;
  • Where a previous child has died or been removed from parent/s as a result of Significant Harm;
  • Where a child is to be born into a family or household which already has children who are the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
  • Where a person known to pose a risk to children resides in the household or is known to be a regular visitor;
  • Other risk factors to be considered are:
    • The impact of parental risk factors such as mental ill-health, learning disabilities, substance misuse and domestic abuse.

9.1 Timing of Pre-Birth Conferences

The pre-birth conference should take place as soon as practical and at least 12 weeks before the due date of delivery, to allow as much time as possible for assessment and planning support for the baby and family.

Where there is a known likelihood of a premature birth, the pre-birth conference should be held earlier.

9.2 Attendance

The key agencies involved in the delivery of the child must attend the conference. It is important that this conference makes an informed decision about whether or not the child should remain in the parents’ care and draws up protection plans that link to either decision.

In addition to those who normally attend an Initial Child Protection Conference, midwifery and relevant neo-natal and support services must be invited.

Parents or carers should be invited as they would be to other Child Protection Conferences and should be fully involved in plans for the child’s future.

9.3 An Unborn Child With a Child Protection Plan

If a decision is made that the child needs a Child Protection Plan, the main cause for concern must determine the Categories of Significant Harm and a Child Protection Plan must be outlined to commence prior to the birth of the baby.

The Core Group must be established and meet prior to the birth to review the outline Child Protection Plan.

If a decision is made for an unborn child to have a Child Protection Plan, the child’s name (or ‘baby’, if not known) and expected date of delivery should be identified on the Local Authority's ICS IT system pending the birth. The Lead Social Worker must then ensure that the name and correct birth date is notified to the Child Protection and Review Unit Manager and Child Protection Administrator immediately following the birth.

If the child is resident outside of the area at birth, the local authority in whose area the child is resident must be advised that the child is in their area and the subject of a Child Protection Plan.

9.4 Timing of Review Conference

The first Child Protection Review Conference will be scheduled to take place within 1 month of the child’s birth. This may be extended by up to 2 months with the written authorisation of the Team Manager/Assistant Team Manager from Children’s Social Work Services and the Conference Chair if information from a post-natal assessment is crucial for a well informed review conference.

The first review conference must take place within 3 months of the pre-birth conference.


10. Convening the Conference

10.1 Agreement for convening an Initial Child Protection Conference must be obtained from the Children’s Social Work Services Team Manager/Assistant Team Manager before proceeding. The reasons for the meeting being convened must be recorded on the child’s electronic record.
10.2

Initial Child Protection Conferences must be convened within a maximum of 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion at which the Section 47 enquiries were initiated, if more than one has been held. In consultation with the person requesting the conference, the Child Protection and Review Unit will be responsible for:

  1. Agreeing the date, time and venue of the conference;
  2. Sending invitations to professional representatives, the child and family members as appropriate;
  3. Checking with the social worker that relevant advocacy services have been considered;
  4. Ensuring that agencies are informed whether or not the parents have been invited and that they are clear about their responsibilities including providing a written report;
  5. Consulting with the Conference Chair where there has been a request to exclude or limit the participation of parents or children;
  6. Collating and presenting to the Conference Chair relevant written contributions;
  7. Making any necessary arrangements in conjunction with the social worker e.g. for trained interpreters to attend;
  8. Obtaining the services of an interpreter if required.


11. Responsibilities of the Social Worker Before the Conference

11.1 General Responsibilities

The social worker is responsible for the following:

  1. Considering as described in Section 6, Enabling Parental Participation and Section 8, Enabling Children’s Participation parents and children in the conference including advocacy;
  2. Arranging for the child to attend if appropriate;
  3. Referring the child to the NYAS for the appointment of an independent advocate (see Section 8.6, The Child's Independent Advocate);
  4. Arranging the parent(s)’ attendance unless a decision is reached to exclude them;
  5. Preparing the child and parent(s) and informing them about the role, purpose and process of the conference (unless a decision is reached not to inform them). This information should include an explanation of who will be there and why. Parents should be helped to understand their own responsibilities and rights, including the fact that they may wish to invite a supporter who may be their solicitor.

    They should be provided with support and advice to help them prepare for and contribute to the conference.

    If the child or parents are not invited or do not wish to attend, they should be encouraged to present their contributions in writing or in another form and assisted to do so;

  6. Establishing whether an interpreter is required and briefing the interpreter as necessary, or whether parent(s) or children need assistance, for example, with transport or childcare arrangements;
  7. Completing the Section 47 Enquiry and preparing and presenting a written report to the conference.

11.2 Report to Conference

The social worker should provide to the conference a typed, signed and dated written report that summarises and analyses information obtained within the course of the Social Work Assessment undertaken under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989, which must be endorsed and counter signed by the line manager. The information in the Lead Social Worker's Report for a Child Protection Conference, which is likely to be in the current Social Work Assessment Record, should be consistent with the information which is set out in the Initial Child Protection Conference Report (Department of Health and Social Care 2002). The report should include the dates when the child was seen by the Lead Social Worker during the Section 47 Enquiry, if the child was seen alone and if not, who was present and for what reason.

Information on all children in the household must be provided and the report should be clear about which children are the subjects of the conference. 

Details of all persons recording in the child’s household must be included in the conference report.

For an Initial Child Protection Conference, the report should include:

  • The concerns leading to the decision to initiate the Section 47 Enquiry, the dates of the Strategy Discussions as well as agency consultations;
  • Dates that the child/ren subject of the conference were seen by the Lead Social Worker during the course of the Section 47 Enquiry, if the child was seen alone and if not, who was present and for what reasons;
  • A chronology of significant events and agency and professional contacts with the child and family;
  • Information on the child’s current and past state of developmental needs;
  • Information on the capacity of the parents and other family members to ensure the child is safe from harm, and to respond to the child’s developmental needs, within his or her wider family and environmental context;
  • Information on the family history and both the current and past family functioning;
  • The expressed, wishes and feelings of the child, and the views of the parents and other family members; and
  • An analysis of the information gathered and recorded using the Assessment Framework dimensions to reach a judgement on whether the child is suffering, or likely to suffer, Significant Harm and consider how best to meet his or her developmental needs. This analysis should address:
    • How the child’s strengths and difficulties are impacting on each other;
    • How the parenting strengths and difficulties are affecting each other;
    • How the family and environmental factors are affecting each other;
    • How the parenting that is provided for the child is affecting the child’s health and development both in terms of resilience and protective factors, and vulnerability and risk factors; and
    • How the family and environmental factors are impacting on parenting and/or the child directly; and
    • The local authority’s recommendation to the conference.

The report should be explained and discussed with the parents and children (to the extent that it is believed to be in their interests) in their preferred language at least one working day in advance of the Initial Child Protection Conference. This will enable any factual inaccuracies to be identified, amended and areas of disagreement noted. Comments or suggestions made by the child/parents as a result of seeing the report must be included or conveyed verbally to the conference.

In exceptional circumstances where confidential information cannot be shared with the child or parent(s) beforehand, the social worker should seek guidance from their manager, who may wish to consult the Conference Chair.

Where required, the reports should be translated into the relevant language or medium, taking account of the language and any sensory or learning needs of the child/parents.

The report should be provided to the Conference Chair at least one working day prior to the Initial Child Protection Conference.

The report will be attached to the record of the conference for circulation.

Where decisions are being made about more than one child in a family there should be a report prepared on each child.


12. Responsibilities of Other Professionals / Agencies

12.1 General Responsibilities

All participants are responsible for the following:

  • To make attendance at conferences a priority;
  • To make available relevant information in a written report to the conference and contribute to the discussion, assessment of risk and decision;
  • Confirming in advance with the Child Protection and Review Unit their attendance at the conference or informing the Unit if they are unable to attend;
  • Ensuring that information to be presented by them at conference is known to, and if possible shared with, the child and parents beforehand;
  • Ensuring that their contribution is non-discriminatory;
  • In exceptional circumstances where confidential information cannot be shared with the child or parent(s) beforehand, they should seek guidance from their manager, who may wish to consult the Conference Chair;
  • Ensuring that information is communicated/translated in the most appropriate way taking account of the language and any sensory or learning difficulties of the child or parents;
  • Ensuring that they are clear about their role within the conference and the extent to which they have authority to make decisions on behalf of their agency.

12.2 Reports to Conference

All agencies which have participated in a Section 47 Enquiry or have relevant information about the child and/or family members should make this information available to the conference, in a written report using, Agency Report for Child Protection Conference.

The report should include details of the agency’s involvement with the child and family, and information concerning the agency’s knowledge of the child’s developmental needs, the capacity of the parents to meet the needs of their child within their family and environmental context.

Agency representatives attending conferences should confer with their colleagues before preparing their contribution to a conference, to make sure it contains all relevant and available information and, where a written report is prepared, bring sufficient copies of the report (legible and signed) to the conference.

The reports must make it clear which child/ren are the subject of the conference, but address any known circumstances of all children in the household and make clear reference to any adults who live in the household who are not the child’s parents.

Where necessary, reports should be translated into the relevant language or medium, taking account of the language and any sensory or learning needs of the child/parents.

Professionals should ensure that the key issues contained in their report are shared with the parents and the child (if old enough) before the conference.

It is now the expectation that all professionals and agencies who are invited to attend should make every effort to do so, but if unable to, they must ensure that a well-briefed colleague attends in their place to speak to the report and provide a written report giving details of their involvement with the child.

The report should be sent to the Child Protection Conference Chairperson (preferably electronically) 48 hours prior to conference at:

Child Protection and Reviewing Unit,
West Mall,
Chelmsley Wood Town Centre,
North Solihull
B37 5TN.
Secure email: cpru@solihullgcx.gov.uk
Fax: 0121 788 4394

Please note: All professionals providing reports must provide enough copies for everyone attending the conference to avoid delay in copying reports before conference.


13. Responsibilities of the Conference Chair

A professional who is independent of operational and line management responsibilities for the case should chair the conference. The Conference Chair is accountable to the Corporate Director, People Directorate.

The status of the Conference Chairperson should be sufficient to ensure inter-agency commitment to the conference and the Child Protection Plan. Wherever possible, the same person should also chair subsequent Child Protection Review Conferences in respect of a specific child. 

In summary, the responsibilities of the Conference Chairperson include:

  • Meeting the child and family members in advance, to ensure that they understand the purpose of the conference and what will happen;
  • Setting out the purpose of the conference to all present, determining the agenda and emphasising the confidential nature of the occasion;
  • Enabling all those present, and absent contributors, to make their full contribution to discussion and decision-making;
  • Ensuring that the conference takes the decision required of it in an informed, systematic and explicit way;
  • Being accountable to the Corporate Director of Education and Children’s Services for the conduct of the conference.

The Conference Chair must ensure that at least three agencies are represented at the conference unless agreed otherwise - see quorum for conference in Section 5, Quorate Conferences.

The Conference Chair is also responsible for ensuring that conferences are conducted in an anti-discriminatory manner, and that everyone communicates and behaves in a respectful way.

13.1 Before the Conference

The responsibilities of the Conference Chair in relation to decision-making about restricting parents’ participation and not inviting children are set out in Section 6, Enabling Parental Participation, Section 7, Criteria for Excluding Parents or Restricting their Participation and Section 8, Enabling Children's Participation.

Before the conference begins, the Conference Chair should meet with the parents and their advocate/supporter, child and child’s advocate, if they have attended, to ensure that they understand the purpose of the conference and how it will be conducted. Where required, interpreters or translators should be made available to facilitate family participation.

13.2 At the Start of the Conference

At the start of the conference the Conference Chair will:

  • Set out the purpose of the conference;
  • Confirm the agenda;
  • Emphasise the need for confidentiality;
  • Address equal opportunities issues e.g. specifying that racist, homophobic and threatening behaviour will not be tolerated;
  • Facilitate introductions;
  • Clarify the contributions of those present, including supporters of the family.

If the parent(s) or the child brings an advocate/supporter, the Conference Chair will need to clarify the advocate/supporter’s role, ensuring that any solicitor who attends in this role is clear that he/she may support parent(s), clarify information but may not cross-examine any contributor.

The Law Society has updated it’s guidance on 'Attendance of Solicitors at Local Authority Children Act Meetings’ and the ‘Related Code of Conduct (2011)’ where the child or family who attend reviews are supported by a legal representative.

13.3 During the Conference

The Conference Chair will ensure:

  1. Parents have been given a reasonable opportunity to:
    1. Understand the purpose of the meeting and the role of all agencies involved in the protection of their children;
    2. Respond to and challenge any suspicions, allegations or the opinions expressed by other participants;
    3. Contribute as fully as possible to the assessment and planning process;
    4. Play a part in helping to safeguard and promote their children’s welfare.
  2. The conference maintains a focus on the welfare of the child/ren;
  3. Consideration is given to the welfare and safety of all children in the household and within the family network;
  4. All relevant people, including the subject child/ren and parents, have been given appropriate opportunities to make a full contribution and that full consideration is given to the information they present;
  5. Reports of those not present are made known to parties;
  6. The wishes and feelings of the child/ren are clearly outlined;
  7. Needs arising from the child’s gender and any disabilities, as well as those arising from the child’s racial, cultural, linguistic or religious background, are fully considered and accounted for when making decisions or developing plans;
  8. Appropriate arrangements are made to receive third party confidential information;
  9. A debate which examines the findings of reports, assessments and analysis is encouraged, all options are considered and that the conference reaches decisions in an informed and non-discriminatory way;
  10. All concerned are advised/reminded of the complaints procedure;
  11. Where a decision has been taken to exclude or restrict the level of parental or child participation, arrangements are made with the social worker for absent parents or carers to be informed of the decisions of conferences.

13.4 The Decision Making Process

The conference must consider the following questions as part of the decision-making process: Has the child suffered Significant Harm?

And is the child likely to suffer Significant Harm?

The test for the likelihood of the child suffering Significant Harm in the future should be either that:

  • The child is shown to have suffered ill-treatment or impairment of health or development as a result of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect, and professional judgement is that further ill-treatment or impairment are likely; or
  • Professional judgement, substantiated by finding of enquiries in this individual case or by research evidence, is that the child is likely to suffer ill treatment or the impairment of health or development as a result of physical, emotional or sexual abuse or neglect.

The Conference Chair must ensure the decision about the threshold for Significant Harm and the need for a Child Protection Plan is based on the views of all agencies represented at the conference and also takes into account any written contributions that have been made. This will normally take place with the parents/carers present.

The decision will be taken by the Local Safeguarding Children Board member agencies attending the conference; this will not include the child, parents, carers, foster carers, child minders, voluntary playgroups, although they may be asked to comment on the strengths, concerns, risks, future plans and protection.

The Conference Chair must ensure that all members of the conference are clear about the conclusions, decision and recommendations made, and that the record of the conference accurately reflect the discussions and decision.

Any dissent must be recorded in the record of the conference (see Section 14, Dissent from the Conference Decision).

If parents/carers disagree with the decision, the Conference Chair must discuss the issue with them and explain their right to and the process for challenge under the Complaints Procedure.

Where a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm in the future it is the local authority’s duty to consider the evidence and decide what, if any, legal action to take. The information presented to the Child Protection Conference should inform that decision-making process but it is for the local authority to consider whether it should initiate, for example, Care Proceedings. Where a child who is the subject of a Child Protection Plan becomes Looked After, the Child Protection Plan should form part of the child’s Care Plan.

13.5 Categories of Significant Harm

If the decision is that the child is at continuing risk of Significant Harm and in need of a Child Protection Plan, the Conference Chair should determine the category of abuse the child has suffered or is likely to suffer. The category used (that is physical, emotional, sexual abuse or neglect) will indicate to those consulting the child’s social care record the primary presenting concerns at the time the child became the subject of the Child Protection Plan.

The categories are:

  • Physical abuse: This may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child;
  • Emotional abuse: Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s developmental capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone;
  • Sexual abuse: Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children;
  • Neglect: This is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of a child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:
    • Provide adequate food and clothing, shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
    • Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
    • Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
    • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to a child’s basic emotional needs.

The need for requiring a Child Protection Plan should be considered separately in respect of each child in the family or household.

Multiple categories should not be used to cover all eventualities, but it may, on occasions be appropriate to use more than one category if each of the categories reaches the threshold for Significant Harm and if a specific risk might otherwise be underestimated.

The category selected should reflect all the information obtained in the course of the Social Work Assessment and Section 47 Enquiry, and subsequent analysis. Where a child has suffered, or is likely to suffer, significant harm in the future it is the local authority’s duty to consider the evidence and decide what, if any legal action to take. The information presented to the Child Protection Conference should inform that decision making process but it is for the local authority to consider whether it should initiate, for example, care proceedings. In some situations the child may become accommodated and acquire looked after status. Where a child is the subject of a Child Protection Plan becomes looked after by the local authority, the Child Protection Plan should form part of the looked after child’s overarching care plan.

13.6 If a Child is the Subject of a Child Protection Plan

Where a decision is reached that a child needs to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan, the Conference Chair must ensure that:

  1. The threshold for Significant Harm is met and the category is determined - see Section 13.4, The Decision Making Process and Section 13.5, Categories of Significant Harm.
  2. A Child Protection Plan is outlined (in as much detail as is possible) and clearly understood by all concerned including the parents and where appropriate, the child. The outline plan should:
    • Identify factors associated with the likelihood of the child suffering Significant Harm and ways in which the child can be protected from harm through an inter agency plan, based on the current findings from the assessment including information held by agencies on any previous involvement with the child and family;
    • Establish short term and longer term aims and objectives that are clearly linked to preventing the child suffering harm or a recurrence of the harm suffered, meeting the child’s developmental needs and promoting the child’s welfare, including contact with family members;
    • Be clear about who will have responsibility for what actions - including actions by family members - within what specified timescales;
    • Outline ways of monitoring and evaluating progress against the planned outcomes set out in the plan; and
    • Be clear about which professional is responsible for checking that the required changes have taken place, and what action will be taken, and by whom, when they have not;
    • Child Protection Plans (including Outline Child Protection Plans) must explicitly state the frequency of social work visits to the child/young person as well as the frequency of visits to the child/young person by all other professional members of the Core Group.
  3. A Lead Social Worker appointed to develop, co-ordinate and implement the Child Protection Plan (if this is not possible, the relevant team manager should be responsible for the Child Protection Plan);
  4. The membership of a Core Group of professionals and family members is identified, who will develop, implement and progress the Child Protection Plan as a detailed working tool;
  5. It is established how children, parents and wider family members should be involved in the ongoing assessment, planning and implementation process, and the support, advice and advocacy available to them;
  6. Any further action required to complete the Social Work Assessment is outlined and any other specialist assessments of the child and family identified, which are required to make sound judgements on how best to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. It is important to identify what needs to change in order to achieve the planned outcomes to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child;
  7. A contingency plan is in place if agreed actions are not completed and/or circumstances change, for example if a carer fails to achieve what has been agreed, a court application is not successful or a parent removes the child from accommodation;
  8. The parents and child know the name of the Lead Social Worker and Core Group members;
  9. The parent(s) and child(ren) are advised of their right to invoke the Complaints Procedure to challenge the decisions made by those present at the conference;
  10. The decisions and recommendations of the conference have been summarised;
  11. A date is set for the first Core Group meeting within 10 working days of the Initial Child Protection Conference and timescales set for subsequent meetings;
  12. A date is set for the Child Protection Review Conference (within 3 months of the Initial Child Protection Conference), and under what circumstances it might be necessary to convene the conference before that date;
  13. The Conference Chair must also ensure that the Child Protection and Review Unit Administrator or, if out of hours, the Emergency Duty Team, is informed of the decision.

13.7 If a Child is not assessed as being in need of a Child Protection Plan

If it is considered that the Significant Harm threshold has not been reached (see Section 13.4 The Decision Making Process), but the child is in need of help to promote her/his health or development, the Conference Chair must ensure that the conference draws up a plan under the Early Help Strategy to coordinate services and identify the Lead person. The plan must be reviewed at regular intervals of no more than every 3 months.

It may be appropriate, subject to the family’s views and consent, to continue or to complete the Social Work Assessment to determine what support might best help promote the child’s welfare.


14. Dissent From the Conference Decision

14.1

In cases where there is disagreement regarding the threshold for Significant Harm being met or not being met, the Conference Chair will attempt to facilitate the conference to reach a consensus by drawing the conference members’ attention to the threshold criteria for a Child Protection Plan and considering these in the light of the information which has been shared and the child’s assessed needs.

if a Child Protection Conference Chair is unable to achieve a consensus as to the need for a Child Protection Plan, s/he will make a decision and note any dissenting views.

14.3

If an agency does not agree with a decision or recommendation made at a conference, the dissent will be included in the record of the conference. The agency or individual who dissents from the Chair's decision must determine whether s/he wished to further challenge the result and must seek advice from her/his named or designated or lead professional or manager.

If the dissenting professional believes that the decision reached by the Chair places a child at (further) risk of Significant Harm, it is expected that s/he will formally raise the matter with the Manager of the Child Protection and Review Unit.

The Manager of the Child Protection and Review Unit will liase with the Conference Chair and either:

  • Uphold the decision reached by the Conference Chair; or
  • Require that the conference be re-convened.
14.7 Where the issue is not resolved, the Dispute Resolution / Escalation Procedures must be followed.
14.8 If parents/carers disagree with the conference decision, the Chair must further discuss their concerns and explain the Complaints Procedure to them.


15. Record of Child Protection Conferences

15.1 The record of Child Protection Conferences is a crucial working document for all relevant professionals and the family.
15.2 All conferences will be recorded by a dedicated administrative person from the Child Protection and Review Unit whose sole task within the conference is to provide a written record of proceedings in a consistent format. The Conference Chair is responsible for ensuring that the record accurately reflects the discussion held and decisions and recommendations made.
15.3

The Conference record should include:

  1. Name, date of birth, ethnicity and address of the subject/s of the conference, parents/carers and other adults in the household;
  2. Who was invited, who attended the conference and who submitted their apologies;
  3. The reason for the conference;
  4. A list of written reports available to conference and whether open to parents or not;
  5. A summary of the information shared and discussion;
  6. Views and wishes of each child;
  7. Views of parents/carers;
  8. Opinions of agencies on risk and whether the threshold for Significant Harm has been met (see Section 13.4, The Decision Making Process), requiring the child to be the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
  9. Decision on the threshold for Significant Harm with information outlining the reasons, including the category of Significant Harm;
  10. An outline Child Protection Plan or any Child in Need or Family Support Plan;
  11. Name of Lead Social Worker if the child has a Child Protection Plan or Lead person as required under the Early Help Strategy;
  12. Members of the Core Group if the child has a Child Protection Plan and date of first meeting;
  13. Date of next conference.
15.4 All written reports submitted to the conference will be appended to the record unless the authors request otherwise.
15.5 The decision of the conference and, where appropriate, details of the Category of Significant Harm, the name of the Lead Social Worker or Lead person and Core Group membership should be recorded in a manner consistent with the Initial Child Protection Conference Report and circulated to all those invited to attend the conference within ONE working day.
15.6 The record of the conference, signed by the Conference Chair, will be sent to all professionals who attended, or were invited, and to relevant family members (except for any part of the conference from which they were excluded) within 28 days of the conference. 
15.7 The GP should retain child protection initial conference and review reports as part of the child’s health record, where practicable. Ultimately, it is down to the individual GP, depending on their type of health recording system, to make the best judgement on how to incorporate this information into the child’s health record.
15.8 Copies of the record, edited as necessary, should be given to the parents, child (if old enough) and the child’s advocate by the social worker. 
15.9 Where parents and/or the child/ren have a sensory disability or where English is not their first language, steps must be taken to ensure that they can understand and make full use of the record of the conference - this may result in a delay beyond 28 days where translation is necessary.
15.10 Where a parent or child has been fully excluded from the conference, the decision on what information they should receive will be taken by the Conference Chair in consultation with other conference members.
15.11 Where a supporter, advocate, solicitor, other family member or observer has attended a conference, the record of the conference will not be distributed to them unless they have a role in the Child Protection Plan and the conference agrees it appropriate.
15.12 Where a child has attended a Child Protection Conference, the social worker must arrange to see her/him and arrange to discuss relevant sections of the record of the conference. 
15.13 The record of the conference is confidential and should not be passed to third parties without the consent of the Conference Chair, Child Protection and Review Unit Manager or Court Order.
15.14 Where there are ongoing criminal proceedings, there should be consultation between the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service in relation to the sharing of the record of the conference.
15.15 The recipient agencies and professionals should retain the record of the Child Protection Conference in a manner which ensures their confidentiality and in accordance with their agency's record retention policy. Agencies should determine who it is appropriate to be given access to the record of the conference - usually this will be restricted to relevant staff, their manager and any person who has a role in the Child Protection Plan.
15.16 Subsequent requests for access to the record of the conference by professionals who do not have a legal or direct role in the case should be referred to the Child Protection and Review Unit Manager.
15.17 Where an open file policy exists, the record of the conference must be filed in the confidential or closed section of the file.
15.18 The central copy of the record will be retained in the Child Protection and Review Unit for 75 years in the case of children with a Child Protection Plan and in the case of children without a Child Protection Plan, until the youngest child reaches 18.
15.19 Children (if of sufficient age and understanding) and/or parents on their behalf may have the right of access to their records held by Children’s Social Work Services. Access can be refused if it is likely to result in serious harm to some-one or on other limited grounds, but where the criteria for refusal do not apply, access to the record of conferences will be given without any further checks with professional colleagues. 
15.20 The closed access section of the record of conferences will not be released without full consultation with all parties. However, time and events often overtake the significance of closed access, for example where court proceedings have taken place and evidence has been exchanged, and withholding access may not be justified. There will be a presumption in favour of disclosure although while Court proceedings are ongoing, there may be legal grounds for refusing access.

End