This protocol provides a framework for information sharing in circumstances where a child moves across geographical boundaries or inter-hospital during a Section 47 Enquiry as part of the professional response and is in addition to all current protocols and the existing Core Inter Agency Procedures.
Circumstances of a child moving between hospitals/authorities:
- Safety – removing them from known or suspected danger.
- Health – to receive specialist medical attention/examination.
- Welfare – to be reunited with family.
This should not be seen as an exhaustive list and accepts that other conditions may arise for which a child would, in the middle of a Section 47 Enquiry, be required to move into a new area or hospital.
The protocol is provided to direct the practice of all agencies working under procedures adopted by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough SCB’s.
This is as a result of a Serious Case Review (baby PS) recommendation.
“Cambridgeshire Police, Peterborough Children’s Social Care and relevant hospitals need to jointly review their arrangements for working across county boundaries and over weekend periods, and produce a protocol which will clarify respective roles and responsibilities, where possible obstacles to consistency of practice may occur and to identify how they might be addressed in the future.”
This protocol will ensure that messages are no longer implicit, that is, assumed to be understood. It is critical that all parties are clear as to risks posed and actions agreed to protect and safeguard children. Information sharing is undertaken routinely between agencies delivering child protection services but becomes more difficult and conversely more important in the midst of an on-going investigation which transcends agencies and agency boundaries. It is at the time that a child moves between hospitals and from the “home authority,” to a “host authority,” that information can become lost, confused or minimised.
Home authority – refers to any authority in whose jurisdiction a child lives at the time concerns arise. These authorities will be expected to provide services which are considered necessary to protect and safeguard a child or children, from continuing harm.
Host authority – refers to any authority into whose jurisdiction a child/children is transferred during, or as a result of, a Section 47 Enquiry. Responsibility for the provision of services will remain with the home authority unless formal arrangements are undertaken to transfer these in the best interest of the child, or children.
2.1 Legislative context
All authorities are subject to a variety of legal, statutory and other guidance in relation to the sharing of person-identifiable or anonymised information. Those obligations remain and are to be complied with in the execution of this policy.
The Strategy Discussion/Meeting should be convened under the auspices of existing procedures. The chair for this meeting should be a Children’s Social Care manager and a full record must be completed and distributed to all parties within 24 hours. In addition to the full record of the meeting it is imperative that all agencies receive a copy of an information sharing document, a “Transfer Information Document,“. This document MUST be created and distributed before the Strategy Discussion/Meeting is concluded and the fact that these actions have been undertaken should be recorded in the minutes.
The Transfer Information Document (TID) must contain, as a minimum, the following information
- Name of child
- Household composition
- Nature of concern(s)
- Legal status (Police Protection, Interim Care Order, Full Care Order, etc)
- Individuals allowed access
- Nature of contact, that is, supervised, unsupervised, conditional or unconditional.
- Individuals barred from having access to the child.
- Justification for restricting access to the child.
- Point of contact within “Home Authority,” to include – Office, E-mail and 24 hour contact details.
- Actions agreed as result of Strategy Discussion/Meeting
- Additional information required to adequately safeguard children.
Agencies must ensure that their counterparts in the area/hospital to which the child is moving are in receipt of the TID prior to the child’s arrival, wherever possible. If it is not possible then a verbal update to be given, to ensure initial protection and safeguarding is in place, this will be recorded on Strategy Discussion/Meeting minutes detailing content and as having taken place.
The Strategy Discussion/Meeting minutes must, as part of the actions, make reference to the completion and generation of the TID and identify individuals responsible for delivering the relevant information to a member of the Host authority.
Where there are any difficulties encountered by an agency or agencies with colleagues outside that Home authority then an immediate Strategy Discussion/Meeting must be re-convened. The purpose of this will be to discuss the problem and identify methods to overcome the difficulties encountered.
It is acknowledged that all processes may, on occasions, be required outside normal business hours. It is critical, for the safeguarding, that the timing, although professionally inconvenient, can never be the justification for sub standard practice. It is important that agencies ensure that appropriately trained and authorised staff are made available to facilitate the discussion and dissemination of the necessary information and guidance at all times.
The Home authority will retain responsibility for the child until a formal agreement is reached with the Host authority, to a transfer (if appropriate). The fact that this transfer occurs, together with the rationale underpinning it, should be recorded in formal minutes arising from a transfer meeting / conference.
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough LSCB is clear that there must be respectful challenge whenever a professional or agency has a concern about the action or inaction of another. Professionals/agencies should not be defensive if challenged.
Appendix 1 – Transfer Information Document
Click here to view Appendix 1 – Transfer Information Document