Initiating section 47 enquiries:

Posted on Sunday, 30th Aug, 2015 at 09:19:15 PM
A section 47 enquiry is carried out by undertaking or continuing with an assessment in accordance with the guidance set out in this chapter and following the principles and parameters of a good assessment. Childrens Social Care/Disabled Childrens Service social workers have a statutory duty to lead assessments under section 47 of the Children Act 1989. The police, health professionals, teachers and other relevant professionals have a duty to help Childrens Social Care/Disabled Childrens Service in undertaking its enquiries.

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.

Social workers with their managers should;
Lead the assessment in accordance with this guidance;
Carry out enquiries in a way that minimises distress for the child and family;
see the child who is the subject of concern to ascertain their wishes and feelings; assess their understanding of their situation; assess their relationships and circumstances more broadly;
Interview parents and/or caregivers and determine the wider social and environmental factors that might impact on them and their child;
Systematically gather information about the childs and familys history;
Analyse the findings of the assessment and evidence about what interventions are likely to be most effective with other relevant professionals to determine the childs needs and the level of risk of harm faced by the child to inform what help should be provided and act to provide that help; and
Follow the guidance set out in Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: Guidance on interviewing victims and witnesses, and guidance on using special measures, where a decision has been made to undertake a joint interview of the child as part of any criminal investigation.

The police should:
Help other agencies understand the reasons for concerns about the childs safety and welfare;
Decide whether or not police investigations reveal grounds for instigating criminal proceedings;
Make available to other professionals any evidence gathered to inform discussions about the childs welfare; and
Follow the guidance set out in Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings : Guidance on Interviewing Victims and Witnesses, March 2011 and guidance on using special measures, where a decision has been made to undertake a joint interview of the child as part of the criminal investigations.

Health professionals should:
Undertake appropriate medical tests, examinations or observations, to determine how the childs health or development may be being impaired;
Provide any of a range of specialist assessments. For example, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists and child psychologists may be involved in specific assessments relating to the childs developmental progress. The lead health practitioner (probably a consultant paediatrician, or possibly the childs GP) may need to request and coordinate these assessments; and
Ensure appropriate treatment and follow up health concerns.
All involved professionals should:
Contribute to the assessment as required, providing information about the child and family; and
Consider whether a joint enquiry/investigation team may need to speak to a child victim without the knowledge of the parent or caregiver.

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