Child protection enquiries

Child Protection Enquiries is a broad term that encompasses the process from identifying that there are significant concerns present in a case which may require specific action on a multi-agency basis to deciding whether a case conference is required following assessment. These pages consider the individual parts of that process.


Social Care are always the lead agency in child protection, and as such the decision to enter the process rests with the manager of the team receiving the information. Recording of decisions and the reasons for these decisions is therefore key.

The purpose of child protection enquiries is work out whether a child is suffering, or could suffer, significant harm. The law defines harm as ill-treatment or the impairment of health or development (including seeing or hearing harm caused to others). Being witness to harm is important as this covers areas such as living in a home where there is constant domestic abuse between parents. There are however no clear cut definitions as to what is harmful and what is not, and whether the trigger is one event (e.g. an assault) or a build-up of issues over time (e.g. neglect), this is down to professional judgement.

The starting point of any child protection enquiry is a strategy discussion.

Immediate Protection

There may be times when immediate action is required to ensure the safety of the child and that of other children in the household or linked to the alleged perpetrator.

It is necessary to take action without there being time to hold a strategy discussion (e.g. the Police safeguarding a child under their powers of protection) - when this happens a strategy discussion should be held as soon as possible afterwards to plan the next steps.


What can we do to immediately protect a child?


Children could be protected through:

All such action should be agreed with your line manager.


Help from other agencies

All agencies: schools, housing and health bodies all have a duty to assist and provide information in support of child protection enquiries.  The decision to start child protection enquiries means that if necessary you can override confidentiality for the purposes of protecting a child.  Wherever possible however you should work in partnership with the carers of the child.

You may also like