1.5.1 Joint Protocol between West Yorkshire Police and Children's Social Care Services regarding Joint Police/Children's Social Care Services Enquiries


The purpose of this Protocol is to guide Children's Social Care Services and West Yorkshire Police in deciding how a Section 47 Enquiry (initiated by Children's Social Care Services when a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm) and associated police investigations should be conducted.

In particular, it considers the circumstances in which Section 47 Enquiries and linked criminal investigations are necessary and/or appropriate. The joint working protocol and threshold criteria agreement on enquiries by the Police and Children's Social Care Services regarding Section 47 Enquiries do not replace any other parts of these procedures. The details represent joint working between police and Children's Social Care Services only. Police and Children's Social Care Services must involve other agencies in Strategy Discussions and other inter-agency work appropriately.

2. The Protocol describes  how all agencies should work together to promote children's welfare and protect them from abuse and neglect, and takes into account the operational difficulties of having one police service covering 5 local authority areas and Safeguarding Children Boards / Safeguarding Children Partnerships within West Yorkshire.

Referrals to the Police
3. A referral to the police is defined as any concern communicated to the Police Child and Public Protection Unit (CPPU) regarding the welfare of the child.

This does not include:

  • Update of an active or current enquiry;
  • Person vetting/previous conviction check form sent to the CPPU by Children's Social Care Services.

Referrals to Children's Social Care Services
5. A referral to Children's Social Care Services is defined as all referrals made to Children's Social Care Services suggesting that a child is suffering, or is likely to be suffering Significant Harm.

Joint Investigations
6. Joint investigation implies that both Children's Social Care Services and the Police will play significant roles in enquiries. Either agency may undertake aspects of the enquiry separately, but there will be prior agreement about roles and continuing consultation.
7. Joint investigations are undertaken under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.

Information Sharing
8. Police should share relevant information at the Strategy Discussions in order that a decision can be made whether to initiate a Child in Need (Section 17) assessment or Child Protection Enquiry (Section 47).
9. A proper balance must be struck between protecting children and respecting the rights and needs of parents and families, but where there is conflict the welfare of the child is paramount.
10. Where there is disagreement or conflict between professional roles and responsibilities the line managers within each agency should be consulted - see also Resolving Multi Agency Professional Disagreements and Escalation Procedure.
11. All allegations received against any professional, e.g. foster carer, teacher, social worker, police officer, etc., will be passed to the area detective inspector within the CPPU who will discuss the case with the LADO and agree appropriate representation from the police - see Allegations Against Persons who Work with Children Procedure.

Strategy Discussion
12. The welfare of the child is paramount and the Strategy Discussion is pivotal to this Protocol.

Working Together to Safeguard Children states "Whenever there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm there should be a strategy discussion involving local authority children's social care (including the residential or fostering service, if the child is looked after), the police, health and other bodies such as the referring agency. This might take the form of a multi-agency meeting or phone calls and more than one discussion may be necessary. A strategy discussion can take place following a referral or at any other time, including during the assessment process and when new information is recieved on an already open case".

Where a medical examination may be needed, a senior doctor from the providing service should be included in the Strategy Discussion.

The discussion should be used to:

  • Share available information;
  • Decide whether Section 47 Enquiries should continue;
  • Plan how enquiries should be handled, including the need for any medical treatment, and by whom;
  • Agree what action is needed immediately to safeguard the child, and/or provide interim services and support; and
  • Determine what information about the Strategy Discussion will be shared with the family, unless such information sharing may place a child at risk of Significant Harm or jeopardise police investigations into any alleged offence(s)

Relevant matters will include:

  • Agreeing a plan for Section 47 Enquiries - what further information is needed about the child/ren and family and how it should be obtained;
  • Agreeing who should be interviewed, by whom, for what purpose, and when. The way in which interviews are conducted can play a significant part in minimising any distress caused to children, and increasing the likelihood of maintaining constructive working relationships with families. When criminal offences may have been committed against a child, the timing and handling of interviews with victims, their families, and witnesses, can have important implications for the collection and preservation of evidence;
  • In the light of the race, ethnicity, beliefs and culture of the child and family, consider how these should be taken into account and to establish whether an interpreter will be required; and
  • Considering the needs of other children who may affected, e.g. siblings and other children in contact with alleged abusers
15. A Strategy Discussion may take place at a meeting or by other means (e.g. by telephone). Any information shared, all decisions reached, and the basis for those decisions, should be clearly recorded by all parties to the discussion.
16. Significant Harm to children gives rise to both child welfare concerns and law enforcement concerns, and Section 47 Enquiries may run concurrently with Police investigations concerning possible associated crime(s). The Police have a duty to carry out thorough and professional investigations into allegations of crime, and the obtaining of clear strong evidence is in the best interests of a child, since it makes it less likely that a child victim will have to give evidence in criminal court. Enquiries may, therefore, give rise to information which is relevant to decisions which have to be taken by both Children's Social Care Services and the police. They need to create the basis for future support and help to the child and family on a planned, co-ordinated basis. They may contribute to legal proceedings, whether criminal, civil or both.

Threshold Criteria
17. At any stage professional judgement may override the threshold criteria and lead to more or less action. Threshold criteria are given in the following table.

Click here to view Threshold Matrix.