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1.3.2 Section 47 Enquiries

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

Where a Section 47 Enquiry is carried out, reference should be made to the West Midlands Safeguarding Children Procedures, Child Protection Enquiries.


Contents

  1. Conducting Section 47 Enquiries
  2. Outcomes of a Section 47 Enquiry
  3. Recording Section 47 Enquiries


1. Conducting Section 47 Enquiries

The Child and Young Person Assessment is the means by which a Section 47 Enquiry is carried out. The objective of the Section 47 Enquiry is to determine whether action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. The decision to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry will be taken by the team manager after a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and where such a decision is made the Section 47 Enquiry must be completed within 15 working days.

The social worker, when conducting a Section 47 Enquiry, must assess the potential needs and safety of any other child in the household of the child in question. In addition, Section 47 Enquiries may be required concerning any children in other households with whom the alleged abuser may have contact.

In determining who should be involved in a Section 47 Enquiry, consideration should include with whom the family is most likely to cooperate, and whether there are any risks. In all cases where there is a known propensity to violence within the family household, consideration should be given to the strategy to be adopted, with Police advice/assistance if appropriate, about how to reduce the risks before any visits take place.

The child must always be seen and communicated with alone in the course of a Section 47 Enquiry by the Lead Social Worker, unless it is contrary to his or her interests to do so. The Strategy Discussion/Meeting will plan any interview with the child. The Record of Section 47 Enquiry and Reports to Child Protection Conferences should include the date(s) when the child was seen alone by the Lead Social Worker and, if not seen alone, who was present and the reasons for their presence.

Before a child is seen or interviewed parental permission must be gained unless there are exceptional circumstances that demonstrate that it would not be in the child's interests and to do so may jeopardise the child's safety and welfare. Relevant exceptional circumstances would include:

  • The possibility that a child would be threatened or otherwise coerced into silence;
  • A strong likelihood that important evidence would be destroyed; or
  • That the child in question did not wish the parent to be involved at that stage, and is competent to take that decision. 

In such circumstances, the social worker must take legal advice about how to proceed and whether legal action may be required, for example through an application for an Emergency Protection Order or a Child Assessment Order.


2. Outcomes of a Section 47 Enquiry

The outcome of a Section 47 Enquiry must be endorsed by the team manager.

A Section 47 Enquiry may conclude that either the concerns were unsubstantiated, or the concerns are substantiated and the child is judged to be at continuing risk of Significant Harm.

2.1 Concerns not substantiated

  1. No Further Action
    Enquiries have revealed that there are no causes for concern. The child may be a Child in Need but the family do not wish for services to be provided, in which case the case will be closed;
  2. Family Support to be provided
    Enquiries have revealed that there is no evidence that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm but  there are needs that could be met by the provision of services either under section 17 of the Children Act 1989 or by signposting the family to another agency. The family are willing for a package of support to be provided, or continue to be provided.

    Where services are to be provided under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989, the social worker or their team manager should convene a Child in Need Planning Meeting within 7 working days to agree a Child in Need Plan – see Child in Need Plans and Reviews Procedure;

2.2 Child at continuing risk of Significant Harm

  1. Enquiries have revealed that the child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm.

    An Initial Child Protection Conference must be convened within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting where the decision to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry was made. The request to convene the conference must be supported by a team manager. For the detailed procedure in relation to Child Protection Conferences, see the West Midlands Safeguarding Children Procedures;
  2. Where immediate protective action is required, the advice of Legal Services should be sought;
  3. The Child and Young Person Assessment should be completed within 45 working days of the initial referral being received / commencement of the s.47 enquiry;
  4. Consideration should be given by the date of the Initial Child Protection Conference where one is convened as to whether the Child and Young Person Assessment has been completed or what further work is required before it is completed.


3. Recording Section 47 Enquiries

  • The social worker should record the Child and Young Person Assessment on Framework-i.
  • The completed Child and Young Person Assessment must be approved by a Team Manager.
  • The child (depending on age and understanding) and parent should be given a copy of the record.
  • The Child and Young Person Assessment is deemed completed once the assessment has been discussed with the child and family and authorised by the manager.
  • Where a Section 47 Enquiry is conducted alongside the Child and Young Person Assessment, the social worker should record their actions/information gathered during the course of the enquiry and its outcomes on a Record of Section 47 Enquiries, which should be approved by the team manager.

End