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5.3 Referring Safeguarding Concerns


The Protection of Children Standard


This chapter must be read in conjunction with (the Interagency Safeguarding Children Procedures for Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Partnership (NCSCP))

Also see the following procedures:

Recognising Abuse and Neglect Guidance

Allegations Against Staff and Volunteers Procedure


This chapter was updated in May 2021 to reflect changes from the revised Working Together to Safeguard Children.


  1. Introduction, Summary and Definitions
  2. Reporting Concerns
  3. Receiving Concerns in Relation to Abuse or Harm
  4. Action by the Senior Designated Manager
  5. Allegations Made Against Children or Young People

1. Introduction, Summary and Definitions

The home’s designated senior manager is responsible for coordinating Safeguarding Children Referrals.

However, safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and in particular protecting them from abuse and harm is a shared responsibility and depends on effective joint working between all staff working in the home, with all relevant agencies and professionals. All staff have a responsibility to report any suspicions they have, that a child has or may be mistreated or harmed.

Local authorities have a duty to promote and safeguard the welfare of children and to investigate and take necessary action to protect children and young people from abuse and harm.

The procedures in this chapter are mandatory and any failure to comply with them will be addressed through appropriate procedures.


Safeguarding is a term which is broader than ‘child protection’ and relates to the action taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. Safeguarding is defined in Working together to Safeguard Children as:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment;
  • Preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health and development;
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

There are 4 types of abuse that are commonly used:

2. Reporting Concerns

The general principle is that all safeguarding concerns and any allegations must be reported.

The following actions should be taken when there is any concern or disclosure about the welfare of a child or young person. This includes non recent or historical abuse, that may have occurred at some time in the past and may not have been reported or investigated.

Harm can be perpetrated by any person, including:

Staff should firstly make their report to the home's designated senior manager, unless the manager is implicated. In which case staff must notify one of the following:

  • Another manager who is not implicated;
  • The Local Authority Children's Social Care Services in whose area the Home is located;
  • Police;
  • NSPCC;
  • The Regulatory Authority (Ofsted);
  • The Childs’s allocated Social Worker.

In an emergency, where there is an immediate risk to the child, staff must take necessary action. This may involve asking for Police assistance or seeking emergency medical assistance e.g. taking the child to hospital or contacting the emergency services via 999. If the child is taken to hospital or the Police are called, staff must inform them that there is a suspicion of abuse or harm. Thereafter staff must notify the manager (or other agency) as described above.

Once notified, the designated senior manager will be responsible for following Local Safeguarding Children Board procedures and making with a referral to the Local Authority Children's Social Care Services. (See Section 4, Action by the Senior Designated Manager).

When sharing information about a child with Children’s Social Care, it is good practice for practitioners to be transparent about their concerns and to seek to work cooperatively with the child and their parents / carers. The manager in the home should therefore usually inform parents / carers (and the child depending on their age and level of understanding) that they are going to make a referral.

However, referrals can be made without first informing the child and / or their parents / carers where to do so would place a child at risk.  Any decision not to inform a child or their parents / carers must be recorded with reasons.

The home must keep a record of all safeguarding concerns and the actions taken by staff / managers.

If a Child Protection / Section 47 Enquiry is initiated, the Home's Manager must inform the Regulatory Authority (See Notification of Serious Events Procedure).

3. Receiving Concerns in Relation to Abuse or Harm

The following is good practice that must be followed.

Staff members seeing, hearing or being told anything that causes them to become concerned that a child or young person may be at risk of, is being or has been abused must report it immediately - as described above in Section 2, Reporting Concerns.

Non-action is not an option in the protection of children and all staff have a duty to act.

Children will sometimes disclose abuse to an adult who they have come to feel they can trust. If a child discloses abuse it is important that staff respond appropriately by remaining calm and receptive; listening with interrupting; only asking questions of clarification; acknowledging the child's courage in telling.

It is not the staff members responsibility to investigate or in any way make judgements about what is reported to them. Investigations, if necessary, must be undertaken by the Police and Children’s Social Care.

If a disclosure or allegation of abuse or harm has been made, staff should discuss with the child or other person who has made the complaint what steps they would like taken to protect them and their wishes should be shared and, if not in conflict with procedures, followed.

Where the allegation or disclosure is of a non recent or historical nature, e.g. relating to abuse or harm that may have been perpetrated in another placement or by family members, allegations must be taken seriously and must be reported in the same way as any other allegation.

Staff must not give absolute guarantees of confidentiality to those who report possible abuse or harm, but they should guarantee that they will take steps to ensure that appropriate action is taken and the child or young person protected.

If an allegation or any suspicion is about the behaviour, past or present of another member of staff, including managers, which may in any way put children at risk, staff must follow the Allegations Against Staff and Volunteers Procedure.

Staff must make a written record as soon as possible of their concerns, what they have been told, any questions they asked and the replies given and the actions taken and by whom. They must then give the report to the designated senior manager.

The record should be placed on the child's file except where a colleague is implicated or there is any risk to the child as a result, in which case notes/records should be given to the manager dealing with the matter.

Staff should not discuss the matter with others, including other staff, parents etc unless asked to do so by those responsible for dealing any subsequent investigation or enquiry.

4. Action by the Designated Senior Manager

After receiving a report of a concern, suspicion or allegation of abuse or harm, the home's designated senior manager must firstly take any steps needed to protect any child or young person from risk of immediate harm.

The designated senior manager should ensure the following people are notified:
  • The line manager for the home;
  • (Children's Social Care);
  • If the suspicion/allegation relates to a member of staff/professional*, the Manager should ensure the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) is notified - Contact Details;
  • The Placing Authority / Child's allocated Social Worker;
  • If a Child protection Enquiry is initiated, the Regulatory Authority, see Notification of Serious Events Procedure.

*Re Allegations Against Staff: See Allegations Against Staff and Volunteers Procedure.

The procedures that will be followed will depend on the decisions made by Children's Social Care and the Social Worker. It is also likely that the Regulatory Authority will be involved in decision making.

The Home's Manager (or delegated senior manager) will co-operate with the decisions/actions taken by them.

Following receipt of the referral, if Children’s Social Care have concerns that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm a Strategy Discussion/Meeting will be convened, to decide whether to initiate a Child Protection Enquiry and, if so, to agree the following with the manager:

  1. Who should inform the child's parent(s);
  2. Arrangements for any medical examination of the child;
  3. Any immediate arrangements for protection of the child(ren), including whether the Child should be moved to another Home;
  4. Whether it is necessary to inform staff within the home and if so who will do it;
  5. Whether any implicated staff should be suspended or moved;
  6. Who should inform/update the person making the initial allegation of the steps/actions taken.

The designated senior manager should ensure that the child is supported during any enquiries/investigation, this may require an independent advocate or independent person to be involved. The manager should also ensure that all staff co-operate fully.

5. Allegations Made Against Children or Young People

Abuse and Harm can be perpetrated upon one child or young person by another in many different ways, including persistent or serious bullying, sexual exploitation, aggressive, exploitative or other threatening behaviour which places a child or young person at risk.

Where there is any suspicion or allegation of abuse or harm perpetrated by one child or young person upon another, the procedures in Section 2, Reporting Concern should be followed.

Protecting the rights of both victim and alleged perpetrator is important. It may be necessary, dependent on an assessment of all the facts, to separate the alleged perpetrator and victim but it may not be possible to explain why this is necessary to the perpetrator.

Throughout the process thereafter it will be necessary to ensure that children or young people with allegations made against them are properly supported, by an Independent Person if appropriate or required, as well as their social worker and parent(s).

Once the investigation is complete, consideration will then need to be given to the needs and interests of both alleged victim and perpetrator, and whether counselling and/or other support should be given.

Children or young people who are known to have sexually abused other children cannot live together unless a risk assessment has been undertaken by someone specially qualified to do so, that is independent of the home.