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3.4 Strategy Discussions/Meetings

Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Participants
  3. Process for a Strategy Discussion
  4. Complex Abuse Strategy Meetings
  5. Recording of Strategy Discussions


1. Introduction

1.1 A Strategy Discussion (sometimes referred to as a Strategy Meeting) is normally held following an Initial Assessment which indicates that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer Significant Harm. The purpose of a Strategy Meeting is to determine whether there are grounds for a Section 46 Enquiry.
1.2

Strategy Discussions by telephone may occur:

  • In less complex cases;
  • At the initial stages of the enquiry in complex cases where time is needed in order to clarify who should attend a Strategy Meeting. In this situation the meeting should take place within a maximum of 5 working days.
1.3

Face-to-face Strategy Meetings should be held where:


2. Participants

2.1

The manager responsible for convening a Strategy Meeting should ensure participants include:

  • Relevant staff from all agencies that may have information that will be of assistance in planning the enquiries. This must include the Police, Designated Professional or Named Nurse for Safeguarding Children and the relevant Designated Teacher if the child or any child in the family is of school age;
  • Those who are sufficiently senior and able to contribute to the discussion of available information and make decisions on behalf of their agencies;
  • The member of the medical team, ideally the medical consultant responsible for the child’s healthcare, where a child is an in-patient or receiving services from the Pre-School Assessment Centre (PSAC);
  • The senior ward nurse, or a nurse with knowledge of the child, if the child is a hospital in-patient;
  • Professionals who are able to advise on the most effective means of communication with a child with specific learning disabilities or difficulties, or with any other disability that impedes their ability to communicate – see Use of Interpreters, Signers or Others with Communication Skills Procedure.
2.2 The timing of a Strategy Meeting must find a balance between maximum attendance and urgency. However it is expected that it will generally take place within 24 hours. In general, every effort must be made to ensure those with useful information will attend or submit a written report.
2.3 Those invited to a Strategy Meeting should prioritise attendance.
2.4 Strategy Meetings should be chaired by an experienced professional from Social Services.


3. Process for a Strategy Discussion

3.1

The Strategy Discussion should:

  • Confirm details of the concerns;
  • Evaluate content and assess risk;
  • Evaluate urgency;
  • Agree the conduct and timing of any criminal investigation led by Police;
  • Decide whether a Core Assessment under Section 46 Enquiries should be initiated or continued if it has already begun;
  • Agree whether the enquiry will be conducted solely by Social Services or jointly with the Police;
  • Agree whether there is a need for Medical Assessment or treatment;
  • Consider the communication needs of the child and whether any professional advice is needed. This may be particularly relevant where a child has a learning disability or difficulty. For more information see National Autistic Society and Children With Disabilities Procedure);
  • Agree what action is needed immediately to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of the Child and/or provide interim services and support If the child is in hospital decisions should be made about how to secure the safe discharge of the child;
  • Determine what information from the Strategy Discussion should be shared with the family;
  • Determine if legal advice is required;
  • Agree a plan for the Core Assessment including who should be interviewed and when and how the child’s wishes and feelings should be obtained;
  • Consider the race and ethnicity of the child and family and how this should be taken into account, including establishing whether an interpreter is needed – see Use of Interpreters, Signers or Others with Communication Skills Procedure;
  • Consider any impairment (child or family) and determine particular needs including access and/or any assistance that will be required with communication;
  • Consider the needs of other children who may be affected; for example, siblings and other children in contact with alleged abusers;
  • Agree a contingency plan if a parent refuses consent for an interview or medical assessment of the child.


4. Complex Abuse Strategy Meetings

4.1 Complex abuse may involve alleged professional abuse or networks of sexual offenders or possible fabricated or induced illness.
4.2 Complex Abuse Strategy Meetings should be chaired by the Child Care Co-ordinator, the Head of Safeguarding or a senior manager from Social Services. In some instances, for example if the situation involved staff from within Social Services, it would be appropriate to seek a more independent chair. The Chief Executive of Departments involved and the Chair of the Safeguarding Children Board should be informed.
4.3 It is usual in such situations for more than one Strategy Discussion to be held. For more information see Organised and Complex Abuse Procedure.


5. Recording of Strategy Discussions

5.1

The Record of Strategy Discussion should record details of:

  • Location;
  • Time;
  • Who attended and their agency role;
  • Information shared;
  • An assessment of risk to the child(ren);
  • Decisions reached and the basis for those decisions;
  • Actions and timescales agreed.
5.2 The record of the discussion should be circulated within two working days to those who participated. Following the strategy discussion the outcome should be recorded in individual agency records. Social Services will send out the ‘Strategy Meeting’ electronic document which will act as a record of the meeting held.

End