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2.2.32 Harm to Animals and Possible Implications for Children


Contents

  1. Background
  2. Information Sharing where there are Concerns about a Child
  3. Information Sharing where there are Concerns about Animals
  4. Follow up Information Sharing
  5. Monitoring and Liaison

    Appendix 1: RSPCA Procedure


1. Background

There is increased recognition that there are links between cruelty to animals and maltreatment of children. Research evidence points to households where there has been severe cruelty to animals leading to prosecution by the RSPCA and children in the same household being neglected and maltreated.

To ensure awareness the Kent and Medway Safeguarding Children Board agencies and RSPCA work together to facilitate referrals and promote the welfare of both children and animals.


2. Information Sharing where there are Concerns about a Child

Where in the course of their duties an RSPCA Officer has reason to believe that a child is at risk of harm a referral will be made to the relevant local Local Authority Children’s Services team, or the Police.

Specialist Children’s Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) will carry out checks to determine if the child is known to local agencies or if the child is subject to a Child Protection Plan.

A Child and Family Assessment must be undertaken and may lead to a Strategy Discussion and a Section 47 Enquiry.

When a referral is made from the RSPCA to Specialist Children’s Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) the name of the RSPCA inspector should not be given to the family unless this has been agreed between the two agencies as essential for evidential reasons. The reason for this is that the RSPCA inspector may need to do repeat visits to the household to monitor an animal’s welfare. If appropriate, the RSPCA Officer may remain anonymous to the family as the source of the referral but it must be recognised that this is not always possible if witness statements are needed in Court proceedings

The safety and welfare of children are paramount and any concerns must be shared and consulted about.


3. Information Sharing where there are Concerns about Animals

When in the course of their work members of all the agencies from the Kent and Medway Safeguarding Boards come across situations where animals are being maltreated or harmed, they must refer the matter to the local RSPCA services.

If there are any concerns that the safety of a child or animal may be jeopardised if the person is informed about the intention to make the referral, it is not necessary to tell them but to refer directly to the RSPCA.

To report animal cruelty, request assistance or express a concern about animal welfare, call the RSPCA’s national cruelty and advice line: 0870 555999.


4. Follow up Information Sharing

In the case of all agencies, it is good practice to provide feedback about outcomes of referrals and any actions taken.

Witness statements in the course of any actions in court by any agency may be needed. Work with a family or household may be continuing over a period of time requiring the different agencies to remain in regular contact, sharing information about progress.

In all instances the balance between the safety and welfare of the child and the animals and the rights to confidentiality of all concerned must be kept under careful review.


5. Monitoring and Liaison

The Kent and Medway Safeguarding Children Boards and the RSPCA Services for the same areas will maintain regular contact and review referral patterns and outcomes to support research about the links in maltreatment of children and animals. Any records that are kept must be stored safely and the rules of Data Protection legislation and confidentiality must be enforced.


Appendix 1: RSPCA Procedure

In the light of increased awareness of the possible links between child abuse and neglect and animal cruelty, the RSPCA introduced written reporting procedures in November 2001. A protocol agreed with the RSPCA includes reciprocal reporting by Specialist Children’s Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) of animal welfare issues.

If an RSPCA inspector notices anything which s/he considers to be child abuse or a concern about the welfare of a child, s/he should report it to Police or Specialist Children’s Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) as follows.

Emergency

In an emergency, the RSPCA inspector should report the concerns directly to the Police using the ‘999’ system. The inspector should record the information in her/his pocket book and pass it to the chief inspector (or deputy if chief inspector unavailable) within 3 working days. Form A (RSPCA referral form to Local Authority Children’s Services / Police) –should be completed by the inspector, countersigned by the chief inspector, marked ‘Police dealt’ and faxed to the Local Authority Children’s Services for appropriate action.

Non-Emergency

The RSPCA inspector should note the concerns in her/his pocket book and pass the information orally to the chief inspector, or in her/his absence, the deputy chief inspector.

The information is to be recorded by the inspector on ‘Form A’ and submitted to the chief inspector as soon as possible and within a maximum of three working days.

The chief inspector should countersign and fax it to Local Authority Children’s Services for actioning and phone to confirm dispatch of the fax.

Reciprocal Reporting on Animal Welfare Concerns

If Specialist Children’s Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) staff have concerns about the welfare of an animal, they should report this to the RSPCA by completing form B, (Local Authority Children’s Services / Police referral form to RSPCA) – and forwarding it to the RSPCA chief inspector for appropriate action.

End