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3.2 Action to be Taken Following a Referral to Social Services


  1. Initial Decision Making
  2. Information Gathering and Sharing
  3. Procedures to be Followed After the Initial Decision has been Made
  4. Immediate Protection of the Child

1. Initial Decision Making


Within one working day Social Services will:

  • Decide – on the basis of available evidence - whether there are concerns about either the child’s health and development or actual and/or potential Significant Harm, which justifies an Initial Assessment to establish whether this child is a Child in Need of Protection or a Child in Need of additional services, i.e. a child whose needs cannot be fully met within the family, community and universal services;
  • Record the referral on the Referral and Information Record including decisions taken as to what is to happen next;
  • Acknowledge a referral in writing within 3 working days.

This initial consideration of the case should be based on:

  • Discussion with a referring professional;
  • Consideration of information held on past records of child and family members;
  • Discussion with Health Services, Education, School and any other professionals as appropriate;
  • Discussion with Probation when there are concerns about an adult closely associated or living with the family;
  • Where fabricated illness is a possibility, the Paediatrician responsible for the child’s health care must be consulted as part of the initial decision making process – see Fabricated or Induced Illness Procedure.

It is the responsibility of the referrer to:

  • Follow up a telephone referral in writing within 24 hours;
  • Contact Social Services again if they have not received a written acknowledgement of the telephone referral within 3 working days;
  • Record in their own agency records the decisions taken following referral.

2. Information Gathering and Sharing

2.1 When approaching other agencies for further information to assist initial decision making, consideration should be given to the advice on information sharing set out in Information Sharing Guidance (see the Isle of Man SCB website). See also Recognition of Significant Harm Procedure and Referral to Social Services Procedure, The Referral Process for Children in Need of Protection.
2.2 Seeking consent from parents should be the first option when deciding whether to contact other agencies for information. However, in some circumstances, the proportional response at the initial decision making stage may be to seek information without contacting the parents. For example, in order to decide whether a referral is malicious, it may be that one phone call to another agency might prevent extreme distress to the parents/child. Whichever approach is taken the practitioner must record the reasons for their action on the Referral and Information Record.
2.3 If there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be suffering, or may be at risk of suffering Significant Harm, parental permission to seek information should only be sought where such discussion and agreement – seeking will not place the child at increased risk of Significant Harm, or lead to any interference with any potential investigation.
2.4 When responding to referrals from a member of the public, details about referrers, including identifying details should only be disclosed to third parties (including subject families and other agencies) with the consent of the referrer.
2.5 When responding to information that a child may have been subject to Child Protection Enquiries under another jurisdiction ever effort must be made to seek information on this matter. This should include checking local agencies who may have relevant information in their records.
2.6 In all instances historical records should be checked for relevant information.

3. Procedures to be Followed After the Initial Decision has been Made


Where the decision is no further action:

  • Feedback should be given to the referrer, who should be told of the decision and reasons for it. In the case of public referrals, this should be done in a manner which is consistent with respecting the confidentiality of the child.

Where the decision is to conduct an Initial Assessment of the child’s needs:

  • The assessment should be led by a qualified and experienced social worker and the assessment carried out in line with the Initial Assessments Procedure.
3.3 All agencies should contribute to the Initial Assessment if requested to do so.

Where risk of Significant Harm has been identified:

The child should be allocated a qualified and experienced social worker and a Section 46 Enquiry commenced in line with these procedures.

Where immediate action is needed to protect the child:

  • The team manager in Social Services should ensure that a qualified and experienced social worker is made available and action is taken in line with Paragraph 4.7.
3.6 If a professional referrer is of the view that their concerns have not been fully considered they must share this with Social Services to ensure their concerns have been properly expressed and understood. If the matter is still not resolved, and the referrer remains concerned that the child is at risk, the Escalation of Concerns Procedure should be used.

4. Immediate Protection of the Child


Emergency action might be needed:

  • As soon as a referral is received;
  • At any point in involvement with children and their family.

Children in need of protective action may include not only the referred child but also:

  • Other children in the household; and
  • Children in the household of an alleged perpetrator or elsewhere.
4.3 It should be remembered that Neglect as well as physical abuse or sexual abuse can pose such a risk of Significant Harm to a child that immediate protective action is needed.
4.4 It is the responsibility of Social Services to take action to secure the immediate safety of the child. Where the child is Looked After or subject to a Child Protection Plan in another jurisdiction that authority should be consulted. The Isle of Man retains responsibility for the protection of a child until the other authority explicitly accepts responsibility (confirmed in writing).
4.5 Where there is a risk to the life of a child or a likelihood of serious immediate harm, Social Services or the Police should act quickly to secure the immediate safety of the child. However, Police Powers should only be used in exceptional circumstances where there is insufficient time to seek an Emergency Protection Order or for reasons relating to the immediate safety of the child.
4.6 Planned emergency action should normally take place following an immediate Strategy Discussion between Police, Social Services, and other agencies involved with the child and their family. In situations where an Emergency Protection Order is required, Social Services must obtain legal advice before initiating legal action.
4.7 Where a single agency has had to act immediately a Strategy Discussion should take place within four hours or at the earliest opportunity in order to plan next steps. See also Strategy Discussions/Meetings Procedure.
4.8 A Section 46 Enquiry should be immediately initiated following any emergency action in order to assess the needs and circumstances of the child and agree action to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of the Child in the long run. See also Section 46 Enquiries and Core Assessment Procedure.

The child’s safety should be secured by either:

  • A parent/carer taking action to remove an alleged perpetrator;
  • The alleged perpetrator agreeing to leave the home;
  • The child remaining in a safe place or being removed to a safe place, either on a voluntary basis or by obtaining an Emergency Protection Order;
  • The Police using their powers to place a child in Police protection and remove a child, or keep a child in suitable accommodation.
4.10 Where the child is Looked After by Social Services, the child’s social worker should be informed of the action taken at the earliest opportunity.