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2.1.4 Strategy Discussion/Meetings


  1. Introduction
  2. Timescales
  3. Participants to Strategy Discussion
  4. Initiation and Planning of Section 47 Enquiry
  5. If Strategy Discussion Decides not to Initiate a Section 47 Enquiry
  6. Notes of Discussion

1. Introduction

If there is reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, Children Social Work Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) should hold a Strategy Discussion. This may take place following a referral or at any other time when concerns emerge.

When a referral is made outside office hours, The ‘Out of Hours Service’ will fulfil the daytime social work function in respect of strategy meetings / discussions as outlined below. This includes the initiation, coordination and recording of that meeting / discussion.

Depending on the nature of concerns and urgency of the situation this may be undertaken via a meeting and / or through a series of phone discussions with the Police Combined Safeguarding Team and other relevant agencies, including the consultant paediatrician in the case of a suspicious injury.

Strategy discussions by phone with other agencies are usually adequate to plan a straightforward single agency enquiry. Meetings should be held for complex cases and/or to plan joint investigations e.g. allegations against those working with children, fabricated or induced illness, unexpected death of a child.

Strategy meetings, rather than telephone discussions must be held where there are ongoing, cumulative concerns about the child’s welfare and a need to involve all key agencies, share concerns and agree a course of action e.g. in cases of neglect and allegations against staff, carers and volunteers or anyone professionally involved with the child.

Where a Children Social Work Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) single agency enquiry is to be held there should be telephone discussions and/or meetings between the first line manager, social worker and other relevant agencies to explicitly plan the enquiry. The ‘record of Strategy Discussion’ form must be used.

2. Timescales

Initial Strategy Discussion

Meetings should usually be held within 24 hours of deciding to hold a strategy meeting, at a location convenient for key contributors e.g. Children Social Work Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) office, Police station, hospital, surgery or school.

More than one Strategy Discussion may be required to share information and plan any further enquiries required. Further strategy meetings / discussion/s must be held within 15 working days. If a Child Protection Conference is convened it must be held within 15 days of the Strategy Meeting which decided that a Section 47 Enquiry should be initiated.

Subsequent Strategy Discussions

All enquiries should have a final discussion involving all participants of the first Strategy Discussion to agree outcomes.

In all cases, any initial child protection conference must take place within fifteen working days of the Strategy Meeting at which determined that a Child Protection Enquiry should be undertaken.

Planning discussions for Children Social Work Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) single agency enquiries should be consistent with these timescales.

Where the nature of the section 47 enquiry means this timescale can not be adhered to, the reasons for this must be recorded by the chair of the strategy discussion. 

3. Participants to Strategy Discussion

The Strategy Discussion is essentially a meeting for professionals sufficiently senior to be able to make decisions, although exceptional circumstances may arise where others may usefully contribute.

Professionals participating in strategy meetings / discussions must have all their agency’s information relating to the child to be able to contribute it to the meeting / discussion, and must be sufficiently senior to make decisions on behalf of their agencies.

The Strategy Discussion should be co-ordinated and chaired by the Children Social Work Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) Duty / first line manager.

The discussion must always include Children Children Social Work Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway), Police Combined Safeguarding Team, health and with other agencies included as appropriate, in particular the referring agency. Out of office hours, Strategy Discussions must include the referring agency and the police as minimum.

A Police Combined Safeguarding Team manager must be involved in all cases of possible injury or harm to a child. If the manager is unable to be directly involved in the discussion, clear directions should be provided to the participating Police officer/s and the reasons for non-attendance recorded.

If issues have significant medical implications, or a paediatric examination has taken place or may be necessary, a senior paediatrician should always be included.

If the child is or has recently been receiving services from a hospital or child development team, the discussion should involve the responsible medical consultant and, in the case of in-patient treatment, a senior ward nurse. Consideration should also be given to the location of the discussion in order to maximise attendance of hospital staff.

The local authority legal advisor’s involvement may be appropriate.

Consideration should be given to the need to include a professional with expertise in particular cases of complex forms of alleged abuse and neglect.

In ‘complex’ cases the District Manager (Kent) / Operational Safeguarding Lead (Medway) must be consulted.

4. Initiation and Planning of Section 47 Enquiry

Strategy discussions between Children Social Work Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway), the Police Combined Safeguarding Team and relevant other agencies should:

  • Clarify nature of allegation or suspicion of abuse and / or neglect;
  • Share and evaluate information;
  • Allocate tasks if any immediate protective action is required;
  • Decide whether a Section 47 Enquiry should be initiated;
  • Agree the conduct and timing of any criminal investigation as part of a joint child protection enquiry.

If it is decided there are grounds to initiate a Section 47 Enquiry, decisions in the context of the racial, cultural and religious and linguistic background of child and family, should be made about:

  • Further information required and how it should be obtained;
  • The scope of the enquiry, including other children at possible risk;
  • When, how and who will undertake interviews with the child/ren and if a video interview will be used;
  • When and how the parents / carers will be informed of the concerns and the planned action;
  • The need for any paediatric or specialist assessment;
  • Any further action if consent is refused for interview or medical assessment;
  • How to ascertain the child’s wishes and feelings and meet her / his best interests in the enquiry, taking account of any additional needs such as that arising from a disability or a need for an interpreter, speech and language therapist (see Interpreters, Signers and others with Special Communication Skills Procedure);
  • The needs of other children in contact with the alleged abuser/s;
  • Whether to interview the referrer or anyone else;
  • Agree what other actions may be needed to protect the child or provide interim services and support, including securing the safe discharge of a child in hospital;
  • The need to observe the family home in cases of suspected neglect;
  • Consideration of strengths in family and compensatory factors which may protect the child or reduce risk;
  • What information may be shared, with whom and when, taking into account the possibility of placing a child at risk of significant harm or jeopardising Police investigations;
  • Any legal action required;
  • Any implications for disciplinary action e.g. use of evidence statements;
  • Timescales, agency and individual responsible for agreed actions, including the timing of Police investigations and relevant methods of evidence gathering;
  • Any need for contingency planning, especially if circumstances are particularly complex or unknown;
  • Mechanism and date for reviewing the completion of agreed actions i.e. further strategy discussion/s (see timescales below).

5. If Strategy Discussion Decides not to Initiate a Section 47 Enquiry

If it is decided not to proceed with a Section 47 Enquiry, consideration should be given to any need to specify further action being taken e.g:

  • Further assessments e.g. continuing/completing the Child and Family Assessment;
  • Circumstances in which a further referral might be needed;
  • Any services to be provided by agencies.

6. Notes of Discussion

It is the responsibility of the chair of the discussion to ensure that the decisions and agreed actions are fully recorded on ICS using the ‘record of strategy discussion’ exemplar. This must include specifying who monitors the progress of the enquiry and how this will be accomplished. All strategy meeting / discussion should be signed off by the chair of the Strategy Discussion.

A copy should be circulated within 1 working day to all parties to the discussion (whether telephone or face to face).

Discussions held to plan a Children Social Work Services (Kent)/Children’s Social Care Services (Medway) single agency  enquiry should also be fully recorded.