The Child Protection Register

AMENDMENT

Section 5, Access to the Register was amended in May 2018 to state that any changes made to Register Custodians should be notified to the HSCB and not to the DoH.

Section 7, Failure to See a Child/Young Person on the Child Protection Register and Subject to a Child Protection Plan was amended at the beginning to state, 'Children/young people subject to a Child Protection Plan must be seen at least every four weeks, and more often if specified in the Child Protection Plan'.

1. The Child Protection Register

Each Health and Social Care Trust (HSC Trust) is required to keep a register of every child/young person in its area who is considered to be suffering from, or likely to suffer, significant harm and for whom there is a Child Protection Plan. The Register is not a list of names of children/young people who have been abused but of children/young people for whom there are unresolved Child Protection issues and who are currently the subject of an inter-agency Child Protection Plan.

The information on the Register must be kept up-to-date and its contents must be confidential other than to authorised, legitimate enquirers. It must be held securely and separately from other agency records. It must be accessible to enquirers both in and outside office hours.

The Register must be managed by the Trust Director of Social Services or their delegated nominee, the Register Custodian.

2. Purpose of the Register

The purpose of the Register is to:

  • Provide a record about a child/young person for whom there are unresolved Child Protection issues and there is in place an inter-agency Child Protection Plan;
  • Ensure the Child Protection Plan is formally reviewed at least every six months (and initially after three months of the decision to place the child/young person's name on the Register);
  • Provide a central point of enquiry for professional staff who are concerned about the welfare of a child/young person and who need to know whether the child/young person is the subject of an inter-agency Child Protection Plan;
  • Collate enquiries to the Register in order to identify incidents of concern which, if pooled, may produce a clearer indication of risk;
  • Gather statistics about children/young people and the categories of abuse which can be used to determine current trends, training and resource needs.

Placing a child/young person's name on the Register does not in itself protect the child/young person from abuse.

3. Registration

The entry of a child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register should only occur as a result of a decision made at a Child Protection Case Conference where it has been agreed that there is a risk of significant harm, leading to the need for a Child Protection Plan.

The exception is when a child/young person whose name is on the Child Protection Register of another HSC Trust moves into the area either temporarily or permanently. The child/young person should be registered provisionally pending the first Child Protection Case Conference. This must be held within 15 working days. The child's name should only be on two Child Protection Registers for a maximum period of 15 working days.

4. Categories of Abuse for Registration

The criteria for registration is that the child/young person is suffering or is likely to suffer from significant harm and requires a Child Protection Plan to safeguard the child/young person from harm. The categories of abuse under which a child/young person's name may be placed on the Child Protection Register are:

  • Potential physical abuse;
  • Suspected physical abuse;
  • Confirmed physical abuse;
  • Potential sexual abuse;
  • Suspected sexual abuse;
  • Confirmed sexual abuse;
  • Potential emotional abuse;
  • Suspected emotional abuse;
  • Confirmed emotional abuse;
  • Potential neglect;
  • Suspected neglect;
  • Confirmed neglect.

A child/young person's name may be placed on the Child Protection Register under more than one category of abuse.

5. Access to the Register

HSC Trust Children's Services Social Workers including Hospital Social Workers and the Regional Emergency Social Work Service (RESWS) can be contacted to ascertain if a child/young person's name is on the Child Protection Register. The following professionals are authorised to check the Register (a 'ring back' procedure operates so that the authenticity of the callers can be verified):

  • Designated Officer for Child Protection, Education Authority;
  • General Medical Practitioner;
  • Senior Nurse (band 7 or above) acute and community;
  • NSPCC Area Children's Services Manager or above;
  • Police Sergeant or above;
  • Allied Health Professional (band 7 or above);
  • Special Registrar (Hospital) and above;
  • Senior Probation Officer and above;
  • Designated Child Protection Officers within the Youth Justice Agency;
  • Social Worker Team Manager and above;
  • Senior Education Welfare Officer;
  • Designated Doctor and Nurse;
  • Paediatrician – acute and community;
  • Named Nurse for Safeguarding/Safeguarding Children's Nurse Specialist.

These agencies should inform the Register Custodian of the name(s) of their authorised person(s). A list of authorised persons will be held by each Trust Children's Gateway Service and the RESWS.

The Register Custodian must have arrangements in place to:

  • Keep an electronic record of the names of children/young people about whom an enquiry is made;
  • Ensure, if the child/young person's name is on the Register, the name and telephone number of the Case Co-ordinator is given to the enquirer;
  • Ensure if the child/young person's name is not on the Register but there is another child/young person on the Register at the same address the enquirer will be informed of this and given the name of the Case Co-ordinator for that child/young person;
  • Inform the relevant Case Co-ordinator of the enquiry made to the Register.

If the child/young person's name is not on the Register and more than one enquiry has been made, the appropriate Social Work Manager will be informed by the Register Custodian. The Social Work Manager should consider the need for a child protection investigation and record any decisions on the child/young person's file.

Enquiries to the Register must be recorded on the regional electronic system to enable monitoring and review by the Register Custodian. Other information systems must not be used to check this information.

Where an enquiry is made out of office hours the RESWS will:

  • Check the Child Protection Register and take whatever action is necessary;
  • Notify the Trust Children's Gateway Single Point of Entry and the Register Custodian of the enquiry the next working day.

The HSCB holds the list of custodians of Child Protection Registers for Northern Ireland. Whenever a change of Register Custodian is made this should be notified to the:

The Health and Social Care Board
12-22 Linenhall Street,
Belfast,
BT2 8BS

so that the list can be kept up-to-date.

6. Changes in Information or Additional Information for the Register

All professionals who are aware of changes in the information about a child/young person whose name is on the Child Protection Register must notify the Case Co-ordinator. The Case Co-ordinator must make the necessary changes to the Child Protection Register within 1 working day.

The following changes should be notified immediately, in writing:

  • Change of child's address or residence arrangements;
  • Change of child's legal status;
  • Any new name by which the child is known;
  • Change of carer;
  • Change of Case Co-ordinator;
  • Change of school or pre-school provision.

7. Failure to See a Child/Young Person on the Child Protection Register and Subject to a Child Protection Plan

Children/young people subject to a Child Protection Plan must be seen at least every four weeks, and more often if specified in the Child Protection Plan.

There will be occasions when staff are prevented from seeing and talking to a child/young person whose name is on the Child Protection Register in circumstances when they would reasonably expect to do so. This may occur in a variety of ways including deliberate refusal of entry, excuses regarding the child/young person's alleged unavailability (asleep, out playing etc.) or the family's real or apparent absence from home. In any circumstances that cause concern the Case Co-ordinator or their line manager should be informed immediately. Staff should also share this information immediately with their own line manager.

Strenuous attempts must be made to see the child/young person. These should include:

  • Visits to the home at various times;
  • Telephone contact with the parents or carers to arrange an appointment to see the child/young person;
  • A letter of appointment to the house requesting to see the child/young person;
  • Contact with other professionals/agencies to ascertain if they have seen the child/young person in the last 5 working days.

The Case Co-ordinator should discuss the case immediately with their line manager or other appropriate line manager. A decision should be made regarding an urgent visit by the Case Co-Ordinator other Social Worker and possible further action if this visit results in failure to see the child/young person.

In the event of the Case Co-ordinator not being immediately available, the responsibility to arrange a visit and take further action rests with line management.

Should the Case Co-ordinator not be able to gain access to the child/young person and family they must decide whether or not to seek the assistance of the police. In an emergency staff can request police assistance to gain entry to see a child/young person.

8. Children/Young People and Families Who Move

When a child/young person whose name is on the Child Protection Register moves from one HSC Trust (the transferring Trust) to another (the receiving Trust), it is essential that immediate action is taken to ensure the safety of the child/young person in the new location and agree responsibility for the management of the case until a formal transfer is effected.

Children/Young People on the Child Protection Register Who Have Moved Out of the Trust

When any agency or staff working with a child/young person whose name is on the Child Protection Register becomes aware of or suspects that the child/young person and family has moved to another Trust, they must immediately inform the Case Co-ordinator.

The Case Co-ordinator must immediately inform their line manager and appropriate Social Work Manager (band 8a or b). The Social Work Manager will inform the transferring HSC Trust Director of Social Services (or senior designated nominee) of the child/young person's move.

The transferring Trust Director of Social Services must ensure that a written summary of the family history and the reason for registration is forwarded within 5 working days to the receiving Trust Director of Social Services.

The transferring Case Co-ordinator will also immediately notify relevant staff in the receiving Trust of the child/young person's move. This may include:

  • The Trust Paediatrician/Named Doctor for Child Protection;
  • The Trust Named Nurse for Safeguarding Children;
  • Hospital Personnel (if relevant);
  • The Designated Teacher at the child/young person's school, if relevant;
  • All other agencies/staff who are involved with the child/young person.

A Child Protection Case Conference should be held within 15 working days of notification of the child/young person's move to the receiving Trust. The transferring Team Manager and receiving Team Manager will agree who should be invited to the Case Conference. Invitations will sent by the transferring Trust. The receiving Trust will convene and Chair the Case Conference and arrange for minutes to be taken and circulated.

The transferring Social Work Team Manager and Case Co-ordinator will attend the Case Conference in the receiving Trust. The transferring Social Work Team Manager will ensure that all relevant information, reports and Case Conference minutes are given to the receiving Trust. The original copy of the child's/family case file including electronic records will be provided to the receiving Trust.

The transferring Trust will retain responsibility for the child/young person until the Child Protection Case Conference has taken place and the receiving Trust has accepted responsibility for the child/young person. It is important that services are provided to the child and family where they are located, and not delayed as a consequence of the family awaiting a permanent address.

The child/young person's name will be removed from the transferring Trust's Child Protection Register only when the receiving Trust has confirmed acceptance, in writing, of case responsibility for the child/young person

A record of the transfer of responsibility should be made, in the minute of the transfer Case Conference.

The receiving Case Co-ordinator must update the Child Protection Register immediately following completion of transfer.

Children/Young People on the Child Protection Register Who Have Moved into a HSC Trust

When any agency or staff member becomes aware that a child/young person whose name is on another HSC Trust's Child Protection Register has moved into the area they must immediately inform the Gateway Social Work Manager (Band 8a or b). The Social Work Manager must notify their Director of Social Services or nominee of the child/young person's move into the Trust.

The receiving Director of Social Services or nominee will advise their counterpart in the transferring Trust of the child/young person's whereabouts and request an urgent written summary of the family history and the reasons for registration.

The receiving Social Work Manager will immediately notify within their Trust:

  • The Trust Named Doctor for Child Protection;
  • The Trust Safeguarding Children Nurse Specialist;
  • The Designated Teacher at the child/young person's school, if relevant, of the child/young person's move to the Trust's area.

The receiving Social Work Manager should contact their counterparts in the transferring Trust to ensure appropriate and timely information transfer.

The receiving Trust's Director of Social Services (or nominee) will advise the Register Custodian of the child/young person's move to the receiving Trust.

The receiving Trust's Register Custodian will:

  • Enter the child/young person's name on the Child Protection Register on receipt of notification;
  • Advise the Register Custodian of the transferring Trust that this has been done;
  • Ensure that a Child Protection Case Conference is convened by the appropriate manager (Band 8a or above) within 15 working days of receipt of notification.

The transferring Team Manager and receiving Team Manager will agree who should be invited to the Child Protection Case Conference. The receiving Trust will convene and Chair the Case Conference and arrange for minutes to be taken and circulated.

The transferring Social Work Team Manager and Case Co-ordinator will attend the Case Conference in the receiving Trust. The transferring Social Work Team Manager will ensure that all relevant information, reports and Case Conference minutes are given to the receiving Trust. The original copy of the child/young person/family case file including electronic records will be provided to the receiving Trust.

The transferring Trust will retain responsibility for the child/young person until the Child Protection Case Conference has taken place and the receiving Trust has accepted responsibility for the child/young person.

Temporary or Short Term Move

The Directors of Social Work from the two HSC Trusts should reach agreement about which Child Protection Register the child/young person's name will be placed on.

The Case Co-ordinator role and responsibilities will remain with the transferring Trust.

The Social Work Managers from the two Trusts should reach agreement about:

  • Who is best placed to undertake visits to the child;
  • What actions from the Child Protection Plan can be shared between both Trusts for the duration of the temporary/short-term move, as well as who will provide services to the child/young person.

These agreements will be confirmed in writing by the respective Assistant Directors of Social Services or their nominees and placed in the child's case file/electronic record. If agreement cannot be reached within 5 working days, areas of disagreement should be escalated to the respective Director of Social Services for resolution.

Children/Young People Who Move Jurisdiction

When a child/young person on the Child Protection Register moves to another jurisdiction within the UK, the procedures set out above should be followed. It is important that contact is established quickly with the receiving authority and arrangements in relation to case management pending transfer confirmed in writing between the transferring Director of Social Services or nominee and a senior manager within the receiving authority.

When a child/young person on the Child Protection Register moves to another country, including the Republic of Ireland, authorities in that country should be notified within 5 working days. The 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children provides an agreed set of legal provisions and co-operation arrangements to cover the handling of inter-jurisdictional cases where a child or young person's safety or welfare may be an issue. [1]

[1] Guidance on handling inter-jurisdictional child cases is under development.

9. Children/Young People (Family) on the Register Who are Missing

The point a family is considered 'missing', rather than 'temporarily out of touch', will depend on the known facts about the family and the seriousness of the situation. The timescale for action will be dependent upon the assessed risk to the child/young person by the key staff involved with the family. It is essential to locate such families immediately to ascertain whether a child/young person may have suffered further abuse and/or be at potential risk of further significant harm.

When it comes to the attention of staff that a child/young person whose name is on the Child Protection Register cannot be contacted/may be missing, the Case Co-ordinator should be immediately informed.

Action to determine whether or not the child/young person/family is missing must be taken if any of the following situations arise:

  • Concern that the child/young person/family does not keep pre-arranged appointments;
  • The child/young person/family are not engaging in their normal daily patterns (e.g. child/young person missing from school, family do not keep appointments with other professionals);
  • The family home is locked and appears uninhabited;
  • Contacts with relatives or friends offer no explanation for the disappearance;
  • Neighbours, relatives or friends raise concerns that the family may have moved.

If a Case Co-ordinator has reason to suspect the family has gone missing, this should be reported immediately to his line manager who should then discuss this with the Social Work Manager (Band 8a or b).

Members of the Core Group must make strenuous attempts to locate the family. These include:

  • Repeated visits to the home at various times;
  • A letter or further appointment sent to the home;
  • Contact with other professionals e.g. school, GP, Health Visitor, Police, to ascertain their knowledge of the situation;
  • Contact with friends or relatives to try to ascertain their whereabouts.

The Case Co-ordinator must ensure that all relevant professionals involved in the case are notified and kept informed of the child/young person's circumstances. The Trust Register Custodian must be informed immediately.

When all attempts to locate the family have been exhausted, or sooner if there are serious concerns about the child/young person, a decision must be made by the Social Work Manager (Band 8a or above) whether to convene a Child Protection Case Conference. The task will be to share all information and to consider whether to circulate details of the missing family to all custodians of Child Protection Registers in Great Britain and in the Republic of Ireland. Where a child/young person's country of origin is outside the UK or Ireland, consideration should be given to contacting the country of origin. The 1996 Hague Convention on Jurisdiction, Applicable Law, Recognition, Enforcement and Co-operation in Respect of Parental Responsibility and Measures for the Protection of Children [2] provides an agreed set of legal provisions and co-operation arrangements to cover the handling of inter-jurisdictional cases where a child or young person's safety or welfare may be an issue.

If all efforts to trace the family fail, the Social Work Manager may ask assistance from the local Social Security Agency.

The HSCB is the lead agency in coordinating and disseminating information in relation to key categories of missing persons (as specified below). The following persons or families will be subject to the missing person's notification:-

  1. Pregnant mothers where there is concern for the safety of the unborn child;
  2. A parent or carers accompanied by children/young people whose names are on the Child Protection Register;
  3. Missing children/young people where there are significant concerns about their safety and wellbeing and who is either missing within the jurisdiction or are believed to have left the jurisdiction;
  4. Separated/unaccompanied asylum seeking children/young people; and
  5. Cases of children/young people who have left care and where Trusts are discharging duties under the Children Leaving Care Act (up to 21 years).

Please use link below for guidance about how to make a missing child/young person/family notification within Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, or Great Britain – Please refer to Notification of Children/Families assessed as being at potential risk and their whereabouts remain unknown (Health and Social Care Northern Ireland).

If the child/young person/family is located in another Trust, or jurisdiction, the procedures for children/young people and families who move must be followed.

When the family is found, all those notified that the child was missing must be informed. The HSCB responsible officer will amend the system and update records electronically. The HSCB responsible officer will then issue an agreed removal notification to the UK jurisdictions and the Republic of Ireland indicating that the missing person(s) has been located providing that the original alert had been shared with the UK jurisdictions and the Republic of Ireland in the first instance.

Trusts should have systems in place to ensure that:

  • The impact of staff absences on cases where there are child protection concerns are properly controlled;
  • Cases are allocated to suitably skilled and experienced professionals who have sufficient time to undertake planned work with the child/young person and family;
  • Decisions about case allocation, service provision, and case closure are monitored and reported on by managers;
  • Managers are alerted to any weakness in internal transfer arrangements across SW teams/ programmes of care across the Trust;
  • Child Protection files are seen and signed by Senior Social Workers and the Social Work Manager (8a or above) is responsible for reviewing a representative sample of cases in preparation for supervision sessions, and to sign and date the file to indicate that such a review has taken place.

[2] Guidance on handling inter-jurisdictional child cases is under development.

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