If a child is in immediate danger please call 999
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and frontline staff need confidence in talking with each other about decisions that have been made, discussing any concerns regarding those decisions and where there isn’t agreement; escalating those concerns as appropriate.
Equally important is the culture of how we work, and it is vital that frontline staff are encouraged to remain professionally curious and to raise issues where they feel that their concerns for children and young people aren’t being addressed.
Barnet Safeguarding Children Partnership has agreed a resolution policy for dealing with professional disagreements, setting out clear stages of escalation. This protocol is outlined below.
1.1 Effective working together depends on an open approach and honest relationships between agencies. Problem resolution is an integral part of professional co-operation and joint working to safeguard children.
1.2 Occasionally situations arise when workers within one agency feel that the actions, inaction or decisions of another agency do not adequately safeguard a child. This multi-agency policy defines the process for resolving such professional differences and should be read alongside the London child protection procedures and relevant internal policies on escalating matters of concern.
1.3 Disagreements can arise in a number of areas, but are most likely to arise around:
- Levels of need
- Roles and responsibilities
- The need for action
- Progressing plans and communication.
1.4 Where professionals consider that the practice of other professionals is placing children at risk of harm, they must be assertive, act swiftly and ensure that they challenge the relevant professionals in line with this policy. The safety of individual children is the paramount consideration in any professional activity.
- Resolution should be sought within the shortest timescale possible to ensure the child is protected.
- As a guide, professionals should attempt to resolve differences through discussion within one working week or a timescale that protects the child from harm (whichever is shortest).
- Disagreements should be resolved at the lowest possible stage.
1.5 Any worker who feels that a decision is not safe or is inappropriate can initially consult their supervisor/manager to clarify their thinking if required. They should be able to evidence the nature and source of the concerns and should keep a record of all discussions.
Stages of Resolution
2.1 Stage One: Discuss with the other worker
2.2 The people who disagree have a discussion to resolve the problem. This discussion must take place as soon as possible and could be a telephone conversation or a face to face meeting. It should be recognised that differences in status and/or experience may affect the confidence of some workers to pursue this unsupported.
2.3 Stage Two: Escalate
There are different policies for how to escalate an issue in relation to children's services, police, health and schools, please see the following sections.
First line of escalation
Escalate to the Duty Officer, an Inspector or on duty in charge of the uniform response shift (24/7). For a specialist unit this may be the Detective Inspector (DI) but they have less coverage. In their absence it would default to the Duty Officer. If the police team dealing with the case is not Barnet then the team's Duty Officer would be expected to deal with the escalation. The contact details for them will be available from the officer dealing with the case/incident.
Second line of escalation
Between 7am and 9pm, the on duty/on call member of the Senior Leadership Team for Barnet. Their contact details will be available via the Duty Officer. Within office hours this may go to the Safeguarding Lead.
Between 9pm and 7am, the Night Duty Superintendent who will be covering all of North London. Their contact details will be available via the Duty Officer
Third line of escalation
The Borough Commander for Barnet police.
Where it is believed that the response from a school does not meet the safeguarding requirements for a child, the appropriate person to escalate to is, in the first instance, the Head Teacher.
In schools where the Head Teacher is also the Designated Safeguarding Lead, complaints should be directed to the Safeguarding Governor or Chair of Governors.
If concerns have still not been resolved the school complaints/escalation procedure should be utilised. In cases where the matter is urgent or if the school is not responding in accordance with its policy, contact either the Barnet Education and Learning Service (BELS) School Safeguarding Officer or the school’s Learning Network Inspector.
For children accessing early help services, professionals should raise concerns at Team Around the Child meetings or other multi-agency planning meetings. For children subject to Child in Need, Child Protection or Child in Care Plans, concerns can be shared at the child’s multi-agency review meetings or via the Independent Reviewing Officer or Conference Reviewing Officer. Professionals should always consider the impact of professional disagreements on families attending meetings.
The following stages of resolution and escalation should be followed for children referred to, or open to Barnet Family Services.
- Open cases: by contacting the allocated social worker or lead professional
- New referrals: by contacting the MASH social worker
- Out of hours: by contacting the Emergency Duty Team (5pm-9am Monday to Friday, weekends and Bank Holidays).
First line of escalation
- Open cases: by contacting the allocated social worker or lead professional’s team manager
- New referrals: by contacting the MASH team manager
- Out of hours: by contacting the Head of Service on duty (5pm-9am Monday to Friday, weekends and Bank Holidays).
Second line of escalation
- Open cases: by contacting the service area Head of Service
- New referrals: by contacting the MASH Head of Service.
Third line of escalation
- Open cases or new referrals: by contacting the relevant Family Services Operational Director.
Where it is believed that the response from a health agency does not meet the safeguarding requirements for a child, the appropriate person to escalate to in the first instance is the Head of Safeguarding for the provider organisation concerned and the Designated Nurse and Doctor at NHS North Central London CCG.
If an acute safeguarding situation occurs out of hours which requires an immediate health assessment, the duty paediatric team at the hospital local to the child should be contacted. For Barnet Hospital, the duty paediatric team can be contacted through the hospital switchboard on 0208 216 4600.
2.4 Stage Three: Resolution by senior leaders
2.5 If after following the above stages the matter cannot be resolved satisfactorily, escalate to the Director of Children’s Services, the Borough Commander or the Chief Operating Officer for the CCG. Also notify the Safeguarding Children Partnership via BSCP@Barnet.gov.uk.
2.6 There is a requirement for a record of any escalation to be placed on the child’s record.
3. Additional notes
3.1 The Safeguarding Children Partnership Leadership Forum will consider issues escalated and any trends or patters as well as actions which should be taken to keep children safe.
3.2 Where issues are raised with partners from other authorities, including other local authorities, please follow the procedures as identified by their area. If you are unable to resolve the issue the Barnet Safeguarding Children Partnership can be approached to liaise with the relevant senior leaders in the other authority.