Child Protection in Angus
Information for Parents and Carers:
About child protection investigations
This information is to help families who become involved in child protection investigations to understand:
- why people are concerned;
- what is likely to happen during the investigation;
- what will happen after the investigation; and
- where families can get help.
Responsibilities of agencies and others
Everyone has a responsibility to make sure children are safe and well looked after. You should report any concerns about a child or young person's welfare or protection to:
- professionals involved with the child or family;
- social work; or
- the police.
Why people may be concerned about a child?
There may be concerns about children for a variety of reasons, for example, the child has experienced, or is at risk of, harm. There are different types of harm to children and they include the following:
- Physical injury - being hit, kicked, punched, burned or scalded
- Physical neglect - not being properly fed or clothed, poor hygiene, illness or injury that has not been treated
- Sexual abuse - sexual behaviour or language that is not appropriate. This could include being exposed to or involved in mobile phone or internet abuse
- Emotional abuse - being criticised all the time or put down, being ignored, humiliated or exposed to family violence
- Failing to thrive - not growing or developing as expected, with no obvious reasons for this.
There may also be concerns because a child is, or may be, living in the same house as a person who is a risk to children.
What is likely to happen during an investigation?
Social workers and the police have a legal responsibility to investigate any concerns which suggest a child has been harmed or is at risk of harm.
In an investigation, it is important that the social worker or police officer contacts the parent/carer as quickly as possible.
The reasons for this are to:
- make sure the child is healthy and safe;
- protect the child from the actions of any possible offenders; and
- tell the parent or carer about the concerns that have been raised.
At all times the welfare of the child comes first. Usually the police officer and social worker will want to do the following.
- Speak to the child. Sometimes it may be necessary to do this away from home. Where possible they will ask a parent or carer to be there and they will make sure the child is properly looked after at all times.
- Speak to the parent or carer.
- Speak to any other relevant person, for example, other family members, the child's teacher, a health visitor.
- Ask for more information, for example, checking the conditions children are living in.
- Arrange a medical examination if necessary.
Police officers may want to interview anyone suspected of harming a child.
Depending on the child's age and how well they understand, the social worker and police officer will usually ask the child to agree to take part in an interview or a medical examination.
In most cases, the parent or carer will be asked by the social worker or police officer to agree to the child being interviewed. However, sometimes this might not be possible. In these situations, why the child was interviewed by a social worker or police officer, or other action was taken by them, without the parent or carer's knowledge or consent will be explained.
If the parent or carer refuses to agree, the social worker or police officer may consider other emergency legal measures to protect the child's welfare.
Where possible, the parent or carer will be kept up to date by the social worker or police officer with the investigation. If the parent or carer needs advice or support, this can be arranged. If they feel that they have not been treated fairly by any of the workers involved, they will be advised of their rights and given information by them about who they should contact for more advice.
What will happen after the investigation?
The social worker and police officer will collect information about the child's circumstances and assess whether the child is at risk or not. Depending on what they find out, one or more of the following might happen.
- They will take no more action.
- They will offer support to the parent or carer and the child.
- There will be a child protection case conference to decide whether more child protection measures are necessary.
- They may ask the person who is a risk to the child to move out of the family home.
- There may be voluntary arrangements for the child to live with a family member or friend.
- They may need to take legal action to protect the child.
- They may refer the child to the Reporter to the Children's Hearing for Angus who will consider the referral and decide on the need for a children's hearing.
In most cases, children are able to stay at home. Children only need to be taken away from home by a social worker if the information suggests there is an immediate danger to the child and they cannot be protected within their own family.
In some cases, the child may need a medical examination. The main reasons for this are to:
- check the good health and welfare of the child;
- confirm whether the child has been injured; and
- find out how any injuries that may have been found have been caused.
The results of any medical examination may be used by the social worker later as evidence in any Children's Hearing or in court.
Medical examinations may be carried out by:
- the child's own doctor;
- community paediatrician; or
- doctors with a special knowledge of child protection.
After the medical, the results will be discussed with the parents or carers and the child by the doctor carrying out the medical, the social worker or police officer.
Where families can get help
If a parent or carer needs legal advice on their and their child's rights in relation to an investigation, they can contact:
- a solicitor (legal aid may be available);
- Citizens Advice; or
- the Child Law Society.
If there is anything that a parent or carer does not understand, they can ask the workers involved. They are used to being asked questions in these situations. If they cannot answer the questions, they will try to find the right person who can.
Children have a right to grow up in households where they feel safe, well looked after and protected. If the parent or carer would like more help or advice about caring for a child, please speak to one of the following.
- a health visitor.
- a nursery teacher.
- a teacher.
- a social worker.
- your family doctor.
Download About child protection investigations leaflet (50 KB PDF)
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