1 day S47 enquiry?

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Posts: 17
Joined: Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:07 am

1 day S47 enquiry?

Post by swim » Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:56 pm

Hi quick question,

Is it lawful for SS to conduct a s47 enquiry in an afternoon? Is it lawful for them to do so without telling us? We only ever found out this had happened in the court papers and from my GDPR no discussion to withhold this was made and no reasons ever given. It would have given us an extra month to get legal advice, so I feel let down.

Without too many details the category was eventually neglect. From day 1 the case was designated S17, day 45 we get a letter ‘continue with CIN process’ (no rationale for extension ever recorded).

Day 82 the senior fieldwork manager holds the first case supervision - decides on an ICO within 20 minutes (times are recorded) - we’ve had 2 face to face meetings and 2 CIN meetings, no parenting assessments and police/medical records have not been asked for.

Still day 82, we are asked to sign for medical records / police checks.

Day 91 we have our first parenting assessment - recorded as failed, but no notes written up. (different social worker later reassesses - we pass).

Day 92 - Senior fieldwork manager holds Strategy discussion. S47 granted.
Same day - S47 enquiries Started and ended.
Same day - Legal gateway report started and finished - category physical harm.

Day 103 - Legal gateway panel authorise Interim Care order - category, physical harm.

Day 111 - Initial child protection conference, category neglect.

Day 112 - new social worker (following complaint).

Is it a requirement for the order to be 1) ICPC conference and then 2) Legal gateway Panel decision?

Secondly, the legal gateway report records numerous references (5-6 of them) to a disorder I do not have and was never asked about. However the S47 enquiry, written on the same day, makes no mention of this what-so-ever. This is a major condition that would hugely impact on parenting capacity so I believe the social worker would have to explore it in s47 enquiries...if they believed it was true.

Is a section 47 report scrutinised by other social workers (such as the ICPC chair)?
Am I correct in thinking a legal gateway document would only be seen by the legal gateway panel? ie, would the conference chair or others normally see this report?

If the legal gateway panel discovered this error and discussed it in the meeting, would they need to follow any due diligence in checking other details of the social workers report? I ask because a lot of clearly incorrect information was included and made its way into the court papers.

Lastly, can the social worker contact the local adoption agency before carrying out viability assessments on the wider family? (several names had been given, we were told repeatedly a family placement would be worst case scenario).

Many thanks for any advice!

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Re: 1 day S47 enquiry?

Post by LMBSE1971 » Tue Aug 20, 2019 5:47 am

The same thing happened to me. We'd been "team around the family"/support and advice (reason being domestic violence and resultant "emotional abuse") for months. I was getting little actual support and getting a bit tired and disillusioned with the process. Next thing I know I get a phone call to say that a CPC had been arranged. I'd been told nothing. I've now also lost my job as a result of the Child Protectoon Plan. I was told nothing about a S47 being carried out .

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Suzie, FRG Adviser
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Re: 1 day S47 enquiry?

Post by Suzie, FRG Adviser » Fri Aug 23, 2019 11:59 am

Dear Swim,

Welcome back to the Parent’s Forum,

I can see that you are asking questions about the decision making by children services as noted on records you obtained from them.

You might find our A to Z of terms helpful to look up the different terms.
You should also look at the Working Together guidance for social workers-see the section about 47 enquiries and the Information Sharing Guidance as these may answer your questions.

Your first question is about s47 enquiries.

Can they be conducted in an afternoon? Yes they can. Children’s services have a legal duty to look into a child's situation if they have information that a child may be at risk of significant harm.
The enquiries should be conducted urgently to minimize a child being potentially harmed. Often the enquiry will show that a child is not suffering significant harm-so a satisfactory explanation is given and the section 47 will be closed. For example an explanation is given for a mark on a child.

So in your case, a referral indicated that your child may have been suffering significant harm but within a few hours a decision was made that your child could be categorised as a child in need. (So any support would have been with your consent).

An enquiry can be carried out without your consent (if to do notify you would increase the risk to your child, for example). But I would have expected you to have been made aware of it afterwards. See the Working Together guidance as linked above.

Second, you ask about whether the child protection process should come before a legal gateway meeting.

Not necessarily. For example, if a decision is may be made to remove a child, it may not be safe for a child to remain in the care of a parent while assessments are carried out so a child protection conference wold not be needed. Child protection conferences take place to help protect a child who is living at home or is living with family or friends who are not foster carers.

Third, you ask who sees the legal gateway report.
I assume the legal gateway report would contain similar information that the chair of a conference would see but I do not know whether such a report would be shared with the conference chair. You could ask who had sight of it. Sometimes, with confidential health information, this will not be shared with the professionals at a child protection meeting but the chair themselves will have seen it.

Fourth, you ask whether the social worker can contact the adoption agency before carrying out viability assessments on the wider family.

The Children Act 1989 says any delay in making plans for children is contrary to their best interests.
Therefore, care proceedings must usually be completed within 26 weeks. Children services have to carry out concurrent planning for every eventuality. This is why children services will carry out adoption assessments, if children are very young, as well as assessing parents and other family and friends at the same time.

Often it is different professionals doing different types of assessments so I can see that a less busy adoption department will start an adoption assessment before another social worker assesses the family. Everyone is trying to do their job to fit in within the strict court timescale.

I hope my advice helps. If you have any further questions, then please post again or call our advice line on 0808 801 0366.

Best wishes,

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Re: 1 day S47 enquiry?

Post by swim » Fri Aug 30, 2019 1:35 pm

Thanks Suzie, that was a really comprehensive answer!

I think I forgot to mention that the above was all a pre-birth assessment for our first child, so there was plenty of time. Would this have changed anything? I do get a quick s47 enquiry can be needed in a risky post-birth situation (though I'd actually expect an emergency protection order should things be that imminent) but if they had months and months to do a full investigation and actually let us know it was planned?

Thank you for getting back to e with the above - really is very appreciated :-)

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