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Article 42 Child Protection Enquiries Under the Ministers Duty to Investigate

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter provides the steps for how to undertake a Strategy Discussion/Meeting and how to conduct Article 42 Enquiries.


Contents

  1. Duty to Conduct Article 42 Enquiries
  2. Immediate Protection
  3. Article 42 Thresholds and the Multi-Agency Assessment
  4. Strategy Discussion / Meeting
  5. The Article 42 Enquiry
  6. Single Agency and Joint Agency Article 42 Enquiries
  7. Involving Children, Parents and Other Significant Family Members
  8. Medical Assessments
  9. Achieving Best Evidence Interviews
  10. The Outcome of Article 42 Enquiries
  11. Recording

    Further Information

    Amendments to this Chapter


1. Duty to Conduct Article 42 Enquiries

Where a child under 18 is suspected to be suffering, or likely to suffer, Significant Harm, the Island/authority is required by Article 42 of the Children (Jersey) Law 2002 to make enquiries, under the Ministers duty to investigate, to enable it to decide whether it should take any action to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.

Responsibility for undertaking Article 42 Enquiries lies with Children’s Services. 'Found' means the physical location where the child suffers the incident of harm or neglect (or is identified to be at risk of harm or neglect), e.g. nursery or school, boarding school, hospital, one-off event, such as a festival, holiday home or outing or where a privately fostered or looked after child is living with their carers.

The social worker together with their manager must decide at what point and whether to seek parental permission to undertake multi-agency checks. If the manager decides not to seek permission, they must record the reasons why. Where permission is sought from parents and carers and denied, the manager must determine whether to proceed, and record the reasons for the decision they make.


2. Immediate Protection

Where there is a risk to the life of a child or the possibility of serious immediate harm, an agency with statutory child protection powers (the Police and Children’s Service) should act quickly to secure the immediate safety of the child.

When considering whether emergency action is required, an agency should always consider whether action is also required to safeguard and promote the welfare of other children in the same household (e.g. siblings), the household of an alleged perpetrator, or elsewhere.

Planned emergency action will normally take place following an immediate Strategy Discussion/Meeting between Police, Children's Services, and other agencies as appropriate.

Police powers of protection should only be used in exceptional circumstances where there is insufficient time to seek an Emergency Protection Order or for reasons relating to the immediate safety of the child.


3. Article 42 Thresholds and the Multi-Agency Assessment

An Article 42 Enquiry must always be commenced immediately when:

  • There is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm in the form of physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect;
  • Following an EPO or the use of Police powers of protection is initiated.

The threshold criteria for an Article 42 Enquiry may be identified at any time it may become apparent at the point of MASH Enquiry, during multi-agency checks or in the course of a multi-agency assessment.

Social workers have a statutory duty to lead enquiries under Article 42 of the Children (Jersey) Law 2002. The Police, health professionals, teachers and other relevant professionals should support them in undertaking the enquiries.

A multi-agency assessment (see Assessment Procedure) is the means by which most Article 42 Enquiries are carried out. The assessment will have commenced at the point of receipt of referral and it must continue whenever the criteria for Article 42 Enquiries are satisfied. The conclusions and recommendations of the Article 42 Enquiry should inform the assessment which must be completed within 35 working days of the date when the referral was received.

The enquiries and assessment should always involve separate interviews with the child and, in the majority of cases, the parents, and the observation of interaction between the parent and child. This will include interviews, assessment and observations of parents, any other carers and the partners of the parents.


4. Strategy Discussion / Meeting

Whenever there is reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm, there should be a Strategy Discussion/Meeting. The Strategy Discussion/Meeting should be co-ordinated and chaired by a Children's Service Team manager.

The Strategy Discussion/Meeting should involve the Children's Service and the Police, Health (named/designated nurse and/or named/designated doctor) and other bodies as appropriate (for example, early years setting/school and, in particular, any referring agency.) In the case of a pre-birth Strategy Discussion/Meeting this should involve the midwifery services.

Professionals participating in Strategy Discussions/Meetings must have all their agency's information relating to the child available to be able to contribute to the discussion/meeting, and must be sufficiently senior to make decisions on behalf of their agencies.

Some examples of circumstances where a Strategy Discussion/Meeting should be considered:

  • Any new referrals in respect of a child where there are concerns that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, Significant Harm;
  • When new information on an existing case in Children’s Service indicates that a child is likely to suffer significant harm;
  • When an adult or young person assessed as presenting a risk to children has moved into or is about to move into the child's household or such a person is regularly visiting or about to have sustained contact with the child;
  • When the risks of Significant Harm to an unborn child may be such as to indicate the need to develop a Child Protection Plan before birth;
  • When the death of a child in family, in which abuse or neglect is suspected, is confirmed and there are other children in the household;
  • When a child lives in, or is born to, a household in which resides another child who is currently the subject of a Child Protection Plan;
  • When a child who is currently the subject of a Child Protection Plan in another area moves into Jersey unless the other authority is to retain responsibility for the case;
  • When a child has sexually assaulted another child or there is a risk of such an assault occurring to another child in the same household or in regular contact with the household (in these circumstances a Child Protection Conference should be held on both children).

(This is not an exhaustive list.)

A Strategy Discussion/Meeting should be used to:

  • Share available information;
  • Agree the conduct and timing of any criminal investigation;
  • Decide whether an assessment under Article 42 of Children (Jersey) Law 2002 (Article 42 Enquiries) should be initiated, or continued if it has already begun;
  • Consider the assessment and the key action points, if already in place;
  • Plan how the Article 42 Enquiry should be undertaken (if one is to be initiated), including the need for any medical assessment, and who will carry out what actions, by when and for what purpose;
  • Agree what action is required immediately to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, and/or provide interim services and support. If the child is in hospital, decisions should also be made about how to secure the safe discharge of the child;
  • Agree, in particular, when the child will be seen alone, if appropriate for the child, by the social worker during the course of these enquiries and agree the methods by which the child's wishes and feelings will be ascertained so that they can be taken into account when making decisions;
  • Consider diversity issues in respect of the child and family, consider how these should be taken into account and to establish whether an interpreter will be required; and
  • Consider the needs of other children who may be affected (e.g. siblings and other children, such as those living in the same household, and/or in contact with alleged abusers);
  • Determine what information from the Strategy Discussion/Meeting will be shared with the family, unless such information sharing may place a child at increased risk of significant harm or jeopardise Police investigations into any alleged offence/s;
  • Determine if legal advice is required.

It is the responsibility of the chair of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting to ensure that the decisions and agreed actions are fully recorded using an appropriate form/record. All agencies attending should take notes of the actions agreed at the time.

A copy of the record should be made available for all those, who had been invited or involved, as soon as practicable by Children’s Service. Strategy meeting minutes will be sent out within three working days by Children’s Services.

Timescales:

Strategy Discussions/Meetings should be convened as soon as practicable bearing in mind the needs of the child and must take place within three working days of child protection concerns being identified, except in the following circumstances:

  • For allegations/concerns indicating a serious risk of harm to the child (e.g. serious physical injury or serious neglect) the Strategy Discussion/Meeting should be held on the same day as the receipt of the referral;
  • For allegations of penetrative sexual abuse, the Strategy Discussion/Meeting should be held on the same day as the receipt of the referral if this is required to ensure forensic evidence;
  • Where immediate action was required by either agency, the Strategy Discussion/Meeting must be held within one working day;
  • Where the concerns are particularly complex (e.g. fabricated/induced illness/organised abuse/allegations against staff) the Strategy Discussion/Meeting must be held within a maximum of five working days, but sooner if there is a need to provide immediate protection to a child.

Outcomes:

The plan made at the Strategy Discussion/Meeting should reflect the requirement to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion at which it was decided to initiate the Article 42 Enquiry (if there was more than one Strategy Discussion/Meeting). In exceptional circumstances, enquiries may be more complicated and may require more than one Strategy Discussion/Meeting. If the Strategy Discussion/Meeting concludes that a further Strategy Discussion/Meeting is required, then a clear timescale should be set and be subject to regular review by the social work manager bearing in mind the safety of the child at all times.

If the conclusion of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting is that there is no cause to pursue the Article 42 Enquiry then consideration should be given to continuing a multi-agency early help or child in need-assessment to meet the needs of the child for any support services or to provide family support services to them as a child in need.

Where there are unresolved differences of opinion about the outcomes of a Strategy Discussion/Meeting, these should be resolved by senior managers in the respective agencies in liaison with each other. This should be actioned within a timescale commensurate with the need to safeguard the child and in accordance with the Escalation Policy and Resolution Pathway.


5. The Article 42 Enquiry

Children’s Service is the lead agency for Article 42 Enquiries and the Children’s Service manager has responsibility for authorising an Article 42 Enquiry following a Strategy Discussion/Meeting.

The Article 42 Enquiry and assessment must be led by a social worker from Children's Services, who will be responsible for its coordination and completion. The social worker must consult with other agencies involved with the child and family to obtain a fuller picture of the circumstances of all children in the household, identifying parenting strengths and any risks. Enquiries may also need to cover children in other households with whom the alleged abuser may have had contact. All agencies consulted are responsible for providing information to assist.

At the same time, where there is a joint investigation, the Police will have to establish the facts about any offence that may have been committed against a child and collect evidence as they lead the criminal investigation.

The Article 42 Enquiry should begin by focusing on the information identified during the enquiry/referral/assessment and Strategy Discussion, in relation to the risk of significant harm to the child/ren.

Timescales for Article 42 Enquiries

From when Children's Service receives a referral or identify a concern of risk of significant harm to a child:

  • The initial Strategy Discussion/Meeting which instigates the Article 42 Enquiry will take place within three days;
  • The multi-agency assessment taking place along with the Article 42 Enquiries must be completed within a maximum of 35 days with progress being reviewed by a Children’s Services manager regularly to avoid any unnecessary delay and to ensure that the safety of the child is reviewed effectively.

The maximum period from the Strategy Discussion/Meeting of an enquiry to the date of the Initial Child Protection Conference is 15 working days. In exceptional circumstances where more than one Strategy Discussion/Meeting takes place the timescale remains as 15 working days from the Strategy Discussion/Meeting which initiated the Article 42 Enquiries.

The purpose of the Article 42 enquiry is to:

  • Record, describe and evaluate the child and their family members non verbal communication including appearance, demeanour, mood state and behaviour;

  • Hear their account of allegations or concerns;

  • Observe and record and describe the interactions (verbal and non verbal) of the child or young person and their carers;
  • See, record and describe the circumstances in which they are currently living and sleeping and, if different, their ordinary residence;
  • Evaluate the physical safety of the environment, including seeing the child or young person’s bedroom and other key areas such as the kitchen and living space and other children’s bedrooms;
  • Identify the cause for concern, its seriousness, any recurring events and the vulnerability of the child;
  • Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the family;
  • Evaluate the risks to the child/ren and the context in which they are living;
  • Consider the child's needs for protection;
  • Consider the capacity of the parents and wider family and social networks to safeguard and promote the child's welfare - this must include both parents, any other carers, such as grandparents, and the partners of the parents;
  • Risk factors that may suggest a higher level of risk of significant harm (e.g. parental mental health difficulties, parental substance misuse, and domestic violence or social isolation):
    • Meet the child or young person’s needs for information and re-assurance;
    • Observe and record any injury without removing the child or young person’s clothing;
    • Evaluate information from all sources and previous case records.
  • Determine the level of intervention required both in the immediate and longer term.

A child for whom there are significant health concerns (e.g. serious physical injury, malnourishment, acute mental ill health etc.) should be seen and clinically examined on the same working day as the referral is received.

Exceptionally, a joint enquiry team may need to speak to a suspected child victim without the knowledge of the parent or carer. This may occur when:

  • There is a concern that the child or young person would be threatened or coerced into silence;
  • There is a strong likelihood that important evidence would be destroyed;
  • The child does not wish the parent to be involved, and is assessed as competent under the Fraser guidelines and Gillick Competency.

All interaction and communication with the child or young person must take account of:

  • The child or young person’s age and developmental stage;
  • Factors such as race, culture, religion, gender and sexuality, together with issues arising from disability and health;
  • Consideration of the gender of interviewers, particularly in cases of alleged sexual abuse. A child or young person should not be interviewed by a single professional who is the same sex as the abuser.

In order to avoid undermining any subsequent criminal case, in any contact with a child prior to an Achieving Best Evidence interview, the social worker must:

  • Listen to the child or young person rather than directly questioning them;
  • Never stop the child or young person freely recounting significant events;
  • Fully record the discussion including timing, setting, presence of others as well as what was said.

If access to a child or young person is refused or obstructed, the social worker (in consultation with their manager) should co-ordinate a Strategy Meeting / Discussion, including Law Officers, to develop a plan to locate or access the child or young person and progress the child protection enquiry.

In the vast majority of cases children remain with their families following enquiries, even where concerns about abuse or neglect have been substantiated. In all cases where there is ongoing concern, a Child Protection Plan will be required to outline safeguarding arrangements for the child. Enquiries therefore need to be conducted in a way which allows for future constructive working relationships with families.

Multi-agency information checks:

The social worker must contact the other agencies involved with the child to inform them that an Article 42 Enquiry has been initiated and to seek their views. The checks should be undertaken directly with involved professionals and not through messages with intermediaries.

The relevant agency should be informed of the reason for the enquiry, as well as whether or not parental consent has been obtained, and asked for their assessment of the child in the light of information presented.

Agency checks should include accessing any relevant information that may be held in other parts of the United Kingdom or in any other countries.


6. Single Agency and Joint Agency Article 42 Enquiries

The primary responsibility of Police officers is to undertake criminal investigations of suspected or actual crime and to inform Children's Service when they are undertaking such investigations.

The Police and Children’s Service co-ordinate their activities through MASH to ensure the parallel process of an Article 42 Enquiry and a criminal investigation is undertaken in the best interests of the child. This should primarily be achieved through joint activity and planning at Strategy Discussions/Meetings.

At the Strategy Discussion/Meeting the Police officers should share current and historical information with other services where it is necessary to do so to ensure the protection of a child.


7. Involving Children, Parents and Other Significant Family Members

The child:

Children who are the subject of Article 42 Enquiries should always be seen and communicated with alone by the social worker or with a suitable adult. In addition, all children within the household must be directly communicated with during Article 42 Enquiries by either the Police or Children’s Social Care or both agencies, so as to enable an assessment of their safety to be made.

The children who are the focus of concern, must be seen alone, subject to their age and willingness, preferably with parental permission.

Children’s Services and the Police should ensure that appropriate arrangements are in place to support the child through the Article 42 Enquiry. Specialist help may be needed if:

  • The child's first language is not English;
  • The Child is presenting with psychological needs;
  • The child has a physical/sensory/learning disability;
  • Interviewers do not have adequate knowledge and understanding of the child's racial, religious and cultural background;
  • Unusual abuse is suspected, including the use of photography or filming.

It may be necessary to provide information to the child in stages and this must be taken into account in planning the Article 42 Enquiries.

Explanations given to the child must be brought up to date as the assessment and the enquiry progresses. In no circumstances should the child be left wondering what is happening and why.

If the whereabouts of a child subject to Article 42 Enquiries are unknown and cannot be ascertained by the social worker, the following action must be taken within 24 hours:

  • A Strategy Discussion/Meeting with the Police;
  • Agreement reached with the Social Care Manager responsible as to what further action is required to locate and see the child and carry out the enquiry.

If access to a child is refused or obstructed, the social worker, in consultation with their manager, should co-ordinate a Strategy Discussion/Meeting including legal representation, to develop a plan to locate or access the child/ren and progress the Article 42 Enquiry.

The parents and other significant family members:

In most cases, parents should be enabled to participate fully in the assessment and enquiry process, which must be explained to them verbally and also in writing by providing MASH leaflets. A short film explaining MASH can also be viewed here. If a parent has a specific communication difficulty or English is not their first language, an interpreter should be provided.

The social worker is responsible for engaging with parents and other family members to ascertain the facts of the situation causing concern and to assess the capacity of the family to safeguard the child.

Parents must be involved at the earliest opportunity unless to do so would prejudice the safety of the child. The needs and safety of the child will be paramount when determining at what point parents or carers are given information. Parents must be kept informed throughout about the enquiry, its outcome and any subsequent action unless this would jeopardise the welfare of the child.

The assessment must include both parents, any other carers such as grandparents and the partners of the parents, child minders and other paid or unpaid private childcare.

Planning intervention with parents should cover:

  • The need to gather initial information on the history and structure of the family, the child and other relevant information to enable an assessment of the current concerns and the risk of harm to the child to be made;
  • The need for the parents to be seen separately in situations of domestic violence or where parents live apart;
  • The risk of damaging evidence that may impact on a Police investigation and recovery of evidence that may confirm or refute an allegation or suspicion of crime;
  • The provision of an opportunity for parents to be able to ask questions and receive support and guidance.

Where a parent lives elsewhere but has contact with the child arrangements should be made for their involvement in the assessment process.

Appropriate checks should be completed on a parent, who assumes the care of a child during an Article 42 Enquiry.

An explanation of their rights as parents including the need for support and guidance from an advocate whom they trust should be provided, including advice about the right to seek legal advice.

Any objections or complaints expressed by parents during an Article 42 Enquiry, and the response to these objections or complaints, must be clearly recorded.


8. Medical Assessments

Strategy Discussions/Meetings must consider, in consultation with the named Doctor/Paediatrician (if not part of the Strategy Discussion/Meeting), the need for and the timing of a medical assessment. Medical assessments should always be considered necessary where there has been a disclosure or there is a suspicion of any form of abuse to a child.

A medical assessment should demonstrate a holistic approach to the child and assess the child's well-being, including mental health, development and cognitive ability.

A medical assessment is necessary to:

  • Secure forensic evidence;
  • Obtain medical documentation; pulling together information from all available sources including private general practice;
  • Provide reassurance for the child and parent;
  • Inform treatment follow-up and review for the child (any injury, infection, new symptoms including psychological).

The integrated Care Pathway: Safeguarding Children (suspected sexual abuse) is available to Health and Social Services Staff on HSS net. It states:

‘Royal College Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH, (2014)) good practice recommendations suggest that assessment of a child in relation to physical abuse (including neglect), should only be carried out by doctors with level 3 child protection competences. Do not examine unless you are an Emergency Department (ED) senior, Paediatric staff grade or consultant. In the assessment of child sexual abuse the RCPCH states that the doctor must be familiar with recent guidance (RCPCH 2008) and have the necessary skills and competences (RCPCH 2012, 2014) ’

Consent:

Wherever possible the permission of a parent should be sought for children under sixteen prior to any medical assessment and/or other medical treatment. Consent for medical examination of a child or young person under 16 years old must normally be sought from a parent or those with Parental Responsibility for the child or young person. A young person who has reached the age of 16 years or more may give consent in their own right, provided that their understanding is not impaired. A child under 16 years old may be capable of giving informed consent in their own right depending upon their maturity. The examining Doctor assesses the child’s competency to give consent using under the Fraser Guidelines and the Gillick Competency

Where circumstances do not allow permission to be obtained and the child needs emergency medical treatment, the medical practitioner may:

  • Regard the child to be of an age and level of understanding to give their own consent;
  • Decide to proceed without consent.

In these circumstances, parents must be informed by the medical practitioner as soon as possible and a full record must be made at the time.

In non-emergency situations, when parental permission is not obtained, the social worker and manager must consider whether it is in the child's best interests to seek legal advice and then make a decision on how to proceed.

Arranging the medical assessment:

In the course of Article 42 Enquiries, appropriately trained and experienced practitioners must undertake all medical assessments.

For physical abuse and/or neglect the Forensic Medical Examiner or paediatrician should undertake the examination. For alleged sexual abuse, a suitably qualified forensic medical examiner and /or paediatrician only should undertake the examination. Where forensic information is sought, as in acute sexual assault, if the paediatrician does not have the necessary forensic skills, he/she may request from the police that a forensic medical physician (FMP) be in attendance for the collection of forensic specimens.

Whenever a medical examination confirms or points towards suspected abuse, consideration should be given to the possibility of examining any other children of the same household as /or with contacts with the alleged perpetrator.

The child’s welfare is the paramount concern and the gathering of evidence must not become an additional source of abuse of the child. The need for forensic evidence should always be considered as secondary to the need for medical treatment for a child. There should be liaison with police and social services to avoid the need for repeated medical examinations. The police or social worker will fully brief the examining doctor if he or she has been unable to attend the Strategy Meeting. The social worker will ensure that the person with parental responsibility is available to give consent for the examination.

Royal College (RCPCH) guidelines for timing of examination in relation to physical and sexual abuse

If any acute health needs are identified(bleeding or physical injury)then the child should be referred immediately to the acute paediatric team at the hospital.

For physical abuse or neglect, if no acute health needs or injury are identified, then as long as the child is in a place of safety, examination can take place within 1 working day.

For Sexual Abuse – this is divided into acute and historic abuse. Acute abuse is defined as having occurred less than 7 days prior to disclosure, though physical signs may still be seen up to 21 days after. Historical abuse is abuse having taken place more than 21 days prior to disclosure. Between 7 and 21 days needs an individualised response depending on the nature of the assault.

For acute abuse, it is recommended that medical advice is obtained from a clinician with paediatric and sexual offences training within 1 hour of disclosure. Currently for Jersey, this would be from the Designated Doctor, who can be contacted via mobile phone. It is essential that a multi-agency discussion takes place prior to examination which must include a paediatrician. Timing of examination will depend on forensic windows, however unless the child needs acute medical attention, or forensic windows will be lost, priority should be given to examining children in child-friendly hours and examination may take place the following morning.

For historic sexual abuse, it is recommended that a child is seen within 2 weeks of disclosure.

The medical assessment report

A report should be provided by the examining doctor within one working day of the examination having taken place. Copies should be sent to the social worker, the GP and to, the Police. Child protection reports are not shared routinely with parents, however should this be deemed necessary, consent from the report’s author will need to be obtained and the request should be passed through the medico legal department of the hospital as these reports form part of the medical notes.

The report should include:

  • A verbatim record of the carer's and child's accounts of injuries and concerns noting any discrepancies or changes of story;
  • Documentary findings in both words and diagrams;
  • Site, size, shape and where possible age of any marks or injuries;
  • Opinion of whether injury is consistent with explanation;
  • Date, time and place of examination;
  • Those present;
  • Who gave consent and how (child / parent, written / verbal);
  • Other findings relevant to the child (e.g. squint, learning or speech problems etc);
  • Confirmation of the child's developmental progress (especially important in cases of neglect);
  • The time the examination ended.

All reports and diagrams should be signed and dated by the doctor undertaking the examination.

Medical Assessment Process

Suspected child sexual abuse (CSA)

For all cases of suspected sexual abuse, the Consultant Paediatrician on call will host the Strategy Discussion with the Social Worker and Police at the Hospital to ascertain whether a Forensic Medical Examination (FME) is necessary.

  • If the child is aged 16 or over the States of Jersey Police Forensic Medical Examiner will provide an assessment and report;
  • If the child is under 16 reports from both the paediatrician and Forensic Medical Examiner will be provided (this may be issued as a joint report).
Finding Status Action Deadline for examination
Acute abuse On-going risk to child or potential for forensic evidence The paediatrician can seek advice regarding immediate management and preservation of evidence and will arrange assessment Within 24 hours
Historical abuse On-going concerns for child and no forensic evidence likely Paediatric assessment +/- FME assessment arranged and the safety of the child or young person managed Within 2 weeks
Historical abuse No on-going concerns for child and no forensic evidence likely Paediatric assessment +/- FME assessment arranged Within 2 weeks

H&SS policy HSS-GD-CG-XXXX-01

Suspected child abuse other than CSA

A referral is made to the Paediatric team who make a detailed and comprehensive examination of the child.

Outcome

Finding Action by Paediatric team
Unlikely to be abuse Report to GP, Paediatric Liaison Health Visitor and Social Care.
Possible abuse Immediate referral to MASH/Social Care/Out of Hours duty social worker. Complete a MASH enquiry form and child protection report.

Definite abuse

Will inform Children’s Service (via MASH if no allocated social worker or Out of Hours social worker) and Police for further investigation/Strategy Discussion. Will arrange medical examination of other children in the household if appropriate.

If there is a difference of opinion within the team the Designated Doctor and Designated Nurse will be involved in the decision on what action to take.


9. Achieving Best Evidence Interviews

Visually recorded interviews must be planned and conducted jointly by trained Police officers and social workers in accordance with the Achieving Best Evidence in Criminal Proceedings: Guidance on Vulnerable and Intimidated Witnesses (Home Office 2011). All events up to the time of the video interview must be fully recorded.

Visually recorded interviews serve two primary purposes:

  • Evidence gathering for criminal proceedings;
  • Examination in chief of a child witness.

Relevant information from this process can also be used to inform Article 42 Enquiries, subsequent civil childcare proceedings or disciplinary proceedings against adults, where allegations have been made.

Sufficient time must be allowed for planning. It is important that the interview team meet to consider the circumstances of the case and to plan for the interview. The interview planning will usually only involve the social worker and police officer who are going to conduct the interview, but specialist advice may be required in some circumstances, for example, when a child or young person has special needs as a result of a disability or impairment, or where English is not the child’s first language. In the event of criminal proceedings being pursued, notes relating to the preparation and conduct of the video recorded interview will need to be disclosed.

Interviewing Children with Disabilities

When interviewing children and young people with disabilities or those who have communication difficulties, it will be necessary to identify an interpreter who can communicate with the child, and with whom the child feels comfortable. The interpreter’s communication skills should be at the required level for them to be accepted in court proceedings.

Children and young people with disabilities have the same rights as others in relation to giving consent to treatment or interview. The child or young person’s capacity to understand the purpose of the interview and to give informed consent to it should be ascertained. Additional factors to be taken into account include:

  • The provision of play material, drawings and so on to facilitate the child or young person’s communication;
  • Ensuring that every effort is made to explain to the child or young person what is happening, and that his or her wishes and views are ascertained and recorded;
  • Ensuring that assumptions are not made about the ability or inability of the child or young person to understand the procedures;
  • Establishing how best to accommodate individual methods of communication, or the identifying alternatives; setting out basic ground rules for their use;
  • Establishing whether the child or young person uses a communication board; ensuring that one is available for the interview and that any specialised help is supplied;
  • Clear recording of both the interpreter’s signals and the child or young person’s responses on the video tape, including any use of a communication board or written material;
  • Ensuring that the investigators direct questions to the child and not to the interpreter;
  • Requesting the child or young person to show their method of saying ‘yes’ and ‘no’;
  • Familiarising interpreters with the interview suite and procedures prior to the interview taking place; responsibilities should be clarified and their role during the interview explained.


10. The Outcome of Article 42 Enquiries

Children’s Service is responsible for deciding how to proceed with the enquiries and risk assessment based on the Strategy Discussion/Meeting and taking into account the views of the child, their parents and other relevant parties (e.g. a foster carer). It is important that they ensure that both immediate risk assessment and long term risk assessment are considered. Where the child's circumstances are about to change, the risk assessment must include an assessment of the safety of the new environment (e.g. where a child is to be discharged from hospital to home the assessment must have established the safety of the home environment and implemented any support plan required to meet the child's needs).

At the completion of the Article 42 Enquiry, Children’s Services must evaluate and analyse all the information gathered to determine if the threshold for significant harm has been reached.

The recorded outcome of the Article 42 Enquiries may reflect that the original concerns are:

  • Not substantiated; although consideration should be given to whether the child may need services as a child in need.

Concerns are substantiated but the child is not assessed to be at continuing risk of significant harm

There may be substantiated concerns that a child or young person has suffered significant harm, but it is assessed that a plan for ensuring their future safety can be developed and implemented without the need for a child protection case conference. This judgement should only be made in consultation with other involved agencies and must be endorsed by a Children’s Service or Team Manager. The decision must be made on the basis of evidence gathered during the enquiry. It is important to be mindful of the dangers of misplaced professional optimism and disguised compliance.

Concerns are substantiated and the child is assessed to be at continuing risk of significant harm.

When it is assessed that a child or young person may continue to suffer or be at risk of suffering significant harm, an Initial Child Protection Conference must be convened.

Concerns are not substantiated:

Social workers with their managers should:

  • Discuss the case with the child, parents and other professionals;
  • Determine whether support from any services may be helpful and ensure it is secured; and
  • Consider whether the child's health and development should be re-assessed regularly against specific objectives and decide who has responsibility for doing this.

All involved professionals should:

  • Participate in further discussions as necessary;
  • Contribute to the development of any plan as appropriate;
  • Provide services as specified in the plan for the child; and
  • Review the impact of services delivered as agreed in the plan.

The Children's Service manager must authorise the decision that no further action is necessary, having ensured that the child, any other children in the household and the child's carers have been seen and spoken with.

Arrangements should be noted for future referrals, if appropriate.

Concerns of significant harm are substantiated and the child is judged to be suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm

Social workers with their managers should:

  • Contact the Independent Safeguarding and Standards service and request that an Initial Child Protection Conference is convened. The timing of this conference should depend on the urgency of the case and respond to the needs of the child and the nature and severity of the harm they may be facing. The Initial Child Protection Conference should take place within 15 working days of a Strategy Discussion, or the Strategy Discussion at which Article 42 Enquiries were initiated if more than one has been held;
  • Consider whether any professionals with specialist knowledge should be invited to participate;
  • Ensure that the child and their parents understand the purpose of the conference and who will attend; and
  • Help prepare the child if he or she is attending or making representations through a third party to the conference. Give information about advocacy agencies and explain that the family may bring an advocate, friend or supporter.

All involved professionals should:

  • Contribute to the information their agency provides ahead of the conference, setting out the nature of the agency's involvement with the child and family;
  • Consider, in conjunction with the Police and the appointed conference Chair, whether the report can and should be shared with the parents and if so when; and
  • Attend the conference and take part in decision making when invited;
  • Suitable multi-agency arrangements must be put in place to safeguard the child until such time as the initial Child Protection Conference has taken place. The social worker and their manager will coordinate and review such arrangements.

Feedback from Article 42 Enquiries

The social worker is responsible for recording the outcome of the Article 42 Enquiries consistent with the requirements of the recording system. The outcome should be put on the child's electronic record with a clear record of the discussions, authorised by the Children's Service manager.

Notification, verbal or written, of the outcome of the enquiries, including an evaluation of the outcome for the child, should be given to all the agencies who have been significantly involved for their information and records.

The parents and children of sufficient age and appropriate level of understanding should be given feedback of the outcome, in particular in advance of any initial child conference that is convened. This information should be conveyed in an appropriate format for younger children and those people whose preferred language is not English. If there are ongoing criminal investigations, the content of the social worker's feedback should be agreed with the Police.

Feedback about outcomes should be provided to non-professional referrers in a manner that respects the confidentiality and welfare of the child.

Where the child concerned is living in a residential establishment which is subject to inspection, the relevant inspectorate should be informed.

Where the decision about the outcome of the Article 42 Enquiry is disputed

Where the Children's Service have concluded that an Initial Child Protection Conference is not required but professionals in other agencies remain seriously concerned about the safety of a child, these professionals should seek further discussion with the social worker, their manager and/or the nominated safeguarding children adviser. The concerns, discussion and any agreements made should be recorded in each agency's files.

If concerns remain, the professional should discuss with a designated/named/lead person or senior manager in their agency and the agency may formally request that an Initial Child Protection Conference is convened. The Independent Safeguarding and Standards Service should convene a conference where one or more professionals, supported by a senior manager/named or designated professional requests one.

If the matter remains unresolved the Escalation Policy and Resolution Pathway should be used.


11. Recording

A full written record must be completed by each agency involved in an Article 42 Enquiry, using the required agency proforma, authorised and dated by the staff.

The responsible manager must countersign/authorise Children's Service Article 42 recording and forms.

Practitioners should, wherever possible, retain rough notes in line with local retention of record procedures until the completion of anticipated legal proceedings.

At the completion of the enquiry, the social work manager should ensure that the concerns and outcome have been entered in the recording system including on the child’s chronology and that other agencies have been informed.

Children’s Service recording of enquiries should include:

  • Agency checks;
  • Content of contact cross-referenced with any specific forms used;
  • Strategy Discussion/Meeting notes;
  • Details of the enquiry;
  • Body maps (where applicable);
  • Assessment including identification of risks and how they may be managed;
  • Decision making processes;
  • Outcome/further action planned.

All agencies involved should ensure that records have been concluded and countersigned in line with agency policies and recording procedures.

All records should be checked for the correct spelling of names and any alias as well as correct dates of birth.

i The States of Jersey Department for Health and Social Services ‘Integrated Care Pathway Safeguarding Children (Suspected Sexual Abuse) HSS-GD-CG-XXXX-01 awaiting ratification p3/36


Further Information

MASH Enquiries Procedure

Assessment Procedure

Information Sharing Procedure

Children (Jersey) Law 2002

Amendments to this Chapter

In March 2017, this chapter was extensively updated including at Section 3, Article 42 Thresholds and the Multi-Agency Assessment, the conclusions and recommendations of the Article 42 Enquiry should inform the assessment which must be completed within 35 working days of the date when the referral was received. Royal College (RCPCH) guidelines for timing of examination in relation to physical and sexual abuse was also updated.

End.