Child Protection Conferences
Making Enquiries into Allegations of Abuse
Coping with accusations of child abuse is a difficult experience
for everybody concerned. These notes are to help you understand why
Social Services need to be involved and how we go about finding the
It is a fact: children do get abused. "Abuse" can mean physical
attack, sexual interference, emotional abuse or neglect. None of us
want to see these things happen to children.
Cheshire Social Services believe children have a right to be
protected from these things. When they have been abused or are at
serious risk, children need all the help and support they can get
to help them cope with what is happening, and to make sure they are
safe from any harm in the future.
Sometimes, children themselves will complain about being badly
treated or attacked, or perhaps teachers or neighbours will tell us
when they think a child is being abused in some way. Quite often,
it is the parents themselves, if this is necessary, or other
relatives who report their concerns. The Police may also be
informed and Social Services will talk to them about how this will
be followed up.
When accusations are made
We have to check on every report we receive; we have to satisfy
ourselves that children are not in danger. "That is the law".
If anyone is worried about what might be happening to a child,
we want them to tell us. We will listen to what they have to say,
and consider the information very carefully.
What we do next
We check our own records and as part of our enquiries, we talk
to other professionals who may know something - such as Teachers,
Health Visitors and the Police. We ask whether they know anything
that can help explain the report we have had and we always record
what they say.
We then visit the family involved. Usually, we like to see the
whole family and in particular the children concerned.
We explain to the family what we have heard and ask them what
they know. We talk to the adults and children concerned. We will
always discuss things if people give us a chance. Naturally we make
notes about what is said to make sure we get it right.
Social Services staff may visit without an appointment,
especially in serious situations where there is some urgency. In
some serious cases, the Police may visit with the Social Worker.
All workers carry Identity Cards and these should be examined
carefully. If people are not satisfied about the identity of the
visitors, they should check with the local Social Services office,
or the Police.
Social Workers will never insist on a child being undressed, or
try to examine a child themselves. If any such examination is
thought necessary, parents will be asked to take the child to their
own Doctor or to a Clinic or Hospital.
Social Workers have no automatic "right of entry" into people's
homes: we rely on the co-operation of the public. Most people
understand how important it is for us to be thorough in finding out
if anything bad is happening to children as quickly as
Sometimes if people threaten us, or stop our enquiries, we have
to ask the Police to help: after all, no one would expect us to
simply walk away and leave children in possible danger.
We have to be satisfied that children are safe from harm.
If the allegations or concerns are unfounded we will say so, and
tell the children's parents.
If the concerns are found to be correct, the case is considered
with other, more senior staff. We will discuss with parents what
action may follow, or what changes need to be made to ensure the
children are safe in the future.
We never seek to remove children from their families unless we
feel a child is in real danger, and no better arrangements are
Even where we are really worried about a particular case and
feel that a child is in danger of abuse, we would have to explain
the circumstances to a Magistrate or to a Court and ask for a Legal
Order which would allow us to take the child to a safe place whilst
more information is obtained.
We investigate each situation as sensitively as we can.
However, because of the nature of what we sometimes have to
discuss, people can become upset and distressed.
We hope that all those involved will understand that we have to
be thorough to make sure children are protected.
It helps us if you tell us how you have been treated, whether
you are happy or unhappy.
If you are unhappy about any aspect of our work or the way in
which you have been treated, you have the right to take action
through the Complaints and Representations
Procedure. Details are available from your Social Worker or
your local Social Services Access