Discuss with your manager

To decide what to do next, you should talk to your manager or the designated child protection lead within your own agency. They will be the person with child protection responsibility. Share your concerns and discuss any differences of opinion.

It may help to look at the supplementary guidance contained in these procedures, for example the signs and symptoms of possible child abuse under Advice if you are unsure

The following questions will help you and your manager decide what to do next:

  • What is your concern?
  • How long have you been concerned?
  • Who else has concerns?
  • What do you think could be happening to the child?
  • List a range of possible things that could be happening, rather than jumping to one conclusion. How could you find out whether each of these possibilities is true?
  • What information do you have already?
  • What have you already done to address your concerns?
  • Have you discussed your concerns with the parents and the child or young person?
  • If yes, what did they say?
  • If no, why not?
  • What would be the possible impact on the child?
  • Your manager should question you about the reasons for your concerns.

If you still have concerns but you (or your manager) are not sure what action to take, you should contact a social worker at the Multi-Agency Support Hub to discuss the situation. At this stage you do not necessarily have to mention the child's name. This discussion may help you decide what to do next.

Remember you may not be the only agency involved with the child. There may be other crucial information provided by other agencies that you may not be aware of. It might be that with all of this information being considered together a more or less concerning picture is given.  If you still have concerns then you should contact the MASH.

What does research tell us?

Research by Eileen Munro points out that people tend to make a judgement about other people, or a situation, very quickly. Once they have done this, they tend to focus on information that confirms their view while ignoring information that contradicts it. Because of this, when discussing a case other points of view should be considered.

This is not a new issue. Reder and Duncan (1999)1, in their work on serious case reviews and child death inquiries, identify what they call 'closed professional systems' where workers develop fixed views of a case, or where polarisation takes place between two different groups of workers with different views. Sometimes one person's views are given too much weight, or there can be confusion about who is doing what. It helps to take an objective view of the professional dynamics and check if everyone is clear about their role.

In such situations, newly gathered information is sometimes seen in isolation rather than considered alongside previously known facts. Certain facts are then selected as important, to fit the worker's view of the family, rather than asking if there could be missing information or other explanations. Therefore, all the information should be checked and evaluated.


1. Reder P. & Duncan S. 1999. Lost Innocents: a follow up study of fatal child abuse. Routledge, London.

This page was added to the website on 2 July 2015
18 January to include referrals to MASH