Police Information Checks When Placing Children in an Emergency
This chapter was added to the manual in October 2012.This chapter is currently under review.
1. Criteria to be Met for this Work
This procedure relates to obtaining checks from the police when children are placed in an emergency. It details the procedure for obtaining the checks on a prospective friend or carers with the prospective friend or carer's consent. The circumstance where this would be required are when the parent or someone with PR is no longer able to care for the child or is prohibited from caring for the child and the child is placed with someone else who the child is familiar with, such as a neighbour, friend or other family member. This procedure will allow the police to notify the Local Authority if it is known that a particular household would be considered unsafe for the placement of children. This procedure provides an additional layer of safety when we place children in Hertfordshire.
When reference is made to Child this applies to all Children and Young People.
2. Consent to Checks Being Completed
- The Child Abuse and Investigation Unit (CAIU) do not require consent from the individual to undertake police checks if the request for information is in the best interest of the child and carried out under the principle of safeguarding;
- Whilst Children Schools and Families work within guidance to obtain consent where appropriate, it is clear from legislation that professionals may share information for a child protection purpose without the consent of the subject:
- To protect the vital interests of the person;
- Where seeking permission might place the child or another person at serious risk of significant harm.
- Where such action might reasonably assist in the prevention or detection of serious crime the Police have sufficient authority to undertake these checks within current legislation on information sharing.
Legislation supporting this process includes:
- Common Law;
- Data Protection Act 1998;
- Human Rights - Article 8;
- Crime and Disorder Act 1998;
- Children Act 1989 - S47 & S17;
- Sexual Offences Act 2003 - Interagency risk management.
- Police are able to legally share information with CSF providing that the information disclosed is accurate, proportionate, relevant and necessary and that the request is under the principle of safeguarding;
- Hertfordshire Children Safeguarding Partnership, Child Protection Procedures Information Sharing and Confidentiality provide more detailed information on individual agencies responsibilities;
- Information is provided by Police on the strict understanding that it is confidential in nature, will only be used for the purposes of a child protection or child in need assessment and that it may not be passed on to any third party without express permission of the Police;
- It is intended in the future that the form used in emergency police checks will be adapted and become the form used for all requests for police information although only emergency checks will be directed to Force Control Room;
- CSF is guided that consent will be obtained unless exceptional circumstances exist for example Parent, Guardian or carer is not contactable. Consent should be received in writing.
3. Role of the Social Worker
- Once it has been established that a child is in need of an emergency placement and the criteria above are met, the family will be asked to identify an alternative carer and make contact with this carer to check that they are able to have their child placed with them in an emergency. Family member will be required to pass the details of the proposed carer to a CSF worker. The family should not identify carers who they believe maybe unsuitable;
- The Social Worker in discussion with the Manager will complete CSF internal LCS checks on all members of the household, including significant visitors, before considering any placement;
- Social Worker must consider if a referral to CAIU is required for a strategy discussion;
- If CSF internal LCS checks or paper file note any concerns then Social Worker will not immediately proceed with a placement with the proposed carers until further assessment, if appropriate;
- If LCS checks show no concerns then the Social Worker and Manager agree the need for Police information checks to be made;
- Social worker will make contact with the proposed carer and inform them that CSF are going to undertake a Police check on the address and members of the family living at that address to ensure the safeguarding of the Child being placed. Social worker to seek verbal consent for police information checks to be completed. This initial contact can be completed by telephone.
- If the Social Worker is unable to get verbal consent for checks on all household members prior to placement, then they can proceed with checks on the main carer. Request will be made for the other family members to be checked within 24 hours of the child's placement. Checks for the main carer must be returned before a placement can commence;
- If the proposed carer refuses to consent to police checks then CSF should not proceed with the placement;
- Once this initial contact has been made with the proposed carers then the Social Worker will complete the police information request form CSF0162F1 ensuring that their contact details are clearly entered on the request form. This will be e mailed by the social worker to the police force control room using the secure e mail address HQCSFRequest@herts.pnn.police.uk;
- Manager, duty manager or ATM to sign the CSF0162F1 form to confirm agreement to the request for Police information before the form is sent to the police;
- If it has not been possible to obtain any Managers signature at the time of the request and this will delay the placement, then the Social Worker can complete the request for police information but must obtain a manager's signature at the earliest opportunity;
- Where the Local Authority is requesting information all members of the household over the age of criminal responsibility (10 years of age) residing at the address must be included in the form. Social Worker will obtain the full name and DOB of all members of the household in order to complete the form. Social worker will need to ensure that the address they are requesting to be checked is the current address of the placement and add any previous known addresses if the family have lived at the address for less than 5 years;
- When the Social worker takes the child to the placement they will obtain written and signed consent for police checks from the carer. This will be recorded on form CSF0162F1 agreement for police checks to be completed. In addition the carer will be required to sign CSF0162F3 emergency placement for children in my care agreement;
- Copies of the carer's signature will be scanned onto LCS when the documents above are added in forms on LCS;
- If the matter is in Court and there is a request for an emergency placement then the social worker must place the forms on the paper file, in addition to adding a case note to LCS and uploading the form;
- Within 48 hours of placement in an emergency Social Worker must complete the initial risk assessment immediate placement form CSF0074;
- Within 7 days the Social Worker must make an assessment as to whether the emergency placement is likely to last longer than six weeks. Social Worker will be required to complete a viability assessment using CSF0074 if appropriate. The decision regarding the suitability of the placement as a longer term option must be made before sending a completed viability assessment and a referral for a full assessment to the Family and Friends Team. Social Worker will need to seek consent for medical checks from the carer with PR if the placement is likely to last longer than six weeks. Please also see Adoption procedures CSF3938 and Fostering procedure contained within the CiN &CLA procedure CSF4632;
- On arriving at the placement with the child the Social Worker must check the sleeping arrangements and ensure that the household is suitable for the age of the child;
- If the Social Worker arrives at the placement and is uncertain about the suitability of the placement then they must consult with a Manager or ATM.
4. Role of Police
- For emergencies, once information is presented on the agreed form then the Police Force Control Room will return any checks within 24 hours of the request;
- The Police Force Control Room will undertake checks as follows:
- Running a local Police check including address and nominal history if they are Hertfordshire residents using their local computer system CIS;
- Running checks through the Police National Computer (PNC) for conviction history.
5. Police Information to be Shared
- PNC (police national computer) - Police will disclose convictions and cautions relating to assaults, child cruelty or neglect, domestic violence, drink drive, alcohol related incidents, drugs, public order, offensive weapon, harassment, domestic burglaries, sexual offences and firearms offences. This will be in summary form noting the year of conviction/caution and the offence. It will not include thefts, damage, deceptions, non- domestic burglaries etc. However where the conviction history shows ongoing significant criminality, police staff may record on the response form that due to ongoing and considerable criminal history, which whilst not child protection relevant may pose a risk to the child, the address is not suitable for placement, in this event there will be no details of the conviction history;
- CIS (crime information system) - Police will disclose all local arrests, whether No Further Action (NFA), Cleared Up, Charged or Reported which relate to assaults, child cruelty or neglect, domestic violence, drink drive, alcohol related incidents, drugs, public order, offensive weapon, harassment, sexual offences and firearms offences. This will be in summary form showing a date, offence type and outcome. Additionally, for sexual offences which have not resulted in a conviction, brief details of the nature of the allegation, the age of the victim and why the matter did not proceed will be provided;
- Police will record on the response form any warning markers, alias names, alias dates of birth of the person being checked;
- IMS (intelligence management system) - Police will review the Constabulary's intelligence system, however due to the nature of the information recorded they will only notify CSF of any significant concerns relating to the person being checked. Therefore if the information in IMS would naturally be shown by the conviction/arrest history it will not be relevant to share this information. Intelligence information will only be shared in exceptional circumstances;
- VSI (view street index) - Police will provide a record of incidents at the address. Incidents within the last 12 months will be reviewed for relevance to child protection and summarised;
- Police will review the information from all their checks and based on the age of the child being placed and the nature of the information established indicate by ticking the box on the form whether the address is suitable for placement based on the information available to them at the time of the request;
- If a request is made which is clearly not an emergency, Force Control Room staff will forward the request to CAIU and send an email to the requesting person advising them of this;
- The Police will return the completed checks to CSF via e mail / fax on the response form CSF0162F2;
- This process will be entirely electronic and it is not envisaged that there will be a paper copy of this form. E-mails will be sent via the secure e mail address currently used by the police. HQCSFRequest@herts.pnn.police.uk.
The Police Force Control Room will e mail the completed request to CAIU.
6. Role of CAIU
- If the CAIU do not have a referral, one will be created;
- CAIU will provide any additional support or advice including holding a strategy meeting or liaising with EDT to ensure that the child is being placed into a safe environment.
7. Role of EDT - Emergency Duty Team
- If the area team make a request for an emergency check and the police return a trace of concern then EDT will consider any action required by them to safeguard the child in placement as part of the out of hours support to the area teams;
- EDT will continue to request checks as current practice but will now use the form as above.
8. Children Placed outside Hertfordshire
- When children are placed outside Hertfordshire in an emergency the Herts Police Force Control Room are able to undertake PNC checks but can not complete local agency checks;
- During office hours, the Social worker will need to make contact with the local area team where the child is due to be placed and request local checks are undertaken;
- Outside office hours the police will liaise with the relevant police force to undertake the necessary checks.
9. Children Placed with Carers who have recently arrived in the UK
- The police are unable to complete emergency Interpol checks on people who have recently arrived in the UK. Therefore any placement of child/ren with carers who have recently arrived in Hertfordshire will need to be aware that this process of emergency checks will only provide details on UK (England and Wales) records as above. The emergency police checks are not a substitute for the full enhanced DBS checks.
10. Actions if an Emergency Check is Returned with a Trace or Concern
- The CAIU will notify the Local Authority if there are any concerns about the carer or address. There maybe concerns that the carer is known to the police but not for a safeguarding concern;
- If there are safeguarding concerns then the placement of the child/ren should not be agreed;
- If the police make a recommendation that a placement should not proceed the Team Manager should consult with the on duty CAIU officer to discuss the nature of their concerns;
- There is joint agreement between the Police and CSF that a placement should not be made in the following circumstances. Where a current member of the household has a conviction for sexual offences, where there is ongoing domestic violence, where the children of the proposed carer have been subject to a protection plan within the last five years, where there is evidence or reasonable suspicion of serious ongoing drug misuse or there is a history of physical violence;
- If there is a disagreement with the police and CSF about whether the emergency placement is suitable then the Team Manager should discuss with a CSM the suitability of the placement on the basis of the police check information;
- If a trace is found then Social Workers must follow the process for DBS trace found in CIN and CLA procedure Manual CSF4632 section 3.23.
11. Associated Forms
The following forms are to be used in this process. They are available to download from Compass.
- CSF0162F1 Request for Police Information;
- CSF0162F2 Response to Request for Police Information;
- CSF0162F3 Emergency Placement of Children in my Care Agreement.