Police Information Checks When Making Care Arrangements for Children with Friends/Family in an Emergency
AMENDMENTThis chapter was updated in September 2022 and should be re-read in full.
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 stays with and is cared for by 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
- In all scenarios, Children's Services will endeavour to seek consent from the individual to undertake police and other checks;
- Information is provided by Police on the strict understanding that it is confidential in nature, will only be used for the purposes of making safe care arrangements for a child.
3. Role of the Social Worker
- Once it has been established that a child needs to be placed in an emergency situation with identified friends/family, Family member will be required to pass the details of the proposed carer to a social worker worker;
- The Social Worker in discussion with the Manager will complete internal systems checks on all members of the proposed household, including significant visitors (if known). If these checks identify any concerns that would make the proposed arrangements unsuitable, the child's parent/parents and proposed carer will be informed that this will not be a suitable arrangement;
- If no concerns are identified 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 Children's Services are going to undertake a Police check on the address and all 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 proposed carer refuses to consent to police checks then Children's Services should not proceed with the arrangement;
- Once this initial contact has been made with the proposed carers then the Social Worker will complete the police information request form 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 email@example.com;
- 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 request. 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 carers they will obtain written and signed consent for police checks from the carer;
- If it is anticipated that the arrangement will be needed as an interim or longer term arrangement, the need for initial viability assessment will need to be considered;
- A visit to the carers home will take place before or at the same time the child arrives.
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 abuse, 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 abuse, 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;
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Police Force Control Room will e mail the completed request to CAIU.
6. Role of Children's Services Out of Hours Service Out of Hours
- The same processes will be followed out of hours.
7. Children Being Cared for Outside Hertfordshire
- When care arrangements are made 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.
8. Children Cared for by 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 arrangements for 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.
9. Actions if an Emergency Check is Returned with a Trace or Concern
- The Police 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 colleagues to discuss the nature of their concerns;
- If there is a disagreement with the police and Children's Services about whether the emergency care arrangement is suitable then the Team Manager should discuss with a Service Manager the suitability of the arrangement on the basis of the police check information.