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Child protection enquiries/investigation

Children’s services have a legal duty to make enquiries if they receive information that a child may be at risk of significant harm.

These child protection enquiries are sometimes called child protection investigations. They are also referred to as ‘Section 47 enquiries or investigations.’ This is because the legal duty to investigate is set out in Section 47 of the Children Act 1989.

Children’s services most often receive this information from another professional, such as a teacher or a health worker, who is worried a child may not be safe or well cared for. Members of the child’s wider family or the public also sometimes tell children’s services they are worried about a child.

Social workers firstly need to gather information about the child and their family. This will help them to decide what action (if any) they need to take to keep the child safe and promote their welfare.

Social workers will need to see the child as part of their enquiries. Government guidelines say they should speak to the child on their own but they will normally ask the parents’ permission before they do this.

All children’s services departments have to follow the government guidance set out in Working Together 2018 when conducting a child protection enquiry. They will also have their own local procedures.

For more information see our advice pages on:

Child protection

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