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Escalating a concern

What to do when you are concerned about a decision or practice in a case involving a child or young person.


This procedure has been developed by the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) to be used when resolving professional disagreements in relation to the safeguarding needs of children and young people because disagreements over the handling of concerns can impact negatively on positive working relationships and consequently on the ability to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is a responsibility shared by all agencies. Whilst the Local Authority is allocated a ‘lead’ role in coordinating responses to risk, or causes, of significant harm to children, effective intervention is dependent upon inter agency planning and multi-agency service responses.

It is the view of the BBSCB that constructive challenge amongst colleagues within agencies and between agencies provides a healthy approach to planning to keep children safe. However, sometimes an issue cannot be resolved and protocol/procedures are needed to escalate concerns, while keeping the focus of concern on the child and their needs. These documents are not designed to replace the statutory complaints processes established within individual partner agencies.

All agencies are responsible for ensuring that their staff are supported and know how to appropriately escalate and resolve interagency concerns and disagreements about a child or young person’s well-being and the response to safeguarding needs.


Disagreements between practitioners and agencies can arise at any stage in the safeguarding process and between any of the agencies involved. For example:

· The lead agency or professional cannot be agreed upon (this can be at step down or step up to/from children’s social care intervention).

· A referral is not considered to meet the eligibility criteria for assessment by Children’s Social Care.

· There are differing views in respect of whether a referral is considered to meet eligibility criteria for Child in Need or Child Protection;

· Referring agencies are not responded to by Children’s Social Care within the timescales set out in the LSCB procedures;

· There is difference of opinion with regard to the need or detail of child in need or child protection plan, or an assessment decision;

There will always be differences of professional opinion. However, practitioners and agencies have a responsibility to challenge when it is believed that other agencies are failing to recognise child maltreatment and/or their response leaves children at risk of significant harm. The Pan Bedfordshire Escalation procedures have been developed to ensure partner agencies have a quick and straightforward means of resolving professional differences in view of specific cases, in order to safeguard the welfare of children and young people.

Effective working together depends on resolving disagreements to the satisfaction of workers and agencies, and a belief in a genuine partnership and joint working to safeguard children. Problem resolution is an integral part of professional cooperation and joint working to safeguard children. Professional disagreement is only dysfunctional if not resolved in a constructive and timely fashion.

At no time must professional disagreement detract from ensuring a child is safeguarded. The child’s welfare and safety must remain paramount throughout.

Attempts at problem resolution may leave one worker/agency believing that child/children may be at risk of significant harm. If that is the case, this person/agency has responsibility for communicating such concerns through agreed child protection procedures on the same working day.

Where such disagreements arise between practitioners in the same agency, they should use that agency’s own procedures for their resolution. The following process is intended for use only when disagreement arises between agencies.

Escalating and Resolving Disagreements

When there is recognition that there is a disagreement over a significant issue, which potentially impacts on the safety and welfare of a child, the respective workers must identify explicitly what the problem is and have absolute clarity about the nature of the disagreement and what the respective workers aim to achieve.

A clear record must be kept at all stages, by all parties, in particular this must include written confirmation between the parties about an agreed outcome of the disagreements and how any outstanding issues will be pursued.

Please access the procedures at the following link of the Pan Bedfordshire Interagency Child Protection Procedures Chapter 2.8 http://bedfordscb.proceduresonline.com/chapters/p_reolution_disagree.html


Ofsted whistleblowing policy

Ofsted has updated its whistleblowing policy. Previously it only covered safeguarding in local authority children's services. The new policy covers all matters relating to the inspection and regulation of children's social care: establishments, agencies and providers.

Ofsted 21 January 2016

Whistleblowing to Ofsted about children's social care services (PDF)




Updates to National documents

Working Together to Safeguard Children updated July 2018 - click here for updated version

Information Sharing - Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers updated July 2018 - updated version here