Need to Know Procedure: Essential Reporting for Safeguarding and Children's Services

1. Introduction

The Children's Strategic Director holds overall accountability for the Directorate's performance and must be informed of all major incidents, situations or controversies involving services, staff, service users and buildings.

These guidelines set out a process to capture and track any such incidents.

2. Circumstances Requiring a 'Need to Know' Briefing

A Need to Know Form will need to be completed for any serious or untoward incidents such as:

  • The unexpected or avoidable death of a child in receipt of services;
  • The death of a child in care or death of a child in a regulated setting;
  • The death of a child subject to a Child in Need or Child Protection Plan;
  • An incident that is serious enough that it may lead to a Serious Case Review;
  • Any child missing for longer than 12 hours, where the child is either in care, subject to a Child Protection Plan or otherwise vulnerable;
  • An incident likely to result in significant media attention;
  • Any case with organised or large scale abuse;
  • An incident that raises concerns about professional practice, or implications for Government policy;
  • Where a child has suffered serious harm as a result of professional failings;
  • Where a registered provider (residential or early years) is closed following enforcement action by Ofsted;
  • All formal notifications to Ofsted;
  • Major complaints implicating Safeguarding and Children's Services;
  • Proceedings likely to attract public or media interest;
  • Criminal trials resulting from child protection proceedings;
  • Trials relating to fraud or other offences committed by staff;
  • Proceedings with potentially high financial or policy implications; for example threat of judicial review, civil litigation for damages, employment tribunal claims etc.

In the above circumstances, the manager involved in the particular incident is responsible for completing the 'need to know' pro-forma.

All completed notifications must be sent to:

  • Jean Imray - Deputy Strategic Director;
  • Jane Parfrement - Strategic Director;
  • Karen Borthwick - Director Education;
  • The Head of Safeguarding, Uzma Moody - (Responsibility for tracking and monitoring);
  • Relevant Head of Service.

3. Sending The 'Need to Know' Briefing

'Need to know' notifications must be sent to with 'need to know' in the subject box and marked urgent and confidential. The attachment must be clearly saved with a file name and date, which is recognisable when stored in electronic folders.

For example:

Need to know - John Smith 1st Jan 08
Need to know update - John Smith 31st March 08 etc.

All 'need to knows' will be stored electronically by the Head of Safeguarding. They will be tracked and the author will be prompted for any anticipated updates until the matter is finally concluded.

Updates must be added to the original 'need to know', dated and clearly identify the author, who may be different from the originator. This way, an emerging picture is captured in one document for ease of reference and a defined conclusion is recorded to end the particular 'need to know' issue.