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7.2 Escalation of Concerns and Professional Disagreements About Decisions, Including Convening an ICPC


This chapter was slightly amended in March 2017 to reflect current practice.


  1. Types of Escalation or Disagreements
  2. General Approach to Escalation and Disagreements
  3. Other Professionals Disagree with Children’s Services' Decision not to Convene an Initial Child Protection Conference

    Appendix 1: 'Other Professional' Disputes Children's Services Flowchart

1. Types of Escalation or Disagreements

Disagreements over the handling of concerns reported to Children's Services typically occur when:

  • The referral is not considered to satisfy eligibility criteria for assessment;
  • Informal advice is sought and a social worker has concluded that a referral is required;
  • Children's Services conclude that further information should be sought by the referrer before the referral is progressed;
  • Children's Services believe that an Assessment can be started without invoking child protection procedures;
  • Children's Services consider that child protection procedures must be invoked;
  • Children's Services and Joint Child Protection Investigation Team place different interpretations on the need for a Section 47 Enquiry / criminal investigation;
  • Disagreement exists about the justification for convening an Initial Child Protection Conference;
  • Other professionals disagree with Children's Services' decision not to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference.

2. General Approach to Escalation and Disagreements

If the professionals are unable to resolve differences through discussion and/or meeting within a time scale, which is acceptable to both of them, their disagreement must be escalated and addressed by more experienced / more senior staff. This should be referred to the Service Manager, or Head of Service Child Protection and Statutory Review Service.

Where a professional in any agency has concerns about the response of another agency, it is expected that the individual professional will take responsibility for raising those concerns through their line management and across to other agencies in accordance with these procedures.

With respect to most day to day difficulties this will require a Children's Services Team Manager liaising with her/his equivalent in the relevant agency, e.g.:

  • A detective sergeant in the Joint Child Protection Investigation Team;
  • A senior health visitor / nurse / GP;
  • Designated Senior Manager.

If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between the above 'first line' managers (who should normally seek advice from Designated /named / Lead Officer/ Principal Officers) the issue must be referred without delay through the line management to the equivalent of Service Manager / Detective Inspector / Head Teacher or other Designated Professional.

Alternatively, and more commonly in health services, input may be sought directly from the Designated Doctor or Nurse for Child Protection.

Clear records of any discussions and the outcomes of discussions must be maintained by all the agencies involved.

In the unlikely event that matters cannot be resolved by the above processes, the issue should be escalated as a matter of urgency to the HSCB chair (if applicable via the agency’s* strategic board representative or otherwise via the HSCB business manager) who can determine what further responses (if any) are justifiable and proportionate.

*agency refers to any partner in Hertfordshire including statutory, voluntary and faith group.

3. Other Professionals Disagree with Children’s Services' Decision not to Convene an Initial Child Protection Conference

Working Together to Safeguard Children states:

‘If a local authority children’s social care decides not to proceed with a child protection conference, then other professionals involved with the child and family have the right to request that local authority children’s social care convene a conference, if they have serious concerns that a child’s welfare may note be adequately safeguarded. As a last resort the LSCB should have in place a quick and straight forward means of resolving differences of opinion.'

When Children’s Services decide not to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC), a professional of another agency may request a Conference be convened if (s)he has serious concerns that a child's welfare may not otherwise be adequately safeguarded. Any such request should normally be agreed, in line the processes within this chapter.

If the matter is not quickly resolved through discussion, the professional who is challenging the Children’s Services decision must put his/her reasons for doing so, in writing, to the Children’s Services manager responsible for the decision. The Children’s Services Manager should usually give full information about the reasons for his/her decision in writing to that professional, before the matter is escalated to more senior managers (see Appendix 1: Other Professional Disputes Children's Services Flowchart). Some professionals should not be given this information, without the consent of the parent(s) for example, a privately employed health or education professional, or a professional member of a church or religious organisation.

The whole process to any final decision should be completed within 72 hours.

Appendix 1: 'Other Professional' Disputes Children's Services Flowchart

Click here to view Appendix 1: 'Other Professional' Disputes Children's Services Flowchart.

Please also see the Hertfordshire Social Work Procedures Manual, Case Escalation Process.