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The Responsibility to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)


Contents

  1. Speak to Someone
  2. Disclosures by Children
  3. Suspicions about a Child’s Safety or Welfare
  4. Parental Consent to Referrals
  5. Making a Referral
  6. MASH Response to the Referral
  7. Possible Outcomes of a Referral
  8. Assessments or Enquiries Led by Children's Social Care


1. Speak to Someone

The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is the single point of contact for all professionals to report safeguarding concerns.

If it appears that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer Significant Harm and requires protective action to be taken to ensure that he or she is safeguarded from further harm and may require the involvement of Children's Social Care, this concern should be reported to the Nottinghamshire Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH), without delay. A concern can be raised by telephone or by completing an on-line form. All telephone calls should be followed up with or by completing an online form. Click here for the telephone number and online form.

Such a situation will usually be discussed, firstly, with the employee’s line manager or Safeguarding Lead, who should be able to advise what action is required.

However where the situation appears to require immediate action, the employee should never delay taking the required action because his or her line manager or the Safeguarding lead is not available.

The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) can also be contacted for support in relation to the decision-making as to whether a referral is appropriate, either using anonymised information or passing on identifying details of a case. In most circumstances an agreement will be sought as to the most appropriate way to proceed, although it should be recognised that once in receipt of information relating to an identified child, the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub have a duty to take any action required to protect the child within their statutory responsibilities.

The Locality Development Manager will keep the nominated lead up to date with information regarding services for children and young people, so that referrals can be made direct by the Council to the most appropriate service for the child.


2. Disclosures by Children

If a child indicates that he or she is being abused, or information is obtained which gives rise to concerns that a child is being abused, the person receiving this information should:

  • React calmly so as not to frighten the child;
  • Listen carefully to the child, particularly to what is said spontaneously;
  • Reassure the child he/she is not to blame and that it is right to tell;
  • Take what the child says seriously recognising the difficulties inherent in interpreting what a child who has a speech disability and/or differences in language says;
  • Do not question the child other than to ensure a clear and accurate understanding of what has been said;
  • Reassure the child telling him/her you will have to talk with your managers to ensure that the proper action is taken;
  • Do not make promises of confidentiality that might not be feasible in the light of subsequent developments;
  • Do not allow shock or distaste to show;
  • Make a full record of what has been said, heard and/or seen as soon as possible, and ensure that these notes are retained in their original form.

The primary responsibility of the person who first suspects or is told of abuse is to report it.


3. Suspicions about a Child’s Safety or Welfare

Where suspicions arise about a child’s safety or welfare, vigilance should be maintained for:

  • Vague explanations about events which are lacking in detail;
  • Explanations that are inconsistent with what you observe or know, especially of the child's development and mobility;
  • Inappropriate responses from adults who are involved in the care of the child;
  • Any history or pattern of unexplained injury or illness.

There may be a perfectly straightforward explanation, for example, if a child seems withdrawn, this could be as a result of starting a new school or a family bereavement.

However, if there is any doubt, employees should share their concerns and suspicions with their line manager or safeguarding lead.


4. Parental Consent to Referrals

Normally employees should seek to discuss any concerns they have about a child with the relevant family, and where possible, seek the agreement of the parents before making a referral to the MASH. However, such discussion or agreement should not be sought, if to do so would:

  • Place a child at increased risk of Significant Harm;
  • Interfere with criminal enquiries; or
  • Raise concerns about the safety of staff members.

For more information about this, see Information Sharing Procedure.

Where a decision has been made to make a referral to the MASH without the knowledge or consent of the parents, the referring employee should confirm this is the case when making the referral indicating the reasons why. This decision will usually be made with the support of his or her line manager. Reasons for decisions not to inform parents prior to contacting the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) should be recorded by the employee on the Council’s own records.

Parent’s lack of agreement to the making of a referral in relation to concerns about the possibility of a child suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm should not prevent the employee contacting the MASH with their concerns at the earliest opportunity. Sharing the information with the MASH where there is concern about a child’s welfare will enable both agencies to consider jointly how to proceed in the best interests of the child.


5. Making a Referral

A concern can be raised by telephone or by completing an on-line form. All telephone calls should be followed up with or by completing an online form. Click here for the telephone number and online form.

In all cases when making a referral, employees should ensure that as much information as possible is shared as part of the referral to support the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub in making a decision. This should include:

  • The child/young person’s full name (and any known aliases);
  • Date of birth (or expected date of delivery if concerns regard an unborn baby);
  • Gender;
  • Current address and telephone number;
  • Names, addresses and dates of birth of those with Parental Responsibility and any other significant adults or carers;
  • Ethnic origin;
  • Child’s and parents/carers’ first language or means of communication;
  • Any disability;
  • Details of siblings and any other family members or significant people;
  • Names and contact details of any other professional, employee or volunteers/ agencies known to be involved with the family;
  • Information on any support or intervention that has already been provided by the Council or others;
  • Whether consent from parents/ carers or the child has been given to the referral and the reasons if it hasn’t been given;
  • Information given to the parents/carers and child about the referral;
  • Reasons for the concern;
  • Clarity about what is expected from the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub.

The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub may specifically ask the referrer if they hold any information about difficulties experienced by the family/household in relation to:

  • Domestic violence and abuse;
  • Substance misuse;
  • Mental illness;
  • Learning disability.

Any referrer should have the opportunity to discuss their concerns with a qualified social worker.  

At the end of any discussion about a child or family, the person making the referral and the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub should be clear about who will be taking what action and when, or that no further action will be taken / is necessary and why.

The decision should be recorded by the referrer as follows:

  • Who will be taking what action?
  • What timescales?
  • If no further action is agreed the reason for this.

Employees should also record their concerns and the actions they have taken on their own internal agency records and a copy should be provided to their line manager and the Safeguarding lead.


6. MASH Response to the Referral

Following receipt of a referral, MASH will decide on the next course of action within one working day. During this time, there may be:

  • Further discussion with the person making the referral;
  • Consultation with other agencies;
  • Consideration of any existing records/historical information;
  • Discussion with the Police where a criminal offence may have been committed against a child.

Whenever MASH have a case referred to them which constitutes, or may constitute, a criminal offence against a child they should discuss this with the Police without delay.

MASH should respond in writing to the written referral within one working day of receiving it, confirming the intended course of action.

If the referrer has not received a response within this timescale they should contact MASH again to follow up how the referral information has been progressed.


7. Possible Outcomes of a Referral

On receipt of the referral there will be initial consideration as to whether there are concerns about either the child’s health and development or actual and/or potential harm which justifies an Assessment. The Assessment will establish whether a child was In Need.

Other possible outcomes are:

  • Referral to other agencies;
  • The provision of advice and information; or
  • No further action.

Where a person making a referral has concerns about the response to or progress of referrals, they should follow the agreed escalation procedures outlined in Resolving Inter Agency Disagreements (Escalation Procedure).


8. Assessments or Enquiries Led by Children’s Social Care

Sections 27 and 47 of the Children Act 1989 enable the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub to request help from the District Council when carrying out assessments of children and their families.

A request could be for information in connection with an Assessment and/or a Section 47 Enquiry.

The Council has a duty to respond to such requests in order to ensure that the assessments are made on the basis of full information.

End