What is a Section 47 Report UK?
Updated: Mar 25, 2022
When is a Section 47 report done?
Under the Child Act 1989, a Section 47 enquiry is carried out to ascertain if any and what type of action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child who is suspected of, or likely to be, suffering significant harm. When such concerns are raised a multi-agency assessment Enquiries should be carried out.
The assessment consideration is generally picked up at the point of referral and must continue whenever the criteria for Section 47 Enquiries are satisfied.
Additionally, during the progression of Child Arrangement Order matters, if any concern arises that a child may be at risk of potential harm, the court may wish have some special reports and assessments conducted, one of which is the Section 47 Report. The aim of this report is essentially to assess the child’s welfare and wishes before reaching any final verdict on these cases.
In this article, we’ll be discussing a few key things you need to know about the Section 47 Report is, and give you some advice on how you can prepare for this report. Let’s get started!3. Conducting Section 47 Enquiries
What is a Section 47 Report?
A Section 47 Report is required in the child cases where further inquiries need to be conducted regarding the child protection and welfare to decide whether and what type of action must be taken to promote the welfare of the child who is likely to be or suspected of suffering considerable harm.
What is the purpose of a Section 47 Report?
The purpose of Section 47 investigation is to enable the agencies to decide whether any action should be taken for the safety of the child.
The Family Court may direct for a Section 47 report based on the information reported by the child’s parents, relatives, local authorities, or institutions where the child resides or is found (meaning the physical location where the child suffers the harm) during Child Law proceedings.
Who conducts the Section 47 Investigations?
The Section 47 inquiry and assessment is conducted either by Cafcass or a qualified social worker from the CSC (Child Social Care) in accordance with guidelines.
The inquiry usually involves an assessment of the child’s safety and potential needs, and the ability of those caring for the child.
To get a detailed insight and understand the impact of any parental behaviour on the child, parents or guardians will be questioned as well as the child. In some cases, the assessment will also include the interviews of the child’s school, doctor, and other professionals.
Can a Section 47 Report be filed without the consent of the parents?
A Section 47 report is usually filed to conduct an urgent investigation and seek immediate protection when a child is in danger and might suffer significant harm.
It entirely depends on the local authority social worker involved to decide whether they feel the need to get the parents’ consent before commencing a Section 47 investigation or want to proceed with Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 to undertake inquiries.
The social worker will usually proceed without the consent of the parent under the following circumstances:
If a parent refuses to provide consent to see the child
The possibility of important evidence being tampered with or destroyed by the parent
The child would be coerced into reaming silent or not telling the facts which may support the Section 47 investigation
The child does not want their parent to be involved in the process
To proceed, the social workers will have to apply to the court for an Emergency Protection Order, a Child Assessment Order, or an Interim Order where the parent is not giving the consent denying access to the child.
What happens during the Section 47 Report Inquiry?
Once the court order has been issued to conduct the Section 47 Report Enquiry, the social workers along with their managers, carry out the investigation under the following guidelines:
Carry out inquiries in a manner that causes minimal discomfort to the child and Family.
Determine the feelings and wishes of the child, assess their understanding of the situation, and circumstances more widely.
Systematically collect the information about the child and the family history.
Conducts the interviews of the parents/guardians/ caregivers and determines the environmental and social that might influence the child and the family.
Evaluate the findings of initial inquiries and evidence about what interventions are likely to be most effective and consult with relevant professionals to determine the child’s needs and the level of harm faced by the child.
Does the Section 47 Report interview happen with the parents there?
No, in the course of Section 47 Report inquiry, the child must be seen alone by the social worker unless the child is too young or it’s opposing the child’s wish to do so.
The social worker must state whether the child was seen alone or in the presence of a parent while recording the inquiry. which should be approved by the team manager.
If the child was seen with a parent, the social worker must provide a valid reason for it.
How long does the Section 47 report enquiry last?
After the initial referral is made to the local authority, the assessment and inquiries must be completed by the local authority within 45 days and the outcomes of the inquiry must be available for the Initial Child Protection Conference.
What are the Potential Outcomes of the Section 47 Report?
A Section 47 Report Enquiry may conclude that the original concerns raised are either:
Not Substantiated; although consideration should be given to whether the child may need services as a Child in Need.
Substantiated; if the child in question is suffering, or likely to suffer significant harm and an Initial Child Protection Conference should be called.
What happens if the concerns raised in a Section 47 Report are Not Substantiated?
If the concerns are not substantiated, the likely outcomes will be:
1. No Further Action is Required
If the inquiries reveal no reasonable causes for concern, or if the child may be a child in need, but the family doesn’t want the services to be provided, the case will be closed.
2. Family Support to be Provided
If the inquiries reveal that there’s no evidence to prove that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer harm but still additional support may be provided by the local and social services. When such support is needed, the social worker should convoke a Child in Need Planning Meeting within 7 working days to agree on a Child in Need Plan.
What Happens if the Concerns in a Section 47 Report are Substantiated?
If the concerns are substantiated, the social workers with their managers will:
Arrange a Child Protection Conference within 15 days of strategy discussion or when the Section 47 inquiries commenced.
Discuss the case with kids, parents, and invite other relevant professionals and specialists.
Ensure that children and parents both understand the purpose of the child protection conference and help them prepare for attending and making a representation.
Help prepare the child if he is attending or making representing through a third-party to the conference.
What is a Child Protection Conference? Why does Child Protection Conference need to be arranged?
The purpose of the conference is to:
Discuss the issues raised in Section 47 investigation.
Share the information between all professionals and specialists working with the child and the family.
Determine what actions are needed to be taken to keep the child safe.
Decide whether there’s a need to apply for a Child Protection Plan.
During the course of the Child Protection Conference, the social worker must give regard to the views of everyone involved along with any evidence or written reports provided during the Section 47 inquiries.
The social worker will coordinate all aspects of the case and has the full authority to decide that there’s no need for an application to be made to the court, however, the concerns regarding the welfare of the child may remain the same.
The Initial Child Protection Conference will be led by an Independent Reviewing Officer. The parents of the child and professionals involved with the child will also be present at the conference.
All evidence will be presented to the parties in attendance before deciding whether a child should be the subject of a Child Protection Plan.
What is a Child Protection Plan and when does it commence?
The purpose of the Child Protection Plan is to ensure that a child is safe in their household, promote the child’s welfare, health and development, and prevent them from any significant further harm.
The Child Protection Plan essentially sets out what needs to be done for the welfare of the child, when it needs to be done and by whom, including the details of what support the child and his/her family will require and how things can be improved for the family.
In the majority of cases, Child Protection is commenced immediately once the Section 47 investigation identifies that a child is suffering or at the risk of suffering harm. In these cases, court may issue the Prohibited Steps Order or Non-Molestation Order, whatever in the child’s best interests.
Can I challenge a Section 47 Report?
If the report contains inaccurate factual information or you think that your concerns have not been addressed properly, you can challenge the local authority or the social worker, either by an official complaint or by giving a statement where the matter is proceeding through the family court.
In most cases, minor inaccuracies can be resolved without a formal complaint, however, if the error remains unresolved, you can formally file a complaint with a local authority for the correction of the report.
How can we help?
At Court Help Ltd, our child law specialists will assist in challenging a Section 47 Report if you believe the report is based on inaccurate information. We’ll help you prepare a letter of complaint to the local authority or social worker and will help you identify any issues with the report. We specialise in Child Custody and Family Law.
Our legal team will also help you prepare for your interview during the course of the Section 47 Report, make you understand the procedure, and give appropriate advice on the options available to you. You can either call us at 07375757510 or arrange a face-to-face consultation with our team.
This article is NOT legal advice and should NOT be treated as Legal advice.