Resolution of Disputes


Professional concerns and disputes can arise at any stage of the child protection process and can lead to ineffective multi-agency working or in rare cases dangerous practice. The purpose of this procedure is to ensure that a robust mechanism exists to resolve professional concerns and disputes before they have a significant impact on the delivery of child protection services.


The welfare of children must always be the paramount consideration

Good child protection practice depends on effective inter-agency working:

  • All concerns and disagreements should be resolved
  • Underpinning this procedure is the need to promote learning and continued improvement in the interests of safeguarding children
  • Diversity of professional opinion should be respected
  • Concerns and disagreements should in the first instant be addressed with the agency concerned at the level at which they occur

Dissent at Enquiry Stage

Disagreements and concerns over the handling of child protection concerns typically occur when:

  • A referral is not considered to meet eligibility criteria by Children's Social Care.
  • Informal advice is sought and a social worker has concluded that a referral is required
  • Children's Social Care concludes that further information should be sought by the referrer before and referral is progressed
  • Children's Social Care believes that an initial assessment can be started without invoking child protection procedures
  • Children's Social Care considers that child protection procedures must be invoked
  • Children's Social Care and the North Yorkshire Police place different interpretations on the need for a s47 enquiry/criminal investigation
  • Disagreement regarding the justification for convening/not convening an initial conference
  • Information is withheld from Children's Social Care and/or the police
  • Good practice or procedures are not being followed or are the subject of differing interpretation

Good practice dictates that disputes should be resolved at the level at which they occur. Consequently, where a dispute arises between practitioners, they should be facilitated to resolve the issues in dispute without the intervention of more senior personnel.

Creative approaches to dispute resolution should be encouraged. Such approaches could for example utilise the services of a facilitator to arbitrate between the protagonists.

If the professionals are unable to resolve differences through discussion and/or meeting within a timescale, which is acceptable to both of them, more senior personnel within the respective agencies must address their disagreement.

If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between first line managers (who should normally seek advice from the designated/named/lead officer child protection advisor) the issue must be referred without delay through the line management to the equivalent of Head of Service/Detective/Inspector/Head Teacher or other designated professional. In the case of health personnel input may be sought directly from the Named Doctor or Nurse in preference to the use of line management.

A record of discussions must be maintained by all agencies involved.

Dissent at Child Protection Conferences

If the Chair of a conference is unable to achieve a consensus as to registration or de-registration, s/he will make a decision and note any dissenting views.

The agency or individual who dissents from the chair’s decision must determine whether s/he wishes to challenge the result.

If the dissenting professional believes that the decision reached by the chair places a child at (further) risk of significant harm, it is expected that s/he will formally raise the matter with the IRO Manager within two working days.

The IRO Manager will liaise with the conference chair and either:

  • Uphold the decision reached by the conference chair or
  • Require that the conference be re-convened to be chaired by the original chair or where necessary a different chair

Where a conference chair is concerned about the conduct (including the quality of information presented or information being withheld) of a participating agency or individual the matter should be referred to the person’s line manager for resolution.

Dissent Regarding the Implementation of the Child Protection Plan

Concern or disagreement may arise over another professional’s decisions, action or lack of actions in the implementation of the child protection plan, including core group meetings.

The line managers of the professionals involved should first attempt to address any concerns.

If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between first line managers (who should normally seek advice from the designated/named/lead officer child protection adviser) the issue must be referred without delay through the full line management to the equivalent of Head of Service/Detective Inspector/Head Teacher or other designated professional. In the case of health personnel input may be sought directly from the Named or Designated Doctor or Nurse.

Where Professional Difference Remains

If professional disagreements remain unresolved, the matter must be referred to the head of service for each agency involved.

In the unlikely event that the steps outlined above do not resolve the issue, and/or the discussions raise significant policy issues and/or a number of similar concerns or disagreements have been recorded, the matter can be referred to the chair of the CYSCB.

The CYSCB chair may decide to refer to the Case Review Group (CRG).

Where a matter is referred to CRG, the panel will be constituted within 28 working days, comprising at least two CYSCB representatives in addition to the agency or agencies to which the concerns relate. Report/s will be submitted by the agency or agencies to the Case Review Panel (CRG) a least a day in advance of the initial meeting. The reports should be produced either by a senior officer with relevant experience from within the agency and who does not have line management responsibility for the case or an independent person commissioned by the agency, and contain:

  • A chronology of relevant agency involvement
  • A summary and analysis of agency involvement
  • Recommendations for future action

In the event that CRG considers the report of any individual agency contains insufficient information to reach a conclusion the chair of CRG may request further information.

CRG may recommend:

  • A child safeguarding practice review, where it is felt that the concerns are sufficiently serious and meet the criteria contained in Working Together 2018.
  • Another kind of learning review
  • Accept the recommendations made by the individual agencies

Where the agency reports are accepted CRG the chairperson will produce a report of the findings from the outcomes of the agency reviews, which will be submitted to the CYSCB Priority Delivery and Scrutiny Group (PDSG) (via the CRG Highlight Report). The report will include:

  • An integrated chronology of relevant events
  • Summary of involvement of the relevant agencies
  • Analysis
  • Conclusion
  • Agency recommendations
  • CRG recommendations

The CYSCB PDSG will consider the CRG report and ensure the relevant agencies produce an action plan to be presented to CRG for ratification.

The CRG will audit the implementation progress within six months.