Social care common inspection framework (SCCIF): adoption support agencies

22. Safeguarding and child protection concerns

What an inspector must do if they have immediate concerns about a child protection issue.

If serious issues of concern arise during the inspection, such as a failure to follow child protection procedures or if a child is discovered to be at immediate risk of harm, the responsible individual or the person in charge must be notified as soon as possible. If that may compromise a child or adult’s safety, the inspector must ensure that the appropriate authorities are notified immediately.

Inspectors should always follow Ofsted’s policy on safeguarding children and young people and vulnerable adults.

Inspectors should contact their manager or regional social care compliance inspector if they need advice. The inspector ensures that the referral is made to the relevant local authority children’s services and the child’s allocated social worker and/or the relevant local authority adults’ services and, where appropriate, the vulnerable adult’s allocated social worker. Further guidance can be found in ‘Safeguarding concerns: guidance for inspectors’. If the concerns relate to allegations against staff, they are referred to the designated officer.

Inspectors must ensure that concerns about the safety and welfare of a child are communicated immediately to the director of children’s services for the responsible placing local authority, where this is relevant. A record that this has been done must be kept. The regional senior HMI should follow up the action taken by the local authority.

22.1 The ‘Prevent’ duty

Extremism is unlikely to be a routine line of enquiry during SCCIF inspections. Inspectors should, however, be alert to signs of risks of extremism, such as literature, posters, videos or DVDs, or regular visitors to the setting where the purpose of their visit is not clear. Initial enquiries about the possibility of extremism must be directed to the manager or person in charge.

Inspectors should note the detail of any relevant concerns or referrals made by the responsible individual and how effective the multi-agency response has been. The Department for Education has published advice for schools and childcare providers on the ‘Prevent’ duty, and inspectors should note where this applies to the type of setting inspected.

Inspectors can contact their RIM, who may seek specialist advice. If inspectors are unable to contact their RIM and remain concerned, they should follow Ofsted’s policy on safeguarding children and young people and vulnerable adults.

22.2 Female genital mutilation: the duty to notify police

Since 31 October 2015, when section 74 of the Serious Crime Act 2015 inserted new section 5B into the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, specified regulated professionals (including social workers) must report to the police any cases of female genital mutilation in girls under 18 that they come across in their work.

The duty applies where the professional either:

  • is informed by the girl that an act of female genital mutilation has been carried out on her
  • observes physical signs that appear to show an act of female genital mutilation has been carried out, and the professional has no reason to believe that the act was necessary for the girl’s physical or mental health or for purposes connected with labour or birth

If a child or young person discloses information regarding female genital mutilation to an inspector, the inspector should follow Ofsted’s guidance for inspectors: what to do if a child or young person discloses a safeguarding concern.

22.3 Reporting concerns about the administration and management of controlled drugs

If inspectors come across concerns or incidents about the safe management of controlled drugs during their normal inspection duties, or receive information through any other source, an outline of the concern and action taken should be emailed to the social care policy team at socialcare@ofsted.gov.uk

This action is in addition to any regulatory action or recommendations made as a result of the concern. Referrals should be made even where no requirements or recommendations are to be made. The social care policy team will collate all such referrals and share these with the Controlled Drugs National Group.

Detailed information about controlled drugs (examples include morphine, pethidine, methadone and Ritalin) is available from the Care Quality Commission.