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Serious Incident Notifications & Need to Know

This procedure was added to the manual in November 2018.


  1. Introduction
  2. Circumstances Requiring a ‘Need to Know’ Briefing
  3. Missing from Care, or whilst Subject of a Child Protection Plan
  4. Notification to the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, Ofsted, Department for Education and LSCP
  5. Notification to the Youth Justice Board
  6. Completion of the Need to Know Briefing
  7. Circulation of the Briefing
  8. Case Management
  9. Updates and Conclusion

    Appendix A: Notifications to Ofsted, LSCP and Senior Management (Need to Know)

    Appendix B: Need to Know Briefing Form

    Appendix C: Missing: LAC or CP Plan - Senior Management Briefing

1. Introduction

  1. This procedure outlines the requirement for the Strategic Director (Care, Wellbeing & Learning) and other senior colleagues and councillors where appropriate, to be made urgently aware of serious situations regarding children and families. This includes the death of a child whether living at home or looked after.

    It also covers the responsibility for certain events to the LSCP and Ofsted/Secretary of State and the responsibility of the Youth Offending service to report certain incidents to the Youth Justice Board;
  2. It applies to all children and young people living in Gateshead and any Gateshead children placed out of county. Where any of the incidents outlined below involve a child from another local authority area, IRT will ensure they are notified immediately;
  3. It identifies a range of possible scenarios that should be notified but cannot be exhaustive, so professional judgement is required regarding the need to refer individual events and about the significance and severity of specific events;
  4. Whilst all staff must be alert to the importance of forwarding information, the ‘Need to Know’ briefings are to be submitted by the responsible Service Manager who will judge that a briefing is appropriate in the particular circumstances and quality assure the content;
  5. There is a standard proforma (see Appendix B: Need to Know Briefing Form) for briefings which should be submitted on the day a situation comes to light even where early information is incomplete. A phone call should be made to alert the Service Director even before the form is sent. The same document is used to provide updates so that all the information is held in one place;
  6. There is separate proforma to be used where a child who is either Looked After or the subject of a Child Protection Plan goes missing (see Appendix C: Missing: LAC or CP Plan - Senior Management Briefing);
  7. The incidents covered by this procedure can be distressing and troubling for staff. The Service Manager should ensure staff are supported, where appropriate involving HR colleagues in providing more formalised and continuing support.

2. Circumstances Requiring a ‘Need to Know’ Briefing

  1. Service users:
    • Death, serious accident or injury on local authority premises or where a member of staff is present;
    • Death, where the death is unusual or unexpected;
    • Death or serious injury of a child who is  looked after or the subject of a child protection plan;
    • Death or serious injury of a child who is currently receiving other departmental services (including where the death of a disabled child had been anticipated due to their complex needs);
    • Violent incidents whilst on local authority premises, in the company of local authority staff or where there are serious implications for the staff working with that person;
    • Any cases of a serious communicable disease in residential homes, children’s centres, day care premises or foster homes (both Gateshead Council or where Gateshead children are placed);
    • A child who goes missing and is looked after by Gateshead, subject to a child protection plan or is otherwise vulnerable.
  2. Staff/foster carers:
    • Unexpected death or serious injury;
    • Significant accident or injury at work (N.B. this is in addition to the corporate Health and Safety procedures);
    • Involvement in violent incidents;
    • Allegation, arrest or conviction for serious criminal offences;
    • Actual or anticipated media coverage concerning a member of staff or foster carer where the publicity may impact upon the Gateshead Council.
  3. Service premises:
    • Serious or significant damage caused by floods, accidental fire etc.
    • Significant vandalism or burglary;
    • Any incident of arson.
  4. High profile issues:
    • Major complaints involving the Care Wellbeing and Learning Service;
    • Matters likely to attract local or national interest;
    • Any matter which has, or is likely to, attract the attention of the media, elected members or Members of Parliament;
    • Ofsted inspection reports of services where poor performance or urgent safeguarding matters have been identified.
  5. Significant legal proceedings:
    • Proceedings likely to attract public or media interest:
      • Criminal trials resulting from child protection proceedings;
      • Trials relating to fraud or other offences committed by staff.
    • Proceedings with potentially high financial or policy implications; for example threat of judicial review, civil litigation for damages, employment tribunal claims etc.
    • Inquests.

3. Missing from Care, or whilst Subject of a Child Protection Plan

  1. The attached proforma (see  Appendix C: Missing: LAC or CP Plan - Senior Management Briefing) is to be used when a looked After Child, or a child who is the subject of a CP Plan is missing;
  2. The purpose of the form is to alert senior management and to ensure priority attention is given to securing the child’s return. It must be completed within 24 hours of the child going missing and subsequently updated as new information becomes available;
  3. A Strategy discussion/meeting will be held within 72 hours and if the child is missing for a prolonged period of time.

For further information, see the North and South of Tyne Safeguarding Children Partnership Procedures, Children Missing from Home and Care Procedure.

4. Notification to the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel, Ofsted, Department for Education and LSCP

  1. From 29 June 2018 local authorities will be required, under a new statutory duty, to notify the Panel of incidents where they know or suspect that a child has been abused or neglected and:
    1. The child dies (including suspected suicide) or is seriously harmed in the local authority’s area; or
    2. While normally resident in the local authority’s area, the child dies or is seriously harmed outside England.

    In this context, ‘serious harm’ is where a child has sustained, as a result of abuse or neglect, a potentially life-threatening injury and/or serious or likely long-term impairment of physical or mental health or physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development.

    These notifications should be made within five working days of the local authority becoming aware of the incident.

    Local authorities should use Ofsted’s current online notification system to notify the Panel. Notifications made through this route will go to the Panel, Ofsted and the DfE.

    The local authority should also report the incident, within the same five working days, to the relevant LSCP, or to the new local safeguarding partners when they become established. The chair of the LSCP should be copied into the need to know briefing.

    Contact is initiated by the Business Manager (Safeguarding Children).

    The table at Appendix A: Notifications to Ofsted, LSCP and Senior Management (Need to Know) links the reporting requirements for Ofsted and the LSCP to those for the Need to Know procedure;

  2. This process is additional to the requirement for registered managers to notify Ofsted of certain events prescribed in regulations. For regulated services, the reporting mechanism can be found at:

    "Tell Ofsted about an incident: children's social care online notification form" (GOV.UK)

    Registered managers should inform the Business Manager (Safeguarding Children) of notifications to Ofsted.

5. Notification to the Youth Justice Board

  1. National reporting requirements must be followed at all times:

    See Report serious incidents: guide for youth justice practitioners (GOV.UK);
  2. Identifying incidents:

    YOTs are required to notify the YJB of all incidents which fall within the mandatory notification list (see below) within 24 hours. If it is not reasonable to be able to meet this timescale, for example in the case of determining an attempted suicide, the YOT should discuss this with the YJB. 

    The severity and circumstances of incidents that occur vary greatly and this can impact on the need to notify and/or the need to review the case. In recognition of this, there is also a list of incidents where notification and review will be at the discretion of the YOT (with YJB advice);
  3. Mandatory and discretionary reporting. The following table differentiates between these where a young person is under supervision of the YOT or 20 days post supervision of the YOT and is subject to, or is charged with committing, one of the following safeguarding or public protection incidents: 
    Caption: Other agencies
    Safeguarding Public Protection
    Young person is charged with:
    Death of a young person Murder/Manslaughter
    Attempted suicide Rape
    Victim of rape (where a formal allegation is made to the police) A MAPPA serious further offence when the young person is already subject to MAPPA
    Victim of sexual abuse/exploitation MAPPA serious offence category
    Victim of serious physical/emotional abuse  
    Serious self-harm  

  4. With ‘Discretionary’ incidents, the YOT will take advice from the YJB about whether formal reporting is appropriate;
  5. Use of ‘Need to Know’: 

    All mandatory and discretionary incidents are to be reported to the Strategic Director (Care Wellbeing & Learning) together with any involved Service Directors.

6. Completion of the Need to Know Briefing

  1. Whilst the briefing may be drafted by staff directly involved with the emerging situation, it is the responsibility of the Service Manager to first decide that a briefing is required and then ensure that the contents provide a concise but comprehensive summary of the situation, along with appropriate action planning.

    In the absence of the accountable Service Manager, this will be undertaken by another Service Manager;
  2. The completed briefing is sent immediately to the responsible Service Director who will decide upon circulation;
  3. The briefing must be completed and forwarded to the Service Director on the day the situation arises and then followed up, as appropriate, with more complete information as this emerges.

7. Circulation of the Briefing

  1. The Need to Know briefing will always be forwarded to both the Strategic Director (Care, Wellbeing & Learning) and copied to the Business Manager (Safeguarding Children).

    It will also be copied to the manager(s) directly involved in the issue/incident;
  2. Where the briefing concerns the conduct of a member of staff, it will be copied to the lead HR contact for information at this stage;
  3. Where media interest is ongoing or anticipated, it will be copied to the lead Communications contact;
  4. Where legal action is anticipated or underway, or legal advice is requested, it will also be sent to the lead Legal contact;
  5. The Strategic Director will decide if it is appropriate to brief the Chief Executive and/or the Lead Member. Other councillors would not routinely be informed, though there may be circumstances where this is warranted;
  6. The briefing is highly confidential and must not be shared with anyone without the express permission of the responsible Service Director or the Strategic Director (Care Wellbeing & Learning).

8. Case Management

  1. Full details of the issue/incident should be recorded on the child’s file;
  2. Where a child is currently ‘open’ to the service, the Social Worker (or lead manager if not social care) should immediately discuss with their Service Manager whether the child’s electronic file should be ‘restricted’. This limits access to the file to named people and prevents further information being added.

    Information can still be recorded on the files of siblings and others involved;
  3. The Service Manager, in consultation with the Service Director will determine who will be allowed access to the file and if/when the restriction will be removed;
  4. Where a child has died the file will always be locked and the team/unit which has been working with the child must ensure the following steps are taken:
  • Person Details – Care First to be updated with the following information:
    • Date notified of death;
    • Date of death;
    • Date death confirmed.
  • No further details are added to the file; and
  • The case must be closed at this point.

9. Updates and Conclusion

  1. Following on from the original briefing the Service Manager will provide timely updates to the Service Director until they are able to confirm that a matter has been resolved or concluded;
  2. Updates will be added to the original briefing form so that all information is held in one place and then circulated by the Service Director as before. This should include notification that an issue has been resolved/completed;
  3. The Business Manager (Safeguarding Children) will arrange for Briefings to be tracked to ensure each is concluded and the outcome communicated.


Appendix A: Notifications to Ofsted, LSCP and Senior Management (Need to Know)

Appendix B: Need to Know Briefing Form

Appendix C: Missing: LAC or CP Plan - Senior Management Briefing