Multi-Agency Practice Guidance and additional information

You can access a wide range of additional information and guidance developed by the Partnership based on children or adults in specific circumstances as well as signposting to National and Statutory guidance to support the Child and Adult Safeguarding Procedures.

A glossary of terms for safeguarding children and a glossary of terms for acronyms used in Child and Adult Safeguarding is available to support practitioners: Acronym Glossary of Terms [PDF document] Glossary of Terms for Safeguarding Children [PDF document].   

The guidance below has been developed to provide information to those who are working with families and children. When you visit a family that has a dog, you need to consider whether the dog poses any threat to a child's health, development or safety.

Safeguarding Children from Dangerous Dogs Practice Guidance [external link]

There are several factors that contribute to disabled children and young people being at greater risk of abuse. These include communication barriers, increased isolation, misunderstanding the signs of abuse and inadequate support. Disabled children with behaviour or conduct disorders are at the highest risk of abuse. Other high risk groups include children with learning disabilities, speech and language difficulties, deaf children and children with health related conditions.

If a child is disabled this does not necessarily account for why they are showing particular behaviours and practitioners should always look beyond the disability or diagnosis. 

For further information and guidance see protection-deaf and disabled children [External Link] 

Assessment of disabled children and their carers 

Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) [PDF Document] requires Statutory Safeguarding Partners and relevant partner agencies have a shared response to meet the needs of disabled children who have specific additional needs. When undertaking an assessment of a disabled child the local authority must also consider whether it is necessary to provide support under Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act (CSDPA) 1970 [external link]. Where a local authority is satisfied that the identified services and assistance can be provided under S2 CSDPA and the support is necessary to meet the child’s needs, the local authority must arrange this support.

Where a local authority is assessing the needs of a disabled child, a carer of that child may also require the local authority to undertake an assessment of their ability to provide, or continue to provide, care for the child under Section 1 of the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 [external link]. The local authority must take account of the results of any such assessment when deciding whether to provide services to the disabled child.

If the local authority considers that a parent or carer of a disabled child may have support needs, it must carry out an assessment under 17ZD of the Children Act 1989 [external link]. The local authority must also carry out such an assessment if a parent carer requests one. Such an assessment must consider whether it is appropriate for the parent carer to provide, or continue to provide, care for the disabled child in light of the parent carer’s needs and wishes.

Abuse of disabled children - protecting disabled children NSPCC guidance [external link]

What is Domestic Abuse?

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.  

The information provided below will help you spot the signs of domestic abuse and provide useful tools to support you in your work. 

Domestic Abuse Procedure and Practice Guidance - Safeguarding Children and Adults with Care and Support Needs  [PDF document] 

Children and Adults with Care and Support Needs - Domestic Abuse - Co Durham and Darlington Multi-Agency Domestic Violence and Abuse Procedural Flow Chart  [PDF document]

Adolescents - Domestic Abuse-Darlington Multi-Agency Child/Adolescent to Parent/Carer Violence and Abuse (CAPVA) Procedural Flow Chart-Child Adult and Family [PDF document]

MARAC/DASH Risk Assessment Tool 2020

Stalking and Harassment Risk Assessment Tool 2020 

What is Clare's Law?

The Domestic Abuse Offender Disclosure Scheme (DAODS) known as Clare's Law was established following the inquest of the murder of Clare Wood when it was highlighted she would not have been in a relationship with her killer if she had known about his abusive past with previous partners. The scheme allows people to make inquiries about their partner if you are worried that they may have been abusive in the past. Further details are available, see Durham Constabulary: Clares Law [external link] 

Operation Encompass (children) 

Darlington Borough Council is working with police and schools to improve the support for children affected by domestic abuse. Young people who see or hear arguments and violence at home often arrive for classes the next day upset and unprepared. Darlington Borough Council and the police are set to work more closely to better share information so teachers can provide the help their pupils may need.  Further information and sample templates on the initiative can be found below:

Protocol [PDF document]

Poster  [PDF document]

School sign up form [Word document]

Further information is available on the Operation Encompass Website [external link] 

On Track: The Women's aid outcome measurement system

On Track is a comprehensive case management and outcomes monitoring programme created by Women's Aid for specialist support services including refuge providers which will provide vital insight into the domestic abuse sector and evidence of the value and impact of their services.  Further information is available by clicking on the link below.

Understanding domestic abuse: findings from On Track [external link] 

Domestic Violence and your workplace

A leaflet is available to support employers on raising awareness of domestic abuse within the workplace and how you can provide the best support for any of your employees suffering domestic violence.

Domestic Violence and Your workplace leaflet [PDF document]

Links between animal abuse, child abuse and domestic abuse

There is a growing research base in the UK to suggest that if a child is cruel to animals this may be an indicator that serious neglect and abuse has been inflicted on the child. Whilst research in the UK suggests that animal abuse by children is quite widespread, in a minority of more extreme cases it appears to be associated with abuse of the child or subsequent abusive behaviour by the child. For more information see

For further information on Forced Marriage and Honour Based Violence see:

Forced Marriage Guidance [PDF Document]

Honour Based Violence Guidance [PDF Document]

As well as threats to the welfare of children from within their families, children may be vulnerable to abuse or exploitation outside of the family.  Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 highlights the importance of practitioners having awareness of the additional vulnerabilities for children and young people who may be affected by gang activity.  See NSPCC guidance.

NSPCC: Safeguarding young people who may be affected by gang activity [external link]

Darlington Internet Safety Partnership

The Darlington Internet Safety Partnership, is a multi-agency partnership which aims to build digital literacy and resilience skills in children, young people, professionals and parents and carers.

The partnership uses local and national intelligence and data as an evidence base. It's aim is to increase knowledge and skills to safely use the internet and social media, with a strong understanding of social media apps, cyberbullying, CSE, identity fraud, radicalisation, gaming, digital footprints and much more.

A number of resources are available which include:

  • Cyber Squad – Internet safety peer group for primary schools
  • support for parents and carers around internet safety
  • Cyber Champions - lead person for internet safety within organisations

Further details are available on the Internet Safety Partnership website. 

Guidance for staff using technology with young people

The internet is great place for finding information and communicating, but we all need to know how to use it safely. It is recognised that Internet Safety (e-safety) Risks are posed more by behaviours and values than the technology itself. Children are likely to have internet access in many places and in many ways, so it's important to equip them with the skills to use technology safely and appropriately, alongside which adults working with children and young people must also ensure they establish safe and responsible online behaviours.

There are a number of resources and websites available to support your work on internet safety, click links below for further information. 

Erase Exploitation - [external link]

The Marie Collins Foundation and NWG - Online Sexual Harm Reduction Guide [PDF Document]

Cyber Safety [PDF Document]

Cyber Support Leaflet [PDF Document]

Parents Guide to Cyber Safety Book [PDF Document]

CEOP: Child Exploitation & Online Protection Centre - internet safety [external link]

UK Council for Child Internet Safety Sexting in Schools and Colleges [external link]

NSPCC - Share Aware [external link]

Childnet works in partnership with others around the world to help make the internet a great and safe place for children to access the resources visit the Childnet website. [external link]

UK Safer Internet Council [external link]

Internet Matters [external link]

Think U Know [external link]

Lighthouse [external link]

Kayleigh Heywood - Love Story [You Tube Video]


Joint Operational Licensing Protocol [PDF Document]

Protocol for the Protection of Children and Young People Aged Under 18 who attend events in Licensed Premises [PDF document]

Child Performance and Activities Licence [external link]

Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA)

Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) are to address and manage violent and sexual offenders living in the community who pose a serious risk of harm.  

MAPPA are designed to protect the public, including previous victims of crime, from serious harm by sexual and violent offenders.

MAPPA arrangements were introduced by the Criminal Justice Act 2003. Statutory safeguarding agencies have a duty to work together in partnership in dealing with these offenders, see further details below:

MAPPA National Guidance [external link]

MAPPA Information Sharing Briefing [PDF document]

Information for agencies working with people at risk from Domestic Abuse

A Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) is a regular local confidential meeting to plan how to help people at high risk of murder or serious harm in domestic abuse situations and address their ongoing safety. 

MARAC provides a consistent approach to support victims of domestic abuse who are identified as at risk of serious harm. It puts in place various plans and actions in relation to the safety and well being of the identified person, and if appropriate, their children. 

An Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA), the Police, Children's Social Care, Health Agencies and other relevant agencies come together to talk about the victim, the family and the perpetrator and share information. 

The MARAC Process does not override pre-existing procedures within organisations where issues of Child Protection are concerned.

Additional information is provided below:

MARAC Procedure [PDF Document]

MARAC Guidance [PDF Document]

MARAC Referral Form [PDF Document]

National Mental Capacity Forum - Mental Capacity Act Competency Framework [external link]

As well as threats to welfare of children from within their families, children may be vulnerable to abuse or exploitation outside of the family.  Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 highlights the importance of practitioners having awareness of additional vulnerabilities for children and young people who may be at risk of modern slavery.

Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking - Child and Adult Multi-Agency Practice Guidance [PDF document]

Modern Slavery at a glance [PDF document]

Modern Slavery Referral Pathway [PDF document]

Modern Slavery: A Council Guide (Local Government Association) [External Link]

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment)
  • Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger
  • Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers)
  • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment

It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs (WT 2018).

Additional definitions can be found on NSPCC website [External Link].

Neglect is the most common reason for Child Protection Plans in the United Kingdom. Analysis of Child safeguarding Practice Reviews has made the link between neglect and childhood fatalities. Neglect causes great distress to children and leads to poor outcomes in the short and long term. Consequences can include an array of health and mental health problems, difficulties in forming attachment and relationships, lower educational achievements, and increased risk of substance misuse, higher risk of experiencing abuse as well as difficulties in assuming parenting responsibilities later on in life. 

For further information and guidance see Darlington Safeguarding Partnership Neglect Practice Guidance [PDF document] and Darlington Safeguarding Partnership Neglect Strategy 2017-2020 [PDF document]

Home Environment Assessment Tool (Health) [Word Document]

Was Not Brought Policy (Health) [PDF Document]

NHS England Was Not Brought Guidance [PDF Document]

Complex (organised or multiple) abuse may be defined as abuse involving one or more abusers and a number of related or non-related abused children. The adults involved may be acting in concert to abuse children, acting in isolation or may be using an institutional framework or position of authority to recruit children for abuse.

Such abuse can occur both as part of a network of abuse across a family or community and within institutions such as residential settings, boarding schools, day care and in other provisions such as youth services, sports clubs, faith groups and voluntary groups.  There will also be cases of children being abused via the use of electronic devices, such as mobile phones, computers, games consoles etc. which all access the internet.

Organised and multiple abuse is profoundly traumatic for children who are involved.  Each investigation of complex and organised abuse will be different, according to the characteristics of each situation and the scale of complexity of the investigation. But all will require thorough planning, collaborative inter-agency working and attention to the needs of the child victims involved.

Information on Darlington's procedure can be found in the guidance below:

Organised and Multiple Abuse Procedure and Practice Guidance [PDF Document]

PREVENT is part of the Government's counter terrorism strategy CONTEST, its aim is to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism.  The Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 contains a duty on specified authorities in England, Wales and Scotland. The Government has produced a Prevent Duty Guidance for providers. 

PREVENT has a strong link to safeguarding because vulnerable people can be susceptible to radicalisation and recruitment into terrorist organisations. 

Channel Panel

Channel Panels were established under the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 to assess the extent to which identified individuals are vulnerable to being drawn into terrorism and where appropriate to arrange for support to be provided. When assessing Channel referrals the Statutory Safeguarding Partners and the relevant partner agencies should consider how best to align these with assessments undertaken in accordance with the Children Act 1989.

The Children Act 1989 promotes the view that all children and their parents should be considered as individuals and that family structures, culture, religion, ethnic origins and other characteristics should be respected. Local authorities should ensure they support and promote fundamental British values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. 

For further information and guidance see Darlington Safeguarding Partnership PREVENT Practice Guidance and the Channel Process [PDF Document].

Private Fostering Guidance [PDF Document]

National Minimum Standards - Private Fostering [external link]

Additional information on Private Fostering is available on the Darlington Borough Council website [external link]

  • Professional Challenge
  • How should a practitioner make a challenge
  • Threshold for reporting the use of professional challenge to DSP
    Professional Challenge

Professional Challenge

The purpose professional challenge process is to establish processes to ensure a culture which promotes professional challenge is embedded across all agencies. 

When working in the arena of safeguarding and child protection, it is inevitable that from time to time, there will be practitioner disagreement. Whilst this is understandable and generally acceptable, it is vital that such differences do not affect the outcomes for children and young people. This procedure provides a process for resolving practitioner disagreements and ensuring there is effective challenge in the system. It also provides practitioners with advice and support to enable them to escalate concerns where disagreements are not resolved at a practitioner level.

Professional challenge is a positive activity and a sign of good practice and effective multi-agency working.  Being professionally challenged should not be seen as a criticism of the person’s professional capabilities.

Both national and local Child Safeguarding Practice Reviews (CSPRs) continue to draw attention to the importance of interagency communication and have identified an apparent reluctance to challenge interagency decision making with concerns that were not followed up with robust professional challenge which may have altered the professional response and the outcome for the child.

Disagreements can arise in a number of areas of multi-agency working such as:

  • thresholds applications
  • outcomes of assessments
  • decision making; roles and responsibilities of workers
  • service provision
  • information sharing and communication in relation to practice or actions which may not effectively ensure the safety or well-being of a child or young person or his/her family

Professional challenge and critical reflection about the focus and intended outcome of intervention should include questioning and being open to professional challenge from colleagues, as well as being confident to challenge others.

Many professional challenges will be resolved on an informal basis by contact between the practitioner raising the challenge (or their manager) and the agency receiving the challenge and will end there.

Professional challenge is about challenging decisions, practice or actions which may not effectively ensure the safety or well-being of a child or young person or his/her family.

At no time must professional disagreement detract from ensuring that the child or young person is safeguarded. Any unresolved issues should be escalated with due consideration that might exist for the child.  Every effort should be made to resolve the disagreement as quickly and openly as possible, within a time frame which clearly protects the child, determined on a case by case basis. Effective working together depends on resolving disagreements to the satisfaction of practitioners and agencies and a belief in a genuine partnership.

How should a practitioner make a challenge? 

Concerned practitioner to speak to person who made original decision to express their view and discuss the basis of the decision. Record reason why to you do not agree and record reason for disagreement on case management file.
If the issue cannot be resolved at Stage 1 it should be raised with respective managers/named practitioner /designated safeguarding lead.

If manager deems appropriate, arrange an interagency meeting to discuss differing views.  Agreement should be reached on who should attend.  A clear record of the agreed outcome and any outstanding issues should be made.
If the issue cannot be resolved in Stage 3 the professional raising the concern should escalate to their Head of Service who will contact the relevant agency's Head of Service to attempt to resolve. With a decision to be reached as soon as possible ensuring the interest of the child taking precedent over professional stalemate.
If resolution cannot be found at Stage 4 the relevant Head of Service for the agency raising concern should raise the issue with the Chair of Darlington Safeguarding Partnership who will make the ultimate decision on the next course of action.

Threshold for reporting

The threshold for reporting professional challenge to DSP is when it becomes necessary to move to stage 5 above, because the issue cannot be resolved at stages 1 - 4.

To monitor the use of this procedure the following information should be provided to DSP Business Unit by the Named Person for the agency which raised the challenge:

  • what was the challenge?
  • what was done to address the challenge?
  • what was the outcome of these actions?
  • how was the issue resolved?
  • are practitioners involved satisfied with the outcome?
  • if resolution could not be achieved was the issue referred to the Darlington Safeguarding Partnership?

The areas of challenge, the use of this procedure and the outcomes will be reported to the Darlington Safeguarding Partnership and subsequently reported to the Statutory Safeguarding Partners (with equal and joint responsibility for safeguarding children) on a six monthly basis. Statistical information about professional challenge and the use of this procedure to address professional challenges will be reported in the Safeguarding Partnership Annual Report. The procedure will be reviewed in light of any feedback provided to the Darlington Safeguarding Partnership.

Further information is available in the Professional Challenge Procedure [PDF document]

Children have the right to be protected from abuse and harm so it is important that any organisation or group that works with them has a clear set of guidelines about how they will keep children safe and to respond to child safeguarding concerns.

DSP has developed a Safeguarding Policy check list which highlights key areas you should consider including. 

DSP Model Child Safeguarding Policy check list [PDF document]

Additional information relating to those that work with children is outlined in the NSPCC policy guidance document below.

NSPCC Model Safeguarding Policy Guidance [external link]


Self-harm and suicide pathway and guidance [PDF Document] - children

NSPCC - find out how to spot the signs of self harm and what you can do to help [external link] 

Darlington Mind can also offer further advice and guidance [external link]

Information for children is available on Young Minds website [external link] 

Information for adults and children is available on Mind [external link]

Darlington Samaritans for further advice and support [external link]

NSPCC guidance - sexual abuse [external link]

Lucy Faithful Foundation Resources [external Link]

Centre for Expertise on child sexual abuse [external link]

Child Welfare Information gateway - Perpetrators of Sexual Abuse [external link]

Young People who display Sexually Harmful Behaviour - Procedure and Practice Guidance [PDF document]

Sarah's Law

The Child Sex Offenders Disclosure Scheme (CSODS) known as Sarah's Law was established following the abduction and murder of 8 year old Sarah Payne. Sarah's mother campaigned and worked with the home office to develop this disclosure scheme.  The aim of the scheme is to allow anyone who has concerns about a child being at risk from a child sex offender, making an application to the police for further information to protect the child.  Further details are available on the Durham Constabulary website [external link] 

A guidance document has been developed to help raise awareness of sexual exploitation and a referral pathway which provides information on how to report it if you suspect someone is being exploited.

Sexual Exploitation Referral Pathway [PDF document]

A guidance document has been developed to provide information on what to do if you are concerned that presenting skin damage is due to neglect/self-neglect and/or poor practice.  The guidance will support you to decide wither to refer through the Safeguarding Adult Procedure.

Skin Damage Protocol and Safeguarding [PDF document]

Babies are particularly vulnerable to abuse and any work carried out in the antenatal period can help minimise any potential harm if there is early assessment, intervention and support.  All practitioners should understand how respond to concerns for an unborn baby and how to be involved in safe planning with multi-agency  practitioners working together, with families, to safeguard the unborn through to birth.

Where practitioners become aware a woman is pregnant, at whatever stage of the pregnancy, and they have concerns for the mother or unborn baby’s welfare, or that of a sibling, it must not be assumed that Midwifery or other health services are aware of the pregnancy or the concerns held.  All practitioners should follow their own agency’s child protection procedures and discuss concerns with the agency’s safeguarding lead in the first instance.

An assessment by Children’s Social Care must commence as early as possible where:

  • concerns exist regarding the mother’s or father’s ability to self-care or protect
  • alcohol and/or substance abuse is present and is likely to impact on both the parent(s) and the child
  • there are professional safeguarding concerns regarding parenting capacity, particularly where the parents have either mental health problems, learning disabilities and difficulties or mental capacity issues
  • the child is believed to be at risk of significant harm due to domestic abuse
  • the expectant parent(s) are very young and a dual assessment of their own needs as well as an assessment of their ability to meet the baby’s needs is required; this includes young people under 16 for who there is a risk of Child Sexual Exploitation, trafficked or as a result of non-consensual sex
  • a previous child in the family has been removed either permanently or on a temporary basis because they have suffered harm or been at risk of suffering significant harm
  • a person who has been convicted of an offence against a child or adult, or is believed by child protection professionals to have abused a child, intends to join or has contact with the family
  • an unborn baby has siblings subject to a Child Protection Plan or previously subject to a Child Protection Plan a person is subject to Multi-agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA) need to be considered
  • the parent is a Looked After child or has been previously looked after by a local authority
  • any other concerns that the professional beliefs may place the unborn at risk of harm

Any such concerns should be addressed as early as possible before the birth so that a full assessment can be undertaken and support offered to enable the parent/s (wherever possible) to provide safe care (including before the pregnancy is confirmed).

Referral into Children’s Services - Where agencies or individuals anticipate that prospective parents may pose a significant risk for their unborn these should be referred to social care at the earliest opportunity.

For those unborn babies about which practitioners are concerned but which do not meet the criteria for Social Care Assessment, consideration should be given at the earliest opportunity to signposting to other agencies which are able to provide support. Practitioners should also consider the completion of an Early Help Assessment which will identify support requirements and ensure that the wellbeing of the unborn is at the centre of the assessment, allowing early support to be provided to reduce the risks to the unborn. An Early Help assessment is a holistic assessment that considers the child’s developmental needs, parenting capacity, environmental needs and level of risk.  Practitioners will be able to gather new information and with the information they already know provide a multi- agency package of support for the baby and family via the Team around the Family process. The information gathered through this process is shared appropriately and can be used to help determine if an unborn single assessment through social care is required.

Where an unborn baby is likely to be in need of services from children’s social care when born, you should contact the Children's Initial Advice Team to discuss. Telephone 01325 406252

For further detailed guidance and a flow chart of the referral process see Safeguarding the Unborn Procedure and Practice Guidance [PDF Document].