Salford Children's Services Procedures Manual Salford City Council website
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures
Greater Manchester SCB Procedures Greater Manchester SCB Procedures

1.6.5 Protocol for the Disclosure of Information from Salford Children's Services Records to Police / Crown Prosecution Services in Child Abuse Cases

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This brief chapter details the important process of disclosing information, where appropriate, to the Police and Crown Prosecution Service. Great care and consideration should always be taken when a request is received and this protocol should always be followed.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Protocol and Good Practice Model: Disclosure of Information in Cases of Alleged Abuse and Linked Criminal and Care Direction Hearings (2013) Model

This chapter was introduced into the Manual in October 2015.


Contents

  1. Background
  2. Requests from the Police which Do Not Engage the Protocol
  3. Requests from the Police which Do Engage the Protocol
  4. The Disclosure Team
  5. The Process


1. Background

Over recent years there has been a clear increase of historic child abuse cases coming to light as well as heightened awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation. As a result there is now, more than ever, an expectation for Local Authorities to work closely and efficiently with the Police and Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to assist their investigations.

A National CPS Best Practice Model and Protocol on the disclosure of third party material was launched on 1st January 2014. As a result of this a Local Practice Arrangements document has been agreed in the Greater Manchester area which underpins the Protocol document; this agreement has been in place since June 2014. All the Greater Manchester Local Authorities are signed up to the Local Practice Arrangements, which set out how it has been agreed that we deal with requests for information from the Police and Crown Prosecution Service in connection with the investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases.

This chapter outlines below when the Protocol comes into play and what Children’s Services need to do in response to any requests from the Police.


2. Requests from the Police which Do Not Engage the Protocol

There is no need to contact the Disclosure Team in either of the following situations:

  • If the Police contact Children’s Services direct merely requesting to know whether a child is known to the Local Authority then you ought to respond to this as you would ordinarily respond to such queries;
  • If the Police have any immediate or other Child Protection concerns or want to engage in any information sharing then they ought to be advised to again, follow your usual practice and request a Strategy Discussion Meeting.


3. Requests from the Police which Do Engage the Protocol

Any requests in which the Police seek to gain access to your records, whether at your offices or elsewhere, or obtain copies of your records will engage the protocol.

Under no circumstances should any information be shared or documents provided to the Police without the involvement of the Disclosure Team. If you are unsure then please contact any of the Disclosure Team (see Section 4, The Disclosure Team).

Your Disclosure Legal Team have managed to work closely with Greater Manchester Police (GMP) over the past few years and have developed a good working relationship. Therefore a large majority of requests will come directly through them.

However, there are still instances where police officers from GMP or from other police forces will contact Children’s Services directly. The police officer must be advised to contact the ‘Single Point of Contact’ whom in the first instance is Kobi Ogden, Principal Disclosure Solicitor. Alternatively, you can advise the police officer to contact any of the Disclosure Team and I have set out all of our contact details below.


4. The Disclosure Team

Kobi Ogden, Principal Disclosure Solicitor
0161 234 4369
K.Ogden@Manchester.gov.uk

Chris Wall, Legal Disclosure Officer
0161 234 5546
C.Wall@Manchester.gov.uk

Emily Hills, Legal Disclosure Officer
0161 234 3672
E.Hills@Manchester.gov.uk

Tyrone McCarthy, Legal Disclosure Officer
0161 234 3550
T.McCarthy@Manchester.gov.uk


5. The Process

In order to request disclosure of any Children’s Services records the Police must have consent from the individual or, if they are a child, consent from somebody who has Parental Responsibility for them. If nobody exercising Parental Responsibility  is able to or is willing to give consent, then the Disclosure Team will contact Children’s Services and ask that the appropriate Service Manager considers the file and make a decision on whether the Local Authority should make any disclosure in the absence of consent from the individual / parent.

Once the Disclosure Team  has received the request direct from the Police with consent we will then contact you via the ‘worried about a child’ inbox. We shall identify the name and date of birth of all the relevant children and request that you prepare all original records and print off a copy of all the electronic records to be checked and signed off by a Team Manager.

At this stage  the Disclosure Team would be grateful if you could respond to their email confirming which Administrative Team is dealing with  the request and, most importantly, which Team Manager will be checking and signing off the documents.

If the child has siblings which have not been specifically identified within our request then we do not require the records for that child. However, if siblings have been identified and there are duplications of the records between the siblings we do not need a copy of any duplication.

Once the Team Manager has signed to confirm that all records have been located and prepared  the Disclosure Team should be contacted to arrange for a courier to collect the records from  the relevant office. 

The records will then be processed by the Disclosure Team and we will identify any information within them which may be relevant to the Police investigation. Only a copy of the relevant records will be disclosed to the Police.

The Police and CPS shall then make a decision on whether they wish to use any or all of the disclosed records. If they intend to use them and the records strengthen the prosecution’s case, weaken the prosecutions case or strengthen the defence’s case, the CPS will be duty bound to disclose a copy of the documents to the defence. At this point the CPS will refer the documents back to the Disclosure Team. We will comment on whether the records can be disclosed to the defence.  In order to do so the CPS will require a second signed consent form from the same person who originally consented to the disclosure being made. Again, in the absence of secondary consent, the Disclosure Team will raise this point with your Service Manager.

Once disclosure has been made, the relevant Children’s Services member of staff will be contacted by the Disclosure Team to confirm exactly what has been disclosed and to whom. At this point, any original records will be sent back to you in order to return them to archives. We will then only contact you further to either update you of any significant events, after three months to give you a general progress update on the matter or to inform you when the matter has concluded and that we are closing our file.

Note: the whole Protocol is designed to streamline the disclosure process and minimise any time constraint on Children’s Services. Therefore the Disclosure Team is continuously looking at where improvements can be made and welcome feedback from Children’s Services.

End