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8.2 Professional Resolution and Escalation Protocol


This chapter importantly deals with how professionals and agencies working with children and families resolve disagreements, disputes and unhappiness in a way that is timely and does not negatively impact on the day to day working with children and their risk management.


This chapter was reviewed in March 2015. Adjustments were made in the ‘Escalation and Resolution’ Process and an updated Flow Chart has been included.


  1. Purpose
  2. Background
  3. Professional Disagreement
  4. Core Principles
  5. Escalation to Resolution Process

    Appendix 1: Escalation to Resolution Process Flowchart

1. Purpose

This is a good practice interagency protocol designed to provide a clear process by which people working with children and their families in Lincolnshire can provide professional challenge and effectively escalate concerns regarding a child or children in a timely manner.

2. Background

Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB), The Children Act (2004) and Working Together (2015) set out expectations that people working directly with families, whether this is with the child or parent, work to multi-agency plans and processes. This could range from Early Help and the Team Around the Child process to more complex Child in Need, Child Protection and Looked After Children (LAC) processes.

Good practice includes the expectation that there is professional and constructive challenge amongst colleagues within agencies and between agencies. Where a member of staff from any agency is concerned that concerns or agreed actions regarding a child are not being addressed or acted upon in a timely and consistent manner, it is expected that the escalation protocol should be used to reach a satisfactory outcome that is in the best interests of the child.

Individual agencies are responsible for ensuring robust feedback and completion of recommendations or planned actions. Where these actions are not completed or not within timescales this should be explained at reviews and a new or alternative plan devised with timeframes.

3. Professional Disagreement

At various times during the joint involvement and management of a case, professional differences of opinion and judgement emerge. The following guidance is designed to assist agencies and their staff in resolving such differences. There are a range of situations in which professional disagreements arise, however they are most likely to arise as a result of differing views of thresholds, a lack of understanding of roles and responsibilities and the need for action and communication.

Examples are:

  • Disagreements over the handling of referrals between agencies can impact negatively on positive working relationships and consequently on the ability to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. There are differing views in respect of whether referrals meet the LSCB threshold for Child in Need or Child Protection;
  • There is disagreement about attendance at a Child Protection Conference, core group or child in need meeting;
  • There is difference of opinion with regard to a Child’s Plan;
  • Disagreements over the outcome of assessments;
  • A professional is concerned about the action or inaction of another professional in relation to child protection or child welfare issues;
  • There is disagreement over the sharing of information and or provision of services by an agency;
  • Disagreement in respect of the outcome of a medical examination;
  • Issues regarding the justification for convening / not convening an initial or pre-birth conference;
  • An agency is not in agreement with another agency’s decision or reasoning to close a case;
  • Issues of transition for example from Child in Need to Team Around the Child;
  • Where one worker or agency considers another worker or agency has not completed an agreed action for no acceptable or understood reason;
  • Other issues that may be of concern regarding the conduct of a case by another agency, such as the timeliness or priority given to tasks, etc.

At various times during the joint involvement or management of a case, professional differences of opinion and/or judgement emerge, the protocol will assist agencies and staff in resolving such differences. 

4. Core Principles

  • All staff and agencies have a duty to take action to escalate concern if they believe there is a risk that relates to the immediate safety or wellbeing of a child;
  • Disagreements within and between agencies must be resolved quickly and openly;
  • All agencies are responsible for ensuring that their workers are supported and know how to appropriately escalate concerns and disagreements about a child or young person's well-being;
  • At every point all agencies' staff should ensure discussions and outcomes are recorded in the agencies records and in the child's file;
  • Care should be taken to agree a way of managing conflict, which allows children and families to understand the issues under discussion;
  • This protocol is not designed to replace the LSCB member organisations complaints processes and should not be used when there is a complaint about a specific professional in situations where the relevant organisation's complaints procedure or allegations procedure will apply;
  • This protocol should be read and utilised alongside the agency's and LSCB procedures. 

5. Escalation to Resolution Process

See Appendix 1: Escalation to Resolution Process Flowchart.

Escalation can be via telephone, face-to-face, email or a meeting. All escalation should be recorded in single agency records to ensure that the procedure is effective, transparent and for LSCB auditing purposes.

Step 1

Direct Professional to Professional Discussion

Differences of opinion or judgement should be discussed amongst frontline professionals to attempt to achieve a shared understanding and agree a local resolution, in line with the plan, or to ensure a plan is developed if needed. Care should be taken to agree a way of managing conflict, which allows children and families to understand the issues under discussion.

Step 2

Direct Manager to Manager Discussion

If Step 1 does not resolve the issue then each professional should discuss the issue with their line manager or safeguarding supervisor. The line manager should review the concerns and ensure that they are justified and meet the purpose of this protocol. The line manager should then liaise with the other professional's line manager in an attempt to reach a resolution. Consultation with senior managers within each organisation can be used if this would be felt to assist resolution.

Step 3

Direct SLO to SLO Discussion

If Step 1 and 2 do not reach a mutually agreeable resolution then the agencies' LSCB Senior Liaison Officer (SLO) should be contacted to liaise with the other agency's SLO or assist as appropriate to resolve the conflict in a timely and mutually agreeable manner. SLO contact details available on the LSCB web site.

Step 4

a) Urgent resolution required- LSCB Independent Chaired Meeting

If the Senior Liaison Officer's cannot resolve the issue that is causing conflict between professionals and agencies then a meeting should be convened with an independent chair selected from the LSCB partner organisations where the agencies can discuss the case and conflict issue in a chaired and minuted meeting, with resolution being agreed and recorded.

b) Non-urgent and / or lessons learned

Senior Liaison Officers can advise that the learning points from a non-urgent case should be referred to the LSCB Policy and Procedure, Education and Training (PPETT) sub group for interagency consideration. At this point the group may make recommendations for individual agencies to review performance and/or involvement, or for LSCB policy and procedural review and development.

Outside of Working Hours

All statutory agencies have an on call manager and director system. Where escalation requires urgent resolution and it is outside of Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm staff are advised to use the on call process.

Appendix 1: Escalation to Resolution Process Flowchart

Click here to view the Escalation to Resolution Process Flowchart.