Safeguarding Referrals Procedure


Guidance and resource for Child Protection Evidence


Pre-Birth Protocol

Protocol on Sharing Information in Order to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children

A Model for Assessment Procedure

Early Help and Team Around the Child Documentation

Professional Resolution and Escalation Protocol


GP's in Lincolnshire have the option follow a different process when raising safeguarding concerns and making appropriate referrals where it is a non-urgent situation. In this instance they are advised to do the following:

  • Consider discussion with practice safeguarding lead;
  • Consider discussion with ICB safeguarding team 01522 309317;
  • Discuss with customer service centre or police as appropriate 01522 782111;
  • Inform parent/carers if it does not increase the risk;
  • Secure email referral form to area team as advised by customer service centre;
  • Ensure appropriate follow up.

See Appendix 1: GP Safeguarding Referral Form

This form should be emailed to

For urgent referrals GP's are encouraged to call the customer service centre (or the police if necessary) without delay and follow up the referral in writing.


This chapter was updated in September 2021 to align with the updated Pre Birth Protocol and provide further clarification about the role of the customer service advisors when a verbal safeguarding referral is made.

1. Introduction

If somebody believes that a child may be suffering, or may be likely to suffer Significant Harm, then s/he should always refer concerns to children's services  and/or the police. If you believe a child is in immediate danger, call the Police immediately on 999.

The Customer Service Centre can receive referrals for unborn children once the mother reaches 14 weeks gestation. Please see the LSCP Pre-Birth Protocol.

The Customer Service Centre (CSC) which is part of the Local Authority is the point of contact for all referrals to Children's Services. Referrals to Lincolnshire Police should be via the Central Referral Unit.

When out of hours, all concerns that a child is suffering or may be likely to suffer significant harm should be through the Emergency Duty Team or through Police Head Quarters.

National advice on these matters is contained in the booklet ''What to Do if you're Worried a Child is Being Abused'.

All practitioners should have an individual copy of this booklet.

The Customer Service Centre will accept calls from professionals and the public and will offer:

  • Information on Parenting Support through the provision of leaflets and website addresses;
  • Signposting to other services as appropriate including the Family Group Conference Service;
  • Signposting into the Team Around the Child (TAC) process for children with additional needs;
  • Referral onto Children's Services : Family Assessment Support Team (FAST) or Children with Disability Team.

Where there are concerns that a child is suffering, or may be likely to suffer significant harm they will pass the referral to Children's Services or the Central Referral Unit of Lincolnshire Police.

Cases that require attention, will be forwarded to the relevant  Team. If the case is an open case to Children's Services, they will transfer the call to the relevant worker / team. If the worker or the Team Manager is unavailable, the Customer Service Centre will pass the information to the relevant Practice Supervisor.

With regards to open cases, if further concerns are raised the key worker must discuss with the Practice Supervisor or Team Manager to consider if there is a need for a Section 47 enquiry to begin. If the child is subject to TAC and further concerns are raised, the Lead Professional must discuss with their designated officer, to consider if the child needs referral to CSC if there are Safeguarding concerns.

It is good practice for professionals to discuss any concerns they have with the family and, where possible, to seek the family's agreement to making a referral to Children's Services. However there are exceptional circumstances where such discussion and agreement-seeking would increase the likelihood of the child suffering significant harm. In these circumstances it can be appropriate to refer without discussion or agreement from the family, although the source of the referral will then be disclosed to the family by Children's Services unless the referrer is a member of the public who has requested anonymity.

Professionals, if in doubt, may wish to seek advice - see Being Alert Procedure. In cases where a professional is acting in good faith in passing on third party information it may not be appropriate for Children's Services to reveal the source of the referral.

Other factors relevant to the decision whether to refer without prior discussion with the family include:

  • Issues of staff safety;
  • The risk of destroying evidence;
  • The likelihood of children or other family members being intimidated;
  • The possibility of an increased risk of domestic Abuse;
  • The possibility of the family moving to avoid professional scrutiny;
  • Detection and prevention of a crime for example sexual abuse.

If there are concerns that an adult with care and support needs is experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect, then a Safeguarding referral should be made to Adults Safeguarding.  If you believe that a crime has been committed and there is an immediate danger, call the police on 999 or 112. If there is no immediate danger, call the police on 101. Further information on  Safeguarding Adults can be found on the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Adults Board (LSAB) website.

2. Information Sharing

In deciding whether there is a need to share information, professionals need to consider their legal obligations, including whether they have a duty of confidentiality to the child. Where there is such a duty, the professional may lawfully share information if the child agrees or if there is a public interest of sufficient force. This must be judged by the professional on the facts of each case.

Where it is likely that a child may suffer Significant Harm, or there may be a risk of serious harm to adults, the public interest test will almost certainly be satisfied. However, there will be other cases where practitioners will be justified in sharing some confidential information in order to make decisions on sharing further information or taking action - the information shared should be balanced.

The child's best interests must be the main consideration in making any such decision. The cross-Government guidance, Information Sharing: Practitioner's Guide, provides advice on these issues (In addition, see Protocol on Sharing Information in Order to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children) Any decision whether or not to share information must be properly documented. Decisions in this area need to be made by, or with the advice of, people with suitable skills in child protection work such as named or designated professionals or senior managers.

3. Making a Safeguarding Referral

When a parent, professional or other person contacts the Customer Service Centre, to make a verbal referral, with concerns about a child's welfare, the customer service advisors will clarify with the caller:

  • Contact details including names, addresses and dates of birth for all children in the family including names and other relevant information on other adults living in the household and/or significant others;
  • The nature of safeguarding concerns and evidence to support the concerns;
  • What  the needs of the child and family are, including any special needs arising from cultural, physical, psychological, medical or other factors;
  • Professional referrals cannot be anonymous and should be made in the knowledge that during the course of enquiries it will be made clear which agency has shared the concerns; 
  • Where volunteers work directly with families in a professional capacity they should follow their organisational safeguarding policies regarding making safeguarding referrals. This may involve a discussion with the Designated Safeguarding Lead, who should make the referral on behalf of the organisation, where the decision is made that there are safeguarding concerns. Where the volunteer does not work directly with the family in a professional capacity, e.g. a volunteer at a coffee shop, within this context the referral can be made anonymously;
  • For members of the public who wish to remain anonymous, details will not be shared unless consent has been given by the referrer.  However due to the nature of the concern to be addressed the child or family may deduce the source of the information;
  • If known, what other agencies and professionals are involved with the child and family;
  • If  there are any known risks or hazards for professionals going into the home;
  • Whether there are concerns about parental drug or alcohol misuse or mental ill health and what is the impact of this upon the child;
  • Who or what is keeping the child safe;
  • What does the referrer need to see change or happen to no longer have these concerns;
  • If nothing changes what will happen to the child;
  • On a scale of 0-10 where 0 is the child is not safe at all and the 10 is the child is safe and their needs are being met where would you scale and why.

Whether the child/ren may need urgent action to make them safe from harm. At the end of the call the customer service advisor will the outline next steps of the decision making process. They may also provide advice and guidance based on the information provided at the time of the call.

When a referral by phone is made in a professional capacity, the referral should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours, repeating all relevant information and agreed actions. The online referral form can be completed by following this link

4. Immediate Response of Children's Services to a Safeguarding Referral

Children's Services  will decide on the next course of action within 24 hours, normally following:

  • Looking at existing records and any history of the child's involvement with Children's Services;
  • Concerns involving the police where a criminal offence may have been committed against a child;
  • They will also consider the needs of all the children in the household at this stage and any other children who may be impacted upon due to the concerns raised;
  • Contact the individual who made the referral to clarify any information as required

This initial consideration of the case should address, on the basis of the available evidence:

  • Where there are concerns about either the child's health and development, or actual and/or potential harm which justify further enquiries, assessment and/or intervention a Child and Family Social Work Assessment will be completed;
  • Sometimes it may be apparent at this stage that emergency action should be taken to safeguard a child. Such action should come before an immediate Strategy Discussion between the police, social services and other agencies as appropriate. See Immediate Protection Procedure.

5. Referral Outcome

At the end of the referral discussion, the referrer and children's services should be clear about the proposed action, who will be taking it, timescales and whether no further action will be taken.

Referral outcomes about a child, where there may be concerns, typically fall in to five categories and pathways:

  • No further action, which may include information to signpost to other services. The referrer should be advised of alternative options for ensuring the family can be offered support services to promote the child's welfare. Opportunities include information and advice, and referral to another agency including the Family Conference Service;
  • Early help - referrals for intervention and prevention services within the Team Around the Child and Early Help services range of provision. The referrer should discuss these options with the parent and young person and gain consent for the next steps. The referrer will have a key role in taking forward these options in partnership with the family. See Early Help and Team Around the Child Documentation;
  • Child in Need services - assessment to be undertaken by Children's Services (Section 17 CA 1989);
  • Child Protection services – assessment and child protection enquiries to be undertaken by Children's Services (Section 47 CA 1989) with active involvement of other agencies such as the police;
  • New information may be received about a child or family where the child or family member is already known to Children's Services. If the child's case is open, and there are concerns that the child is suffering or may be likely to suffer significant harm then a decision should be made about whether a strategy discussion should be initiated (see  Strategy Discussions Procedure) and a new Section 47 Enquiry commenced. In these circumstances it may not be necessary to undertake a Social Work Assessment before deciding what to do next. It may, however, be appropriate to undertake a Child and Family Social Work Assessment or to update a previous one in order to understand the child's current needs and circumstances and inform future decision making.

Whatever the outcome of a referral, it will have been assessed by a qualified social worker and a decision will have been made by the relevant line manager within the time scale of one working day about what should happen next. The children's services manager must approve the outcome of the referral and ensure that a record has been commenced and/or updated.

The social worker should inform, in writing, all the relevant agencies and the child, if appropriate, and family of their decisions and, if the child is a Child in Need, of the plan for providing support.

In the case of referrals from members of the public, feedback must be consistent with the rights to confidentiality of the child and their family.

Where a referring professional disagrees with the children's services response to their referral, they have a duty to escalate their concerns as outlined in the Professional Resolution and Escalation Protocol

The child and parents should be routinely informed about local procedures for raising complaints, if they wish to, and local advocacy services.

For guidance on the principles underpinning assessment of children see A Model for Assessment.