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Assessing and Managing Risk

Risk Assessment in Haringey

Child protection work is essentially an multi-agency function – children can only be kept safe through agencies working together effectively and efficiently.

We have agreed Haringey LSCB Thresholds Guide (PDF, 269KB) that define the criteria for different multi-agency responses in early intervention and Child Protection.

Each professional will approach Child Protection from their own perspective, using different types of assessment processes for different situations. Different professionals will also use a range of assessment tools. Although assessment tools are useful in determining risk, the tools themselves should never replace the process of analysis and reflection that is required for any thorough assessment of a child or young person's situation.

Haringey LSCB has also developed a Risk Management Strategy (PDF, 108KB) that sets out a framework approach to the management of risk, in the assumption that all safeguarding work carried out by partner agencies is related to risk management.

The Risk Management Strategy acknowledges the complexity of child protection work and the need to hold a number of different and, at times, competing positions if that complexity is to be properly understood and responded to.

The Risk Management Strategy should be read in conjunction with Haringey LSCB's Risk Assessment Guidance (PDF, 332KB), developed in response to messages from Serious Case Reviews.

Key messages from Serious Case Reviews can also inform your assessment practice.

See the Escalation Protocol (PDF, 301KB) if you feel the need to challenge a decision made by the First Response Service or any other agency in the multi-agency process.

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Top Tips for Managing Risk

Asking the right questions: Professor Eileen Munro, in her work, ‘Effective Child Protection’ states that in order to manage risk, there is a need to identify:

  • What has been happening
  • What is happening now
  • What might happen
  • How likely it is
  • How serious it would be
  • A combination of seriousness and likelihood leading to an overall judgement of risk

Appropriate interventions: An assessment should underpin professional judgements to inform and agree the level and type of intervention that is most appropriate for children/young people at risk.

Risk on a continuum: Assessment of risk can only be comprehensive if it considers both past and present in order to identify future risks to a child or young person. An assessment is an ongoing process, not a one-off event.

No delay: Interventions should not be delayed until the end of an assessment, but should be determined according to what is required to ensure a child or young person’s safety, taking account of any indications of accelerated risks and warning signs.

Risk Assessment Tools - not ends in themselves: Risk assessment matrices and checklists can be helpful in guiding understanding but they cannot be absolutely relied upon to provide definitive answers to levels of risks faced by children.

Good risk assessments: They construct a coherent story about the child’s circumstances; they appreciate that there will be ambiguity and uncertainty about some matters; they have been constructed through the testing of hypotheses and a curiosity that sees people in their contexts; they are considered and thoughtful and finally they allow for and enable change.

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Haringey Thresholds: Children's Needs & Professional Intervention

In order to be able to respond to and refer on concerns appropriately, professionals need to be able to assess thresholds: Haringey Local Thresholds of Need Guidance - last updated February 2016 (PDF, 1MB).

ThresholdLevel of NeedInterventionReferral
Threshold 4Acute & complex needsChildren's Social Care - Child Protection or Child in CareChildren's Social Care
Threshold 3Multiple & complex needsChildren's Social Care or Targeted ServicesChildren's Social Care or Early Help
Threshold 2bSome additional needsTargeted Services outside Universal ServicesEarly Help required
Threshold 2aOne or two additional needsTargeted Services within or alongside Universal ServicesEarly Help considered
Threshold 1No concernsUniversal ServicesNone

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Early Help

If a child or young person has additional needs, they may require additional support to stop things escalating and becoming more serious.

For more information, contact the Early Help team directly on 020 8489 5814 or email

Early Help referrals should be sent to

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Statutory Social Care Intervention

When professionals are concerned about children and young people at Threshold 3 and 4, it is important to make a referral to social care. Children require different interventions from social workers depending on the assessment of risk and harm to them.

Threshold for Child Protection (S.47)

The Children Act 1989 sets out in detail what local authorities and the courts should do to protect the welfare of children. Local authorities are charged with the "duty to investigate if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child who lives, or is found in their area, is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm" (Section 47, Children Act 1989).

Threshold for Children in Need (S.17)

Local authorities are charged with a duty to provide "services for children in need, their families and others".

Children in need are defined as children who are aged under 18 and:

  • need local authority services to achieve or maintain a reasonable standard of health or development
  • need local authority services to prevent significant or further harm to health or development
  • are disabled

Children in Care and Care Orders

  • Voluntary Care Order (S.20): Some children are looked after by the Local Authority by agreement with, or at the request of, their parents. Under Section 20 of the Children Act, it is the duty of all Local Authorities to make accommodation available for such children in need. Children may be accommodated (in residential or foster care) for a short or longer period. No court proceedings are involved, and the parents retain full parental responsibility, and can remove their children from care at any time.
  • Care Order (S.33): A long-term order which commits the child to the care of the local authority. It provides extensive powers to local authorities but requires evidence which demonstrates to the court that a child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm and that the harm or likelihood of harm is attributable to a lack of adequate parental care or control
  • Interim Care / Supervision Order (S.38): Orders made pending a full hearing of the application for a care order (S.33). An initial interim order cannot last longer than 8 weeks. Subsequent interim orders cannot last longer than 4 weeks.
  • Emergency Protection Order (S.44): A short-term order (up to 8 days) which either removes the child on a short-term basis or allows the child to be kept in a place of safety or requires an alleged abuser to leave the family home. The grounds for the emergency protection order are much easier to prove.
  • Removal and Accommodation of Children by Police (S.46): A short-term measure (72 hours) where no court order is necessary for the police to implement this power which enables the police to remove the child or to keep the child in a safe place.

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