6.6 Strategy Discussions

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Last reviewed in July 2022

Next review in July 2024


Strategy Discussion


If there is reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering, has suffered or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, Children's Social Care should convene a Strategy Discussion. Any professional, supported by a senior manager/named or designated professional, can request a Strategy Discussion, but it will be for Children's Social Care to determine whether a Strategy Discussion is convened.


Depending on the nature of the concerns and the urgency of the situation, the Strategy Discussion may be undertaken via an actual meeting, whether face to face or via virtual means (e.g Teams) or through a telephone discussion with the participants.


On Some Occasions, strategy meetings will be face to face, however, since Covid 19, the majority of strategy meetings are held virtually, e.g via Teams. Meetings are likely to be more effective in complex types of maltreatment or neglect such as when there is:


More than one Strategy Discussion may be required.

When the information on which the decision-making of a previous Strategy Discussion is based changes significantly, or there is a change in circumstances or a decision shift which impacts initial decision making,  a further Strategy Discussion should be convened to review that earlier decision-making. Attendance requirements are the same as for the first strategy discussion, including relevant health professionals. 

Strategy Discussions and subsequent Review Strategy Discussions must be convened when appropriate and at timely, child centred intervals where there are ongoing allegations to specifically co-ordinate and plan responses (including the investigation) and to progress outstanding actions. For children who are looked after it is particularly important for multi-agency discussion to continue at regular intervals. This ensures that children and young people who are in care have their ongoing needs met (e.g. therapeutic support).

Purpose of Strategy Discussion


The discussion should be used to:

  • Share available information;
  • Agree the conduct and timing of any criminal investigation, including ABE interview;
  • Decide whether a Family Assessment (also referred to a Child and Family Assessment or Strengthening Families Assessment) and Section 47 Enquiry  should be initiated, or continued if it has already begun;
  • Plan how the Section 47 Enquiry should be undertaken (if one is to be initiated), including the need for medical assessment (a decision to have a medical should not be made by the social worker and Police alone and will require a discussion with a Paediatrician or a health with relevant expertise  ) and who will carry out what actions, by when and for what purpose (see Section 47 Enquiries Procedure, Liaison between Children's Social Care and the Police - Single or Joint Agency Enquiries/Investigations); 
  • Agree what action is required immediately to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child, and/or provide interim services and support. If the child is in hospital, decisions should also be made about how to secure the safe discharge of the child;
  • Determine what information from the Strategy Discussion will be shared with the family, unless such information sharing may place a child at increased risk of Significant Harm or jeopardise police investigations into any alleged offence(s); and
  • Determine if legal action is required.



Relevant matters will include:

  • Agreeing a plan for how the  Family Assessment (also referred to a Child and Family Assessment or Strengthening Families Assessment) will be carried out - what further information is required about the child(ren) and family and how it should be obtained and recorded;
  • Agreeing who should be interviewed, by whom, for what purpose, and when. The way in which interviews are conducted can play a significant part in minimising any distress caused to children, and increasing the likelihood of maintaining constructive working relationships with families. When a criminal offence may have been committed against a child, the timing and handling of interviews with victims, their families and witnesses, can have important implications for the collection and preservation of evidence;
  • Agreeing when the child will be seen alone (unless to do so would be inappropriate for the child) by the Lead Social Worker. It’s important to consider the child’s wishes and feelings and how they can be ascertained.  During the course of these enquiries and the methods by which the child's wishes and feelings will be ascertained so that they can be taken into account when making decisions under section 47 of the Children Act 1989
  • Considering the race, ethnicity and any disabilities of the child and family, consider how this should be taken into account, and establish whether an interpreter or intermediary will be required; and
  • Considering the needs of other children who may affected, for example, siblings and other children, such as those living in the same establishment, in contact with alleged abusers.

Participants to Strategy Discussion


The Strategy Discussion requires professionals sufficiently senior to be able to contribute and to attend with relevant information from their agency. Exceptional circumstances may arise where other professionals may usefully contribute.


The Strategy Discussion should ordinarily be coordinated by the Children's Social Care first line manager, who will chair any Strategy Discussions held.


The discussion must involve, Children's Social Care, the Police and health practitioners. Other relevant agencies who are involved with the child should also be included such as, the referring agency, the Sexual Assault Referral Cetnre (SARC), the child's nursery / school, any health services the child or family members are receiving and (where relevant) the registered owner of the service involved and the registration authority (for example Ofsted). All participants should be aware that a Strategy Discussion is a confidential professionals meeting and as such notes of the meeting should not be shared within anyone without the permission of the Chair.


Where issues have significant medical implications, or a paediatric examination has taken place or may be necessary, a paediatrician should always be included, or consulted.


If the child is or has recently been receiving services from a hospital or child development team, including CAMHS,  the discussion should involve the responsible medical consultant and, in the case of in-patient treatment, a senior ward nurse or medical consultant must be considered essential.


The local authority solicitor's involvement may be appropriate.


Consideration should be given to the need to include a professional with expertise in particular cases of complex forms of abuse and neglect.  Where parents or adults in the household are experiencing problems such as domestic abuse, substance misuse or mental illness, it will also be important to consider involving the relevant adult services professionals.


Foster Carers should not attend Strategy Discussions, however their views and professional judgements should be represented by a Supervising Social Worker. 

Inquorate Strategy Discussion


If a pre-arranged Strategy Discussion does not go ahead because of a late notice withdrawal from a key agency, this should be escalated by the Children's Social Care lead with the absent agency's lead through the line management within the agency. 

If Children's Social Care fail to attend the Police MASH/Integrated Front Door/Front Door/ SPOA Officer allocated to attend the Strategy Discussion should immediately escalate non-attendance to the Children's Social Care Duty Manager. 

The absent agency Lead’s details and time of notification of absence should be recorded on Children's Social Care and police systems.

Incidences of late notification of non-attendance by an agency should be reviewed to identify learning. 

Location of Strategy Discussion


Discussions that take the form of a face to face or virtual meeting should be held at a convenient location and time to enable the key attendees to join e.g. Children's Social Care office, police station, hospital, GP surgery or school.

Recording of Strategy Discussion


It is the responsibility of the chair of the Strategy Discussion to ensure that the decisions and agreed actions are fully recorded using the agreed form. A copy should be made available as soon as possible and within one working day for all participants, and invitees, including the GP.


Parents seeking access to these records should follow the appropriate agency's disclosure processes. All parties need to be consulted prior to disclosure of the records.

Timing of Strategy Discussion


Initial Strategy Discussions should generally be held within 3 working day of receipt of referral, but see exceptions below.


In the following circumstances, a Strategy Discussion must be held on the day of the referral:

  • Allegations / concerns indicating a serious risk to the child (e.g. serious physical injury or serious neglect);
  • Allegations of recent Sexual Abuse (to ensure forensic evidence).

Where immediate action was required by any agency to safeguard and protect the child prior to a Strategy Discussion, a discussion must be held within one working day of the action - see also Immediate Protective Action of the Referrals Procedure.


Where the concerns involve complex forms of abuse and neglect a Strategy Discussion must take place as soon as practicable whilst ensuring the need to have the relevant expertise and professionals present.


The plan made at the Strategy Discussion should reflect the requirement to convene an Initial Child Protection Conference  within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion or, where more than one Strategy Discussion has taken place, within 15 working days of the Strategy Discussion that initiated the Section 47 Enquiry.

Professional Difference at a Strategy Discussion


The Pan Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Policy and Procedures Group recommend the following statement is read out at the start of a Strategy Discussion. 

Professional Difference Statement:

It is acknowledged that when working in the arena of safeguarding, it is inevitable that from time to time there will be professional differences.  This is a positive activity and a sign of good professional practice and effective multi-agency working.   During this meeting practitioners, irrespective of their seniority are encouraged to say if they feel that decisions, practice or actions do not effectively ensure the safety or well-being of the child/children.

This page is correct as printed on Tuesday 16th of July 2024 06:39:45 AM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.