Section 47 enquiry, what is it, what does it mean?


What does it mean if you are told by a social worker that there is going to be a Section 47 Enquiry?

It means that Children’s Social Services where you live have received a safeguarding referral about your child or children which they have now decided to investigate.

This may be from various sources, examples are the police, a teacher or even an anonymous referral. It can be very brief. If the social work team at the Local Authority think that this means that a child might be suffering, or likely to suffer significant harm the Local Authority is required by Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 to make enquiries.

The first you might hear about it, is a request to you to cooperate in an interview or a visit to your home, or interview your child. It is important that you feel fully able to cooperate and understand what is going on. You need to understand the reason for the investigation, and ask questions.

The outcome will be either that the concerns are substantiated and then further action will need to be taken, or unsubstantiated.

The time scales are as follows from when children’s social services receive a referral or identify a concern of risk of significant harm to a child:

In order to help parents and families there is a Panel of Solicitors who are accredited in children’s law and specialise in this area of work. You can read more about this accreditation here.

If you have been told there is going to be a Section 47 enquiry and would like specialist advice, please contact me directly for guidance during this time.

Seona Myerscough

Head of Family Team

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