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13.6 Contacting the Police in respect of Children in Residential Care


Children Homes (England) Regulations 2015

The Positive Relationships Standard
Regulation 11

The Protection of Children Standard
Regulation 12


This chapter sets out the procedures that should be followed when contacting or informing the Police in line with the day to day duties of your role.


Children Who Run Away and Go Missing from Home, Care, or Education Procedure

Physical Intervention (Restraint & Disengagement) in Residential Settings Procedure

Substance Misuse Procedure

Reducing Offending Behaviour Procedure


In August 2015, this chapter was updated with regards to the Quality Standards and Regulations for Children’s Homes.


  1. Introduction
  2. Requirement for Police Involvement in Children's Homes
  3. Notifications and Categories of Response
  4. Recording

1. Introduction

This joint protocol is designed to provide a framework for ensuring best practice for Police involvement in Local Authority Children's Homes. Its aim is to standardise our approach to dealing with incidents which arise within Children's Homes in Nottingham and Nottinghamshire and to provide guidance as to what is expected of Social Services staff and Police Officers.

The fact that staff report an incident does not mean that the Police will follow pre-decided action, or in some cases any action at all. Wherever possible, as defined in this protocol, the action to be taken will be determined following discussions by all concerned including wherever possible the young person, about the post appropriate response.

2. Requirement for Police Involvement in Children's Homes

A decision to contact the Police should normally be taken by the Registered Manager or a Line Manager, unless a serious incident has occurred, in which case, staff may contact the police immediately then inform a manager. See Section 3, Notifications and Categories of Response.

The following situations are the most common ones in children's homes where police involvement might be requested:


Violence by a Child or Young Person on Another

Incidents between residents within the home range from minor disagreements through the serious assaults where physical injury is caused. Such incidents can be complicated by having two vulnerable parties. Staff will need to ensure that health and safety reporting procedures are followed and risk assessments updated or completed.

Attendant factors for this category of offences are listed below and this list does not reflect any order of priority:

  • Wishes of the victim;
  • Severity of the injury sustained/nature of threat received by the victim;
  • Probability of a repeat incident;
  • Previous relationship between victim and offender;
  • Potential impact on the child/young person following formal police involvement;
  • Effectiveness of police action/court proceedings;
  • Future best interests of both parties;
  • Message sent to other young people;
  • Availability of alternative causes of action, e.g. restorative approaches with the consent of the victim;
  • Previous behaviour or offending, bullying/peer pressure/duress.


Violence to Staff by a Child or Young Person

Violence towards staff can vary from verbal threats to physical acts amounting to assault. Whilst each home has the responsibility of care towards the young people their welfare needs to be balanced with the rights of staff not to be subjected to violence in the course of their duties.

Such incidents are affected by factors similar to those listed above, and staff should be encouraged to report any incidents that cannot be dealt with through alternative means. Where there is no immediate continuing threat of violence it is in the best interests of the staff member to take time to discuss and consider possible options.

This can include a referral to the Youth Offending Team, via the relevant social worker, which will give consideration to the necessary intervention. This however, does not remove the individual's right to involve the police. Following such incidents it is important that staff utilise standard de-briefing processes.

Health and safety reporting procedures should be followed. Staff should also ensure risk assessments are updated or completed in relation to the risk of violence or injury to themselves or colleagues. A professionals meeting could be a useful method by which to assess these risks and look at ways this risk could be reduced.


Criminal Damage Within the Home

The majority of criminal incidents involving Police relate to damage to the children's home. It is important to see these in the context of the needs of the child and whether involving the police is an effective and proportionate response. Factors to consider are listed and the list does not reflect any order of priority:

  • Level/value of damage caused;
  • Previous incidents of a similar nature by the same child or young person;
  • Suitability and effectiveness of Police involvement;
  • Impact of Police involvement on the child's overall care plan;
  • Message sent to other young people if applicable;
  • Availability of alternative courses of action, for example referral to the Targeted Youth Justice Service via the relevant social worker.


Theft Within the Home

Most offences of theft within the home are likely to be of low value, but the possible start of criminal behaviour, although it should be emphasised that value is a subjective issue relative to the victim. Factors to be considered include (this list does not reflect any order of priority):

  • Wishes of the victim;
  • Nature and seriousness of the allegation;
  • Requirement for formal investigation, e.g. insurance claim requires a crime reference report;
  • Availability of alternative courses of action, e.g. restorative approaches.


Criminal Damage to Staff Cars/Property

Factors for consideration should be similar to those in Section 2.3, Criminal Damage within the Home, and again this list does not reflect any order of priority:

  • Nature and seriousness of the allegation;
  • Requirement for formal investigation, e.g. insurance claim;
  • Wishes and best interest of the victim;
  • Availability of alternative courses of action, e.g. restorative approaches.


Disorder in or around the Home

The area of disorder is subjective and requires judgement by staff to avoid unnecessary Police involvement for minor infringements of discipline. The main factor which should be considered is:

  • Nature and seriousness of the disorder;
  • Risk of threat of violence;
  • The wishes of and impact on the immediate community;
  • The availability of alternative courses of action.


Trespass within and around Home or Placement

All incidents of trespass by persons unknown should be reported to the police as visits/trespass by outside associates of residents can be dealt with effectively under the Harassment Act, which will protect young people and staff.


Substance Misuse

Please read this section in conjunction with Substance Misuse Procedure.

The misuse of controlled drugs within a home is a serious issue and it is essential that the response is prompt and effective. In response to incidents staff will be guided by the Government Tackling Drugs Strategy, which has four main aims:

  • Help young people to resist drugs use in order to achieve their full potential in society;
  • Reduce the acceptability and availability of alcohol and other drugs to young people;
  • Minimise the health risks and other damage associated with substance use by young people;
  • Increase the safety of communities from drug related crime.

Staff will need to balance these principles with their duty of care for the young people in the home or placement and their role in managing young people's behaviour as part of their care responsibilities as well as their responsibilities to the wider community.


Hate Crime (Racist, Religion, Homophobic, Gender, Disability)

  • All possible steps should be taken by the police at local level, in consultation with local government and other agencies to encourage the reporting of racist incidents in crimes;
  • It is important that the agency that receives reports of racist incidents is well equipped to deal with them and no one should be given the task without adequate training;
  • It should be made clear that all behaviour policies held within Homes should cover the areas as indicated as hate crime and it be made clear how staff, staff and residents should deal with it. Homes and placements should themselves handle low level daily occurrences and their management of this aspect of discipline should be subject to inspection;
  • A multi-agency approach to such incidents can ensure that help is provided to victims of these incidents providing them with a range of options for reporting and ensuring that the young person is sufficiently supported;
  • When dealing with the incidents outlined as Hate Crime in relation to racist incidents, whether or not the incident amounts to a crime, the person reporting should be asked to consent to the disclosure of this information to other agencies for the sole purpose of prevention or detection;
  • In the recording of racist incidents the minimum data content required should be as follows;
  • Reported to: (The person receiving the report such as Registered Manager, Unit staff, Police Officer);
  • At: (Location reported at): (i.e. Home, Police Station, etc.);
  • Referred by: (the Agency or other person referring the victim to the Police if the incident is being referred);
  • Time and date of report and nature of incident.

3. Notifications and Categories of Response

It is recognised that caring for, and managing children and young people with difficult or challenging behaviour is an integral feature of residential care work. Residential staff and foster carers will generally manage problematic situations except where they are so severe that immediate police involvement is essential in order to avoid physical assault or damage. The Protocol identifies four categories.

  • Serious Incidents;
  • Minor Incidents;
  • Liaison;
  • Internal Incidents.


Serious Incidents

Incidents of violence requiring an immediate police response where children/young persons or staff are:

  • At risk of immediate serious physical harm;
  • Where there is a risk of substantial damage to property; or
  • Risk of significant disorder with the home.

In such situations the Manager of the Home/Senior Person on Duty should contact the police using the 999 system.

If the Manager has not been consulted/informed prior to contacting the Police, s/he should be notified without delay.

  • If the Police are called to the home, the Duty Manager (Police Incident) must be notified;
  • If a serious offence is committed, the Duty Manager (Serious Offence) must be notified.

It will also be necessary to notify the social worker and the Regulatory Authority.


Minor Incidents

This is an incident where no immediate police response is required for example where assaults or damage has occurred and there is no risk of recurrence/Significant Harm to people, or incidents of theft. The incidents should be reported to the home's manager who then has the responsibility of identifying the appropriate course of action.

It is important to avoid any unnecessary reporting of incidents to the police. Should the Manager decide and/or the victim wishes that formal police involvement is necessary, where possible this should be through liaison with the Area Beat Officer.

When a situation involving a child or young person is to be discussed with the Area Beat Officer a liaison meeting may be arranged. The child's social worker should be informed and they may wish to join the discussion.

If the discussion needs to be held sooner the Manager should arrange for a member of the Local Policing Team to visit the home as soon as possible. If there is a specific officer who frequently liaises with the Home and this officer is unavailable the Manager should contact the Police Control Room to request a scheduled response visit by another Officer.

In certain circumstances preservation of evidence may be an issue and residential staff will need to ensure that reasonable steps are taken to retain articles relevant to any criminal allegation or police investigation.



Police involvement should be on a risk assessment basis. If there is no risk, then the involvement will be with unit Managers or at a low level of involvement.

The primary police involvement in children's homes should be through a member of the Local Policing Team liaising with staff on a regular basis. Whilst some officers may already perform this duty it must be emphasised that a good working relationship is the most effective way to respond to young people with difficulties, and it is in this area that consideration should be given for joint agency training.

A regular liaison meeting between a member of the Police and Manager would provide for discussion of not serious incidents within the home to identify the appropriate method of resolution, including:

  • Internal action by Staff with no police involvement;
  • Formal police investigation primarily by a member of the Local Policing Team and any resulting action.

This liaison meeting will also provide an opportunity to share more general views and co-operation and develop a better understanding of each Agencies responsibilities and practices.

It is not the intention of this Protocol to restrict the options available to Residential Staff and the Police but to emphasise the importance of flexibility in determining the most suitable option for dealing with children and young persons. Additional advice and support could be sought from the child's social worker.


Internal Incidents

It is anticipated that relatively minor incidents will be addressed by using routine internal policies and procedures.

4. Recording

The following records must be completed:

  • An Incident Report;
  • Risk assessment;
  • The Daily Log;
  • Case Records;
  • Notification to Ofsted where required.