Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub
RELEVANT GUIDANCESafeguarding children - What organisations need to do to protect children from harm (NSPCC)
1. Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) is an environment where partnership agencies at Waltham Forest with the duty to safeguard children are co-located together. Co-location of professionals enables speedy and efficient information sharing and ongoing professional discussions on the level of risk and need involved and on how to best safeguard children and/or support children and their families.
Waltham Forest Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub consists of professionals from children's services health, education, police, probation, housing, early help, youth offending and London victim support.
Waltham Forest Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub is based at: Juniper House, 221 Hoe Street, London, E17 9PH, Waltham Forest.
Tel: 020 8496 2310 (Monday - Thursday 9am-5.15pm and Fri 9am-5pm)
Mobile: 020 8496 3000 (Out of Hours)
Fax: 020 8496 2313
The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub is a way of working that improves arrangements for safeguarding children and young people. The MASH is a consent based model. This means that when dealing with referrals concerning potential child neglect and/ or abuse or a need for support, agencies will endeavour to work in partnership with parents. That means being open and honest with parents about the concerns that will be investigated and seeking parental agreement prior to initiating the multi-agency information sharing and research, unless it can be justified that in doing so would place a child at further risk of harm and/or cause unnecessary delay.
Cases concerning child sexual exploitation may also be considered by MAP (multi agency planning) and MASE (multi agency sexual exploitation) meetings. These meetings will be the appropriate forum for discussing concerns that the child had been targeted and groomed or any other warning signs of child sexual exploitation has been identified (see MAP and MASE Meetings Guidance).
2. What To Do If You Have a Concern About a Child?
If you are a professional - school teacher, health visitor, midwife, general practitioner, housing officer, nursery staff, children centre staff…and:
- Believe that a child and their family may need additional support: please discuss your concerns with the parent(s) of the child in the first instance and give them the opportunity to respond and agree on the way forward to make improvements. If after a period of monitoring you continue to be concerned, please contact the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub for advice or make a referral using the Request for Support Help and Protection (RSHP). As a rule professionals need to advise parent(s) that they are making a referral to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub, explain the MASH process and ask for their consent for agencies in the MASH to share information;
- Believe that child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm or have any other child protection concerns, please contact the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub team to discuss your concerns and follow in writing on the Request for Support Help and Protection Form;
- Believe that a child is at immediate risk of harm please use the emergency number 999 or contact your local police on 101.
Waltham Forest Early Help and Threshold Criteria for Intervention Document is the multi-agency threshold tool to use as a point of reference when assessing level of support needed / risks present. Professional should refer to the threshold document before making a referral to the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub.
3. Parental Consent and Information Sharing in the MASH
The starting point in relation to sharing information within the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub is that practitioners will be open and honest with families from the onset about why, what, how and with whom information will or could be shared. It may be necessary and desirable to deviate from the normal approach of seeking consent in cases where practitioners have reasonable grounds for believing that asking for consent would be unsafe or inappropriate - for example if there is an emergency or if seeking consent could create or increase a risk of harm to the child / young person.
Consent can be 'implicit' if information sharing is integral to the agreement to a service e.g. when a parent agrees to their child's referral to a CAMHS service the referral implies that information will be shared.
The main legal framework relating to the protection of personal information and how it is exchanged in a MASH is set out in:
- The Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporates Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), including the right to a private and family life;
- The common law duty of confidentiality;
- The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and Data Protection Act 2018, covering protection of personal information.
4. What Happens Once Agencies Share Information?
The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub team will work to get a better understanding of the different issues that may be affecting child's safety and welfare. Understanding the 'bigger picture' can help the team to assess the best way to make a positive change and to offer the child and family the right support at the right time, minimising delay and preventing the circumstances becoming worse.
Any information shared is only used to protect children and it will not be used for any other purpose. Information held by the MASH team will be kept secure and no-one but team members will be able to see this information.
- If professionals are referring your child to the MASH team for support, they will need to ask for your permission first;
- If professionals are referring your child to the MASH team because of child protection concerns, they do not need your permission. They will let you know about the referral unless they believe this may put your child at more risk;
- When your family are referred on to another service, only relevant information will be passed on to them. The MASH Team will explain to you what information is being passed on and why.
The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub Team will contact the parent(s) / carer(s) to let them know the outcome of any MASH enquiry once a decision has been made.
5. Duty to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children
Working Together to Safeguard Children highlights the responsibilities of professionals towards safeguarding children. The guidance seeks to emphasise that effective safeguarding systems are those where:
- The child's needs are paramount, and the needs and wishes of each child, should be put first, so that every child receives the support they need before a problem escalates;
- All professionals who come into contact with children and families are alert to their needs and any risks of harm that individual abusers, or potential abusers, may pose to children;
- All professionals share appropriate information in a timely way and can discuss any concerns about an individual child with colleagues and local authority children's social care;
- High quality professionals are able to use their expert judgement to put the child's needs at the heart of the safeguarding system so that the right solution can be found for each individual child;
- All professionals contribute to whatever actions are needed to safeguard and promote a child's welfare and take part in regularly reviewing the outcomes for the child against specific plans and outcomes;
- Local areas innovate and changes are informed by evidence and examination of the data.
Effective safeguarding arrangements in every local area should be underpinned by two key principles:
- Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility: for services to be effective each professional and organisation should play their full part; and
- A child-centred approach: for services to be effective they should be based on a clear understanding of the needs and views of children.