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Need to Know Policy and Procedure (Internal Notifications)

Scope of this chapter

This procedure outlines the circumstances and/or events which must be notified to those officers included in the 'Need to Know' distribution list and details the templates to be used for reporting these circumstances/events.

It aims to be as comprehensive as possible but may inevitably omit some circumstances. If you are in doubt regarding the need for reporting an event or incident, you must consult with your Line Manager.

The purpose of the Need to Know form is to alert Senior Managers to an incident and to provide the information needed to enable them to form an initial opinion on what, if any, action is required.

See also: Notifications of Significant Events (External Notifications) Procedure, which sets out the procedure for notifications to external bodies.

Immediate reporting of serious incidents enables Cumberland Children's Services to:

  • Provide support to the child or young person, parent/carer and /or member(s) of staff and attempt to resolve immediate difficulties;
  • Alert and inform others including partners who need to be aware of the incident;
  • Update risk assessments and put any risk management strategies in place;
  • Manage any publicity.

The definition of a serious/Need to Know incident is broad. Below are examples of incidents that require reporting, but this is not an exhaustive list and there will be other scenarios not listed below that will fall under the procedure:

  1. Serious incident within any setting

    For example this could include:
    • Service premises and schools (e.g. Flooding of building or closure due to related bereavement);
    • Serious complaints and controversies (e.g. Legal issues and media interest);
    • Loss or theft of personal information or equipment on which personal information is stored (e.g. laptops, memory sticks or other information breaches) or loss or theft of personal information in paper format.

Click here to view Template 1: Notification of Serious Event (Need to Know) - ANY SETTING

  1. Serious incident involving a child or young person
    • Serious childcare incidents (e.g. a child who is looked after commits a serious crime or has been missing for 48 hours, or child on a Child Protection Plan is made homeless or a child has been seriously harmed or is in serious and immediate danger of being harmed). NB. Where the child has been seriously harmed and there is cause for concern as to the way in which the authority, their partners and relevant people have worked together to safeguard the child, an Official Notification to Ofsted and Department of Education will be made by The Assistant Director Children & Young People's Services. This will follow consultation with the Executive Director and Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership Chair;
    • The following should always be dealt with through the procedures/protocols on the Cumbria Safeguarding Children Partnership (CSCP). As well as utilising CSCP procedures in all cases, some of following might need to be alerted to Senior Managers under the procedures. If this is the case then the Senior Managers should be alerted through using this Need to Know process;
      • Sudden unexpected child death;
      • Fabricated and Induced Illness;
      • Allegation against people who work with children. Need to Know must only be made after consultation with the appropriate LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) or Senior Manager, Child Protection, e.g. the allegation of abuse against Children Services staff is substantiated or where it involves a senior ranking member of staff – such as a Head Teacher.
    • For the following, only where there is assessed to be a serious risk to children, media interest or an impact on the reputation of Cumberland council:
      • Cases of serious communicable disease in school or residential premises;
      • Any actual or likely media coverage relating to Child in Need, with a Child Protection Plan or looked after.

Click here to view Template 2: Notification of Serious Event (Need to Know) – INVOLVING A CHILD/YOUNG PERSON

  1. Serious incident involving a member of staff (including school staff)

    This includes:
    • Assaults or threats to staff;
    • Serious illness, injury or death of a member of staff;
    • Allegations against a member of staff (not involving a child) that might lead to disciplinary action, including information breaches;
    • Any media coverage relating to members of staff which may impact on Cumberland Council.

Click here to view Template 3: Notification of Serious Event (Need to Know) - INVOLVING A MEMBER OF STAFF (INCLUDING SCHOOL STAFF)

Also any other situation that you feel Senior Managers need to be made aware of urgently (If in doubt consult your Line Manager).

All Children's Services staff who become aware of an incident as defined above must immediately discuss the incident with their line/supervising manager. Having agreed that the incident needs to be reported to senior management, the worker or manager will follow the Need to Know process of notification.

Click here to view the Notification of a Serious Event (Need to Know) Flowchart.

The worker or Manager must complete one of the following appropriate templates, dependent on the type of incident being reported (see above for definition):

  1. Template 1: Notification of Serious Event (Need to Know) - ANY SETTING;
  2. Template 2: Notification of Serious Event (Need to Know) – INVOLVING A CHILD/YOUNG PERSON;
  3. Template 3: Notification of Serious Event (Need to Know) - INVOLVING A MEMBER OF STAFF (INCLUDING SCHOOL STAFF).

The full details of the incident must be entered on to the appropriate template. The person completing the template must ensure that the name of the lead person and their contact details are on the form. The lead person should be the person who has full details and knowledge of the incident; this is to ensure that the Assistant Director or representative can contact them if they have any queries.

Save the completed template in a safe folder on your works computer in a folder marked Need to Know. When you are naming the document, it should not include any identifying information, such as a name, ICS number or address of the person, but must contain the date of completing the template and your name

This should now be attached to an email which is marked High Importance and Confidential with Urgent for guidance see the Notification of a Serious Event (Need to Know) Flowchart. The email should be sent to your Assistant Director and Senior Managers. The email subject should be 'Need to Know'.

If this matter involves an actual or potential information breach, the Caldicott guardian must also be copied into Template 3: Notification of Serious Event (Need to Know) - INVOLVING A MEMBER OF STAFF (INCLUDING SCHOOL STAFF).

The Senior Manager or Assistant Director must then decide if the information on the template needs further circulation.

If it does they will send notification to the Executive Director - People.

The Executive Director (or Assistant Director covering for the Executive Director in their absence) will notify other relevant Senior Managers and staff as necessary.

It is the responsibility of the Executive Director (or covering Assistant Director) to alert the Chief Executive, CMT and Members to any incidents.

If it is an emergency or a very serious incident, contact should always be made with the Lead Officer or with a member of DLT by telephone (or in person). Emergency contact telephone numbers for out of hours contact have also been issued to relevant staff. The initial contact should be followed up by email as soon as possible. Contact details for Directorate Management Team members can be obtained from the Corporate Directors Office.

All press enquiries should be referred to the CCC Media Team on 01228 226337.

Last Updated: February 28, 2023