Quick Exit

Contextual safeguarding

Contextual Safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships that young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse. Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and young people’s experiences of extra-familial abuse can undermine parent-child relationships. Different forms of abuse and exploitation we see within the community include;

  • Child Sexual Exploitation
  • Child Criminal Exploitation
  • County Lines - Exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups such as county lines.
  • Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery.
  • Radicalisation of children and young people by extremist groups.

The approach developed by Bedfordshire University specifically explores why context is so important when supporting young people as their world widens and relationships outside the family gain increasing influence.  Watch Dr Carlene Firmin talk about the principles of Contextual Safeguarding - Contextual Safeguarding: Re-writing the rules of child protection

How do I refer a child at risk?

Where Exploitation, or the risk of it, is suspected, practitioners should always complete the Cheshire Contextual Screening Tool If, after discussion there remain concerns, a referral using the Multi Agency Request for Services (MARS) form MUST be made to Children’s Social Care.

When practitioners have concerns that a child is linked to a perpetrator(s) or other young people at risk of exploitation or has concerns about a location these will be discussed at the monthly Exploitation and community mapping meeting

Assessment Process

The MARS will be screened and considered at the Multi agency Contextual Safeguarding Huddle meetings. These take place three times per week within the MASH.

Children assessed as Low Risk

If the child or young person requires intervention to educate and to prevent any further incidents, intervention from the most appropriate service from Early Help service is considered.  The child/young person or family may be signposted to the Youth Service or School to provide the low level intervention.

Children assessed as Medium Risk

For children screened as medium risk a decision will be made about which agency is best placed to complete an assessment and undertake work with the child / family. The Contextual Safeguarding Lead will then monitor and review these children to ensure there is an effective plan in place to address the identified issues that aims to support a reduction in risk.

Children assessed as High Risk

All children screened as high risk will be considered for a multi-agency strategy meeting at the point of referral, alongside the completion of a child and family assessment. The strategy discussion and assessment will consider the appropriate plan and pathway for the child. These children will have reviews chaired by the Contextual Safeguarding Lead.

For videos, resources and further information The Safeguarding Network