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Child protection

If you think a child or young person is at risk of significant harm, or is injured, contact the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 0300 4560108, 8.45am-5pm, Monday-Thursday and 8.45am-4pm Friday; out of hours 0845 6070 888. Or if there is immediate danger, phone the police or emergency services on 999. For less urgent enquiries, email mash@wiltshire.gcsx.gov.uk.

Children are protected from child abuse or neglect by agencies working together to assess the risk, and helping to prevent further abuse occurring.

Advice for members of the public

  • Physical abuse includes hitting, shaking, burning, or causing any physical harm to children.
  • Neglect is repeated failure to provide for a child or young person’s basic needs including food, warmth, adult attention, health care and other general care needs.
  • Sexual abuse is forcing or encouraging a child to take part in any sexual activity, including watching pornographic material and abuse through the internet. This also includes the exploitation of a young person, such as providing drugs in exchange for sexual activity.
  • Emotional abuse is emotional ill-treatment such as ignoring a child, not providing emotional warmth or care which will have an adverse effect upon a child.
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  • Mostly parents or carers.
  • Occasionally those in a position of trust with the child, such as professionals or volunteer leaders of activity groups, sports instructors etc.
  • Very rarely, strangers.
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  • An assessment will be made. This will include seeing the child and discussion with other professionals who have knowledge of the family or child, reaching a judgement about the level of risk and next steps.
  • As long as it is deemed safe to include parents, they will be included in the assessment process.
  • Judgements will be made on the level of risk and how best to protect the child or young person. This may include child abuse investigation, or for serious cases, a child protection conference.
  • Very rarely are children taken into care or accommodated - either voluntarily or by court order.
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This is when all agencies work together to agree with the family a child protection plan to protect a child, chaired by an independent person. The parents and young person are important members of the conference.

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Every area of the country has a Local Safeguarding Children Board. This is made up of senior members of health, education, social work, police, probation, voluntary agencies, and all other agencies who work with children and families. They make sure that staff are properly trained, work to and follow agreed procedures. For more information, see the Wiltshire Local Safeguarding Children Board.

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Advice for professionals

The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) brings key professionals together to facilitate early, better quality information sharing, analysis and decision-making, to safeguard vulnerable children and young people more effectively. The MASH is the 'front door’ of our safeguarding service; it can respond promptly, at the very earliest point of contact with a vulnerable child and their family.

Wiltshire MASH aims to initially provide a central point of contact for public and professionals for children’s safeguarding concerns. The co-located team of professionals from the core agencies of children’s social care, the police and community health services will deliver an integrated service, including the provision of information, advice and signposting to appropriate services.

It will utilise agreed processes for analysing and assessing risk, based on the fullest information known across agencies, to determine if the child is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm. It will also maintain a confidential record system of activity and disseminate suitable information to the area teams in children’s social care or other agencies for action.

The MASH aims to deliver better safeguarding decision making for vulnerable children, young people and their families through a multi agency integrated approach to improve the protection and service delivery to the families.
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When the MASH receives a contact, the MASH information officers will screen the referrals with oversight from a social worker. They will understand the nature of the call and gather information to be able to appropriately signpost to the most appropriate service.

If there is an allocated social worker, they are considered to be the best person to support the child, so the case will be referred directly to them. 

If there is no social worker, then the MASH information officers and social workers will assess the level of risk and decide on the course of action to be taken. It may be that further information is required from agencies to inform whether the referral relates to a child in need or child protection concern. 

The MASH manager will use the collected information to decide the best response to meet the child’s needs. This may be:

  • A strategy discussion, as there is reasonable cause to suspect a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, significant harm.
  • A child in need assessment is required through a single assessment.
  • A recommendation for a Common Assessment Framework to be completed by a lead professional.
  • Advice and information provided.

The referrer will be informed of the outcome of their referral.

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  • Children’s services (social workers, information officers, administrators and managers).
  • Specialist safeguarding nurse.
  • Wiltshire Police.
  • Early Help advisor.
  • Education Liaison Officer.
  • Emerald Team (Child Sexual Exploitation and Missing Children, Social Care and Police).
  • Virtual Partners include the Army Welfare Service, Youth Offending Team and Probation’s Community Resolution Service.

Co-location in MASH has meant we can quickly access information from all relevant partners and they can access social care information quickly, too.

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Enquiries should be made when you have concerns for the welfare and or safety of any child or young person under 18. If you are not sure about the needs of the child, you can call the MASH using the contact details below to discuss the case with professionals in the MASH.

Before making a MASH enquiry, you need to consider if the child or young person’s needs can be met by services from within your own agency, or by other professionals already involved with the family.

We know that it is sometimes difficult to decide the appropriate point of intervention. To help you to determine levels of need when making your own assessment, please refer to the multi-agency thresholds for safeguarding children.

Before making an enquiry you should always get the consent of the parents or carers, except where a child is considered to be at risk of harm and you believe that seeking parental consent may increase this risk.

If you believe that urgent action is needed because a child is at immediate risk of harm, phone the MASH on 0300 4560108 (out of hours: 08456 070888) and give as much information as you can.

Your information will be passed immediately to the manager who will make a decision on the risk level and acknowledge this with you within 24 hours. You must follow up your telephone call by sending a completed Child Protection Referral form to the MASH within 24 hours.

If you have any other concerns that are not urgent and immediate action is not needed, you must complete a Child Protection Referral form in as much detail as possible and email it to the MASH on mash@wiltshire.gcsx.gov.uk.

For any other concerns where the threshold for children’s services has not been met, you can complete a Common Assessment Framework (CAF) form, involving professionals working with the child and family. If you require assistance in completing a CAF form, you can contact the CAF enquiry line on 01225 713884. 

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Section 10 of the Children Act 2004 places a duty on key people and bodies to cooperate to improve the wellbeing of children and young people. This includes the proportionate sharing of information, where appropriate, to make the best decisions for children and young people at risk. All partners working in the MASH have signed up to an information sharing agreement that specifies what data can be shared within the MASH. 

The organisations signed up to MASH are: Wiltshire Council, Wiltshire Police, Great Western Hospitals Foundation Trust, and Swindon Borough Council. These agencies will, in turn, collate information from other agencies who do not sit in the MASH, eg schools.

Most personal information will not be shared outside of the MASH without consent, and will only be used to provide the service requested or to improve the quality of the services we provide. However, if there are concerns that a child may be at risk of significant harm, or an adult may be at risk of serious harm, we may need to share personal information with organisations that we work with. Each agency will assess whether it is appropriate for the information they hold to be shared, in line with the Information Sharing Agreement and on a case-by-case basis.

In some cases, agencies may hold confidential information that the MASH manager needs to know to make a decision, but which is too sensitive to be shared elsewhere (for example, when an ongoing police investigation is taking place). In these cases, the MASH will indicate that there is confidential information held, but will not reveal the information itself. 

Only appropriate and relevant parts of the information disclosed during the MASH process will be passed to the non-MASH professionals receiving the case. The data is held securely and confidentially. The MASH has physical, electronic and managerial safeguards to ensure that sensitive information is only accessed by those who are authorised to about it.

You are entitled to request copies of the information we hold about you at any time under the Data Protection Act.


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Multi-agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
County Hall
Bythesea Road
Trowbridge
Wiltshire
BA14 8JN
mash@wiltshire.gcsx.gov.uk
0300 4560108
Out of hours: 0845 6070888


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Last updated: 16 August 2016 | Last reviewed: 16 August 2016