Children’s Act 1989 Section 37 Investigations

1. Number of section 37 Children Act 1989 directions you have been directed to undertake by the Family Courts per year from January 2011 – December 2016.

2. Whether you have been directed to undertake more than one section 37 Children Act 1989 investigation in relation to the same child between January 2011 – December 2016.

3. Recorded outcomes of section 37 Children Act 1989 investigations you have undertaken between January 2011 – December 2016., e.g. application for a care order, supervision order, supporting a special guardianship order, child arrangements order, child in need plan, child protection plan or no further action.

4. The duration (in weeks) of the section 37 investigations you have undertaken between January 2011 – December 2016.

5. The total duration (in weeks) of your involvement in private proceedings where section 37 investigations have been directed between January 2011 – December 2016.

We do hold the information to answer questions one to five but to locate and collate it would involve a manual review of up to seven thousand case files and at even just five minutes per case would take well in excess of eighteen hours. Therefore we are exempting the information under Section 12 of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 – Cost of compliance.

6. How work required for a section 37 investigation is allocated to your staff, for example, whether it is initially given to a social worker with a certain level of experience, or whoever has availability. Whether there is an internal policy on work allocation for section 37 investigations.

Work is allocated based on previous knowledge of child/family, skills and capacity and on a geographical basis, managed locally by team managers and overseen by the area manager.

7. The process followed when undertaking section 37 investigations e.g. interviews with children, parents, third parties. The decision making process when deciding what to recommend to court e.g. any internal meetings with the practice manager, the legal department, senior management.

Depending on what is identified through the completion of the S37 would determine what further meetings might take place.  For instance the Social Worker can request the Area Manager chair a Legal Planning Meeting which includes Social Worker, team manager and Devon Solicitor.  It may also be presented to Children’s Access resource panel (CARP) for consideration by a Senior Manager if the worker and Legal Planning Meeting (LPM) is recommending initiating Public Law processes.