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The Local Authority want to complete a Risk Assessment, what does this mean?

View profile for Chelsea  Harris
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The Local Authority are likely to want to complete a risk assessment where they consider there to be a likelihood of a significant risk of harm to a child. Where there are concerns around domestic violence in a relationship, allegations of sexual or physical abuse, a violent criminal history, mental health issues or drug/alcohol misuse, this is when the Local Authority are likely to want to complete a risk assessment of you, your partner, your wider family or anyone else who is having contact with the child, to establish whether there is any immediate or long-term risk.

What are the definitions of ‘Risk’ and ‘Harm’?

‘Risk’ can be defined as ‘the possibility of harmful outcomes, and the likelihood of their occurrence’.

‘Harm’ can be defined as ‘the ill-treatment, impairment of health or development, including for example, the damage suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another’.

The Local Authority’s aim when completing a risk assessment is to consider situations within the home and around the child and decide whether there is a likelihood of harm to the child. The assessment will look at both the immediate risk to the child and any long-term, on-going risks.

What areas will the Risk Assessment focus on?

As part of the Local Authority’s risk assessment, the Social Worker will focus on:

  • What your understanding of the risk is
  • Whether there has been any positive changes in the circumstances around the risk
  • The vulnerability and resilience of all children in the home
  • Protective factors  in place
  • Evaluation of the family history
  • Parents and wider family members’ ability to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare
  • How the risks established can be managed

The assessment will also look into whether there will be any change in the child’s circumstances that may affect the risk factors.

The Local Authority will take into account whether the child has been or is likely to be exposed to factors of neglect. Factors of neglect can be in relation to physical, emotional and sexual abuse. The assessment will look at a parent’s capacity to change whilst ensuring that the child remains safe and protected.

What happens if my child is found to be at risk?

If the outcome of the risk assessment determines that your child is at risk, or likely to be at risk of significant harm then the Local Authority will need to consider whether this risk can be managed on a Child Protection Plan or whether the matter needs to be stepped up to Pre-proceedings or whether Court proceedings will need to be issued. For more information regarding these stages of the Local Authority involvement, please click here.

It is really important that you comply and engage with any assessments that the Local Authority wish to undertake and allow them to establish whether your child is at risk or likely to be at risk of any type of harm. Failure to do so will give the Local Authority more cause for concern and it is likely that Local Authority will want to remain involved in your child’s life until these assessments can be completed and the Local Authority can be confident that any risks can be managed safely and appropriately for the child.

There are a number of other specialised assessments in which the Local Authority may ask you to complete. A detailed list of these assessments can be found here.

Johnson Astills have a specialist care department comprising of experts in child care law who can advise, assist and represent you throughout your involvement with the Local Authority. If your children are subject to a Child Protection Plan, Pre-Proceedings or Proceedings and you would like to speak to someone from our Care Team at Johnson Astills, please do not hesitate to call us on 0116 255 4855 or email us at