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What does it mean when the local authority initiates a s47 investigation?

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A section 47 investigation (S.47) stems from the Children Act 1989 which is legislation that governs England and Wales.  It means the Local Authority/Children’s Services have received a referral which has been made to them by any persons who have reasonable grounds to believe a child is at risk of significant harm or likely to be at risk of significant harm. 

Referrals commonly come from:

  • A GP
  • Health visitor
  • Midwife
  • School teacher
  • Nursery teacher
  • Local authority
  • Neighbour
  • Person who is involved in the child’s life
  • Police

What does significant harm mean?

S.31 of the Children Act 1989 is the threshold test that must be met to decide if a child is suffering or likely to significant harm:

  • Things have happened which have already caused significant harm to a child
  • There is a serious risk that significant harm will be suffered in the future
  • The child is beyond parental control

There are 4 main types of harm which are:

  • Emotional harm
  • Physical harm
  • Sexual harm
  • Neglect

But what does s47 mean?

S.47 is commonly known as a S. 47 enquiry or a S.47 investigation, and the Local Authority have a duty to conduct an investigation and consider if it is necessary that the child/children are in need of safeguarding and their welfare protecting.  The Local Authority has 45 days to conclude their investigation.   

When does the investigation start and how?

When the Local Authority has enough information, they will then hold a strategy discussion meeting and conduct a multi-agency assessment.  Parents are not invited to the strategy discussion meeting.  During this the Local Authority will decide what actions need to be taken next to keep the child safe.  A multi agency assessment involves all agencies involved in the child’s life such as:

  • School or nursery
  • Health care professionals
  • Children’s services
  • Any other relevant agency

Once information has been gathered by all professionals, the Local Authority will decide if your child is:

During the investigation, your child is likely to be interviewed alone by a senior experienced social worker to hear the child’s wishes and feelings.

We understand that the Local Authority being involved with your children can be very stressful and that is why we are here to help and provide advice. We have experience in assisting parents at all stages of Local Authority involvement.

 Please contact  Johnson Astills at either our Leicester Office on 0116 255 4855 or our Loughborough Office on 01509 610 312 and ask for a member of the Care Team so that we can advise you accordingly. Alternatively, please email us on  and a member of our team will be happy to assist you.