This information is aimed at professionals who wish to understand more about the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and how concerns are prioritised. If you have a concern about a child, whether you are a professional or member of the public, here's how to report a concern.
The MASH in Southampton provides triage and multi-agency assessment of safeguarding concerns. It brings together professionals from a range of agencies into an integrated multi-agency team. This team protects the most vulnerable children from harm, neglect and abuse by meeting goals specifically related to safeguarding, including:
- A faster, more co-ordinated and consistent response to safeguarding concerns raised about vulnerable children
- An improved ‘journey’ for the child or adult with a greater emphasis on early intervention and better informed services provided at the right time
- A more straightforward and responsive process for the professional or member of the public raising a concern, with clear guidance and support
- Closer partnership working, clear accountability and improved multi-agency communications
- A reduction in the number of inappropriate referrals and re-referrals
What happens after a referral is made to the team?
Upon referral, needs will be identified, and the child or family will be referred or signposted to the relevant contact or information. This will either be to an appropriate resource, or for further information gathering with partner agencies within the team.
If the referrer is a professional involved with the family, they will be informed of the decision to progress through the multi-agency team within 24 hours.
Decisions and timescales depend on statutory need, child protection or early help. Vulnerable children are responded to by the most appropriate professional.
If contact has been made with concerns that a child is considered to be at immediate risk of harm, the police should be contacted on 999. The emergency will be dealt with by the police.
In such cases, once the concerns have been shared with the MASH team, they will be discussed as a priority with police and health colleagues within two hours. An informed decision will be made as to the multi-agency plan to safeguard the child.
If there are concerns that a child may be suffering or has suffered child abuse, but they are not at immediate risk of harm, the MASH team will gather information and hold a strategy discussion within six hours.
Consent from an adult with parental responsibility should be considered, however this can be dispensed with initially if by alerting them to the concerns may place the child at greater risk of harm.
If the issues shared are complex and there are concerns that a statutory child in need assessment is required, consent is required. This consent is needed from an adult with parental responsibility to share information from each agency to inform decision making. The assessment is to understand what life is like for the child and which services would support the family to improve the situation.
The team will make this decision within 24 hours.
If the MASH managers have made the decision that the issues shared about a child do not meet the threshold for the multi-agency information gathering in the team, the referrer will be advised and consideration will be given to an Early Help referral or for universal services to continue with their involvement.
Outcomes following a referral
As described above, the following decisions can be made depending on the information gathered:
- A strategy discussion held with the police, health and children’s services to determine if a S47 enquiry under the Children Act is required to protect the child from harm. This can be single agency to Children’s Services or jointly with the police. This will be passed swiftly to the assessment team
- A S17 child in need assessment is recommended and transferred to the assessment team
- A referral can be made to the Early Help service
- If the concerns are unproven, universal services will continue their involvement with the child and their family
If you have concerns about a child who is at risk of harm, you can make a referral online. If you have any questions or wish to discuss your concerns with a member of the team first, please contact us at any time.
Telephone number for members of the public: 023 8083 3336
Telephone number for professionals: 023 8083 2300
Email address: MASH@southampton.gov.uk