What is the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub?
The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) was developed by the police, Local Authorities and other agencies to co-locate safeguarding agencies and their data into a secure, research and decision making unit. This was in response to the inability of agencies, on occasions to effectively share information which has been the comment of numerous Serious Case Reviews and public enquiries.
MASH in Barnet is the single point of entry for all referrals regarding concerns for a child or young person (unborn-18 years) or where it is felt they would benefit from additional support. Referrals will cover all thresholds of need from child protection to early help. Core agencies include the police public protection desk, children’s social care, health and education, with representatives attending from CAHMS, adult services, substance misuse, the early intervention services, probation, housing and others.
MASH is a screening, information and co-ordinating process only. It is not a case holding team. It is located at North London Business Park.
How do I refer?
Before referring to the MASH 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.
In order to make a referral you will need to complete a referral form. You will then receive an acknowledgement email from the MASH with a reference number.
Before making a referral you must tell the family.
You should not seek consent in cases where you consider to do so may increase the risk of harm to the child. In cases where you have concerns for a child’s welfare which indicate that they are at a level that may require an assessment by children’s social care, if having informed the parents you are making a referral consent has not been given, a referral can still be made. The MASH team will consider if/what information needs to be shared to ensure the child’s needs are being met.
If you have concerns about a child’s safety you can telephone the MASH team on 020 8359 4066 to discuss your concerns and give the initial details. You will be expected to follow this with a online referral the same day.
The Consultation line for professionals who would like to discuss a case without making a referral will remain operational on 020 8359 4336. The Consultation Line is now open Monday to Friday between 11am and 12noon
The MASH operates Monday–Thursday 9am to 5.15pm and 9am to 5pm on Fridays. Outside of these hours care and welfare concerns about children and young people that require an immediate response should be reported to the Emergency Duty Team on 020 8359 2000. Where an emergency response is required, at any time, the police should be called.
What happens next?
All referrals to the MASH are recorded on forms known as Contacts. These will be screened; this will include checking to see if the child already has a social worker or a lead professional.
If there is an allocated social worker, they are considered the best person to support the child, so the contact form is sent directly on to them.
If there is no allocated social worker, then the MASH senior social worker assesses the level of risk. The MASH Manager confirms the level of risk.
The MASH will use BRAG Ratings Blue, Red, Amber and Green. Red being the highest risk where there is a serious safeguarding concern requiring immediate action. A Green rating would be a low risk which may require a child in need assessment (sect17).
Following receipt of all referrals through the MASH the contact form outcome could vary from; a referral to the Children’s Social Care Duty Assessment Team (DAT) for a social work assessment, referral to the Early Help and Prevention services.
How will I know what has happened to the case?
MASH team are responsible for providing referrers with appropriate and proportionate feedback about the progress of the case whilst in MASH. After a Manager has considered your referral and a decision has been made, you will receive a notification or a ‘Feedback to Referrer’ informing you of the outcome.
How will the child/family know what has happened?
The MASH team are also responsible for ensuring that actions are put in place to ensure that appropriate and proportionate feedback is provided to children and families. This may be done by a Children’s Social Care professional either from the MASH or another team visiting the family, sending a letter, or telephoning. On other occasions you, as someone who knows the child and or family might be asked to contribute to the process of providing verbal feedback.
What are my responsibilities if I am contacted by the MASH team for information?
When a case comes to the attention of the MASH team that requires information gathering, the relevant professionals will receive an email with a MASH information collection form. In some cases they will receive a telephone call first advising them this form has been sent. The request will contain a summary of the referral concerns and we ask that you provide relevant information on the form. This should include strengths in the family as well as knowledge of issues such as domestic violence, substance misuse, mental health difficulties and concerns about the child such as neglect, emotional or behavioural problems. Please also comment on the family's ability to engage with services and keep appointments.
In order to observe time scales for BRAG ratings, professionals should where possible respond immediately to the request. If this is not possible it is important in order to protect and maintain the welfare of children and young people to return the form within the time scale specified according to the BRAG rating given on the form. Information must be returned securely.
It is expected that families will be aware of the information you hold on them and the form you receive will indicate if they have given consent for this to to be shared. Where consent has not be obtained or has been refused the MASH are still able to gather information either because it is a child protection concern or under Section 10 of the Children’s Act (please see Data Sharing and Fair Processing below). In exceptional circumstances an agency such as the police may hold information that is restricted to other professionals and in some cases to the family concerned. In these circumstances this information should be shared with the MASH but will not be shared with professionals outside the MASH and will be recorded on a separate restricted file.
What should I do if I am concerned about the way in which the MASH team has dealt with a concern I have raised?
In the first instance you could discuss action taken with the MASH Team Manager. Alternatively you could speak to the Head of Intake and Assessment who is also based at NLBP.
What to do if I am not happy?
If you are not happy about the way the MASH team deals with any referral about your family, please raise this first with the MASH manager. He or she will explain why the information was shared and how the decision on your case was made.
If you are still not happy, you can make a complaint by contacting the Children’s Service Complaints Officer on 020 8359 7008 or via email@example.com
If you are a professional and are worried about a child and would like to talk over any concerns you have you can contact our Consultation Line on 0208 359 4336. This may be particularly helpful for long term chronic situations or where the concerns are border line or if the issue is unusual or complex. If we feel the child is at risk we will insist that you make a referral. If the situation is an emergency we would expect you to contact the MASH team immediately.
The Consultation Line is now open Monday to Friday between 11am and 12noon.
Data sharing and Fair Processing
All partner agencies have signed up to Barnet Council's MASH Information Sharing Agreement that specifies what data can be shared in the MASH and the legal basis for doing so. All partner agencies are required to ensure staff are fully trained and aware of their responsibilities under the Data Protection Act. They are required to ensure all information sharing is done in adherence with the Information Commissioner’s Data Sharing Code of Practice.
Section 10 of the Children’s Act 2004 places a duty on key agencies 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. It is the responsibility of all professionals to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities in this regard in order to ensure they are able to respond within set time scales to enquiries from the MASH and so safeguard children and young people.