Learning from a recent Domestic Homicide Review (DHR) has highlighted the need to remind all practitioners about escalation within safeguarding procedures. This means communicating problems or difficulties with the right person at the right time.

Possible grounds for escalation

There might be many different reasons why someone needs to escalate an issue within safeguarding procedures. Some common examples are:

  • Changing or increasing risk.
  • Safeguarding procedures not being followed as would be expected.
  • Agreed safeguarding adults/child protection plans breaking down.
  • Disengagement from the child/adult at risk and/or their family.
  • Disagreement between professionals involved.

Escalation is important and it is everyone’s role

Professionals in Newcastle (working or volunteering in any agency) are encouraged to respectfully challenge whenever they have a concern about the action or inaction of another. We need everyone to play their part in ensuring that safeguarding procedures operate effectively.

“Professional challenge, escalation, supervision and support all enhance reflective practice and can lead to positive outcomes”

“Leigh” Safeguarding Adults Review, North Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board, April 2021.

Key principles

  • The wellbeing and safety of the adult or child at risk is paramount.
  • Attempts are made to communicate and resolve issues at the earliest opportunity, between the practitioners directly involved.
  • Don’t make assumptions that someone else will escalate an issue or that the issue will already be known to those coordinating safeguarding procedures.
  • Make sure you are clear about what you have been told and others are clear about what you are telling them.
  • Agree timescales for any actions that will be taken.

How to escalate within safeguarding procedures

The starting point is to try and discuss and resolve the issue informally between the front-line practitioners involved. There might be a need to involve respective line managers.

If the case is open to safeguarding procedures or on a Child Protection Plan, involve the Safeguarding Adults Manager or Social Work Team Manager to make them aware and to seek any assistance.

If the issue remains unresolved, there are the following options:

  • Escalation to Designated Safeguarding Lead (or equivalent) within your own organisation (where available) for further advice and support. The Designated Safeguarding Lead is likely to have networks and relationships with leads in other organisations and therefore may be able to assist with resolving the issue.
  • If the case involves an adult, escalation to the Safeguarding Adults Unit for discussion and advice. The Safeguarding Adults Unit run a Professional’s Advice Line which can be used by anyone.
  • If the case involves a child, escalation to the allocated Independent Reviewing Officer, Children’s Safeguarding Standards Unit via

The next steps are to escalate to the relevant Service Manager within the local authority:

  • For adults: Service Manager, Safeguarding Adults (0191 278 8156)
  • For children: Service Manager, Children’s Safeguarding Standards Unit (0191 277 4636)

If the issue remains unresolved, the issue will be escalated to the relevant NSAB or NSCP member(s) and/or for discussion at the Board or Partnership itself.