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This area of the toolkit is designed to support professionals in their record keeping when there are concerns of child-on-child abuse. It also provides information regarding the correct pathways for professionals to share information regarding concerns of child-on-child abuse.


Throughout the process of responding to a concern of child-on-child abuse, it is important that professionals record any decisions that are taken and the rationale for actions and next steps. Accurate and detailed record keeping also plays an essential role in supporting professionals to identify patterns of behaviour and/or take measure to prevent escalations of behaviours in the future.

Key points for effective record-keeping:

  • Ensure accurate recording of concerns, written in the first person, with the date, time and location of the incident clearly indicated. It is also important to record whether anyone else was present at the time of the incident.
  • Where possible, it is best practice for the member of staff responding to/ witnessing the incident to be the person to record the incident or enter it on the relevant safeguarding recording platform. If this is not possible, then the person responding to/ witnessing the incident needs to be contactable to provide further information to the professional who is undertaking the recording.
  • The record should clearly describe the nature of the alleged behaviour and the context around the incident in clear, fact based language which is non-judgemental and avoids using euphemisms.
  • Ensure that the voices of the children are accurately captured, using their own words where possible (using the tell, explain, describe technique). It should be marked clearly that this is the child’s voice and their opinions.
  • Consider the nature of the concern in order to categorise it within the recording system used by your agency. Over time, this will support in building a picture of potential repeated incidents.
  • Details of how the concern was followed up and resolved.
  • Details of any action taken, decisions reached and the outcome.


“Trashed the room deliberately, like he always does, and smacked one of the other children”.


“On Tuesday 30 April 2019, Child B was emotionally dysregulated following losing a game at break time. Child B came into the red classroom and picked up and threw two chairs – this was away from the other children and towards the whiteboard. Child B then turned around and with an open hand struck Child C across their left cheek, making it red and causing Child C to cry. It is not clear whether Child C was targeted or was harmed because they were close by.”

In the examples above, the first example is not accurate and does not provide context for the incident. When the record is read by other professionals, it will not be clear to them what happened, when it happened and where it happened.

The language in the first example reflects a judgement that is being made by the professional who is recording the incident. As captured in the bullet points above, it is important that non-judgmental language is used which avoids blame.


To support decision-making regarding when an inter-agency referral form should be completed,  professionals should refer to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Safeguarding Partnerships and Children’s Trust Thresholds Chart. The Thresholds Chart is designed to support professionals in considering each child individually and to be clear about any potential risks that they perceive for the child.

The information below is designed to support professionals when completing an inter-agency referral form in relation to a concern of child-on-child abuse. The information outlines what should be included within the referral form.

Contextual Information About the Child

  • What is already known about the children involved?
  • How does the child feel? Are they aware that this behaviour might be harmful to themselves or others?
  • Are there wider concerns that need to be recorded on the Inter-Agency Referral Form?
  • Is the behaviour typical for the age and stage of the child? Are there any special educational needs?
  • Are there contributing factors which could influence the child’s behaviour, i.e., bereavement or parental separation.


  • Ensure that all parents/ carers of the children involved are contacted to explain the incident, actions taken and next steps. The exception to this is when the child may be placed at risk by doing so.
  • When completing an Inter-Agency Referral Form, it is helpful to include the views of the family regarding the referral being made and any further support that may be beneficial.
  • Consider the safeguarding history of the children involved. Have there been similar previous incidents? How were these resolved at that time?
  • Have there been previous concerns raised about the child? Does this new information build into a wider picture?
  • Ensure that the Inter-Agency Referral Form includes reference to any previous concerning behaviours. Similarly, it should be noted if there have not been any previous concerns. This information helps to inform a bigger picture as to the extent of the concern.
  • Include reference to any tools that have already been used. This might include reference to the Thresholds Chart, the Child Exploitation Risk Assessment Framework or the Brook Traffic Light Tool.
  • Include reference to any interventions currently in place for the child or have been used previously, including whether they have had a positive impact.

Professional Opinion

Based on all the information known to the professional making the referral, including knowledge of the child and family, it is helpful for the professional to record their views regarding the best next steps to support the child/family and how they believe this will help the family.

Hampshire Inter-agency Referral Form (IARF)

Isle of Wight Inter-agency Referral Form (IARF)

When completing an Inter-Agency Referral Form, it is essential to complete a separate referral for each child involved in the incident, making sure it is clear the children involved are named within each referral.

Further information regarding making a referral is available on the HSCP &IOWSCP websites.

Professionals should call 999 directly if:

  • There is a danger to life
  • Risk of serious injury
  • A serious crime is in progress or about to happen

Anyone witnessing such an incident should be empowered to call 999 as they will be able to give the most accurate account of the incident.

Non-emergency incidents

All non-emergency incidents of a suspected crime should be reported calling 101 or by filling out a crime report online via the link:

Guidance is available to support professionals working in schools and colleges in making the decision regarding whether the police need to be contacted, particularly where an incident has happened on school/college premises – When To Call The police – Guidance for Schools and Colleges.

When a decision regarding contacting the police is being made, the following should be considered:

  • The seriousness of the incident. Whether an incident is ‘serious’ will be a matter of judgement and will depend on the type of incident.
  • Whether there are any aggravating factors. These factors increase the level of risk, or highlight the need for a wider investigation and the need for the involvement of a range of agencies as well as the police.
  • Whether the young people involved have any vulnerabilities.
  • Whether this could be part of a pattern of behaviour.

Sexual Offences: In the case of incidents involving sexual offences, schools and colleges should refer to Keeping Children Safe in Education and the Sexual violence and harassment between children in schools and colleges guidance. Specific information is available from Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary regarding the process for reporting rape, sexual assault or another sexual crime like indecent exposure or upskirting: How to make a referral to the Police regarding rape, sexual assault or other sexual offences.

Youth Produced Sexual Imagery: In cases involving youth produced sexual imagery – often called ‘sexting’ – schools and colleges may refer to the non-statutory UKCCIS sexting in schools and colleges guidance.

Community Partnership Information Sharing Form (CPI)

The Community Partnership Information Sharing (CPI) Form gives professionals a direct way to share non-urgent information with police, where the information does not relate to a crime or a child/adult who is at immediate risk of harm.

Further information regarding CPIs forms and their completion is available on the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Constabulary Safe4Me website.



Overarching Principles

The Legal Framework for Sharing Information: The Data Protection Act 2018 and UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR) supports the sharing of relevant information for the purposes of keeping children safe. This is also emphasised in the statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children, which is clear that if a professional has concerns about a child’s welfare or safety, then they should share the information with local authority children’s social care and/or the police. Fears about sharing information must not be allowed to stand in the way of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

Share Information Early: Early information sharing is vital for the effective identification, assessment and provision of and support.

Avoid Assumption: Professionals should always operate from a position of not assuming that a colleague or another professional will take action and share information that may be vital to effectively safeguarding children.

It is understood that the child who has been harmed may ask their trusted adult not to tell anyone about the child-on-child abuse they have experienced. There are no easy or definitive answers when a child makes this request. If the child who has been harmed does not give consent to share information, staff may still lawfully share it with local authority children’s social care and/or the police. Where a referral to local authority children’s social care and/or a report to the police is made against the wishes of the child who has been harmed, this should be handled extremely sensitively, the reasons should be explained to the child and appropriate specialist support should be offered.

Informing parents

Parents or carers should normally be informed, unless by doing so would put the child who has been harmed at greater risk.

Protecting Anonymity

Where an allegation of a crime is progressing through the criminal justice system, schools and colleges should be aware of anonymity, witness support, and the criminal process in general so they can offer support and act appropriately. Relevant information can be found in: CPS: Safeguarding Children as Victims and Witnesses.

As a matter of effective safeguarding practice, schools and colleges should do all they reasonably can to protect the anonymity of any children involved in any report of a crime. Amongst other things, this will mean carefully considering, based on the nature of the report, which staff should know about the report and any support that will be put in place for the children involved. Schools and colleges should also consider the potential impact of social media in facilitating the spreading of rumours and exposing the identities of children who have been harmed. The principles described in Childnet’s cyberbullying guidance could be helpful.