An ICPCC is a meeting called by Social Services (the Local Authority) to determine whether the child in question can be protected without the need for a court order, and if so – how. By this stage, the Local Authority will have investigated the concerns raised and will be of the belief that the child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm. The meeting will be attended by the parents, representatives from the child’s school or educational provision, their GP, health visitor/midwife (as appropriate), the police, and any other agency involved with the child. Each agency should prepare a report in advance of the ICPCC, though the reports may not be available beforehand (particularly if they contain sensitive information). Time will be given during the meeting to read these reports. The ICPCC will be chaired by an Independent Reviewing Officer – this is often someone employed by the Local Authority, but independent of the child’s case – and should take place within 15 working days of the start of the investigation.
The purpose of the ICPCC is to share information about the child and their family with all professionals working with the family, to decide what future action should be taken to safeguard the child, and to decide whether or not a Child Protection Plan (CPP) should be drawn up. It is not often, however, that the actual CPP is drawn up with input from all professionals involved. It is frequently left to the social worker to do this. Review Child Protection Case Conferences can be held within 3 months of the ICPCC, and then at least every 6 months (if required).
Solicitors for the Local Authority and for the parents are not generally invited to the ICPCC, and when they are, it is to support and observe rather than to actually participate. The importance of these meetings should not be underestimated. If you are invited to one to discuss your child, you should consult a solicitor first. We may not be able to attend with you, but we can guide you through what can be a complicated and nerve wracking process.