1. Introduction

Risks may be increased by complicated cross boundary arrangements, and it could be dangerous and unproductive for local authorities to debate over whose responsibility it is to investigate cross boundary safeguarding incidents.

The ‘placing local authority’ continues to hold responsibility for commissioning and funding a placement. However, many people at risk live in residential settings outside their own placing area. In addition, a safeguarding incident might occur during a short term health or social care stay, or on a trip, requiring police action in that area or immediate steps to protect the person while they are in that area.

The initial lead in response to a safeguarding referral should always be taken by the local authority where the incident occurred. This is known as the ‘host local authority’. This might include taking immediate action to ensure the safety of the person, or arranging an early discussion with the police when a criminal offence is suspected.

2. Responsibilities of the Host Local Authority

The host local authority will:

  • receive the referral;
  • gather initial information;
  • take immediate steps to protect the individual and ascertain their initial views and wishes regarding the referral;
  • notify the placing local authority and gather information from that authority;
  • involve the placing local authority’s nominated link person in the decision making processes;
  • coordinate the enquiry of any incident where care arrangements exist across boundaries.

3. Responsibilities of the Placing Local Authority

The placing local authority continues to have responsibilities to the person who is the subject of the referral, and will take action as needed by:

  • negotiating the safeguarding arrangements that are included in any provider’s service specifications and monitoring these;
  • reacting promptly when there is a referral, following these procedures and the procedures of the host local authority;
  • nominating a ‘link person’ to liaise between the two local authorities;
  • providing information and other assistance to support the host authority’s enquiry;
  • providing support for adults for whom they have responsibility towards and who are identified as at risk or harmed, whether perpetrators or victims;
  • meeting any care needs that are identified by the enquiry and are within its responsibility.

In terms of renegotiation, dispute resolution and uncertainty between two local authorities, the ‘default’ position is described in the paragraphs above. However, the responsibility for the enquiry of a referral could be negotiated, with authorities agreeing alternative arrangements when these are in the best interests of the adult, or when it is more appropriate and practical to do this. For example, during a short stay outside the ‘host’ or ‘placing’ area.