It may be necessary, exceptionally, for the Chair to exclude one or more family members or supporters from all or part of a conference against their wishes. Criteria for exclusion are:
- attendance by a known, alleged or suspected perpetrator may threaten the child or otherwise place them at risk
- the child concerned wishes to attend or be heard by the conference but does not wish a family member to be present at the same time
- there is a strong risk of violence or intimidation by a family member during, or after, the conference towards a child or anybody else
- it is necessary to present information which, if shared with certain family members, might increase the risk to the child or others
- there is a high level of conflict between parties which would lead to significant distress for family members or the child, or the disruption of the conference
- legal conditions exclude specific contact between parties (eg bail; injunctions)
- there are ongoing criminal proceedings and the police need to exchange information without compromising the rights of the alleged offender
- a family member makes a statement that could incriminate them
- the conference needs to take legal advice
The decision to exclude family members/supporters from the conference rests with the Conference Chair who should base the decision on the exclusion criteria.
If parents, carers or others with parental responsibility are excluded, or unwilling to attend the conference, it is important that they are encouraged to find a method of communicating their views to the conference. This may be done by means of a letter, or a recording, or the social worker or another professional may agree with the parent that they should represent the parents’ views and wishes.
Any professional can request the exclusion of a family member/supporter from the conference, particularly if there are professional concerns about possible violence or intimidation. The request must be made to the Conference Chair at the earliest opportunity. The Chair should discuss the request with the relevant agency manager before coming to a decision about whether to exclude.
Any decision to exclude a child, family member or supporter, and the reason for so doing, must be recorded in the child protection conference record and in the child’s case record.