PG11. Diplomats Families

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Specific definitions of key concepts used by safeguarding practitioners are available through the Glossary.

1. Introduction

Caption: Introduction table


Professionals may be concerned that a child who is a member of a diplomat's family is likely to suffer significant harm through physical, sexual and / or emotional harm (see Recognising Abuse and Neglect Procedure), or that a child in a diplomatic family has abused another person.

Significant harm is defined in Responding to Concerns of Abuse and Neglect Procedure, Concept of significant harm as a situation where a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer, a degree of physical, sexual and / or emotional harm (through abuse or neglect) which is so harmful that there needs to be compulsory intervention by child protection agencies into the life of the child and their family.


Professionals in all agencies should make a referral to local authority children's social care in line with Referral and Assessment Procedure. See also Harmful Behaviour Procedure. However, all professionals should be aware that legal advice about the diplomatic immunity of the particular child and family must be sought from the outset, including before attempting to remove a child in emergency (in most instances, it will be advisable to consider removing the child from school or another place outside the diplomatic residence).

2. Diplomatic Immunity

Caption: Diplomatic Immunity


Diplomats, members of their household and their residences have immunity from civil, criminal and administrative jurisdiction. They cannot be detained or arrested and their homes cannot be entered without consent.


Different categories of staff of the service are entitled to different forms of immunity, so the rank of the person in question must therefore be established as a priority.


The head of the service is entitled to full criminal and civil immunity.


Technical, administrative and general (e.g. domestic service) members of staff are only entitled to full criminal and civil immunity for acts within the course of their duties (e.g. a chauffeur is subject to the Children Act 1989 for acts that fall outside of the course of his duties).


All agencies should be aware that they may be unable to enforce any order should the child return to the diplomat's residence and refuse to surrender. This does not deprive local authority children's social care, the police and other agencies of the power or duty to take action as appropriate.

3. Action by local authority Children's Social Care and the Police

Caption: Action by local authority Children's Social Care and the Police


Where local authority children's social care and / or the police need to respond to a concern that a child in a diplomatic family is being harmed, professionals must immediately establish the extent to which the particular family may claim diplomatic immunity.


The local authority children's social care manager should contact the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, 'Immunities section of the Protocol Department', for advice on the family's immunity: 020 7009 1500.


Out of office hours, the police should be requested to determine the status of an individual or family by consulting the central index of privileged persons maintained by the police Diplomatic Protection Group.


In all cases, the local authority lawyer should be consulted prior to action being taken.


The child protection manager must be notified of all enquiries which may involve diplomatic families and s/he, in consultation with the local authority's legal department, is responsible for co-ordinating any necessary action via the Foreign Office.


As far as possible, children from diplomatic backgrounds should be subject to ordinary processes, including information transfer (preferably at a child protection conference) should the family move to a new area.