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11.2 Media Protocol for Children's Social Care Staff


In March 2019, the link to the Press Office Intranet site was added.

Newcastle City Council has a Press Office within the Communications Unit which should be the first port of call for all enquiries from the media.

If Children’s Social Care staff are approached by the media directly they should refer them to the Press Office, where trained and experienced Press Officers are able to respond to enquiries and where appropriate arrange interviews with members and senior officers or issue a statement. Children’s Social Care have a dedicated Press Officer who specialises in health and social care issues.

If a service user says they will talk to the media, staff should notify their senior manager and the press office as soon as possible and provide a briefing note outlining the circumstances of the case.

If a serious incident occurs, social work staff should notify their Team Manager and Senior Manager as soon as possible who will then inform the relevant service manager, the Press Office and the Director of Children’s Services.

Briefing the Press Office early means that if a journalist enquires about a case or incident, a Press Officer can manage the situation efficiently balancing the need to respect confidentiality, protect the reputation of the Children’s Services Directorate and the Council and reflect the open nature of a Public Local Authority.

The Press Office will liaise with Social Workers, Team Managers, Senior Managers, the service managers, Director of Children’s Service and Cabinet Member making sure that the relevant people are kept informed and information is accurate and approved for release to the media.

The Communications Unit (Press Office) also monitors calls and retains information on media responses to ensure accuracy and consistency. Monitoring of media enquiries and coverage also helps to provide the Council with information - statistics and patterns of media interest in areas of Council activity and overall coverage.

Newcastle City Council has a media policy which reflects the Organisation's policy aims including the way the council expects employees and members to behave and the culture we strive to achieve.

The media policy reflects that Newcastle City Council will be:

  • Open;
  • Transparent;
  • Honest;
  • Proactive and assertive;
  • Helpful to the media in facilitating photograph opportunities, interviews and other reasonable requests.

The Press Office will:

  • Promote the reputation of the organisation;
  • Respond quickly and effectively to media enquiries;
  • Respect the confidential nature of information which is retained by the council on individual cases or other matters which are officially specified as confidential.

Guidance on Publicity Surrounding Children who Absconds from Care

When a child or young person absconds from care, Newcastle SCB Safeguarding Procedures should be followed. Staff should also follow the ‘Media Protocol for Children’s Services Staff’. The Director of Children’s Services, Head of Children’s Social Care, Senior Manager and Press Office should be informed.

The Police take the lead in proactively contacting the media. Social Workers can assist the Police in liaising with families to gain consent for information on a child or young person to be released into the public domain. This could include helping to obtain a photograph that can be used in the media, supporting the family and helping them understand the need for publicity.

The Director of Children’s Services and Head of Children’s Social Care s have the view that proactive publicity in the media to locate a child is an essential part of making sure that child is safe from harm. Proactive publicity has been shown to be an effective method of getting a child or young person to come forward.

Further advice for Social Workers is available by contacting the press office and asking to speak to the Children’s Social Care Press Officer.

Staff can also view the Council’s media policy in full on the Press Office Intranet site.