8.19 Historical Abuse Allegations
Organisational responses to allegations by an adult of abuse experienced as a child must be of as high a standard as a response to current abuse because:
As soon as it is apparent that an adult is revealing childhood abuse, the member of staff must record what is said by the service user and the responses given by the staff member. A chronology should be undertaken and all records must be dated and the authorship made clear by a legible signature or name.
If possible, staff should establish if the adult is aware of the alleged perpetrator's recent or current whereabouts and contact with children.
If a child under 18 makes a disclosure to a professional about historical abuse this should be responded to as any other disclosure of abuse (i.e. in East Sussex contact SPOA, in Brighton and Hove or West Sussex contact MASH).
Professionals responding to an allegation of historical abuse should try and establish the following:
The professional should be aware and sensitive to the fact that the adult disclosing may not wish to give any of the above details, including the alleged abusers name, possibly in fear for their own safety.
Direct questioning concerning the detail of the abuse should be avoided, but an adult disclosing abuse should not be prevented from freely recalling events.
An adult service user should be asked whether (s)he wants a police investigation and must be reassured that the Safeguarding Investigations Unit is able and willing to undertake such work even for those adults who are vulnerable as a result of mental health or learning difficulties.
The adult should be informed that when it is believed that an alleged abuser has contact with a child or poses a risk to children a referral will be made to children’s social care so that information can be gathered and a decision can be made whether to apply child protection procedures in respect of the child(ren) with whom the alleged abuser has contact or who may be at risk of harm
Consideration must be given to the therapeutic needs of the adult and reassurance given that, even without her/his direct involvement, all reasonable efforts will be made to look into what (s)he has reported.
The Safeguarding Investigations Unit must be informed about allegations of crime at the earliest opportunity. Whether the Police become involved in an investigation will depend of a number of factors including the victims' wishes and the public interest.
Children's Social Care should initiate a Section 47 Enquiry if the alleged perpetrator is known currently to be caring for, or has access to children (including making the necessary referral to the area where the alleged perpetrator is now known to live). Where the alleged perpetrator has contact with children as part of his or her employment, the Allegations Against People who Work with, Care for or Volunteer with Children Procedure should be followed.