9.4 Sussex Police Protocol Allegations of Child Abuse against a Police Officer or Police Staff Member

New protocol created in April 2022

For review in April 2025


Purpose of the protocol


This protocol is intended to ensure that allegations made against any member of Sussex Police including all Police Officers, Specials, Police Staff, Volunteers and Contractors are dealt with promptly and transparently in accordance with statutory guidance.


The protocol sets out the procedure to be followed where an allegation of abuse against a child involving Sussex Police employees namely Police Officers, Specials, Police Staff, Volunteers and Contractors, or where there are concerns about that individual’s suitability to work with children.


All references in this protocol to 'member of staff' should be interpreted as meaning all Police Officers, Specials, Police Staff, Volunteers and Contractors.



These procedures are based on the framework for dealing with allegations of abuse made against a person who works with children, detailed in Chapter 2 of Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 and Chapter 8.2 Allegations Against People who Work with, Care for or Volunteer with Children


Compliance with this procedure will help to ensure that allegations of abuse are dealt with expeditiously, consistent with a thorough and fair process.


These procedures should be applied when there is an allegation or concern that any such member of police personnel has:

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates he or she may pose a risk of harm to children.
  • Behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children 

These behaviours should be considered within the context of the four categories of abuse i.e. Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Emotional Abuse and Neglect.


These include concerns relating to inappropriate relationships between adults and children or young people, e.g. having a sexual relationship with a child under 18 if in a position of trust in respect of that child, even if consensual (Sections 16-19 Sexual Offences Act 2003; 'grooming', i.e. meeting a child under 16 with intent to commit a relevant offence (Section 15 Sexual Offences Act 2003); other 'grooming' behaviour giving rise to concerns of a broader child protection nature e.g. Inappropriate text, e-mail messages or images, gifts, socialising, etc. and possession of abusive images of children. It includes concerns raised regarding their own children and concerns relating to off duty conduct and behaviour in their private life which may pose transferable risks to their position of trust.

Oversight and Management


Investigating Officer (IO)

The Investigating Officer will have the responsibility of the initial referral to the LADO and this will be completed within 24 hours of the member of staff being identified.


A supervisor reviewing investigations as a matter of either routine or within a specific role such as the Op Pledge Senior Oversight Officer (SOO) will ensure that a referral has been completed as part of their review process. This means the IO must make reference to it being completed and keep a record of the referral within NICHE.

For cases which are being Investigated by departments other than Professional Standards, PSD will be remain updated until the conclusion of the criminal investigation before proceeding with misconduct matters.

Local Authority Designated Officers


The Local Authority Designated Officers (LADO) are involved in the management and oversight of individual cases. They will provide:

  • advice and guidance to all relevant agencies and services,
  • monitor the progress of the case to ensure that all matters are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process,
  • ensure that a final LADO meeting or discussion takes place to conclude the safeguarding process, following the investigation by the IO.


Process of Referrals and Initial Considerations


Sussex Police Professional Standard’s Department have procedures in place for dealing with such allegations.  These include an initial assessment which is carried out in accordance with the Independent Office for Police Conduct (IOPC) statutory guidance, Articles 2 & 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights Act (ECHR), and the Standards of Professional Behaviour.  The assessment is carried out to establish the circumstances of the allegation, and to make a recording decision, as well as determine the mode of investigation and whether the matter requires consultation with or referral to the Front Door for Families or the LADO.  It will also consider whether the allegation is considered within the scope of this procedure. 


Where a referral is made to the LADO it will include the name and date of birth of the member of staff, as well as details of the allegations made, and actions taken or considered. against that individual.  Additional corroborating information can be provided.


Following a referral, the LADO may convene a ‘initial evaluation meeting or multi agency meeting’ that they chair. This meeting is focused on the adult involved and will require the nominated investigating officer to represent Sussex Police


There may be three strands in the consideration of an allegation:

  • enquiries and assessment by Children and Young People’s Service about whether a child is in need of protection or in need of services,
  • a police investigation of a possible criminal offence,
  • consideration by Professional Standards of disciplinary action in respect of the individual,

all of which will inform the final decision as to whether the member of staff is safe, and it is appropriate for them to continue working with children.


If a referral is made to the LADO, the management of the case going forward will be in accordance with “Guidance for LADO referrals” (appendix A)


Procedures need to be applied with professional judgement and risk assessment.  Some allegations will be so serious as to require immediate referral to social care and subject to a police criminal investigation.  Other less serious cases may not seem to warrant consideration of a police criminal investigation or enquiries by Children and Young People’s Service.  However, it is important to ensure that even apparently less serious allegations are seen to be followed up and that they are examined objectively.  Consequently, the LADO should be informed of all allegations that meet the criteria in point 2. “Scope” so that further consultation can take place as appropriate. We cannot expect the public to have trust and confidence in Policing if we are not operating an open and transparent process in responding to allegations involving a member of staff.  


If appropriate, a referral form should be completed and sent by emailing (see Appendix B)


The LADO should then establish, in discussion with the IO that the allegation is within the scope of this procedure, the process for information sharing and whether a strategy discussion is required.  


Where a Section 47 strategy discussion is needed, or it is clear that Police or Children and Young People’s Service may need to be involved, the strategy meeting will agree arrangements for notifying and interviewing the member of staff.



No further action after initial consideration.  If the concern does not meet the threshold for a formal safeguarding LADO process it is the responsibility of IO to decide whether, or how to follow up that concern further in accordance with Force Policy. Its important to note that the LADO deal with all referrals in confidence therefore details of the member of staff will not be named in any reports to the LSCB. Some statistics are shared but in an anonymised manner.


Threshold (see Scope) is  met after initial consideration.  This will trigger a formal safeguarding process with all partners working together to ensure the safeguarding of any children is paramount and central to the process.


The outcome of the LADO process will be recorded as one of the following:

  • Substantiated – there is sufficient identifiable evidence to prove the allegation.
  • Unsubstantiated – this is not the same as a false allegation. It means there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation. The term, therefore, does not imply guilt or innocence.
  • Unfounded – there is no evidence or proper basis which supports the allegation being made. It might also indicate that the person making the allegation misinterpreted the incident or was mistaken about what they saw.  Alternatively they may not have been aware of all the circumstances.
  • Malicious – there is clear evidence to prove there has been a deliberate act to deceive and the allegation is entirely false.
  • False – there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation.

Information Sharing


The principles for effective information sharing as set out in the relevant statutory guidance namely sections 10 & 11 Children Act 2004 and Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures


Referral to the LADO will contain the member of staffs full name, date of birth and circumstances of the allegation, including details of the alleged victim.


The LADO service will share information in line with existing protocols and procedures. 


At the conclusion of the investigatory process relevant information will be shared with the LADO in order that the safeguarding conclusion can be agreed.  This may be agreed during a multi-agency LADO meeting.


At the conclusion of the investigation and dependant on the outcome, information from the safeguarding LADO process may be shared for the purposes of potential disciplinary action.



Where criteria for referral to the LADO is met, referral will be made within 24 hours. The member of staff’s home station will dictate which LADO receives the referral, regardless of where the incident took place.


All investigations will be conducted in accordance with police disciplinary policies and procedures.  They will be conducted in a timely manner and with minimum delay, considering the circumstances of individual cases, including the nature, seriousness and complexity of the allegation. 


Relevant information obtained through the course of investigation will be considered as part of any subsequent disciplinary action.



Appendix A – Guide for LADO referrals


Appendix B -LADO Referral Form

 West Sussex

Email: lado@westsussex.gov.uk

LADO Website click here


 East Sussex

Email: lado@eastsussex.gov.uk

LADO Website click here


 Brighton & Hove

Email: ladoenquiries@brighton-hove.gov.uk

LADO Website click here


This page is correct as printed on Tuesday 16th of July 2024 06:20:08 AM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.