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24.24 Historical Abuse Allegations

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Last reviewed July 2020

Date of next review July 2023




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:

  • There is a significant likelihood that a person who abused a child(ren) in the past will have continued and may still be doing so;
  • Criminal prosecution remains a possibility if sufficient evidence can be carefully collated.



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. 

Professionals responding to an allegation of historical abuse should try and establish the following:

  • Name of the alleged abuser, date of birth or approximate current age and current address/whereabouts and occupation
  • Location/address where the abuse occurred
  • The year the abuse occurred and duration of the period over which the abuse occurred
  • Whether it is known if there are any child(ren) that may currently be at risk from the alleged abuser or any contact the alleged abuser has with children

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.

If a child under 18 makes a disclosure to a professional about historical abuse this should be responded to like any other disclosure of abuse (ie. contact either East Sussex SPOA, Brighton and Hove Front Door for Families, West Sussex MASH). 


An adult service user should be asked whether they want 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 their direct involvement, all reasonable efforts will be made to look into what they have reported.


Sussex Police Control Room must be informed about allegations of crime at the earliest opportunity. This can be done by phoning 101 or by emailing Whether the Police become involved in an investigation will depend on several factors including the victims' wishes, safeguarding of others, and the public interest. If the location of the crime is not in Sussex, then Sussex Police will inform the local force area. The victim will be told who will continue with the investigation. 


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.

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This page is correct as printed on Thursday 30th of June 2022 11:10:26 AM please refer back to this website ( for updates.