18.1 Allegations against people who work with, care for or volunteer with children

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Please note this policy is under review following the publication of Working together to safeguard children, 2023.

 

This policy is was last reviewed in April 2023 

Date of next review Arpil 2025

See also - 2.3 Sharing information with family members about other adults and the risk they may pose | Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures Manual

Contents

Introduction

18.1.1

All organisations which have employees or volunteers working with children (people in positions of trust) should have clear and accessible policies and procedures, consistent with these Pan Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures, which explain what should happen when allegations are made about the behaviour of a member of staff or volunteer. These should include the requirement to appoint a designated safeguarding lead to whom these allegations are reported. It is the responsibility of this designated safeguarding lead to report allegations to, and liaise with, the local authority designated officer (LADO) who has the responsibility to manage and have oversight of allegations against people who work with children Working Together to Safeguard Children

18.1.2

Safeguarding Partnerships should have arrangements in place for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the arrangements to manage allegations across the Partnership.

18.1.3

All references in this document to 'members of staff' and 'employment' should be interpreted as meaning all paid or unpaid staff aged 16 or over (whether directly employed or through an agency / supply staff) and volunteers, including foster carers and prospective adopters. All references to 'employers' should be taken to include any agency or organisation with responsibility for paid or unpaid staff and volunteers, including foster carers and prospective adopters. This chapter also applies to any person, who manages or facilitates access to an establishment where children are present.

18.1.4

The acronym LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) is used throughout these procedures to refer to the specific role of the designated officer employed by the local authority to manage and have oversight of allegations across the children's workforce. This term is used in order to distinguish between safeguarding leads in health and education who can also be referred to as 'designated' leads.

Scope

18.1.5

Definition

These procedures should be applied when there is an allegation that any person who works with children, in connection with their employment or voluntary activity, 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;
  • Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they 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.
18.1.6

Allegations can be made in relation to physical, emotional, sexual harm and/or neglect. For example:

  •  physical assault/chastisement/restraint;
  • Having a sexual relationship with a child under 18 if in a position of trust in respect of that child, even if consensual. The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022 has extended the definition within the Sexual Offences Act 2003 Section 22a to include anyone who coaches, teaches, trains, supervises or instructs a child under 18, on a regular basis, in a sport or a religion;
  • Grooming, i.e. meeting a child under 16 with intent to commit a relevant offence Sexual Offences Act 2003 Section 15;
  • Other 'grooming' behaviour giving rise to concerns of a broader child protection nature such as inappropriate text / e-mail messages or images, gifts, socialising;
  • Possession of Indecent Images of Children (IIOC) / pseudo-photographs of children.
18.1.7

In addition, these procedures should be applied when there is an allegation that any person who works with children:

  • Has behaved in a way in their personal life that raises safeguarding concerns. These concerns do not have to directly relate to a child but could, for example, include arrest for domestic abuse;
  • Who is a parent or carer, and whose child/ren have become subject to child protection procedures;
  • Is closely associated with someone in their personal lives (e.g. partner, member of the family or other household member) who may present a risk of harm to child/ren, for example, childminder or foster carer.
18.1.8

Finally, these procedures should be followed where a person's employment is covered by the Childcare Act 2006 and is living in the same household where another person who is disqualified lives or is employed - a person is disqualified if they are 'found to have committed' an offence. 

 Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006 

Disqualification by association is only relevant where childcare is provided in domestic settings (for example where childminding is provided in the home) or under registration on domestic premises, including where an assistant works on non-domestic premises up to 50% of the time under a domestic registration.

18.1.9

It is also important to note that, whilst not specifically covered by statutory guidance, the risks associated with the wider family and close associates of the member of staff may also need to be considered even if their work with children does not fall within the remit of the statutory guidance.

18.1.10

These procedures should be followed where allegations are made against a 16- or 17-year-old who has been put in a position of trust by an organisation in relation to anyone under the age of 18. For example, where they might be involved in coaching a sport or in other school or out of school activities.

18.1.11

The procedures for dealing with allegations need to be applied with common sense and judgement. Many cases may well either not meet the criteria set out above or may do so without warranting consideration of either a police investigation or enquiries by local authority children's social care services. A decision about whether a case satisfies the criteria or warrants consideration of a police investigation or local authority enquiries should only be taken in consultation with the LADO. In these cases, employers should follow their safeguarding and other relevant procedures to resolve cases without delay.

18.1.12

Concerns may also be raised where a person in a position of trust behaves in a manner that would satisfy the LADO threshold criteria but the subject of their behaviour is over the age of 18 (e.g. a teacher engaged in a sexual relationship with an 18 year old student in year 13). If there are grounds to believe that the behaviours commenced prior to the subject becoming 18 and / or that the adult had “groomed” the subject prior to their 18th birthday, then these procedures should be followed. If there are no grounds to believe that these behaviours commenced prior to the subject becoming 18, then consideration should be given as to whether the person in a position of trust has breached their agency’s code of conduct, behaviour policies, safeguarding policies or personal relationships policy. The West Sussex, East Sussex and Brighton & Hove Safeguarding Children Partnerships encourage partner agencies to ensure that they adopt a code of conduct and / or other polices which clearly includes references to behaviours / relationships between people in a position of trust and those for whom they are responsible that are over the age of 18.

The difference between an allegation and a concern

18.1.13

It might not be clear whether an incident constitutes an 'allegation'. It is important to remember that to be an allegation the alleged incident has to be sufficiently serious as to suggest that harm has or may have been caused harm to a child/ren or that the alleged behaviour indicates the individual may pose a risk of harm to children (or otherwise meet the criteria above). Issues that do not meet this threshold may constitute conduct or disciplinary issues and should be addressed by employers using the appropriate organisational procedures.

18.1.14

If it is difficult to determine the level of risk associated with an incident the following should be considered:

  • Was the incident a disproportionate or inappropriate response in the context of a challenging situation?
  • Where the incident involved an inappropriate response to challenging behaviour, had the member of staff had training in managing this?
  • Does the member of staff understand that their behaviour was inappropriate and express a wish to behave differently in the future? For example, are they willing to undergo training?
  • Does the child or family want to report the incident to the police or would they prefer the matter to be dealt with by the employer?
  • Have similar allegations been made against the employee – is there a pattern developing?
18.1.15

Incidents which fall short of the threshold could include an accusation that is made second or third hand and the facts are not clear, or the member of staff alleged to have done this was not there at the time; or there is confusion about the account.

18.1.16

Whether an incident constitutes an allegation and hence needs to be dealt with through these procedures, should always be discussed by the LADO and the employer's safeguarding lead. If it falls short of this threshold there may still be a role for the LADO to provide advice and support to the employer. Where the matter constitutes a conduct or performance issue, the employer should follow the appropriate disciplinary procedures.

18.1.17

The evaluation of low level concerns can be undertaken in consultation with the LADO. The consultation process allows for concerns to be evaluated objectively and to ascertain whether or not similar concerns may have been raised by a previous employer but not met the threshold for investigation.

18.1.18

Where the LADO is consulted on matters which do not reach the threshold of an allegation, such consultations should be recorded with details of the organisation and where appropriate, details of the individual. Where an individual’s details are identified and recorded the employer should advise the adult that the LADO was consulted.

The LADO should ensure that all records are clear, descriptive, and thorough, and record risk analysis at all stages of the intervention. All meetings and discussions should be appropriately recorded and circulated to participants in a timely manner.

Organised abuse

18.1.19

Investigators should be alert to signs of organised or widespread abuse and/or the involvement of other perpetrators or institutions.  They should consider whether the matter should be dealt with in accordance with complex abuse procedures which, if applicable, will take priority. See Complex (Organised and Multiple) Abuse.

Non-recent abuse

18.1.20

Allegations of non-recent abuse should be responded to and reported in the same way as contemporary allegations. In cases of non-recent abuse, the person against whom the allegation is made may still be working with children and it will be important to investigate whether this is the case.

Relevant Statutory Guidance

18.1.21

Working Together to Safeguard Children: Statutory guidance on inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Available at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/working-together-to-safeguard-children--2

18.1.22

Detailed guidance can be found for schools and all educational establishments in https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/keeping-children-safe-in-education--2

18.1.23

Guidance about the use of physical restraint in schools for governing bodies, headteachers and school staff. Available at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-reasonable-force-in-schools

18.1.24

Statutory guidance has been issued 'Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006'. Available at: GOV.UK, Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006Disqualification under the Childcare Act 2006

18.1.25

Guidance regarding making a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) website is available at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/making-barring-referrals-to-the-dbs 

Procedures in Specific Organisations

18.1.26

It is recognised that many organisations will have their own procedures in place, some of which may need to take into account particular regulations and guidance, e.g. schools, registered child care providers, foster carers, etc.

18.1.27

Where organisations do have specific procedures, they should be compatible with these procedures and additionally provide the contact details for:

  • The Designated Senior Manager to whom all allegations should be reported;
  • The person to whom all allegations should be reported in the absence of the Designated Senior Manager or where that person is the subject of the allegation;
  • The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).
18.1.28

Guidance regarding the legal duty to refer and power to refer to the DBS is available at: GOV.UK, DBS barring referral guidance

Roles and Responsibilities

18.1.29

Roles and responsibilities for all organisations

Working Together to Safeguard Children requires that County level and unitary local authorities ensure that allegations against people who work with children are not dealt with in isolation. Any action necessary to address corresponding welfare concerns in relation to the child or children involved should be taken without delay and in a coordinated manner.

18.1.30

Local authorities should have a designated officer, or team of officers (either as part of multi-agency arrangements or otherwise), to be involved in the management and oversight of allegations against people that work with children. The designated officer, or team of officers, should be sufficiently qualified and experienced to be able to fulfil this role effectively, for example qualified social workers. Any new appointments to such a role, other than current or former designated officers moving between local authorities, should be qualified social workers. Arrangements should be put in place to ensure that any allegations about those who work with children are passed to the designated officer, or team of officers, without delay.

18.1.31

Local authorities should put in place arrangements to provide advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations and agencies on how to deal with allegations against people who work with children to employers and voluntary organisations. Local authorities should also ensure that there are appropriate arrangements in place to effectively liaise with the police and other agencies to monitor the progress of cases and ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process.

18.1.32

Each organisation providing a service to children and families must have its own policy on how it manages child safeguarding concerns so that staff, children and families know how to identify and report abuse and neglect. The policies should be consistent with and refer to these Pan Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures. Safeguarding training for staff should be provided and refreshed regularly and children and families should be regularly reminded of how they can report concerns.

18.1.33

Where services for children and families are being commissioned, commissioners should ensure that contracts include these requirements.

18.1.34

Each organisation should identify a named senior manager with overall responsibility for:

  • Ensuring that the organisation deals with allegations in accordance with these Pan Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding;
  • Resolving any inter-agency issues;
  • Making statutory notifications to professional bodies and the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS);
  • Liaising with the local safeguarding partnership.
18.1.35

Organisations should also appoint:

  • A designated safeguarding lead to whom allegations or concerns should be reported. This person should be a senior manager. They should:
    • Seek advice from the LADO regarding incidents where it is unclear whether it is an allegation or a concern;
    • Report all allegations of harm to the LADO within one working day
  • A deputy to whom reports should be made in the absence of the designated safeguarding lead or where that person is the subject of the allegation or concern.

In practice the named senior manager and the designated safeguarding lead may be the same person.

Whistleblowing

18.1.36

All staff should be made aware of the organisation's whistleblowing policy and feel confident to voice concerns about the attitude or actions of colleagues.

18.1.37

If a member of staff believes that a reported allegation or concern is not being dealt with appropriately by their organisation, they should report the matter to their LADO. See also local safeguarding partnership procedure.

Roles and responsibilities for local authorities – in addition to their role as an employer

18.1.38

Local authorities should assign a LADO or a team of LADOs, to:

  • Receive reports about allegations and to be involved in the management and oversight of individual cases;
  • Provide advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations;
  • Liaise with the police and other agencies;
  • Monitor the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process;
  • Provide advice and guidance to employers in relation to making referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and regulatory bodies such as Ofsted, the General Medical Council (GMC) etc.
18.1.39

It is very important that those giving advice have expertise in this area, as any errors in the advice could have serious ramifications, both for those individuals who have had allegations made against them and for those making the allegation.

18.1.40

It is important to be aware that LADOs do not carry out investigations into allegations – responsibility for the investigation remains with the employer (or whoever is commissioned by the employer to investigate the process) and/or the police. The LADO can provide advice and, where necessary, co-ordinate the process. Where it is not straightforward to establish which organisation should lead an investigation, for example, where responsibility may be shared between an employment agency and the organisation where the person was working, the LADO will also provide advice regarding which organisation is best placed to lead the investigation.

Cases which cross borough boundaries

 

18.1.41

Cases will often be relevant to more than one Local Authority. For example, an allegation could be made against an agency worker who works across multiple authorities and whose agency is based in a further authority. Decisions about which LADO should take the lead are complex and should consider the following:

  • Which agency holds the greatest risk? For example, if an agency worker has only worked one day in the school where the allegation has taken place and won't be returning, it might be that the employment agency holds the most risk;
  • Where is organisational learning required? For example, an agency worker may have only worked in a school for a day, but if the school did not follow good practice with the worker and this contributed to the incident, the greatest learning might be with the school.

Roles and responsibilities for Sussex Police

18.1.42

The Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub Detective Chief Inspector will:

  • Have strategic oversight of LADO process and protocols;
  • Act as point of escalation to resolve professional dispute;
  • Liaise with the Safeguarding Partnership
  • In consultation with the LADO, undertake review of the progression of cases
18.1.43

The Investigating Officer will:

  • Have oversight of the police investigation against the person subject to the allegation;
  • Liaise with the Local Authority Designated Officer;
  • Engage in any meetings or professional discussions regarding the allegation;
  • Ensure information is shared as appropriate, during and on completion of an investigation, including any details of disposal decision;
  • Engage in the review process for the purposes of ongoing safeguarding.

Responding to an Allegation or Concern – the Role of the Employer

18.1.44

An allegation or concern raised about a member of staff or volunteer may arise from a number of sources, for example, a report from a child, a concern raised by another adult in the organisation, or a complaint by a parent. It may also arise in the context of the member of staff and their life outside work or at home.

Initial action by person receiving or identifying an allegation or concern

18.1.45

The person to whom an allegation or concern is first reported should treat the matter seriously and keep an open mind. They should not:

  • Investigate or ask leading questions;
  • Make assumptions or offer alternative explanations;
  • Promise confidentiality.
18.1.46

They should follow their organisation's procedures, which should include the following:

  • Making a written record of the information (where possible in the child / adult's own words), including the time, date and place of incident/s, persons present and what was said;
  • Signing and dating the written record;
  • Immediately reporting the matter to the designated safeguarding lead, or the deputy in their absence or; where the designated safeguarding lead is the subject of the allegation report to the deputy or other appropriate senior manager
18.1.47

If the child is believed to have suffered or be at risk of suffering significant harm, the employer should make a referral to Children’s Social Care in the area in which the child resides. Children’s Social Care will make a decision regarding whether the concern reaches threshold for a Strategy meeting to be convened.

18.1.48

Some, very serious allegations, should be immediately reported to the police – this will also enable prompt action to be taken to safeguard the child and gather evidence e.g. from mobile phones etc.

18.1.49

Please also refer to the Pan Sussex Child Protection procedures for Making a Referral

Initial action by the designated safeguarding lead (if different)

18.1.50

When informed of a concern or allegation, the designated safeguarding lead should not investigate the matter but they should continue to gather factual information in regards to the incident and ensure any evidence is preserved. This fact-finding should be a neutral process and should not amount to an investigation of the incident.

They should:

  • Obtain written details of the concern / allegation, signed and dated by the person receiving it (not the child / adult making the allegation);
  • Approve and date the written details;
  • Record any information about times, dates and location of incident/s and names of any potential witnesses;
  • Record discussions about the child and/or member of staff, any decisions made, and the reasons for those decisions.
18.1.51

The designated safeguarding lead must inform their LADO within one working day when an allegation is made and prior to any further investigation taking place. A failure to report an allegation in accordance with procedures is a potential disciplinary matter.

18.1.52

If it is outside of normal working hours and there is an immediate risk to a child, the local authority emergency duty team for children's social care. The LADO should be informed as soon as possible.

18.1.53

It is important to note that information gathering is distinct from investigation. Employers should continue to gather information about the facts of the case, for example, checking if there is any evidence and taking statements from other witnesses.

18.1.54

An immediate risk assessment should be carried out.

18.1.55

If appropriate the police should also be notified within one working day – or immediately if necessary.

Deciding if it is an allegation of harm or a concern

18.1.56

The threshold decision about whether the issue should be dealt with as an allegation or a concern will be made by the LADO in line with the threshold criteria above.

Managing Interim Risk

18.1.57

In all situations the perceived level of risk during the investigation needs to be considered and managed.

18.1.58

In certain situations the level may require the member of staff not to be working with specific children or young people or all children and young people until the investigation is completed.

18.1.59

If this is the case then various options are open to the employer including:

  • Redeployment so not to come into contact with one or more children;
  • Refraining (agreeing that the person will not work with children during the investigation); or Suspension.

 Refraining or suspension should not be automatic or considered as a default option. They should be considered in any case where:

There is cause to suspect a child is at risk of Significant Harm;

  • The allegation warrants investigation by the police; or
  • The allegation is so serious that it might be grounds for dismissal.
  • If suspension is deemed appropriate, the reasons and justification should be recorded and the individual notified of the reasons.
18.1.60

The LADO will be invited to attend a Strategy meeting chaired by Children’s Social Care in order to gain relevant information regarding an allegation and canvass professionals’ views on refraining/suspension and inform the employer. Only the employer, however, has the power to refrain/suspend an accused employee and they cannot be required to do so by a local authority or the police.

18.1.61

At the conclusion of the Strategy meeting, the LADO may continue discussions with the relevant professionals. In order to respect the confidentiality of the allegation management element, only those professionals relevant to the person of concern and the agency will remain in the meeting.

18.1.62

The possible risks to children should be evaluated in terms of the child(ren) involved in the incident. Additionally, consideration must be given to the risks of any children related to, living with or in contact with through other work or community life, to the accused member of staff.

18.1.63

If the child also lives with the member of staff, for example in situations such as foster care or boarding school, then the welfare of the child should be considered paramount and the risk managed in a way which ensures the minimum of disruption, and encourages placement stability, but maximises the protection of the child(ren).

Schools and colleges; supply teachers

18.1.64

In some circumstances schools and colleges will have to consider an allegation against an individual not directly employed by them, where its disciplinary procedures do not fully apply, for example, supply teachers provided by an employment agency or business.

18.1.65

Whilst schools and colleges are not the employer of supply teachers, they should ensure allegations are dealt with properly. In no circumstances should a school or college decide to cease to use a supply teacher due to safeguarding concerns, without finding out the facts and liaising with the LADO to determine a suitable outcome. Governing bodies and proprietors should discuss with the agency whether it is appropriate to suspend the supply teacher, or redeploy them to another part of the school, whilst they carry out their investigation.

18.1.66

Agencies should be fully involved and co-operate in any enquiries from the LADO, police and/or children’s social services. The school or college will usually take the lead because agencies do not have direct access to children or other school staff, so they will not be able to collect the facts when an allegation is made, nor do they have all the relevant information required by the LADO as part of the referral process. Supply teachers, whilst not employed by the school or college, are under the supervision, direction and control of the governing body or proprietor when working in the school or college. They should be advised to contact their trade union representative if they have one, or a colleague for support. The allegations management meeting which is often arranged by the LADO should address issues such as information sharing, to ensure that any previous concerns or allegations known to the agency are taken into account by the school during the investigation.

18.1.67

When using an agency, schools and colleges should inform the agency of its process for managing allegations. This should include inviting the agency’s human resource manager or equivalent to meetings and keeping them up to date with information about its policies

Schools and Colleges; Interim Prohibition Orders

18.1.68

In cases where a school or college is made aware that the Secretary of State has made an Interim Prohibition Order in respect of an individual at the school or college, it will be necessary to immediately suspend that person from teaching pending the findings of the Department for Education and Teaching Regulation Agency. The TRA explains that an interim prohibition order prevents a person from teaching until their case has been fully considered and concluded. 

Managerless organisations - Personal Assistants/ self-employed individuals

18.1.69

LADO’s often receive referrals from professionals or families where there are concerns about a person who provides a service working with children but where they do not work for a specific organization.

 These might relate to individuals who are not contractually linked to a line management structure or HR arrangements.

Examples of managerless organisations may include, individuals 'employed' by the family as part of a 'direct payment' agreement, personal assistants, providers of private tuition in the home, people who have set up their own businesses to provide a service such as sports or music coaches or self-employed nannies that are not on the Voluntary Child Care Register.

There is good practice guidance to refer to in such instances - Good Practice Guide for Managerless organisations

The Role of the LADO

18.1.70

The LADO will triage all reported concerns to decide if the threshold for allegations management has been met, or if it is a low level concern. In cases where it is not clear whether the threshold has been met, it might be necessary to have further discussion with other agencies and gather further information.

18.1.71

It is essential to keep the employer who raised the concern informed whilst the concern is being triaged. Organisations raising concerns may want to challenge or discuss decisions made by the LADO and will need to be updated on any action taken.

18.1.72

Consideration should be given to the risk or potential risk to both the child/children directly affected by the issue and any other children who may also be at risk.

18.1.73

Where it is decided that the incident does not meet the threshold for allegations management and is a concern only, then the employer should take steps to ensure any conduct or behaviour issues are addressed with the member of staff through normal employment practices.

18.1.74

There are up to three strands in the consideration of an allegation:

  • A police investigation of a possible criminal offence;
  • Local authority Children's social care enquiries and/or assessment about whether a child is in need of protection or services;
  • Consideration by an employer of disciplinary action in relation to possible performance/ conduct issues.

An 'Allegations against Staff and Volunteers' (ASV) meeting

18.1.75

Where the child is deemed to be at risk of significant harm, a Strategy meeting should be convened and chaired by Children’s Social Care. This meeting will determine whether a S47 is needed. The LADO should attend this meeting to give advice and identify and actions relating to the allegations management process. An ASV can be held concurrently with the Strategy meeting if needed, or a separate ASV convened if this is more suitable.

18.1.76

An ASV meeting will decide the next steps for managing the allegation. The ASV, chaired by the LADO, will include relevant personnel from Childrens Social Care, Police, the employer/s and governing or regulatory bodies. The employer is advised to bring a human resources advisor.

18.1.77

An ASV meeting will normally only be convened when it has been decided that the threshold for allegations management has been met. Meetings should not be used to further investigate concerns about inappropriate behaviour or conduct where there are not clear indications of harm /risk of harm to a child.

18.1.78

The ASV meeting should:

  • Consider the current allegation in the context of any previous allegations or concerns;
  • Where appropriate, take account of any entitlement by staff to use reasonable force to control or restrain children;
  • Decide whether there should be a police investigation;
  • Consider whether any parallel disciplinary process/internal investigation can commence and agree protocols for sharing information;
  • Consider whether a complex abuse investigation is applicable;
  • Plan enquiries if needed, allocate tasks and set timescales;
  • Decide what information can be shared, with whom and when.
18.1.79

The ASV meeting should also:

  • Ensure that arrangements are made to protect the child/ren involved and any other child/ren affected, including taking emergency action where needed;
  • Consider what support should be provided to all children who may be affected;
  • Consider what support should be provided to the member of staff and others who may be affected and how they will be kept up to date with the progress of the investigation;
  • Ensure that investigations are sufficiently independent;
  • Make recommendations where appropriate regarding suspension, or alternatives to suspension;
  • Identify a lead contact manager within each agency;
  • Agree protocols for reviewing investigations and monitoring progress by the LADO;
  • Consider issues for the attention of senior management (e.g. media interest, resource implications);
  • Consider reports for consideration of DBS referral;
  • Consider risk assessments to inform the employer's safeguarding arrangements;
  • Agree dates for future meetings / discussions.
18.1.80

A final meeting should be held to ensure that all tasks have been completed, including any referrals to the DBS if appropriate, and, where appropriate, agree an action plan for future practice based on lessons learnt.

18.1.81

If an allegation arises about a member of staff, outside of their work with children, and this may present a risk of harm/risk of harm to child/ren for whom the member of staff is responsible through their employment/volunteering, a meeting / discussion should be convened to decide whether the concern justifies:

  • Approaching the member of staff's employer for further information, in order to assess the level of risk of harm; and / or
  • Inviting the employer to a further meeting / discussion about dealing with the possible risk of harm.
18.1.82

If the member of staff lives in a different authority area to that which covers their workplace, liaison should take place between the relevant agencies in both areas and a joint meeting / discussion convened.

18.1.83

In some cases, an allegation of abuse against someone closely associated with a member of staff (e.g. partner, member of the family or other household member) may present a risk of harm to child/ren for whom the member of staff is responsible through their employment/volunteering. In these circumstances, a meeting / discussion should be convened to consider:

  • The ability and/or willingness of the member of staff to adequately protect the child/ren;
  • Whether measures need to be put in place to ensure their protection;
  • Whether the role of the member of staff is compromised.

Suggested Timescales

18.1.84

It is important to recognise that the right outcome is far more important than meeting these timescales. The following principles should be used at all times.

  •  Minimising delay;
  • Providing full written information;
  • Being open;
  • Ensuring access to independent support.
18.1.85

If further investigation is needed to decide upon disciplinary action, the employer and the LADO should discuss whether the employer has appropriate resources or whether the employer should commission an independent investigation because of the nature and/or complexity of the case and in order to ensure objectivity.

18.1.86

The aim of an investigation is to obtain, as far as possible, a fair, balanced and accurate record in order to consider the appropriateness of disciplinary action and/or the individual's suitability to work with children.

18.1.87

At any stage, new information emerges that requires a child protection referral, the investigation should be paused and only resumed if agreed with Children's Social Care and the Police. Consideration should again be given as to whether suspension is appropriate in light of the new information.

18.1.88

The LADO should monitor and record the progress of each case monthly depending on its complexity.  This could be by way of ASV meetings or direct liaison with the police, local authority children's social care, or employer, as appropriate. 

18.1.89

The LADO should keep comprehensive records in order to ensure that each case is being dealt with expeditiously and that there are no undue delays.

18.1.90

If a police investigation is to be conducted, the police should set a date for reviewing its progress and consulting the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) about continuing or closing the investigation or charging the individual. Wherever possible, this should be no later than four weeks after the ASV meeting.  Dates for further reviews should also be agreed monthly depending on the complexity of the investigation.

Outcomes following an investigation

18.1.91

The following definitions should be used by employers when determining the outcome of allegation investigations:

  •  Substantiated - A substantiated allegation is one which is supported or established by evidence or proof;
  • Unsubstantiated - An unsubstantiated allegation is not the same as a false allegation. It simply means that there is insufficient identifiable 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;
  • False – There is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation;
  • Malicious – There is clear evidence to prove there has been a deliberate act to deceive and the allegation is entirely false.
18.1.92

False allegations may be an indicator of abuse elsewhere which requires further exploration.  If an allegation is demonstrably false, the employer, in consultation with the LADO, should refer the matter to local authority children's social care to determine whether the child is in need of services, or might have been abused by someone else.

18.1.93

The outcome decision is made by the employer, although the views of others involved will be canvassed. The LADO will record the employer’s decision. The LADO will also record any difference of opinion.

18.1.94

Where the allegation is Substantiated, the outcome should be made clear when providing references to prospective employers. This is particularly important where the person moves into another position involving working with children.

18.1.95

Only cases in which an allegation was proven to be Substantiated should be included in employer references.

Record keeping in relation to the outcome of an investigation

18.1.96

It is important that a clear and comprehensive summary of the allegation, details of how the allegation was followed up and resolved, and a note of any action taken and decisions reached, is kept on the confidential personnel file of the accused, and a copy provided to the person concerned. The purpose of the record is to enable accurate information to be given in response to any future request for a reference, where appropriate. It will provide clarification in cases where future DBS checks reveal information from the police about an allegation that did not result in a criminal conviction and it will help to prevent unnecessary re-investigation if, as sometimes happens, an allegation re-surfaces after a period of time.

18.1.97

The record should be retained at least until the accused has reached normal pension age or for a period of 10 years from the date of the allegation if that is longer. The Information Commissioner has published guidance on employment records in its Employment Practices Code and supplementary guidance, which provides some practical advice on record retention.

Substantiated Allegations

18.1.98

Referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS)

The Disclosure and Barring Service was established under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 which merged the functions previously carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). See Chapter 5 Safeguarding vulnerable groups, criminal records etc. Protection of Freedoms Act 2012

18.1.99

“There is a legal requirement for Regulated activity providers (employers or volunteer managers of people working in regulated activity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and personnel suppliers to refer to the DBS where certain conditions are met. This applies even when a referral has also been made to a local authority safeguarding team or professional regulator.” An employer or volunteer manager is breaking the law if they knowingly employ someone in a regulated activity with a group from which they are barred from working

18.1.100

If an allegation is substantiated then the guidance regarding making a referral should be followed - see Disclosure and Barring Service - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk). The DBS will require information to support a barring referral and the DBS uses the civil burden of proof, on the balance of possibilities. A referral to DBS should be made simultaneously to a report to the Teaching Regulation Agency - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) and any other regulatory body, particularly where the legal duty to refer has been met. 

Legal duty to refer and power to refer

18.1.101

The following groups have legal duty to make a barring referral to the DBS:

  • 'regulated activity suppliers' - employers or volunteer managers of people working in regulated activity in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
  • 'personnel suppliers' - employment agencies, employment business or an educational institution that makes arrangements with a personal with a view to supplying that person to employers to undertake regulated activity. See  DBS barring referral guidance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
18.1.102

Power to refer

Under legislation the following can make referrals to the DBS:

  • Local authorities
  • Education authority in Northern Ireland
  • Health and social care bodies in Northern Ireland
  • Keepers of register in England, Wales or Northern Ireland
  • Supervisory authorities in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, and the power to refer happens when an organisation is not acting as a regulated activity provider. This will usually be when the organisation is undertaking their safeguarding role.

 DBS are required by law to consider any and all information sent to us from any source. This includes information sent to us where the legal referral conditions are not met.

18.1.103

A referral to the DBS should be made simultaneously to a report to the Teaching Regulation Agency and any other regulatory body, particularly where the legal duty to refer has been met.

18.1.104

From a DBS perspective it is not necessary to determine whether your referral is due to the legal duty to refer or power to refer. What is important is that organisations understand when they have a legal duty to make a barring referral to the DBS and that they act on this.

18.1.105

The The DBS Regional Outreach service - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) focuses on working with organisations of all sizes and sectors from across the UK, providing dedicated support in relation to DBS products and services. The aim of the work is to identify how the DBS can collaborate and share key messages among the safeguarding communit, working towards the DBS vision of making recruitment safer. 

Notifying Ofsted

18.1.106

Ofsted should be informed by the  setting/employer of all allegations or concerns made against a:

  • foster carer
  • prospective adopter
  • member of staff in a residential childcare facilitiy 
  • member of staff in any day care establishment for children under 8 
  • resgistered childminder

Disciplinary or suitability process and investigations

18.1.107

The LADO and the employer should discuss whether disciplinary action is appropriate where:

  • It is clear at the outset or decided by a meeting / discussion that a police investigation or local authority children's social care enquiry is not necessary; or
  • The employer or the LADO is informed by the police or the Crown Prosecution Service that a criminal investigation and any subsequent trial is complete, or that an investigation is to be closed without charge, or a prosecution discontinued.
18.1.108

The discussion should consider any potential misconduct or gross misconduct on the part of the member of staff, and take into account:

  • Information provided by the police and / or local authority children's social care;
  • The result of any investigation or trial;
  • The different standard of proof in disciplinary and criminal proceedings.
18.1.109

In the case of agency, supply, contract and volunteer workers, normal disciplinary procedures may not apply. In these circumstances, the LADO and employer should act jointly with the providing agency, if any, in deciding whether to continue to use the person's services, or provide future work with children, and if not, whether to make a report for consideration of barring or other action.

18.1.110

If a disciplinary hearing is required, and further investigation is not required, it should be held within the timeframe laid out in the employer's procedures.

18.1.111

If a disciplinary hearing is required, and further investigation is not required, it should be held within the timeframe laid out in the employer's procedures.

18.1.112

If formal disciplinary action is not required, the employer should meet the employee, discuss fully the outcome of the allegation and ensure they are reintegrated into the work environment.

Further investigations

18.1.113

If further investigation is needed to decide upon disciplinary action, the designated safeguarding lead and the LADO should discuss whether the employer has appropriate resources or whether the employer should commission an independent investigation because of the nature and/or complexity of the case and to ensure objectivity. The investigation should not be conducted by a relative or friend of the member of staff.

18.1.114

The aim of an investigation is to obtain, as far as possible, a fair, balanced and accurate record to consider the appropriateness of disciplinary action and / or the risk of harm to children. Its purpose is not to prove or disprove the allegation.

18.1.115

If, at any stage, new information emerges that requires a child protection referral, the investigation should be held in abeyance and only resumed if agreed with local authority children's social care and the police. Consideration should again be given as to whether suspension is appropriate in light of the new information.

The investigating officer should aim to provide a report within ten working days.

On receipt of the report the employer should follow their disciplinary procedures.

18.1.116

Wherever possible, Police and Children's Social Care should, during the course of their investigations and enquiries, obtain consent to provide the employer and/or regulatory body with statements a summary of the evidence for disciplinary purposes

Resignations and 'compromise agreements'

18.1.117

Every effort should be made to reach a conclusion in all cases even if:

  • The individual refuses to cooperate, having been given a full opportunity to answer the allegation and make representations;
  • It may not be possible to apply any disciplinary sanctions if a person's period of notice expires before the process is complete.
  • The individual leaves, resigns or ceases to provide their services.
18.1.118

It is important that every effort is made to reach a conclusion in all cases of allegations bearing on the safety or welfare of children, including any in which the person concerned refuses to cooperate

18.1.119

'Settlement agreements' (sometimes referred to as compromise agreements), by which a person agrees to resign if the employer agrees not to pursue disciplinary action, and both parties agree a form of words to be used in any future reference, should not be used in cases of refusal to cooperate or resignation before the person's notice period expires. A settlement/compromise agreement which prevents the employer from making a DBS referral when the criteria are met for so doing would likely result in a criminal offence being committed for failure to comply with the duty to refer. Nor should they be used as a way of concluding any disciplinary investigation where there is a substantiated outcome. Such an agreement will not prevent a thorough police investigation where that is appropriate.

The organisation must make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service to consider whether to add the individual to the barred list. This applies irrespective of whether a referral has been made to local authority children's social care and/or the designated officer or team of officers. It is an offence to fail to make a referral without good reason. See GOV.UK, DBS referral guidance and tools.

Learning lessons

18.1.120

The employer and the LADO should review the circumstances of the case to determine whether there are any improvements to be made to the organisation's procedures or practice.

General Responsibilities when investigating an Allegation

18.1.121

Support to the child and family involved

The organisation, together with local authority children's social care and / or police, where they are involved, should consider the impact on the child concerned and provide support as appropriate. Liaison between the agencies should take place in order to ensure that the child's needs are addressed.

18.1.122

Keeping parents/cares and children informed

The employer must inform the parents/carers of the child/ren involved of the allegation and the process that is being followed unless this will impede the disciplinary or investigative processes. The LADO can advise the employer whether or not the parents/carers should be informed. However, in some circumstances, the parent/s may need to be told straight away (e.g. if a child is injured and requires medical treatment).

18.1.123

The parents/carers and the child, if sufficiently mature, should be helped to understand the processes involved and be kept informed about the progress of the case and of the outcome where there is no criminal prosecution. This will include the outcome of any disciplinary process, but not the deliberations of, or the information used in, a hearing.

18.1.124

There may be exceptional circumstances where it would not be appropriate for the employer to inform the parents/carers, or the individual subject to the allegation is self-employed; in these circumstances there should be a discussion with the LADO about who is the most suitable person to do this.

18.1.125

Responsibilities to the person subject to the allegation

As soon as possible after an allegation has been received, the accused member of staff should be advised to contact their union or professional association. Human resources should be consulted at the earliest opportunity in order that appropriate support can be provided via the organisation's occupational health or employee welfare arrangements.

18.1.126

Subject to restrictions on the information that can be shared, the employer should, as soon as possible, inform the accused person about the nature of the allegation, how enquiries will be conducted and the possible outcome (e.g. disciplinary action, and dismissal or referral to the DBS or regulatory body).

18.1.127

The accused member of staff should:

  • Be treated fairly and honestly and helped to understand the concerns expressed and processes involved;
  • Be kept informed of the progress and outcome of any investigation and the implications for any disciplinary or related process;
  • If suspended, be kept up to date about events in the workplace.
18.1.128

The employer may need to seek advice from their LADO, the police and / or local authority children's social care about how much information should be disclosed to the accused person. However, providing information to the accused person throughout the process of dealing with the concern or allegation is an essential part of the common law duty to act fairly. The person that is alleged to be responsible for abuse and/or neglect should be provided with sufficient information to enable them to understand what it is that they are alleged to have done or threatened to do that is wrong and to allow their view to be heard and considered. This also needs to be seen in the wider context of prevention, for example, information can be used to support people to change or modify their behaviour. Feedback should be provided in a way that will not exacerbate the situation or breach the Data Protection Act 2018 or UK General Data Protection Regulations.

18.1.129

Consideration should be given to withholding information in the following circumstances:

  • Whether it is safe to disclose – this applies both to any child/ren and any witnesses particularly where there is domestic abuse;
  • If the matter is subject to police involvement, the police should always be consulted so criminal investigations are not compromised.
18.1.130

The Local Government Ombudsman and the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman can provide advice and the Information Commissioner provides advice on sharing information.

Confidentiality

18.1.131

Every effort should be made to maintain confidentiality and guard against publicity while an allegation is being investigated or considered. Apart from keeping the child, parents and accused person (where this would not place the child at further risk) up to date with progress of the case, information should be restricted to those who have a need to know in order to protect children, facilitate enquiries and manage related disciplinary or suitability processes.

18.1.132

The police should not provide identifying information to the press or media, unless and until a person is charged, except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. an appeal to trace a suspect).  In such cases, the reasons should be documented, and partner agencies consulted beforehand.

Reporting restrictions regarding allegations against teachers

18.1.133

Parents and carers should also be made aware of the requirement to maintain confidentiality about any allegations made against teachers whilst investigations are ongoing as set out in Section 13 of the Education Act 2011. If parents or carers wish to apply to the court to have reporting restrictions removed, they should be advised to seek legal advice.

18.1.134

The restrictions remain in place unless or until the teacher is charged with a criminal offence, though they may be dispensed with on the application to the Magistrates' Court by any person, if the court is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice to do so, having regard to the welfare of:

  1. The person who is the subject of the allegation, and
  2. The victim of the offence to which the allegation relates.

There is a right of appeal to the Crown Court.

18.1.135

This restriction will apply to allegations made against any teacher who works at a school, including supply and peripatetic teachers. 'School' includes academies, Free Schools, independent schools and all types of maintained schools.

18.1.136

The reporting restrictions also cease to apply if the individual to whom the restrictions apply effectively waives their right to anonymity by going public themselves or by giving their written consent for another to do so or if a judge lifts restrictions in response to a request to do so.

18.1.137

The legislation imposing restrictions makes clear that "publication" of material that may lead to the identification of the teacher who is the subject of the allegation is prohibited. "Publication" includes "any speech, writing, relevant programme or other communication in whatever form, which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public". This means that a parent who, for example, published details of the allegation on a social networking site would be in breach of the reporting restrictions (if what was published could lead to the identification of the teacher by members of the public).

This page is correct as printed on Tuesday 16th of July 2024 08:07:39 AM please refer back to this website (http://sussexchildprotection.procedures.org.uk) for updates.