Allegations Against Staff

Untitled Document

REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

The Protection of Children Standard

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter outlines the key responsibilities/procedures that must be followed when an allegation is made against a member of staff/Manager.

This guidance should be followed in relation to any allegation that a person who works with children 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 they may pose a risk of harm to children;
  • Allegations could be received from the child / young person concerned, their parent / carer or friend, a member of staff working in the home or another professional. Allegations in relation to a person’s home or private life should also be dealt with under these procedures.

This procedure should be read in conjunction with your Local Whistleblowing Procedure and Local Safeguarding Board Procedures for your area.

RELEVANT PROCEDURES

Referring Safeguarding Concerns Procedure

RELEVANT GUIDANCE

Working Together To Safeguard Children 2015


Contents

  1. Responding to Concerns or Allegations
  2. Initiating Child Protection Enquiries
  3. Confidentiality
  4. Support
  5. Suspension
  6. Record Keeping
  7. Referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service

    Appendix 1: Guidance on What to Say


1. Responding to Concerns or Allegations

The Home’s Designated Child Protection Manager is responsible for coordinating the response to Child Protection Referrals and Allegations.

Initial action by person receiving or identifying an allegation or concern

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 if seeking clarification;
  • Make assumptions or offer alternative explanations;
  • Promise confidentiality, but give assurance that the information will only be shared on a 'need to know' basis.

They should:

  • Make 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;
  • Sign and date the written record;
  • Immediately report the matter to the designated senior manager, or the deputy in their absence or; where the designated senior manager is the subject of the allegation report to the deputy or other appropriate senior manager.

Initial action by the designated senior manager

When informed of a concern or allegation, the designated senior manager should not investigate the matter or interview the member of staff, child concerned or potential witnesses.

They should:

  • Obtain written details of the concern / allegation, signed and dated by the person receiving (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.

The designated senior manager should report the allegation to the LADO within one working day.

Under no circumstances at this stage should information about the concerns/allegations be given to a person who is implicated or against whom an allegation has been made. For additional guidance on what to say/how to behave, see Appendix 1: Guidance on What to Say.


2. Initiating Child Protection Enquiries

The LADO/Team of Designated Officers will advise on the actions/measures that must be taken including notifications to the following:

  • The child(ren)'s Social Worker, and come to a decision about notifying parents and any actions that need to be taken to protect the child(ren) e.g. whether it is necessary to change placements;
  • The Regulatory Authority, if a Child Protection Enquiry is initiated;
  • Depending on the outcome of the LADO’s investigation, referring the member of staff to the Disclosure and Barring Service.

In consultation with all the agencies (e.g. the Placing Authority and the area authority and LADO/Team of Designated Officers, relevant Social Workers and the Regulatory Authority), decisions will need to be taken in relation to the member of staff against who the allegation has been made. For example it may be necessary to move or suspend staff or transfer them to other duties which do not involve direct contact with children or vulnerable adults.

The Designated Senior Manager will be consulted as to whom should contribute to reports and contribute to the investigation of the allegation including:

If, at the conclusion of the investigation, if the member of staff is removed from working with children, a referral must be made to the Disclosure and Barring Service.


3. Confidentiality

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.


4. Support

The home, together with 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.

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.


5. Suspension

Suspension is a neutral act and it should not be automatic. It should be considered in any case where:

  • There is cause to suspect a child is at risk of harm; or
  • The allegation warrants investigation by the police; or
  • The allegation is so serious that it might be grounds for dismissal.

The possible risk of harm to children should be evaluated and managed in respect of the child/ren involved and any other children in the accused member of staff's home, work or community life.

If a strategy meeting / discussion is held, attendees should discuss whether suspension is appropriate. Only the employer, however, has the power to suspend an accused employee.

If a suspended person is to return to work, the employer should consider what help and support might be appropriate (e.g. a phased return to work and/or provision of a mentor), and also how best to manage the member of staff's contact with the child concerned, if still in the workplace.


6. Record Keeping

Employers should keep a clear and comprehensive summary of the case record on a person's confidential personnel file and give a copy to the individual. The record should include details of how the allegation was followed up and resolved, the decisions reached and the action taken. It should be kept at least until the person reaches normal retirement age or for ten years if longer.

The purpose of the record is to enable accurate information to be given in response to any future request for a reference if the person has moved on. It will provide clarification where a future DBS request reveals non convicted information, and will help to prevent unnecessary reinvestigation if an allegation re-surfaces after a period of time. In this sense it may serve as a protector to the individual themselves, as well as in cases where substantiated allegations need to be known about to safeguard future children.

Details of allegations that are found to be malicious should be removed from personnel records.


7. Referrals to the Disclosure and Barring Service

If an allegation is substantiated and the person is dismissed, the employer ceases to use the person's service or the person resigns or otherwise ceases to provide his/her services, the designated manager and the LADO should discuss whether a referral should be made to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

If a referral is to be made; it should be submitted within one month of the allegation being substantiated.

Where individual staff continue to have concerns about a colleague or in relation to conduct of an investigation made in response to an allegation, your Local Whistleblowing Procedure should be followed.

Appendix 1: Guidance on What to Say

The following are principles of good practice which must be adhered to when receiving/reporting concerns.

However, this guidance is not exhaustive, all staff should have training on receiving and reporting child protection concerns - if in doubt, staff must consult the Designated Senior Manager or another manager who is not implicated immediately.

When as allegation if made against a staff member / colleague:

Staff may ask questions or seek clarification regarding any allegation made against them, but they may not take any actions to investigate or in any way make judgements about what is reported to them. Investigations or enquiries, if necessary, will be led by the Local Authority Designated Officer / Team of Officers.

Staff must not inform or discuss concerns/allegations with any person who is alleged or reported to be the perpetrator, including any colleague/manager. If a manager is implicated, staff must ensure that any reports are passed to an independent manager or directly to Children's Services, the Social Worker, Police or Regulatory Authority.

When a child / young person makes a disclosure:

Staff must not give absolute guarantees of confidentiality to those who report possible Significant Harm to them, but they should guarantee that the information will only be passed to the minimum number of people who need to know to ensure proper action is taken to sort the problem out.

DO

  • Listen to the child attentively;
  • Maintain eye contact;
  • Allow the child to talk, but don't press for information;
  • Tell the child that they are not to blame for anything that has happened;
  • Reassure the child that they were right to tell;
  • Let the child know that other people will have to be told so that the abuse can stop;
  • Try to explain in a way that the child can understand.

DON'T

  • Promise to keep secrets;
  • Make any promises you can't keep;
  • Interrogate the child or ask leading questions;
  • Cast doubt on what they have said;
  • Make the child feel responsible for what's happened;
  • Show anger;
  • Panic and act hastily (it's unlikely to be a life threatening situation);
  • Gossip about what you have been told;
  • Talk to the alleged abuser.

Staff must make a written record as soon as possible of what they have been told, detailing the questions they asked and the replies given and the actions taken and by whom. They must then give the report to the Manager (except any Manager who may be implicated).

The record should be placed on the child's file except where a colleague is implicated or where there is any risk to the child as a result, in which case notes/records should be given to the manager dealing with the matter.