6.1 Allegations Against Staff or Volunteers
- Roles and Responsibilities
- Allegation meeting/discussion
- Referral to the DBS
- Further information
- Local information
Definitions used within this procedure.
Allegation – this is a technical term based on the definition provided by Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 set out below. It is different to the dictionary definition of the word and the procedure still needs to be followed even if there is clear evidence that the incident has or has not happened. An allegation does not need to be formally made or explicitly described for this process to be followed
Child / Children – refers to any individual under the age of 18
Person who works with children – this covers paid and unpaid employees, contractors, volunteers and those in positions of leadership and management. This will include foster carers, approved adopters and child minders and applies to any person, who manages or facilitates access to an establishment where children are present
Employer – is used to describe the organisation, company, agency or provider that the adult is working for in addition to those who manage or oversee the volunteer or member of staff.
All allegations of abuse of children by those who work with children must be taken seriously. Allegations against any person who works with children, whether in a paid or unpaid capacity, cover a wide range of circumstances.
This procedure should be applied when there is such an allegation or concern 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;
- Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates he or she may pose a risk of harm to children.
These behaviours can refer to incidents withiin and ouside of the workplace. If the concerns are about someone'e behaviour towards their own children, the police and/or children's social care must consider informing the employer in order to assess whether there may be implications of transferable risk within the role that the person holds, in which case this procedure will apply.
Consideration will need to be given to any risk by association posed by those who live with, or are in a relationship with, adults who are being investigated for or have been convicted of offences in relation to children.
Roles and Responsibilities
Working Together to Safeguard Children states:
Organisations and agencies working with children and families should have clear policies for dealing with allegations against people who work with children. Such policies should make a clear distinction between an allegation, a concern about the quality of care or practice or a complaint.
County level and unitary local authorities should 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. Local authorities should, in addition, have designated a particular 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. Any such 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.
Local authorities should put in place arrangements to provide advice and guidance 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.
Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO)
Each local authority has a Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) who receives reports about allegations.
There are a few situations where consideration is required to determine where LADO responsibility rests.
The general principle is that the LADO of the local authority area where the individual is engaged in work with children holds responsibility. For most cases this is clear and does not require cross-border discussion.
If the allegation is in respect of an incident in the personal life of the member of staff, then the LADO where the member of staff works (and where a potential risk to children has been identified) will take responsibility. If there are multiple roles carried out across different LA areas, the LADO in the area with the substantive employment will lead. However, if there is no substantive employment the LADO involvement will be based on the home address of the member of staff. For staff who are contracted with agencies, then the LADO where the member of staff works (and where a risk to children has been identified) will take responsibility.
The exception to this rule will be for foster carers who are registered with a Local Authority but live outside of that LA area. In these situations, the LADO of the LA that “employs” the carers should take responsibility and notify the LADO in the geographical area where the children are placed.
The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) may not be directly involved in the S47 strategy discussion but the decision of the police and social care should be reported to them as soon as practical.
If the allegation is highlighting that a crime has taken place, the LADO will refer directly to the relevant police force. The decision made by the police will be reported back to the LADO as soon as practical
Following any referral to the police and/or social care there will be one of four potential outcomes
- Joint investigation with police and children’s social care
- Single investigation by children’s social care
- Single investigation by the Police
- Internal investigation with LADO oversight
Following it being established if a criminal investigation and/or social care assessment will take place the LADO will discuss with relevant partners the need for a meeting to co-ordinate the strategy for investigation and share information. A meeting will only be called if there is a clear purpose or the outcome can not be achieved via other methods of information sharing.
Where an allegation meeting is considered appropriate it will be called However, if there is a S47 assessment and review meetings held as part of this, the S47 process will take precedence for the agenda and the allegation will be considered within the scope of that process. In these cases the social care manager will chair the meeting.
For all other meetings the LADO will consider inviting from the following list of possible participants:
- LADO to chair;
- Relevant social worker and their manager;
- Supervising social worker and their manager when an allegation is made against a foster carer or prospective adopter
- Detective sergeant;
- The Designated and/or named Safeguarding Children Health Professional (CCG)when an allegation concerns a health agency worker /professional;
- Designated senior manager for the employer concerned; Where there is multiple employments, representatives from each employer;
- Human resources representative;;
- CQC, GMC or Ofsted;
Where there is multiple employment which crosses LA boarders, the LADO from the other Authority
Any review meetings held will be called or set for when actions can be achieved by and reflecting the timeframe for policing investigations to take place. These review meetings will:
- Review the actions from the prior meeting
- Seek updates from relevant parties and share information
- Review the support offered to the young person and the subject of the allegation
- Consider how messages are managed with media and other parties.
- Set any further actions required
A final review meeting may be held at the end of the investigation process.
- This meeting will consider if the threshold for a referral to the Disclosure and Barring service has been met;
- Consider if there are lessons to be learnt from the process
- Record the outcome determined by the employer or the criminal and/or social work process
Referral to the DBS
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) was established under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and merges the functions previously carried out by the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA). The relevant legislation is set out in the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012.
If an allegation is substantiated and the person is no longer working in their position (either through dismissal or resignation or some other means), the LADO should discuss with the employer whether a referral should be made to the DBS.
Regulated activity providers (employers or volunteer managers of people working in regulated activity in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) and personnel suppliers have a legal duty to refer to DBS where conditions are met. This applies even when a referral has also been made to a local authority safeguarding team or professional regulator.
If you are a regulated activity provider or fall within the category of personnel supplier, you must make a referral when both of the following conditions have been met:
- you withdraw permission for a person to engage in regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable adults. Or you move the person to another area of work that isn’t regulated activity.
This includes situations when you would have taken the above action, but the person was re-deployed, resigned, retired, or left. For example, a teacher resigns when an allegation of harm to a student is first made.
You think the person has carried out 1 of the following:
- engaged in relevant conduct in relation to children and/or adults. An action or inaction has harmed a child or vulnerable adult or put them at risk or harm or;
- satisfied the harm test in relation to children and / or vulnerable adults. eg there has been no relevant conduct but a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable still exists.or
- been cautioned or convicted of a relevant (automatic barring either with or without the right to make representations ) offence
Relevant conduct for children is:
- endangers a child or is likely to endanger a child
- if repeated against or in relation to a child would endanger the child or be likely to endanger the child
- involves sexual material relating to children (including possession of such material)
- involves sexually explicit images depicting violence against human beings (including possession of such images)
- is of a sexual nature involving a child
A person’s conduct endangers a child if they:
- harm a child
- cause a child to be harmed
- put a child at risk of harm
- attempt to harm a child
- incite another to harm a child