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4.1 Allegations against Persons who work with Children

RELATED CHAPTER

Management of Allegations against People who work with Children and Young People where there are Cross Border Issues Procedure.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Raising Concerns at Work

Keeping Children Safe in Education

AMENDMENT

This chapter was updated in August 2015. Links were added to Raising Concerns at Work and Keeping Children Safe in Education. In Section 3, Designated and Named Officers information was added on the qualification or experience require to become a LADO.


Contents

  1. The Definition of 'People who Work with Children'
  2. Scope
  3. Designated and Named Officers
  4. Responding to Allegations
  5. Actions to be Taken
  6. District Referrals to the Police / Children’s Social Work Services
  7. Cross Boundary Issues
  8. Providing Information about the Allegation
  9. Confidentiality and Record Keeping
  10. Action following Conclusion of Enquiries
  11. Learning Lessons
  12. Action in Respect of False or Unfounded Allegations


1. Definition of ‘People who Work with Children’

1.1 In this procedure the term 'People who Work with Children' applies to those in a position of trust, including elected members, and/or those whose "normal" duties involve regular contact and/or caring/supervisory responsibility for children or young people.


2. Scope

2.1 All allegations of abuse of children by those who work with children must be taken seriously.
2.2 Allegations against people who work with children, whether in a paid or unpaid capacity, cover a wide range of circumstances. 
2.3 The scope of this inter agency procedure is not limited to allegations involving Significant Harm or risk of Significant Harm to a child. 
2.4

The procedure should be applied in all situations where it is alleged 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.*
*In relation to teachers and staff (including volunteers) in a school or FE college that provides education for children under 18, the third bullet point should be amended to read 'behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates that he or she would pose a risk of harm if they work regularly or closely with children.'
2.5 This includes allegations where it might indicate that the person is unsuitable to continue to work with children in their current position.
2.6 The allegations may be historical or relate to the persons current behaviour at work, at home or in another setting.
2.7 It may concern a paid employee, unpaid volunteer, child minder, approved foster carer or prospective adopter.
2.8 In the context of this procedure, the term “employer” means the organisation that has a working relationship with the person against whom the allegation has been made and includes voluntary organisations, employment agencies, fostering services, child minder services, youth clubs and others.
2.9 In the case of allegations against an elected member, where the procedure refers to the 'line manager', the person who fulfils this responsibility will be the Group Leader and the Monitoring Officer should also be advised of any concern and involved in the Position of Trust /Meeting or Joint Evaluation Discussion (see Section 5, Actions To Be Taken) so that appropriate decisions can be made about how they conduct their duties.
2.10  Allegations of historical abuse should be responded to in the same way as contemporary concerns. In such cases, it is important to find out whether the person against whom the allegation is made is still working with children and if so, to inform the person's current employer or voluntary organisation.


3. Designated and Named Officers

3.1 The Local Authority has a Designated Officer (LADO) whose responsibility is to be involved in the management and oversight of individual cases which fall within this procedure, providing advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations, liaising with the Police and other agencies, and monitoring the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible consistent with a thorough and fair process. The LADO, should be sufficiently qualified and experienced to be able to fulfil this role effectively, for example a qualified social worker. Any new appointments to such a role, other than current or former designated officers moving between local authorities, should be a qualified social worker. 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. The LADO will record the outcome of cases that fall within this procedure; including initial discussions, disciplinary investigations and/or criminal investigations.
3.2 Each member agency of the Local Safeguarding Children Board has appointed a Named Senior Officer to have overall responsibility for ensuring that their agency operates procedures for dealing with allegations against those who work with children and young people. The Named Senior Officer should ensure that internal quality assurance arrangements are in place in respect of the management of allegations against those who work with children and young people.
3.3 The Police should also identify officers to fulfil similar roles. Force Designated Officers will have a strategic oversight of arrangements, liaise with Local Safeguarding Children Boards in the force area and ensure compliance - and others, possibly unit managers, will be responsible for liaising with the LADO and Named Senior Officers. Click here to view the list of Senior Officers for investigating allegations against those who work with children.

Click here to view the list of Senior Officers for investigating allegations against those who work with children.


4. Responding to Allegations

4.1 All organisations which provide services to children, or provide staff or volunteers to work with or care for children, should operate a procedure for handling allegations that fall within this procedure in a way to ensure it is consistent with the guidance set out in Working Together.
4.2

Where such allegations are made, consideration must be given to the following four strands:

  1. The police investigation of a possible criminal offence;
  2. Enquiries and assessment by Children’s Social Work Services as to whether the child is need of protection or in need of services;
  3. Consideration by an employer of disciplinary action in respect of the individual;
  4. Consideration of complaints of poor practice in line with an agencies complaints procedures.


5. Actions to be Taken

5.1 The allegation should be reported to the senior manager identified in the employers procedure immediately, unless that person is the subject of the allegation, in which case it should be reported to the designated alternatives.
5.2 If the allegation meets any of the criteria outlined under Section 2, Scope, the employer should report to the LADO within one working day.
5.3

The LADO will discuss the matter with the employer and where necessary obtain further details of the allegation and the circumstances in which it was made. The discussion should also consider whether there is evidence/information that establishes that the allegation is false or unfounded.

Face to face and telephone discussions will be recorded using a standard template and shared with the originator.


Cases of Suspected Significant Harm

5.4 If there is cause to suspect a child is suffering or likely to suffer Significant Harm, a referral must be made immediately to the Children Social Work Services or EDT in accordance with the Referral Procedure. Where a referral is made directly to Children’s Social Work Services, they must consult directly with the LADO, Police and the appropriate manager in the relevant agency or organisation.


Cases Where a Crime may have been Committed

5.5 If there is no cause to suspect that Significant Harm is an issue, but a criminal offence might have been committed, the LADO should immediately inform the Police and convene a similar discussion to decide whether a police investigation is needed. That discussion should also involve the employer.
5.6 Where the involvement of Children’s Social Work Services is not required as the child is not assessed to be at risk of Significant Harm but a Police investigation continues, the LADO should agree with the Police, the employer and any other agency involved with the child the nature of the allegation and how this must be addressed.
5.7 This Joint Evaluation Discussion must take place within one working day of the referral and must consider how to progress enquiries e.g. a criminal process parallel with a disciplinary process or whether disciplinary actions needs to be suspended until Police enquiries/prosecution are completed.
5.8 These investigations must be reviewed by the Police no later than 4 weeks after the Joint Evaluation Discussion and thereafter at fortnightly or monthly intervals.
5.9 If the Police and/or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decide not to charge the individual with an offence, or decide to administer a caution, or the person is acquitted by a Court, the Police should pass all information they have which may be relevant to a disciplinary case to the employer without delay. In those circumstances, the employer should deal with the case in consultation with the LADO as described in Sections 5.18 to 5.23 ‘Allegations Managed by the Employer’.
5.10 If the person is convicted of an offence, the Police should also inform the employer straight away so that appropriate action can be taken. 


Position of Trust Meeting

5.11 A Position of Trust Meeting (POT) will be convened within one working day of the referral being made and chaired by the the LADO, who will invite all relevant personnel including, where appropriate, the employer, in order to share information and participate in the planning of any enquiries. This meeting must have access to advice from a Senior Human Resources adviser as appropriate.
5.12 Where relevant, OFSTED should be invited to attend the POT Meeting.
5.13

The POT Meeting will need to:

  • Share all relevant information about the person who is the subject of the allegation and about the alleged child victim;
  • Plan the investigation/enquiries and set timescales for tasks to be undertaken including, where relevant, defining the scope of any disciplinary investigation to ensure issues of risk and/or unsuitability are clearly addressed;
  • Consider whether any other children are affected by the allegations e.g. the persons own children, grandchildren or other children in the agency setting such as children placed with foster carers, childminders, a youth club;
  • Determine any action that needs to be taken in respect of any other children identified including a Section 47 Enquiry;
  • Decide how regular information and support will be provided to the child and family and by whom;
  • Ensure that the person who is the subject of the allegation is kept informed and supported;
  • Plan all interviews and agree who should undertake them so that there is no confusion between a criminal investigation, Section 47 Enquiry / Social Worker Assessment and disciplinary processes;
  • Consider whether the circumstances require the person who is subject to the allegation to be suspended from contact with children, so as to inform the employers decision about this issue (including whether a foster carer’s approval should be suspended and the implications for other children in the placement); this may change as the investigation progresses and should be reviewed regularly.
5.14

The POT Meeting should also:

  • Include information sharing with OFSTED for day care providers and childminders if OFSTED are not attending the meeting;
  • Include information sharing with the OFSTED in respect of residential staff, foster carers and prospective adopters if OFSTED are not attending the meeting;
  • Agree roles and responsibilities for information sharing with any children and their families;
  • Agree roles and responsibilities and timescales for actions, including communication with the person against whom allegations have been made.
5.15 Where the safety of other children may need to be addressed, consideration should be given to using the Complex (Organised or Multiple) Abuse Procedure.
5.16 If the alleged perpetrator lives outside the local authority area, a referral must be made to the local authority in which they reside and a representative should be invited to attend the POT Meeting in accordance with the Management of Allegations against People who work with Children and Young People where there are Cross Border Issues Procedure. If a representative is unable to attend the meeting, the Chair must ensure that agreed actions, roles and responsibilities are clearly communicated to the local authority where the alleged perpetrator is resident.
5.17 Subsequent POT Meetings should be scheduled as and when required in the light of new material. The LADO, in conjunction with the police and the Local Authority Human Resources team, will routinely review all open cases on 6-weekly basis.
5.18 Notes of all meetings will be taken and circulated where appropriate.


Allegations Managed by the Employer

5.19

Where action by Children’s Social Work Services or the Police is required, the LADO should discuss the next steps with the employer within 3 working days. Options available to the employer may be:

  • To take no further action;
  • To dismiss the employee;
  • To cease to use the persons services;
  • To initiate disciplinary action.
5.20 Disciplinary action - where a Disciplinary Hearing is required and can be held without further investigation, this should take place within 15 working days.
5.21 Where further investigation is required, the employer should agree with the LADO the scope of the enquiries and who will undertake them. This is to ensure issues of risk and/or unsuitability are clearly addressed. The identified investigation officer should provide a report to the employer within 10 working days.
5.22 On receipt of the report of the disciplinary investigation, the employer should decide whether disciplinary action is required within 2 working days and if a hearing is needed, it should be held within 15 working days.
5.23 The LADO will continue to liaise with and support the employer and monitor progress.
5.24 The fact that a person tenders his/her resignation, or ceases to provide a service, must not prevent the allegations been addressed in accordance with these procedures.


Monitoring Progress

5.25 The LADO should regularly monitor the progress of cases, either via review POT Meetings, or by liaising with the Police and/or Children’s Social Work Services colleagues or the employer, as appropriate. Reviews should be conducted at fortnightly or monthly intervals depending on the complexity of the case.
5.26 In the event that the LADO considers that issues of risk/unsuitability remain unresolved following action by the employer, s/he should liaise directly with the Named Senior Officer or other Senior Manager to agree how to proceed.


6. Direct Referrals to the Police / Children’s Social Work Services

6.1 Where a referral is made directly to Children’s Social Work Services, they will consult with the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), the Police and the Named Senior Officer in the relevant agency or organisation.
6.2 If a referral is made to the Police first, the officer who receives it should report it to the Force Designated Liaison Officer without delay and he/she should in turn inform the LADO. 


7. Cross Boundary Issues

7.1 Where a Solihull child makes an allegation in a setting or placement outside of the borough, the lead responsibility for action lies with the local authority where the child is at the time of making the allegation. Please refer to the Management of Allegations against People who work with Children and Young People where there are Cross Border Issues Procedure.


8. Providing Information about the Allegation

8.1 If the parents/carers of the child are not already aware of the allegation, the LADO needs to determine how and by whom they should be informed. They should be kept informed about the progress of the case and told the outcome - see also Section 9, Confidentiality and Record Keeping.
8.2 The employer should inform the accused person about the allegation after consulting with the LADO. However, where a Position of Trust (POT)/Meeting is needed or it is clear that Children’s Social Work Services and/or the Police may need to be involved, that should not be done without consulting those agencies and an agreement being reached about what information can be disclosed to the person.
8.3 Staff, foster carers, prospective adopters, volunteers and other persons about whom there are concerns should be treated fairly and honestly and should be provided with support through the investigative process, as should others also involved.
8.4 If the accused person is a member of a union or other professional association, they should be advised to seek support from that organisation. If the person is suspended, the employer should make arrangements to keep the individual informed about developments in the work place.


9. Confidentiality and Record Keeping

9.1 In the initial consideration at a POT Meeting or Joint Evaluation Discussion (see Paragraph 5.6), the agencies concerned - including the employer - should share all relevant information they have about the person who is the subject of the allegation and about the alleged victim.
9.2 During the investigation the Police should obtain consent from the individuals concerned to share the statements and evidence they obtain with the employer and/or OFSTED, for disciplinary purposes. This will enable the Police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) to share relevant information without delay at the conclusion of the investigation or any court case.
9.3 Children’s Social Work Services should also obtain consent when making enquiries so that any information that is relevant to a disciplinary case can be passed on to the employer or OFSTED
9.4 Every effort should be made to maintain confidentiality and guard against publicity while an allegation is being considered or investigated.
9.5 The child and parents or carers can be informed about the outcome of any disciplinary process but they do not have access to the deliberations of a Disciplinary Hearing nor the information taken into account in reaching the decisions in the hearing.
9.6 Employers must keep a clear and comprehensive record of any allegations made, details of how the allegation was followed up and resolved, and details of any action taken and decisions reached, on a person's confidential personnel file and give a copy to the individual. Such information should be retained on file, including for people who leave the organisation, at least until the person reaches normal retirement age or for 10 years if that will be longer. The purpose of the record is to provide accurate information in response to any future request for a reference. For school staff, cases in which an allegation was proven to be unsubstantiated, unfounded or malicious should not be included in employer references. Cases found to be malicious should be removed from the personnel file. For non-school staff details of allegations that are found to have been malicious should not be included in any subsequent reference
9.7

The following definitions should be used to determine the actions required regarding reference requests and/or removal from school staff personnel records:

Unfounded - This indicated 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. For an Allegation to be classified as unfounded, it will be necessary to have evidence to disprove the allegation.

Unsubstantiated - This is not the same as a false allegation. It simply means that there is insufficient identifiable evidence to prove or disprove the allegation.

Malicious - This means that there is clear evidence to prove there has been a deliberate act to deceive and the allegation is entirely false.
9.8 Where an individual has been identified as presenting a risk, or potential risk, to children not only as a result of the nature of his or her behaviour but also as a result of a further assessment to determine if s/he should be regarded as presenting a continued risk of harm to children then the agency conducting the assessment of risk should notify the Local Authority in accordance with the requirements of Persons Posing a Risk to Children - West Midlands Regional Multi-Agency Guidance.


10. Action following Conclusion of Enquiries

10.1 The Police or the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) should inform the employer and LADO straightaway when a criminal investigation and any subsequent trial are complete, or if it is decided to close an investigation without charge, or not to prosecute after the person has been charged.
10.2 In all circumstances, the LADO should discuss with the employer what further action is appropriate and agree how to proceed. The information provided by the Police and/or Children’s Social Work Services should inform that decision. 
10.3 Action on conclusion of a case should include consideration of whether a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) for inclusion on the Barred Lists is required or advisable, and the form and content of a referral. The LADO should record the outcome of consideration of a referral, or referral to, the Disclosure and Barring Service.
10.4

If the person is subject to registration or regulation by a professional body or regulator, for example by the Health and Care Professions Council, General Medical Council, Ofsted etc. the LADO should advise on whether a referral to that body is appropriate.

In relation to those providers regulated by Ofsted, the written information should include:

  • The nature of the concern;
  • A written assessment of risk;
  • An outline of the conclusions of the investigation;
  • A clear statement of the assessed risk to children with particular reference to any failure on behalf of the registered person that Ofsted might need to pursue;
  • Confirmation that the agency has informed the provider in writing of the outcome of the investigation;
  • A recommendation, if relevant, on the need for the registered person, or Ofsted, to provide information to the Disclosure and Barring Service or to any other body about any person who is found unsuitable to work with children.

10.5 If it is decided that a person who has been suspended from work can return, the employer must consider how best to facilitate that return. The employer must also consider how the persons contact with the child or children who made the allegation can best be managed if they are still in the work place. 


11. Learning Lessons

11.1 At the conclusion of a case where the allegation has been substantiated, the employer should review the circumstances of the case to determine whether there are any improvements to be made to the organisations procedures or practice to help prevent similar events for the future.
11.2 Any lessons from the investigation and enquiries should be reported by the LADO on a regular basis to the Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Board.
11.3 In some cases, a Serious Case Review may be appropriate.


12. Action in Respect of False or Unfounded Allegations

12.1 If an allegation is determined to be unfounded, the employer should refer the matter to Children’s Social Work Services to determine whether the child concerned is in need of services, or may have been abused by someone else. In the rare event that an allegation is shown to have been deliberately invented or malicious, the Police should be asked to consider whether any action might be appropriate against the person responsible.
12.2 The Department for Education has issued updated guidance in relation to staff in schools in respect of malicious allegations and this guidance should be used in such circumstances (see Keeping Children Safe in Education).

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