Historical abuse allegations

Adults and children may make allegations of child abuse after the abuse has occurred, in some cases many years afterward. All such allegations should be investigated.

Historical Abuse Allegations from an Adult

When an adult makes a disclosure to a professional that s/he suffered abuse as a child, the professional to whom the disclosure is made should:

  • Clarify whether there are any child/ren who may currently be at risk from the alleged perpetrator.
  • Ascertain whether the adult is aware of the alleged perpetrator’s recent or current whereabouts and any contact the alleged perpetrator may have with children.
  • Advise the adult to make a formal complaint to the police, explaining that there is a significant likelihood that a person who has previously abused a child will have continued and may still be doing so.
  • Offer the adult support in making a formal complaint to the police.
  • Provide information about relevant services.

Where it is believed that the alleged perpetrator has contact with a child a referral should be made to children’s social care so that information can be gathered and a decision can be made whether to apply child protection procedures in respect of the child/ren with whom the alleged perpetrator has contact.

Where an adult making a disclosure chooses not to make a formal complaint to the Police, the adult should be advised of the possible to risk to children. The adult should be advised that the information will be shared and a referral made to children’s social care. If the adult wishes for his/her identity to remain anonymous this must be respected, however, they should also be asked if they would be willing to talk with a representative of children’s social care to enable them to seek to safeguard any other child who may be at risk.

Where the professional remains concerned about issues in relation of consent and confidentiality s/he should liaise with his/her Manager or Named Person for Child Protection.

Historical Abuse Allegations from a Child/Young Person

Any historical abuse allegation from a child/young person is to be treated as if it is recent in terms of appropriate response to the child and their needs.

In relation to the alleged perpetrator and other children who may be at risk, the same principles as above apply.