Managing Allegations Against those who Work or Volunteers with Children
This procedure outlines the key roles and responsibilities to be undertaken when responding to allegations against staff or volunteers who work with children.
1. Scope of this Procedure
1.1 This procedure outlines the key roles and responsibilities to be undertaken when responding to allegations against staff or volunteers who work with children.
1.2 The aim of the Procedures is to:
- ensure that allegations are dealt with quickly and in a fair manner
- prevent unsuitable people from working with children and young people
- promote safe practice and challenge poor / unsafe practice
- contribute to effective partnership working
- improve practice through sharing experience and lessons learned
1.3 HM Government Guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 requires organisations and agencies working with children and families to have clear policies for dealing with allegations against people who work with children, defined in Working Together 2018 as “People in Positions of Trust”.
1.4 All references within this document to people who work with children, employment, relevant person and / or member of staff should be interpreted as meaning all paid or unpaid staff and volunteers and this includes Foster Carers and prospective Adopters. All references to employers should be interpreted as meaning any agency or organisation with responsibility for paid or unpaid staff and volunteers, including Foster Carers and prospective Adopters. All references to child, children or young people refers to persons under the age of 18 years, in this document referred to as “child”.
1.5 A referral to the LADO does not negate the need for agencies to take any immediate action required to keep children safe. Action to safeguard a child must not be delayed in order to await a LADO meeting. Allegations of harm against a child where Children’s Services are already involved should prompt an immediate strategy discussion with the Police to agree any immediate safeguards required and whether to proceed to S47 investigation.
1.6 Working Together to Safeguarding Children 2018 identifies the role of the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) as that of managing and having oversight of individual cases, provision of advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations, liaison with the Police and other agencies and the monitoring of cases to make sure they are dealt with as quickly as possible and are consistent with a thorough and fair process.
1.7 Department for Education Guidance Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020 outlines additional roles and responsibilities to be undertaken when responding to allegations against teachers, members of staff or volunteers in schools or colleges that provide education for children under 18 years.
1.8 In line with Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 and/or Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020, these Tees procedures should be applied when there is an allegation that any 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 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.
This procedure includes all those identified in 1.3 above.
1.9 Harm is not defined but includes allegations in relation to sexual, physical, emotional harm and / or neglect. Both Working Together 2018 and Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020 include definitions and examples of the above categories of abuse and further examples are outlined in 1.10 below. This procedure can also be used where there appear to be patterns of behaviour that cause concern.
1.10 In addition to definitions outlined in Working Together 2018 and Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020:
Sexual harm could include allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour including, but not limited to:
- engaging in sexual activity with a child under 18 if in a position of trust in respect of that child, even if consensual (Sections16-19 Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- grooming - meeting a child under 16 with intent to commit a relevant offence (Section15 Sexual Offences Act 2003)
- other grooming behaviour giving rise to concerns of a broader child protection nature (for example: inappropriate communication and contact - texts, e-mail messages or the sending or receiving of images and gifts)
- possession, distribution and/or making of indecent photographs / pseudo photographs of children
Physical harm could include, but not limited to:
- hitting or throwing something at a child
- restraints where, for example, the force used was unreasonable or disproportionate, where the restraint was unwarranted in the circumstances, or could have been reasonably avoided, or where the injuries are not consistent with the level of force reported
- cases when seclusion has been used in other than exceptional circumstances
Emotional harm could include, but is not limited to:
- deliberately silencing or making fun of what children are saying or how they communicate;
- serious bullying causing children to feel frightened or in danger
Neglect could include, but is not limited to:
- failing to provide adequate supervision;
- failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment
1.11 In addition, these Tees procedures should be considered when there is an allegation that any person who works with children has behaved in a way, that raises safeguarding concerns, for example:
- possession of a weapon, domestic abuse and/or the sexual or physical assaults of an adult
- when, as a parent or carer, children have become subject to Child Protection Procedures
- where they are 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 a child
The examples in 1.10 and 1.11 are not exhaustive, if in doubt, seek advice from the LADO.
1.12 These Tees procedures should be followed where a person’s employment is covered by The Childcare Act 2006 and where they are 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 which is included in the 2009 Regulations (a relevant offence). See statutory guidance The Childcare (Disqualification) and Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) (Amendment Regulations 2018 (“the 2018 Regulations”).
1.13 It is also important to note that whilst not specifically covered by statutory guidance safeguarding concerns involving family members and/or associates of individuals to which this procedure applies should also be considered and discussed with the LADO in order for risk to be fully assessed. (For example someone who works in a school whose partner has sexual convictions involving a child). Reporting such concerns to the organisation where the person works, or a LADO, will ensure that enquiries are undertaken to review whether the association poses any risk towards children through their work.
1.14 LADO’s must consider transferrable risk
- If there are concerns about a person’s behaviour or conduct in their personal or professional life that might indicate their unsuitability to work with children;
- concerns arise about a person’s behaviour with regard to his / her own children.
- concerns arise about the behaviour in the private or community life of an individual, their partner, member of their family or other household member.
1.15 These Tees procedures should also be followed where allegations are made against an under 18 year old who is in a position of trust in relation to anyone under the age of 18. For example, where they might be involved in sport, or in community activities.
1.16 Where an allegation reported to the LADO involves a person who also works in the adult workforce, the LADO will contact the relevant Local Authority Adult Lead to establish who will assume lead responsibility for management and oversight of the case.
1.17 The LADO does not manage individual complaints or grievances relating to any investigation or action by a third party. Individual organisations have responsibility to manage any complaints in line with their own procedures.
2. Relevant Definition
2.1 Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 defines an allegation as where a relevant individual 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
- behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children
2.2 Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 does not include a definition of “harm”, Section 31(9) of the Children Act 1989, as amended by the Adoption and Children Act 2002 identify the definition of harm as:
- harm means ill-treatment or impairment of health or development including for example impairment suffered from seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another
- development means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development
- Health means physical or mental health
- ill-treatment includes sexual abuse and forms of ill-treatment which are not physical
2.3 Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 and Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020 do not provide a definition of working with children. The LADO will determine this on a case by case basis and it will include all those who would be seen to be in a position of trust regardless of whether they are in Regulated Activity.
2.4 If there is any doubt contact should be made with the LADO to discuss and agree whether the criteria is met.
3. Non recent, Organised and Complex Abuse Procedures
3.1 Disclosures of child abuse are sometimes made by adults and young people a period of time after the abuse has occurred. Non recent abuse (also known as Historical abuse) refers to allegations of child abuse, which occurred when the victim was a child and which may have been made when the victim is an adult.
3.2 Investigators should be alert to the signs of organised or widespread abuse and/or the involvement of other perpetrators or institutions. Where relevant, the LADO will consult with the Head of Safeguarding (Cleveland Police and Children Services) to determine whether the matter should be considered in accordance with organised and/or complex abuse procedures which, if applicable, will take priority.
4. Roles and Responsibilities
Safeguarding Children Partnerships
4.1 Safeguarding Children Partnerships have responsibility for ensuring there are effective inter agency procedures in place for dealing with allegations against people who work with children and for monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness of the procedures. Each Safeguarding Children Partnership member organisation should identify a named Senior Officer with overall responsibility for:
- ensuring that the organisation deals with allegations in accordance with Safeguarding Children Partnership procedures
- resolving any inter-agency issues
- liaising with the relevant Safeguarding Children Partnership
4.2 All organisations should identify a Senior Manager with responsibility for
- ensuring their organisation deals with allegations in accordance with these procedures
- resolving any inter-agency issues.
4.3 Where there is no employer, organisation or regulatory body, the LADO will determine with the other agencies involved, who will inform the individual of the allegation and who will take forward any actions necessary in relation to the case.
4.4 All organisations (including School Governors, Trustees and Voluntary Organisations) must have clear policies in place setting out the process, including timescales for investigation and what support and advice is available to individuals against whom allegations have been made. The individual policies and procedures must explain what should happen when allegations about a member of staff and/or volunteer are raised and make a clear distinction between an allegation, a concern about the quality of care or practice or a complaint. The policies and procedures must include the requirement to nominate a Senior Manager to whom the allegations are reported. It should be the responsibility of the Senior Manager to report relevant allegations to and liaise with, the LADO. All policies and procedures should be consistent with this Tees Procedure and other relevant Tees Procedures and Practice Guidance.
4.5 Relevant regulatory, governing or professional bodies that may not have a direct employment relationship with the individual have the responsibility to consider whether to continue to use an individual’s services, or to approve an individual for work with children in future, or to de-register the individual.
4.6 There is a legal duty for regulated activity providers and personnel suppliers to make a referral to the DBS where they have permanently removed a person from regulated activity through dismissal or permanent transfer from regulated activity, (or would have done if the person had not left, resigned, retired or been made redundant).
4.7 In the event that the LADO is concerned that the employer is not dealing with the matter effectively, the LADO may refer the matter to the governing body, including OFSTED, charitable commission and/or the independent inspectorate.
4.8 In line with Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 and Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020 the Tees area has designated officers (LADOs) who are involved in the management and oversight of allegations against people who work with children.
4.9 These Procedures provide advice and guidance to employers, organisations and agencies on how to deal with allegations against people who work with children.
4.10 All employers and organisations should ensure that staff are aware of relevant whistleblowing policies and that their employees feel confident to voice concerns about the behaviour or actions of colleagues. Whistle-blowing policies should include the procedure for reporting safeguarding concerns and the ability to directly report to the LADO in circumstances outlined in 5.11 below.
4.11 If an employee of an organisation believes that a reported allegation is not being dealt with appropriately by their organisation, they should report the matter to the LADO.
4.12 The LADO will:
- receive reports about allegations relevant to this procedure and be involved in the management and oversight of such cases.
- provide advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations.
- liaise with Police and other agencies.
- monitor the progress of cases to ensure they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process.
- provide advice and guidance to employers, organisations and regulated activity providers and personnel suppliers in relation to making referrals to DBS and/ or to relevant regulatory bodies including Ofsted and, Teacher Regulation Agency.
4.13 The LADO does not investigate allegations; this responsibility lies with the employer/ organisation and / or the Police.
4.14 The LADO has the responsibility to ensure that any reported allegations against relevant individuals are not dealt with in isolation. Any safeguarding and support requirements in relation to the child or children and other parties involved will be actioned as appropriate. Where urgent this will be reported without delay and in all cases managed by those responsible in a co-ordinated way.
4.15 The LADO will liaise with a LADO from another Local Authority area where there is a case that covers more than one Local Authority area. The LADO case management will sit with the authority where the individual subject of an allegation works. However, where appropriate, a joint LADO Allegations meeting may take place.
4.16 Cleveland Police should identify a Senior Officer to:
- Have strategic oversight of the local Police investigations for managing specific allegations against staff and volunteers. This will include, for example, responsibility for informing partners of changes to Police practice (such as the changes to bail conditions) and keeping partners aware of the number of cases they are dealing with and any themes which emerge from them. Where the case involves a Police investigation, the Police officer for the case will have responsibility for liaising with the LADO on the progress of the case.
- liaise with Safeguarding Children Partnerships
- ensure compliance within the organisation
4.17 Identify local Designated Officers to:
- liaise with the LADOs
- take part in relevant meetings / discussions
- review the progress of cases in which there is a Police investigation
- share information as appropriate, during and on completion of an investigation or related prosecution
Children and Young Peoples Service
4.18 Relevant Tees Children Services will arrange Strategy meetings, undertake assessments and provide help and / or services where the criteria are met under Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018. Where a Strategy meeting is held the LADO will attend and the Allegations Meeting will follow the Strategy meeting when possible.
5. Initial Response to Allegation
Identification and initial action
5.1 An allegation raised about a relevant individual may arise from a number of sources, for example, a report from a child, an adult in the organisation, or a parent or carer.
5.2 It may not always be clear whether an incident constitutes an allegation, whether a child has been harmed, or the person poses a risk of harm. In such circumstances advice should be sought from the LADO.
5.3 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 or give assurance that the information will only be shared on a ‘need to know’ basis.
5.4 Allegations involving an immediate risk to a child or a safeguarding concern that requires an urgent response should be reported immediately to the Police by calling 999 (emergency) or 101 (non-emergency).
5.5 In all other cases (not reported directly to the Police) the action should follow the 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 Senior Manager, or the Deputy in their absence or; where the Senior Manager is the subject of the allegation the nominated individual as per the organisation’s procedure.
- consider if the child concerned has suffered, or is at risk of suffering, significant harm (see relevant section in the Safeguarding Children Partnership's Child Protection Procedures) and if this is the case (or if in any doubt), make a referral to Children Services in accordance with Safeguarding Children Partnership's Child Protection Procedures.
- if the concerns arise outside normal office hours, then the referral should be made to the Emergency Duty Team.
Reporting to LADO
5.6 When informed of a concern or allegation the senior manager should not investigate the matter or interview the member of staff, child or any potential witnesses. They should:
- review the information, identify whether it meets the harm /risk of harm threshold and is therefore an allegation. If so, they should follow the procedures below and make a referral to the LADO within one working day.
- ff the Senior Manager is unclear whether it meets the harm / risk of harm threshold they should seek advice from the LADO.
- obtain written details of the concern/allegation, signed and dated by the person receiving the allegation;
- acknowledge receipt of and date the written details;
- record any information about times, dates and location of incident 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;
- if a child has suffered, or is at risk of suffering, significant harm, ensure that a referral to Children’s Social Care has been made.
5.7 Any organisation that receives information regarding a complaint or allegation (including the Police and Children Services) should report it to the LADO within one working day. Reporting should not be delay in order to gather information. If an allegation is received outside normal working hours and requires immediate attention, the designated senior manager should consult the Local Authority Emergency Duty Team or Police and inform the LADA as soon as possible.
5.8 In all cases, the LADO will take appropriate advice from Cleveland Police and / or Children Services regarding what information can initially be shared with any child and / or children, parents and / or carers, relevant individual and / or third parties.
Confidentiality and Information Sharing
5.9 The security and management of sensitive information is of paramount importance. The LADO co-ordinates the sharing of information across organisations, however, in all cases where there is an on-going Police investigation, the Police investigating officer will lead on the management of information sharing in relation to the Police investigation. The LADO will liaise closely with the Police lead and organisation lead to ensure that effective information sharing takes place.
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 any related disciplinary or suitability processes.
5.10 Section 13 of the Education Act 2011 introduced restrictions implemented in September 2012 on the publication of any information that would identify a teacher who is the subject of an allegation of misconduct that would constitute a criminal offence, where the alleged victim of the offence is a registered pupil at school.
Such 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:
- the person who is the subject of the allegation, and
- the victim of the offence to which the allegation relates
There is a right of appeal to the Crown Court.
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.
There is a new offence of publishing any information in breach of these restrictions. Publication includes any communication, in whatever form, which is addressed to the public at large or any section of the public.
5.11 Effective sharing of information with other professionals is vital to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. The General Data Protection Regulations provide a framework to ensure that information is shared appropriately.
5.12 Working together to Safeguard Children 2018 states;
Practitioners must have due regard to the relevant data protection principles which allow them to share personal information, as provided for in the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). To share information effectively:
- all practitioners should be confident of the processing conditions under the Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR which allow them to store and share information for safeguarding purposes, including information which is sensitive and personal, and should be treated as ‘special category personal data’
- where practitioners need to share special category personal data, they should be aware that the Data Protection Act 2018 contains ‘safeguarding of children and individuals at risk’ as a processing condition that allows practitioners to share information. This includes allowing practitioners to share information without consent, if it is not possible to gain consent, it cannot be reasonably expected that a practitioner gains consent, or if to gain consent would place a child at risk
6. Consideration of the Allegation
Initial Consideration by LADO
6.1There are 3 possible strands in the consideration of an allegation:
- a Police investigation of a possible criminal offence;
- Children Services enquiries and/or assessment about whether a child is in need of protection or services;
- consideration by an employer /organisation / regulatory body of any action in relation to possible performance/ conduct issues.
6.2 The LADO will make an initial assessment, from the information provided in the referral, to determine if the threshold for implementing these procedures is met:
- In cases where it is not clear whether the threshold has been met, the employer/organisation and the LADO should discuss the incident and agree whether or not it meets the threshold. 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.
- Where it is decided that the incident does not meet the threshold of harm/risk of harm, then the employer/organisation should take steps to ensure any conduct or behaviour issues are addressed with the person through normal employment/organisation practices. There will be no further action from the LADO at this stage and the LADO will make a record.
- The LADO and the employer/organisation will record and agree the rationale for this decision.
6.3 The LADO will consult with a Cleveland Police designated lead in relation to all allegations that are of a sexual nature and any allegations of physical harm, emotional harm or neglect where there are concerns a criminal offence may have been committed.
6.4 The LADO will determine if an Initial LADO meeting is needed at this stage, or whether information can be shared effectively between relevant parties through a discussion. This decision will be made on the complexity of the information to be shared and on the actions that will need to be determined. Details of any discussions will be fully recorded and shared with those involved.
6.5 If a meeting is to take place it will be arranged to take place as soon as practicably possible.
6.6 The LADO’s primary responsibility is the safeguarding of children and this will be taken into consideration when/how the person subject of the allegation is informed. Prior to a meeting, it will be agreed between relevant parties what information can be shared with the employee, the child and their parent or carer. It will be agreed what information needs to be brought to the meeting by those attending.
6.7 The LADO will check that there are no potential conflicts of interest from those attending the meeting and if so, consider how to manage the situation.
6.8 An initial LADO meeting / discussion will decide and agree a strategy for managing the allegation. Many cases can be managed through a discussion between the senior manager, the Police, any other relevant agency and the LADO. Where communication is via phone or e-mail, detailed records should be keep for audit purposes on the organisation’s case files.
6.9 An initial LADO meeting will normally only be convened where there is an allegation of a possible criminal offence and Police are attending and / or where it is agreed by relevant parties that the case is complex.
6.10 The initial LADO meeting will be chaired by the LADO. If there is evidence of a possible criminal offence, the meeting will be attended by Cleveland Police, the social work manager for the child (where there is one), and the organisation’s nominated senior manager. Employers are advised to bring a human resources advisor. It may be appropriate to invite a regulatory body to attend, for example, for allegations against those involved in sporting activities or Ofsted in the case of childminders and managers of child care settings. Other relevant parties can, and will, be determined and invited on a case by case basis by the LADO in agreement with the core group of invitees.
6.11 The LADO meeting / discussion should:
- check and record that there is no conflict of interest from those attending
- agree information sharing and confidentiality
- share all information known about the allegation and all actions to date;
- share all appropriate information about the person who is the subject of the allegation
- consider the current allegation in the context of any previous allegations or concerns;
- ensure any specific information provided by any child, parent/carer, relevant individual and / or other party are considered;
- where appropriate, take account of any requirement by staff to use reasonable force to control or restrain children;
- consider whether a complex abuse investigation may be applicable;
- co-ordinate enquiries and agree the investigative strategy, including, if needed, Police / Children & Families investigation / enquiries and set timescales;
6.12 The LADO meeting / discussion should:
- consider whether any parallel disciplinary process can take place and agree protocols for sharing information
- decide what information can be shared, with whom and when
6.13 The LADO meeting / discussion should:
- record the evaluation of the information shared and any assessment of risk;
- record what arrangements are in place to manage the safeguarding of any child/ren involved and any other child/ren affected (by who and when);
- record what support should be provided to all children who may be affected (by who and when) that have not already been identified and managed through strategy or complex case meetings;
- outline how the voice of the child and/or parent/carer will be “heard” and managed within an investigation and how they will be kept up to date with the progress of an investigation and the Children Services process;
- record if a strategy meeting has been or will be held in relation to any of the children;
- record what support arrangements are in place for the relevant individual and others who may be affected and how they will be kept up to date with the progress of an investigation and the Children Services process;
- ensure that any investigation can be sufficiently independent;
- ensure that a plan is in place by the employer/organisation to enable the relevant individual to make appropriate representation during an investigation and the Children Services process:
- discuss whether suspension is appropriate and if there are any reasonable alternatives. The decision to suspend lies with the employer/organisation.
- identify a Lead Manager within each agency;
- agree appropriate timescales for any organisation updates to the LADO having regard to the target timescales;
- consider and record strategic issues for the attention of relevant agency senior management (e.g. media interest, resource implications);
- consider and record if a referral should be made, in terms of interim prohibition, to a regulatory body (by who and when);
- agree dates for future Allegation meetings / discussions.
- if necessary, a second or subsequent LADO review meeting should be held to ensure that all tasks have been completed and where appropriate, agree an action plan for future practice based on lessons learned.
6.14 The record of the LADO meeting is not verbatim, it is a summary of the discussion and allows for clear decisions and actions to be recorded.
Disciplinary, Investigation and Timescales
6.15 In all cases, the LADO, the designated Senior Manager and the employer’s human resource representative should discuss whether an investigation under disciplinary procedures is necessary. 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 Children’s Services
- the result of any investigation
- the different standard of proof in disciplinary and criminal proceedings
The decision to instigate disciplinary proceedings lies with the Employer, who will adhere to HR policy and procedures.
6.16 In the case of supply, contract or 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, provide future work with children, or whether to make a report for consideration for barring or other action.
6.17 All allegations should be investigated as a priority by those concerned to avoid any delay. The time taken to investigate and resolve individual cases depends on a variety of factors including the nature, seriousness and complexity of the allegation, but the below targets should be achieved in all but exceptional cases:
- for those cases where it is clear immediately that the allegation is unsubstantiated or malicious, they should be resolved within one week;
- where the initial consideration identifies that the allegation does not involve a possible criminal offence it will be for the employer/organisation to deal with it, following discussion and agreement with the LADO. If the allegation does not require formal disciplinary action, the employer/organisation should instigate appropriate action within three working days;
- if a disciplinary hearing is required and can be held without further investigation, the hearing should be held as soon as is reasonably practicable.
Consideration of Suspension
6.18 The power and decision to suspend lies with the employer / organisation. Neither Children Services, nor the Police, or the LADO can require employers or organisations to suspend a person.
However, where it is concluded that there should be enquiries by Children Services and / or an investigation by the Police, the LADO should canvass Police and Children Services for their views about whether the accused person needs to be suspended from contact with children in order to inform the employer’s / organisation’s consideration of suspension and they should give appropriate weight to their advice.
Suspension should be considered only in cases where there is cause to suspect a child or other children at the place of employment is / are at risk of harm or the case is so serious that it might be grounds for dismissal. The organisation’s nominated senior manager must consider carefully whether the circumstances warrant suspension from contact with children, and may wish to seek advice from their HR adviser and / or legal adviser and the LADO. If the case involves a Police investigation then the Police lead should also be included in any discussion as this may be relevant in relation to planned Police investigatory action.
6.19 The organisation’s nominated Senior Manager should also consider whether the result that would be achieved by immediate suspension could be obtained by alternative arrangements. Based on an assessment of risk by the employer, the following alternatives should be considered by the Senior Manager before suspending a member of staff:
- redeployment so that the individual does not have direct contact with the child or children concerned
- providing an assistant to be present when the individual has contact with children
- redeploying to alternative work so the individual does not have unsupervised access to children
- temporarily redeploying the member of staff to another role in a different location
6.20 If immediate suspension is considered necessary, the rationale and justification for such a course of action should be recorded by the Senior Manager and provided to the LADO. This record should also include what alternatives to suspension have been considered and, if they were rejected, why.
6.21 Written confirmation of any suspension should be sent by the employer / organisation to the person subject to the allegation within one working day, giving as much detail as appropriate stating the reasons for the suspension. They should be informed at the point of their suspension who their named contact is within the organisation and provided with that person’s contact details.
6.22 In the case of foster carers, the responsible authority should give consideration as to whether the child or children can remain in the placement, and / or whether there should be temporary freezing of the placement.
6.23 If a suspended person is to return to work, the Employer should consider what help or support might be appropriate (e.g. a phased return to work, the provision of a mentor), and also how best to manage the member of staff’s contact with the child concerned.
Notifications and Responsibilities
6.24 It is the responsibility of the employer /organisation to inform the parent(s)/carer of any allegation that relates to their child. It is also the employer’s/ organisation’s responsibility to keep them up to date about the progress of the case. NB. Where there is a Police investigation or Children Services enquiries, this responsibility may pass to / or involve the Police or Children Services by agreement.
6.25 The employing organisation, together with Children’s Services and/or the Police where involved, should consider the impact upon the child and provide appropriate support. Liaison between agencies should consider how the child’s needs are addressed
6.26 It is the responsibility of the employer /organisation to inform the individual of the details of the allegation, following agreement with the LADO and any other agencies about what can be shared.
6.27 It is the responsibility of the employer /organisation to keep the relevant individual up to date with the progress of the case and to give them the opportunity to participate fully in any investigation and to make full representation.
6.28 It is the responsibility of the employer /organisation to ensure the relevant individual is aware of the possible outcomes and the implications in terms of references and referrals.
6.29 At the conclusion of the case it is the responsibility of the employer /organisation to formally inform the parent, child/ren and any other relevant individual of the outcome of the case and that the matter has been appropriately dealt with through the organisation’s disciplinary procedures.
6.30 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 (referred to in this section as ‘the agency’).
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 local authority designated officer (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.
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.
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.
7. Monitoring and Outcomes
7.1 The LADO should monitor and record the progress of each case, on a regular basis depending on its complexity, but usually on a monthly basis. Where the target timescales for completion cannot be met, the LADO should record the reasons.
7.2 On concluding the case, there will be a discussion (or a final LADO review meeting if required) involving all relevant parties who were involved in the initial meeting / discussion.
7.3 The discussion (or final review meeting) will consider relevant information gathered during the investigation and the outcome of the investigation. The main purpose of the discussion/meeting is to determine the outcome of the allegation(s) (in line with Working Together 2018 and Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020). This includes the following;
No Further Action - allegation, after consideration, does not meet the criteria for these procedures
Substantiated - there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation
False - there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation
Malicious - there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation and there has been a deliberate act to deceive
Unfounded - to reflect cases where there is no evidence or proper basis which supports the allegation being made
Unsubstantiated - there is insufficient evidence to prove or disprove the allegation. The term, therefore, does not imply guilt or innocence.
7.4 The final outcome will also include the sanction imposed (if any), for instance dismissal, management advice, final written warning.
7.5 The final outcome of the allegation will be determined and recorded.
- The employer will inform the relevant individual of the outcome in writing, including:
- a comprehensive summary of the allegation,
- details of how the allegation was followed up and resolved,
- relevant employer’s action taken and decisions reached,
- whether the allegation will be referred to in future references by the employer
- how long any records will be retained by the employer
- if there will be a referral to DBS and / or any regulatory body by the employer
7.6 False or malicious allegations may be an indication of abuse elsewhere and this should be explored further to determine if the child might have been abused by someone else and, where appropriate, a referral made to the Children Services.
7.7 There is no appeal to the outcome of the Safeguarding LADO process. Where there is no admittance, caution or conviction, participants will make a decision considering all the information shared in the process. The adjudication is a Multi-Agency informed professional decision based on the balance of probability, which is a lower threshold than beyond all reasonable doubt and that used in a court of law.
Record Keeping and References
7.8 Keeping Children Safe in Education 2020 indicates that details of allegations that are found to have been malicious should be removed from the employer’s personnel records. In all other cases a copy of the details in 8.5 should be kept on the employer’s/organisations confidential personal file of the relevant individual. 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 reinvestigation if an allegation re-surfaces after a period of time.
7.9 Such information should be retained on file in accordance with each agencies retention and Human Resources policies this includes for people who leave the organisation. The record should be retained at least until the person subject to the allegation has reached normal pension age or for a period of 10 years from the date of the allegation if that is longer.
7.10 Substantiated allegations should be referred to in future references. Cases in which an allegation was determined to be NFA, false, unsubstantiated, unfounded or malicious should not be included in references. A history of repeated concerns or allegations which have all been found to be false, unsubstantiated or malicious should also not be included in any reference.
7.11 A central record of allegations will also be maintained by the LADO on behalf of partner organisations of each Safeguarding Children Partnership.
7.12 The LADO’s records will assist the Safeguarding Children Partnership to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of managing allegations and provide statistical information to central government, and for Freedom of Information requests, if required.
Referral to Disclosure and Barring Service and Regulatory / Professional Bodies
7.13 There is a legal duty for regulated activity providers (employers or volunteer managers of people working in regulated activity) and personnel suppliers to make a referral to the DBS where an individual in regulated activity has:
- been cautioned or convicted of a relevant (automatic barring) offence, or
- engaged in relevant conduct in relation to children that has harmed a child or put them at risk of harm, or
- satisfied the Harm Test in relation to children (i.e. no action or inaction occurred but the present risk that it could was significant).
7.14 If an allegation is substantiated and the person is dismissed or the regulated activity provider or personnel supplier ceases to use the person's service or the person resigns or otherwise ceases to provide his/her services, there is a legal duty for the regulated activity provider or personnel supplier to make a referral to the DBS. In addition, where appropriate, consideration should be given to informing a regulatory body such as the HCPC, GMC, SWE, NMC or relevant Teaching Agency. Consideration will then be given as to whether the individual should be barred from, or have conditions imposed in respect of, working with children. If a referral is to be made, a named person should be identified to make that referral.
7.15 Under the Safeguarding and Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 Local Authorities, Keepers of Registers and Supervisory Authorities have a legal power to refer. A referral can also be in the interests of safeguarding children where the person has not been removed from working in regulated activity. This could include acting on advice of the Police or a safeguarding professional, or in situations where there is not enough evidence to dismiss or remove a person from working with vulnerable groups. Legal advice should be sought in such cases.
7.16 Full guidance is available on the DBS Page on the government website.
7.17 Early Years and Childcare Providers should inform Ofsted of any allegation of serious harm or abuse by any person living, working or looking after children at the premises. Ofsted should also be invited to take part in any subsequent meetings / discussions, as appropriate.
7.18 A senior manager or fostering agency should inform Ofsted of all allegations made against a foster carer, prospective adopter, or member of staff in a residential child care facility.
7.19 If the relevant individual is a member of a regulatory or professional body a referral should be made to them as appropriate by the employer/organisation.
Resignations and Compromise Agreements
7.20 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 in person and / or in writing.
7.21 Resignations and Settlement Agreements (previously known 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. It is important to reach and record a conclusion and to determine what action would have been taken, wherever possible, and to make a referral to DBS if the criteria are met.
Any Resignations and Settlement / compromise agreement that would prevent a regulated activity provider or personnel supplier making a DBS referral even though the criteria for referral are met, is likely to result in a criminal offence being committed as they would not be complying with their legal duty to make the referral.
The LADO should also advise whether it is appropriate to notify a professional body or regulator for example, the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), Social Work England (SWE), the Teachers Regulation Agency (TRA), Nursery & Midwifery Council (NMC) or the General Medical Council (GMC). Any referral, if appropriate, should be made within one month.
7.22 At the conclusion of a case, or at an earlier opportunity if appropriate, the LADO and employer should consider whether there are any areas for learning from a specific case to determine whether there are any improvements to be made to the organisation’s procedures or practice to help prevent similar events occurring in the future.
Useful Guidance Pathway Tools, Contacts and Websites:
- Childcare Act 2006
- Children’s Homes (England) Regulations 2015
- Department for Education: Keeping Children Safe in Education
- Department for Education: Use of Reasonable Force Advice July 2013
- Disclosure and Barring Service Guidance
- HM Government: Information Sharing July 2018
- HM Government: Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018
- Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
- Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
- The Childcare (Disqualification) and Childcare (Early Years Provision Free of Charge) (Extended Entitlement) (Amendment Regulations 2018 (“the 2018 Regulations”)
- Tees LADO Leaflet