1.2.6 Allegations Against Staff, Carers & Volunteers
School staff should read the following chapter in conjunction with Milton Keynes Council's Model Child Protection Policy for Schools & Settings.
- 1. Scope
- 2. Threshold Considerations
- 3. Roles and Responsibilities
- 4. General Procedures
- 5. Allegations Against Staff/ Volunteers in Work
- 6. Allegations Against Carers: Foster, Short-Break Lodgings and Approved Adopters
- 7. Allegations Against Registered Childminders
- 8. Procedures in Specific Organisations
These procedures for managing allegations against people who work with children are overarching inter-agency procedures and should be used in conjunction with each individual agency's own policies and guidance.
This procedure applies whenever it is alleged that a person who works with children has, in any connection with her/his employment or voluntary activity:
These procedures apply to situations when:
If concerns arise about the person's behaviour to her/his own children, police and/or Children's Social Care must consider informing her/his employer in order to assess whether there may be implications for children with whom the person has contact at work.
If an allegation relating to a child is made about a person who undertakes paid or unpaid care of vulnerable adults, consideration must be given to the possible need to alert those who manage her/him in that role.
The response to private foster carers should be as for any other member of the public.
Where relevant, the procedures must be applied in conjunction with those about organised or complex abuse (see Organised & Complex Abuse Procedure).
2. Threshold Considerations
Residential social workers, teachers, foster carers, health workers in residential child care establishments, hospital staff, staff within a secure estate and early years professionals are all prohibited by law from applying more than specified types and levels of restraint to those children for whom they are professionally responsible.
Volunteers who work with children are also expected to maintain standards of conduct comparable to those prescribed for colleagues in paid employment.
Allegations or suspicions of abuse or neglect by staff, carers, approved adopters or volunteers e.g. physical punishment, use of restraint other than permitted by law or guidance issued by government or professional associations, as well as abuse and neglect should be considered under these procedures.
A relationship of trust is one where a teacher or other member of staff/volunteer is in a position of power or influence over a child by virtue of the work or nature of activity being undertaken. The Sexual Offences Act 2003 (ss.16-24) sets out a range of criminal offences associated with abuse of the position of trust.
3. Roles and Responsibilities
Each LSCB member organisation should identify:
Local Authorities should also appoint a Designated Officer/s to:
Police forces should identify:
All organisations which provide services for children, or provide staff or volunteers to work with or care for children, should have and operate a procedure for handling allegations consistent with this procedure.
Any other organisations contracted by agencies working in accordance with these procedures should be made aware that they are also expected to comply with these requirements.
The employing or responsible agency must ensure that allegations are investigated and that any justifiable action is taken to ensure that the service is safe for child users.
4. General Procedures
5. Allegations Against Staff/ Volunteers in Work
6. Allegations Against Carers: Foster, Short-Break Lodgings and Approved Adopters
6.5 Independence of Staff Conducting Enquiry
The close inter-relationship between carers and Children's Social Care and the need to ensure the investigating social worker's independence should be taken into consideration in the allocation and management of any enquiries/investigation.
It is not permissible for a member of staff to conduct an enquiry about a suspicion or allegation of abuse with respect to a relative, friend, colleague or someone who has worked with her/him previously.
6.6 Strategy Discussion
A Strategy Discussion, in the form of a meeting, must be held within two working days. If emergency action is required immediately, the strategy meeting should be convened as soon as possible.
The strategy meeting should be chaired by the Local Authority Designated Officer and consideration given to inviting the following:
The strategy meeting must consider and record whether any further action is required under the four headings:
In addition to planning enquiries in accordance with strategy discussion procedures in 7.8 the meeting should consider the following issues;
6.7 Conducting the Enquiry/Investigation
The s.47 enquiry and any police investigation will take place in accordance with Section 7.
Enquires must be conducted in the strictest confidence so that information can be given freely without fear of victimisation, and in a way that protects the rights of carers and their families.
6.8 Concluding Enquiries
A further strategy discussion must be held at the conclusion of an enquiry to ensure all information is shared to:
The concluding strategy discussion record/decisions arising must be put in writing and placed on both the child's and carers' files.
The team manager responsible for the enquiry must ensure that within two weeks of the concluding strategy discussion a letter is sent to all parties, including parents and carers outlining conclusions made and actions to be taken. A copy of this should be placed on the carer's file.
6.9 Other Linked Processes
If following the conclusion of protection processes, further enquires are pursued for the purposes of the fostering panel, OFSTED or a complaint investigation, they should be arranged in a way that avoids the repeated interviewing of children and other vulnerable witnesses.
Subject to legal constraints, evidence gathered during an enquiry about allegations against foster carers can be made available to staff responsible for complaints, fostering panel, and OFSTED.
Consideration must be given by the case responsible team/service manager and the strategy meeting chair about the possibility that the circumstances may meet the criteria for a serious case review (seeSerious Case Review Procedure). The safeguarding manager (Assistant Director Quality and Safeguarding) must be consulted and informed of any potential cases.
If the allegation is substantiated and on conclusion of the case the LADO would advise whether a referral should be made to the Disclosure and Barring Service and / or to a professional or regulatory body. If a referral is appropriate the report should be made within one month. A referral must always be made if the employer thinks that the individual has harmed a child or poses a risk of harm to children.
Any investigation and outcome of a s47 enquiry involving a child placed with foster carers must be notified to OFSTED.
The fostering social worker should, after the panel has drawn its conclusions and the agency decision maker has communicated her/his decisions to the carer/s, update the foster carers file, to include the following information:
7. Allegations Against Registered Childminders
Whenever an allegation is made against a registered childminder, the following procedures must be followed.
The Local Authority Designated Officer must be informed of the allegation and invited to the strategy discussion.
The social worker must inform the OFSTED early years inspectors of any allegations (relating to her/his own, minded or other children) against a registered childminder.
A member of OFSTED staff should be invited to the strategy discussion. Her/his role will be to consider the legal implications of continued registration or cancellation.
Planning must include consideration of all children using the childminder, as well as the implications for any children that have used the facility in the past and the childminder's own children.
Timing, method and content of information to be shared with parents of other children should be discussed and agreed at the strategy discussion.
8. Procedures in Specific Organisations
It is recognised that many organisations will have their own procedures in place, some of which may need to take into account particular regulations and guidance (e.g. schools and registered child care providers). Where organisations do have specific procedures, they should be compatible with these procedures and additionally provide the contact details for: