Child Protection Referrals

REGULATIONS AND STANDARDS

The Positive Relationships Standard

The Protection of Children Standard

OUTCOME STATEMENT

The welfare of children and young people is safeguarded and promoted. Children and young people are protected from abuse, and an appropriate response is made to any allegation or suspicion of abuse.

RELEVANT GUIDANCE/DOCUMENTS

This chapter must be read in conjunction with the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) in the area where the home is located and the following chapters:

Recognising Abuse Guidance

Allegations Against Staff Procedures



Contents

  1. Introduction, Summary and Definitions
  2. Reporting Concerns, Suspicions or Allegations of Abuse or Harm 
  3. Receiving Concerns or Allegations of Abuse or Harm  
  4. Action by the Manager
  5. Allegations made against Children or Young People
  6. Complex Abuse
  7. The Media

    Appendix 1: Historical Disclosures


1. Introduction, Summary and Definitions

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and young people and in particular protecting them from abuse and harm is a shared responsibility and depends on effective joint working between all staff, with all relevant agencies and professionals. All Local Authorities have a duty to promote and safeguard the welfare of children in their area and to investigate and take necessary action to protect children and young people from abuse and harm.

All staff have a responsibility to report any suspicions they have, that a child has or may be mistreated or harmed; and to take all allegations seriously, and report them to their manager or an independent person - such as the child's social worker, Police, Regulatory Authority or the NSPCC.

The procedures in this chapter are mandatory and any failure to comply with them will be addressed through appropriate procedures.

Definitions

There are 4 types of abuse:

However, the wider term that is used in this Chapter, is Significant Harm, which encompasses the four common forms of abuse and has a wider meaning.

For detailed guidance on the meaning and identification of Significant Harm, see: Recognising Abuse Guidance.


2. Reporting Concerns, Suspicions or Allegations of Abuse or Harm

The general principle is that all suspicions, disclosures* or allegations must be reported. Disclosures made as part of a therapeutic intervention or counselling session should also be reported, unless there is clear, written evidence in the child's file that the matter has been formally dealt with. This includes Historical Disclosures (see Appendix 1, Historical Disclosures').

The following actions should be taken when there is any concern, disclosure, suspicion or allegation about the welfare of a child or young person, which is causing or likely to cause Significant Harm. This includes 'historical abuse’ that may have occurred at some time in the past and may not have been reported or investigated.

It includes harm perpetrated by any person, including:

*Disclosures made as part of a therapeutic intervention or counselling session should also be reported, unless there is clear, written evidence in the child's file that the matter has been formally dealt with.

Staff should firstly make their report to the Director/Registered Manager, unless the Director is implicated. In which case staff must notify one of the following:

  • A senior member of staff who is not implicated;
  • The Local Authority Children's Social Care Services in whose area the home is located;
  • Police;
  • NSPCC;
  • The Regulatory Authority;
  • The Placing Authority (Social Worker).

In an emergency, where there is an immediate risk to the child, staff must take necessary action. This may involve asking for Police assistance or seeking emergency medical assistance e.g. taking the child to hospital or contacting the emergency services via 999. If the child is taken to hospital or the Police are called, staff must inform them that there is a suspicion of abuse or harm. Thereafter staff must notify the Registered Manager (or other agency) as described above.

Once notified, the Director / Registered Manager will be responsible for following the Local Safeguarding Children Board procedures and making contact with the Local Authority Children's Social Care Services (see Section 4, Action by the Manager).

The Director must inform the Responsible Individual and Operations Director and, if a Child Protection Enquiry is initiated the Regulatory Authority (see Notification of Serious Events Procedure).

At this stage any action taken must not alert the person(s) who may have caused or be implicated in causing the abuse or harm.


3. Receiving Concerns or Allegations of Abuse of Harm

The following is good practice that must be followed.

Staff members seeing, hearing or being told anything that causes them to become concerned that a child or young person may be at risk of, is being or has been abused (including Historical Disclosures) must report it immediately to a manager. See Appendix 1: Historical Disclosures.

Non-action is not an option in the protection of children and all staff have a duty to act.

Children and young people will sometimes disclose abuse to an adult who they have come to feel they can trust. If a child or young person discloses abuse it is important that staff respond appropriately by remaining calm and receptive; listening without interrupting; only asking questions of clarification; acknowledging the child's courage in telling.

It is not staff member’s responsibility to investigate or in any way make judgements about what is reported to them. Investigations, if necessary, must be undertaken by properly trained, independent professionals.

If a disclosure or allegation of abuse or harm has been made, staff should discuss with the child or other person who has made the complaint what steps they would like taken to protect them and their wishes should be shared and, if not in conflict with procedures, followed.

Staff must not give absolute guarantees of confidentiality to those who report possible abuse or harm, but they should guarantee that they will take steps to ensure that appropriate action is taken and the child or young person protected.

If an allegation or any suspicion is about the behaviour, past or present of another member of staff, including managers, which may in any way put children at risk, staff must follow the reporting procedures in accordance with Section 2, Reporting Concerns, Suspicions or Allegations.

Staff must make a written record as soon as possible of their concerns, what they have been told, any questions they asked and the replies given and the actions taken and by whom. They must then give the report to the Director / Registered Manager

The record should be placed on the child's file except where a colleague is implicated or there is any risk to the child as a result, in which case notes/records should be given to the manager dealing with the matter and confidentially stored.

Staff should not discuss the matter with others, including other staff, parents etc. unless asked to do so by those responsible for dealing any subsequent investigation or enquiry.


4. Action by the Director/Registered Manager

After receiving a report of a concern, suspicion or allegation of abuse or harm, the Director must firstly take any steps needed to protect any child or young person from risk of immediate harm.

The Director should ensure the following people are notified:

  • The Responsible Individual and Operations Director;
  • Children's Social Care in the area where the Community is located;
  • If the suspicion/allegation relates to a member of staff/professional, the Director should ensure the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) - in the area where the Community is located - is also notified*;
  • The Placing Authority/Child's Social Worker;
  • The Regulatory Authority, see Notification of Serious Events Procedure.

*Re Allegations Against Staff: See Allegations Against Staff Procedures.

The procedures that will be followed will depend on the decisions made by Children's Social Care and the Placing Authority. It is also likely that the Regulatory Authority will be involved in decision making. 

The Director / Registered Manager (or delegated senior manager) will co-operate with the decisions/actions taken by them.

Having received the referral (report/allegation), it is likely that Strategy Discussion/Meeting will be convened, to decide whether to initiate a Child Protection Enquiry and, if so, to agree the following with the Director:

  1. Who should inform the child's parent(s);
  2. Arrangements for any medical examination of the child;
  3. Any immediate arrangements for protection of the child(ren), including whether the Child should be moved to another home;
  4. Whether it is necessary to inform staff within the home and if so who will do it;
  5. Whether any implicated staff should be suspended or moved;
  6. Who should inform/update the person making the initial allegation of the steps/actions taken?

The Director should ensure that the child is supported during any enquiries/investigation, this may require an independent advocate or independent person to be involved. The Director should also ensure that all staff co-operate fully.


5. Allegations made against Children or Young People

Abuse and Harm can be perpetrated upon one child or young person by another in many different ways, including persistent or serious bullying, sexual exploitation, aggressive, exploitative or other threatening behaviour which places a child or young person at risk.

Where there is any suspicion or allegation of abuse or harm perpetrated by one child or young person upon another, the procedures in Section 2, Reporting Concern, Suspicions or Allegations should be followed.

Protecting the rights of both victim and alleged perpetrator is important. It may be necessary, dependent on an assessment of all the facts, to separate the alleged perpetrator and victim but it may not be possible to explain why this is necessary to the perpetrator.

Throughout the process thereafter it will be necessary to ensure that children or young people with allegations made against them are properly supported, by an Independent Person if appropriate or required, as well as their social worker and parent(s).

Once the investigation is complete, consideration will then need to be given to the needs and interests of both alleged victim and perpetrator, and whether counselling and/or other support should be given.

Children or young people who are known to have sexually abused other children cannot live together unless a risk assessment has been undertaken by someone specially qualified to do so, who is independent of the home.


6. Complex Abuse

It is always possible, however unthinkable, that more than one person may make an allegation concerning their time whilst in Childhood First's care. It is the responsibility of every employee of Childhood First staff to co-operate fully with any such enquiry, whilst continuing to care safely and appropriately for those children in their care.


7. The Media

Child Protection Enquiries or Investigations occasionally elicit media interest. No staff should talk to the media, and must refer all enquiries to the appropriate person. Staff must be extra sensitive about discussing work details in public places. The focus of staff teams must remain on caring for the children currently in their care to the usual high standards.


Appendix 1: Historical Disclosures

Definition of Historical Disclosure:

A historical Disclosure is a disclosure or allegation, by adult, of abuse which happened when they were children. For example:

  • Adults to whom we have a professional duty of care, (e.g. contacts made in family work);
  • Adults whom we encounter through our work, e.g. colleagues or other professionals;
  • Adult ex-residents or clients of abuse whilst they were in the care of someone else or whilst they were in the care of Childhood First (see below for this last category).

Responses to allegations by an adult of abuse experienced as a child must be of as high a standard as a response to current abuse. The need for immediate and urgent protection of the discloser may not be as acute unless the person remains in contact and is not able to protect themselves. However even where this is not the case, such allegations must be seriously responded to both because of the likelihood that a person who abused a child/ren in the past is still be doing so and also because criminal prosecutions can take place retrospectively.

If a disclosure is made, staff must neither offer nor imply that they are in a position to keep such information confidential. Always refer the matter to their Director (unless the Director is implicated, in which case, report the matter to the Responsible Individual and Operations Director.

  • If the disclosure is made by a member of Childhood First Staff, e.g. as part of a supervision or group session, the Director should be consulted and the member of staff should be supported and encouraged to consider reporting the matter to the Police. However, there is no requirement to report to the Police, unless it appears or is possible that children are still at risk e.g. if the alleged perpetrator is still caring for or has contact with children. In which case, a report should be made to Children's Social Care in the area where the perpetrator may be living. If the member of staff does not wish to disclose their own abuse, this should be respected when making the referral;
  • If the disclosure is made by an ex-resident, now an adult, about abuse that may have taken place in the family (not at Childhood First or in another care/looked after placement), the person should be supported and encouraged to consider reporting the matter to the Police. However, there is no requirement to report to the Police, unless it appears or is possible that children are still at risk e.g. if the alleged perpetrator is still caring for or has contact with children. In which case, a report should be made to Children's Social Care in the area where the perpetrator may be living. If the member of staff does not wish to disclose their own abuse, this should be respected when making the referral;
  • If the disclosure is made about a carer or ex carer at Childhood First, another care/looked after placement or about another professional, the Director (if not implicated) must be notified, and the Responsible Individual and Operations Director. Before taking any action, the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), in the area where the suspected abuse took place, should be consulted. If the location is unknown, consult the LADO in the local area. The Director will notify The Trustees and Regulatory Authority.

General Guidance

  • Children at one of our Communities may make allegations of abuse once they have moved on. This may be while they are still children or when they are adults, often many years later. If the disclosure is made by someone who is under 18, the Child Protection Policy must be followed. If the person is now an adult, the general procedure outlined above should be used. However there will be extra dimensions to take into account if the disclosure concerns a period of care whilst at Childhood First;
  • Such disclosures may come to the attention of staff members through a direct disclosure from the children, through relatives of the child, from the person's solicitor, through other children, or we may hear from Child Protection Services, the Police or another route. Such allegations are difficult to manage for the staff group, and everyone needs support through the process. The allegation may be about another child or about a member of staff. In every case the matter must be treated seriously with the same professionalism as any other disclosure;
  • Staff members must always talk to their seniors and should make it clear to the discloser that they are not in a position to keep such information to themselves and - as with any disclosure - not to ask leading or probing questions which may prejudice a future investigation. Staff members must not engage in discussion about the alleged abuser but should take notes, noting particularly if the person reveals the current whereabouts of the alleged perpetrator and whether they work with, care for or have access to children. However the staff member should not reveal information themselves. They should refer the matter to their Director who will talk immediately to the Responsible Individual and Operations Director who will offer guidance and inform Trustees as necessary;
  • It is always difficult for current staff to respond to allegations about their colleagues, whether they are still working for the organisation or have moved on and even if they were not known personally to current staff. False allegations can create an atmosphere of defensiveness and suspicion sometimes compromising care of current residents. Allegations which turn out to be true can elicit feelings of anger, disbelief and guilt. Staff teams will need support through all these scenarios and it is the responsibility of senior managers and staff teams to work together. The most dangerous stance to take is one of collusion with the accused; however this can be a natural tendency.