Managing Allegations of Abuse against Staff Policy
It is essential that any allegation of abuse made against myself in any setting is dealt with fairly, quickly, and consistently, in a way that provides effective protection for the child/adult and at the same time supports the person who is the subject of the allegation. Thus, the procedures outlined in this policy will be followed alongside the setting’s complaints procedure and child protection policy.
All staff and volunteers should understand what to do if they receive an allegation against another member of staff or they themselves have concerns about the behaviour of another member of staff.. It is our policy that all allegations will be reported straight away, to the manager, or to the Chairman of Governors in cases where the Manager is absent or is the subject of the allegation or concern.
This policy follows the Government guidance in chapter 5 of ‘Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education 34 I also adopt the Government guidance – “Working Together to Safeguard Children: A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children” (2006), which sets out the framework for managing cases of allegations of abuse against people who work with children.
This policy will be adopted in respect of allegations that might indicate that a person is unsuitable to continue to work with children in their present position, or in any capacity. The Setting’s complaints and child protection procedures will be followed alongside this policy.
This policy will be used in respect of all cases in which it is alleged that a member of staff (including a volunteer, student) has:
• Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child (see Child Protection Policy for definition of harm);
• Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or,
• Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates s/he is unsuitable to work with children. This will include cases of verbal abuse.
There may be up to 3 strands in the consideration of an allegation:
• A police investigation of a possible criminal offence;
• Enquiries and assessment by children’s social care about whether a child is in need of protection or in need of services;
• Consideration by the Nursery of disciplinary action in respect of the individual.
Supporting Those Involved
Parents or carers of a child or children/ carer of adult involved will be told about the allegation as soon as possible if they do not already know of it. They will also be kept informed about the progress of the case, and told the outcome where there is not a criminal prosecution. That includes the outcome of any disciplinary process. NB. The deliberations of a disciplinary hearing, and the information taken into account in reaching a decision, cannot normally be disclosed, but the parents or carers of the child and carer of the adult will be told the outcome.
In cases where a child may have suffered significant harm, or there may be a criminal prosecution, children’s social care, or the police as appropriate, will be consulted by the Chairman of Governors/ manager or senior staff to consider what support the child or children involved may need. The Chairman of Governors and manager will also keep the person who is the subject of the allegations informed of the progress of the case and consider what other support is appropriate for the individual. If the person is suspended, the Chairman of Governors and manager will also keep the individual informed about developments at the nursery. If the person is a member of a union or professional association s/he will be advised to contact that body at the outset.
Every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality and guard against publicity while an allegation is being investigated/considered.
Resignations and “Compromise Agreements”
The fact that a person tenders his or her resignation, or ceases to provide their services, will not prevent an allegation being followed up in accordance with these procedures. Every effort will be made to reach a conclusion in all cases of allegations bearing in mind the safety or welfare of children including any in which the person concerned refuses to cooperate with the process.
Wherever possible the person will be given a full opportunity to answer the allegation and make representations about it. The process of investigating the allegation, and reaching a judgment about whether it can be regarded as substantiated will continue even if the person does not cooperate.
Similarly, so called “compromise agreements” by which a person agrees to resign, the nursery agrees not to pursue disciplinary action, and both parties agree a form of words to be used in any future reference, will not be used in cases of alleged child abuse. In any event, such an agreement will not prevent a thorough police investigation where that is appropriate. Furthermore, it will not override the statutory duty to make a referral to the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) for consideration of placing the Person’s name on the Children’s Barred List where circumstances require that.
A clear and comprehensive summary of any allegations made, details of how the allegation was followed up and resolved, and a note of any action taken and decisions reached, will be kept on a person’s confidential personnel file, and a copy provided to the person concerned. The purpose of the record is to enable accurate information to be given in response to any future request for a reference if the person has moved on.
It will provide clarification in cases where a future CRB Disclosure reveals information from the police about an allegation that did not result in a criminal conviction. In addition, it will help to prevent unnecessary re-investigation if, as sometimes happens, an allegation re-surfaces after a period of time. The record will be retained at least until the person has reached normal retirement age or for a period of 10 years from the date of the allegation, if that is longer.
It is in everyone’s interest to resolve cases as quickly as possible consistent with a fair and thorough investigation. Every effort will be made to manage cases to avoid any unnecessary delay.
The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) should be informed, by the manager of all allegations of abuse against staff on the same day, even where the police are contacted directly.
The manager will inform the accused person about the allegation as soon as possible after consulting the Chairman of Governors and the LADO. However, where a strategy discussion is needed, or where police or children’s social care need to be involved, the manger will not do that until those agencies have been consulted, and have agreed what information can be disclosed to the person. If the person is a member of a union or professional association s/he will be advised to contact that organization at the outset.
If the allegation is not demonstrably false or unfounded, and there is cause to suspect a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, a strategy discussion will be convened by the manager with the LADO and other appropriate agencies, such as the police and social services.
In cases where a formal strategy discussion is not considered appropriate because the threshold of “significant harm” is not reached, but a police investigation might be needed, the manager will consult with the LADO, police and any other agencies involved with the child to evaluate the allegation and decide how it should be dealt with.
(NB. The police will be consulted about any case in which a criminal offence may have been committed.)
If the allegation is about physical contact, the strategy discussion or initial evaluation with the police will take account of the fact that nursery staff are entitled to use reasonable force to control or restrain children in certain circumstances, including dealing with disruptive behaviour, under s.93 of the Education and Inspections Act 2006.
The LADO and the manager may conclude that the complaint or allegation is such that it is clear that an investigation by police and/or enquiries by social care is not necessary. In these circumstances the options open to the nursery depend on the nature and circumstances of the allegation and the evidence and information available, and will range from taking no further action to summary dismissal or a decision not to use the person’s services in future.
Suspension will be considered in any case where there is cause to suspect a child is at risk of significant harm, or the allegation warrants investigation by the police, or is so serious that it might be grounds for dismissal. However, a person will not be suspended automatically, or without careful thought.
The power to suspend is vested in the Manager and the Board of Governors. However, they will speak to the LADO who may canvass police/social care views about whether the accused member of staff needs to be suspended from contact with children, to inform the nursery’s consideration of suspension.
Action on Conclusion of a Case
If the allegation is substantiated and the person is dismissed or the nursery ceases to use the person’s services, or the person resigns or otherwise ceases to provide his/her services, the Manager will determine with the LADO whether a referral to the ISA is required, or advisable. The school must report to the ISA, any person (whether employed, contracted or a volunteer) whose services are no longer used because he or she is considered unsuitable to work with children. (The ISA, PO Box 181, Darlington DL1 9FA. Tel:0300 1231111). This report will be made within one month of the decision to cease using the services of that person.
In cases where it is decided on the conclusion of the case that a person who has been suspended can return to work the setting will consider how best to facilitate that. We appreciate that most people will benefit from some help and support to return to work after a very stressful experience. Depending on the individual’s circumstances, a phased return and/or the provision of a mentor to provide assistance and support in the short term may be appropriate. The setting will also consider how the person’s contact with the child or children/ adult who made the allegation can best be managed if they are still attending the setting
Action in Respect of False Allegations
If an allegation is determined to be false, the manager will refer the matter to children’s social 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 manager will consider whether any disciplinary action is appropriate against the staff/child who made it, or the police should be asked to consider whether any action might be appropriate against the person responsible if s/he was not a child.
The Health Care and Professions Council will be informed of all allegations, in order for them to be FULLY investigsted