Safeguarding children and adults at risk of abuse or neglect policy and procedure
Responding to disclosure, suspicions and allegations
Council employees, elected members or volunteers may come across cases of suspected abuse either through direct or indirect contact with children and adults, for example, running a holiday activity, or for peripatetic staff visiting homes as part of their day to day work.
It is not an employee's, elected members or volunteer's responsibility to decide whether or not a child or adult has been abused.
Council employees, elected members or volunteers that suspect abuse have a responsibility to act and report their concerns immediately on any such suspicions to ensure any relevant information is passed to the appropriate team. (See Appendix A).
Responding to disclosure
Abused children and adults at risk are more likely to disclose details of abuse to someone they trust and with whom they feel safe. By listening and taking seriously what the child or adult is saying, employees, elected members or volunteers are already helping the situation.
The following points are a guide to help employees respond appropriately:
Dos and Don'ts
- react calmly so as not to frighten them. Make safeguarding personal by seeking the views and wishes of the adult at risk in relation to the safeguarding concern
- take what the person says seriously, recognising the difficulties inherent in interpreting what is being said by a person who has for example a speech impairment and/or differences in language
- avoid asking leading or direct questions other than those seeking to clarify your understanding of what the person has said. They may be subsequently formally interviewed by the police and/or children's social care (CSC) and they should not have to repeat their account on several occasions. The first person told may become at witness at court if they have asked/gained direct relevant information
- reassure the child or adult at risk that they are right to tell
- explain to them that concerns may have to be shared with someone who is in a position to act
- make a written record of what has been disclosed at the earliest opportunity using our initial concerns form
- dismiss the concern
- allow your shock or distaste to show
- probe for more information than is offered
- speculate or make assumptions
- make negative comments about the alleged abuser
- make promises or agree to keep secrets
- ask the child, young person, adult at risk of abuse and neglect or any witnesses to sign your written information as this may be significantly detrimental to any subsequent police investigation
- take photographs of any alleged injuries. Any such recording must only be done by an approved medical or other practitioner, following referral
- examine injuries
Responding to concerns
It is the responsibility of the individual employee, elected member or volunteer to take action where there are safeguarding concerns regarding an adult or child.
The employee, elected member or volunteer must make a record of the concern using the initial concerns form.
All concerns must then be shared with the designated safeguarding officer or deputy. If these persons are not available then any concerns should be discussed with a safeguarding champion who will take responsibility for safeguarding when the designated safeguarding officer is unavailable.
The employee, elected member or volunteer must make a record of the concern, this should include:
- the date and time
- the child or adult's name, address and date of birth
- the nature of the abuse
- a description of any visible injuries
- observations - e.g. a description of the child or adult's behaviour and physical and emotional state
- what the child or adult said and what was said in reply. Please record this as accurately as possible, using their choice of language
- any action taken as a result of the concerns being raised e.g. who was spoken to and resulting actions. Include names, addresses and telephone numbers and whether an early help assessment has been started or completed
- sign and date what has been recorded
- store the information in accordance with relevant procedures, e.g. data protection
- report to and inform your line manager and/or our designated safeguarding officer or deputy
A copy of the completed initial concerns form should be shared with the designated safeguarding officer or deputy on completion and submitted to the Staffordshire Children's Advice Service (formerly First Response) or the Adult Protection Contact Centre as appropriate (see contact information below). If concerns do not meet the threshold for significant harm the initial concerns form should be shared with the Early Help team.
Concerns relating to a child
Actions to be taken by the employee, elected member, volunteer, designated officers or safeguarding champions:
- if after reviewing the SSCB thresholds document it is evident that the child or young person is at risk of significant harm, a call must be made to the Staffordshire Children's Advice Service (formerly First Response) on 0800 1313 126 (between 8.00 am and 5.30 pm and 4.30 pm on a Friday). Outside of 8.00 am and 5.30pm any child protection concerns should be directed to Staffordshire County Council Emergency Duty Service on 0345 604 2886
- Staffordshire Children's Advice Service will ask you for a range of information, all of which is listed on the MARF. They will also ask you what your concerns are and what evidence you have to demonstrate that the child or young person is at risk of significant harm, so it’s important to have as much information as possible before you make the call but this shouldn’t delay it either. Call takers will also want to know if an early help assessment has been completed. If you’re not sure you can contact your Early Help Team
- in an emergency where someone is at risk of immediate harm - dial 999
Concerns relating to an adult
If you have concerns about an adult record the information (as listed above) on the initial concerns form and then seek advice from the Adult Protection Contact Centre on 0345 604 2719.
In an emergency where someone is at risk of immediate harm - dial 999.
Where there is any possibility that a criminal act may have been committed care should be taken not to take any action that may jeopardise any subsequent criminal investigation.
All reported concerns must be discussed prior to making a referral with the agency's designated safeguarding officer(s). If this person(s) is not available, either because they are on annual leave or off sick, then any concerns should be discussed with a nominated deputy who will take responsibility for safeguarding when the designated lead is unavailable such as a safeguarding champion.
The designated officer ordeputy should also ensure that the employee reporting the incident is reassured that they have access to staff support if needed.