These procedures detail the steps that will be taken if a volunteer/parent/child approach anyone in the organisation with concerns about a child’s welfare including abuse or neglect.
Potential Ways information will be received
- A child may approach a volunteer
- A parent might report fears about a child
- A child shows signs of injury or neglect without explanation
- A child’s behaviour suggests abuse
- Behaviour or attitude of parents might make you uncomfortable
- The organisation is informed by the police or local authority that an individual is the subject of a child protection and/or criminal investigation
- information emerging from the renewal of a DBS indicates that a volunteer may have committed an offence or been involved in an activity that could compromise the safety of a child
- a volunteer informs the ogranisation that they have been the subject of allegations, have harmed a child, or committed an offence against or related to a child
- another employer/organisation informs the organisation that a volunteer is the subject of a safeguarding allegation within their organisation
Volunteer action upon initial receipt of information
- All reports shall be documented on the safeguarding reports form
- If a child discloses abuse, the volunteer should reassure that child they are doing the right thing.
- The volunteer should document the full concerns, including the exact words if possible.
- The volunteer should, where possible, obtain the child’s consent to share information
- The volunteer should never promise that reports will be kept confidential. Instead they should explain the information will be shared with someone who will be able to help.
- Volunteers should never discuss suspected abuse with the alleged perpetrator.
- The lead child protection officer shall be informed of any reports within 24 hours. No other person should be informed of such reports.
- If the allegation is made against the lead child protection officer, the report should instead be made to the Shropshire General Secretary who will then perform the role of the lead child protection officer (below).
- If the volunteer does not feel able to report an incident within the organisation they can make a report following the organisations whistleblowing procedures.
Allegations against volunteers
If an allegation is made against a volunteer these procedures aim:
- To ensure that children are protected and supported following an allegation that they may have been abused by an adult working for or on behalf of Shropshire Junior Chess Club.
- To ensure that there is a fair, consistent and robust response to any safeguarding allegation made, so that any risk posed to other children by an abusive individual is managed effectively
- To ensure that an appropriate level of investigation into concerns or allegations takes place when the allegation is recent, or at any time the person in question has volunteered with Shropshire Junior Chess Club.
- To ensure that Shropshire Junior Chess Club continues to fulfil its responsibilities towards its volunteers who may be subject to such investigations
- To ensure Shropshire Junior Chess Club acts in accordance with legislation and guidance
Role of the Lead Child Protection Officer
- The lead child protection officer will keep records of all reports made and establish if any previous reports were made.
- The lead child protection officer shall inform the Shropshire Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) whose contact number is 03456 789021. The LADO will be involved from the initial phase of the allegation through to the conclusion of the case.
- Advice can also be sought from the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000
- Every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality of all parties whilst allegations are investigated.
The Lead Child Protection Officer will consider how best to support the children involved, their parents or carers, and individual who have had an allegation made against them. This includes:
- telling parents or carers and the volunteer concerned about the allegation as soon as possible (as long as this does not place any children at further risk of harm)
- telling them how the allegation will be managed
- keeping everyone informed about the progress and outcomes of the case.
If the allegation is made against a volunteer, after seeking relevant advice the lead child protection officer will:
- inform the volunteer of the allegation against them
- Consider whether it is appropriate to suspend the volunteer whilst the investigation is ongoing. Suspension is not automatic but will be considered in any cases where:
a) There is reason to suspect a child is at risk of significant harm and the allegation warrants investigation by the police
b) The allegation is so serious that if substantiated might be grounds for dismissal
c) There are concerns that the person about whom the allegations are made may put pressure on or interfere with potential witnesses
d) The person by carrying out their normal duties may pose a risk to others and where this risk cannot be reasonably mitigated against through increased supervision or a temporary change of duties
- Consider notifying the police or the relevant agencies
Outcome of the investigation
The following definitions will be used by the lead child protection officer when recording the outcome of the investigation:
- Substantiated: there is sufficient identifiable evidence to prove the allegation
- False: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation
- Malicious: there is clear evidence to prove that there has been a deliberate act to deceive and the allegation is entirely false
- Unfounded: there is no evidence or proper basis that supports the allegation being made. It might also indicate that the person making the allegation misinterpreted the incident or was mistaken about what they saw. Alternatively, they may not have been aware of all the circumstances
- Unsubstantiated: this is not the same as a false allegation. It means that there is insufficient evidence to prove the alleged behaviour occurred
Every effort should be made to reach a conclusion in all cases even if:
- The individual refuses to cooperate, although s/he should be given a full opportunity to answer the allegation and make representations
- It is difficult to reach a conclusion
- The volunteer has withdrawn his/her services
The Lead Child Protection Officer must determine who needs feedback following the conclusion of any investigations and the nature of that feedback in accordance with the principles of data protection and confidentiality. This might include feedback to the child, his/her parents/carers, and/or the person who raised the concern initially. It should be considered whether there is a legal duty to inform the DBS. The Lead Child Protection Officer must provide in writing feedback to the person who has been subject to the investigation, clarifying the outcome and any implications for their volunteering.
If the allegation relates to alleged abuse by a volunteer settlement agreements will never be employed to close the matter.
Action in Respect of Unfounded or Malicious Allegations
If an allegation is determined to be unfounded or malicious, the Lead Child Protection Officer must consider if any further action is required to include:
- If the safeguarding allegation was made by a child then there is a need to consider if a referral to children’s social care is required to determine if that child is in need of services, or may have been abused by someone else
- If the safeguarding allegation was deliberately invented or raised maliciously by an adult then this could be discussed with the police and advice sought
- Whether disciplinary action is required; If the person making the malicious or unfounded allegation is another volunteer
- The support needs of the person that was the subject of the safeguarding allegation
Records will be kept detailing:
- All allegations made
- How allegations have been followed up and investigated
- Decisions made about the allegation and actions taken
If an allegation is substantiated a review will be undertaken of lessons learnt:
- considering any factors that may have contributed to or failed to prevent abuse occurring
- reviewing safeguarding and child protection measures to ensure ongoing vigilance
- making changes to organisational policies and procedures as necessary.