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6.7 Historical Cases of Abuse

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter details the arrangements for dealing with allegations of historical abuse. Allegations should be dealt with consistently regardless of the initial point of contact.

RELEVANT LEGISLATION AND GUIDANCE

Children Act 1989

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015

Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016 (DfE)

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Boards’ Safeguarding Children Procedures and with Managing Allegations / Concerns in Relation to Adults who work with Children Procedure.

AMENDMENT

This chapter was extensively updated in January 2017 and should be read throughout.


Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Definition of Historical Abuse
  3. General Principles to Apply to Cases of Historical Abuse
  4. Responsibilities
  5. Historical Abuse Strategy Discussion
  6. The Purpose of the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting
  7. Preparation for the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting
  8. Invitations to the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting
  9. The Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting Process
  10. Minutes of the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting
  11. Recording


1. Introduction

This guidance is written to ensure that all allegations of historical abuse are dealt with in the same way. Information about allegations may come in to the department via a number of different routes but the process described below should be followed regardless of the initial point of contact.

This guidance covers historical allegations made which relate to current or previous staff who work or worked with children, including foster carers, prospective adopters and volunteers. Throughout the guidance, the term ‘professionals’ will be used to cover all of these roles, unless one is specifically excluded. The principles and processes used should also be used to respond to all other allegations of historical abuse.


2. Definition of Historical Abuse

An allegation of Neglect, Physical, Sexual or Emotional Abuse made by or on behalf of someone who is now 18 years or over, relating to an incident which took place when the alleged victim was under 18 years old.


3. General Principles to Apply to Cases of Historical Abuse

  • Historical allegations of abuse should be responded to in the same way as contemporary allegations. The intervention should include both the investigation of the alleged incident(s) and consideration of any risk currently posed to children;
  • Where there are current risks to any children, safeguarding procedures should be followed;
  • The process of investigating historical abuse allegations is distinct from investigating contemporary allegations because;
  • The time lapse between incident and investigation can create significant difficulties in evidence and information collection;
  • This time lapse often means that only the more serious allegations come to light, so almost all the cases involve significant abuse and allegations of crimes;
  • Historical abuse allegations can often form part of a complex web of links between victims and perpetrators. This is more common in cases of abuse which occurred in residential units, but can also be true of any allegations;
  • Analysing and understanding current risk in these circumstances can be complex;
  • Historical abuse allegations should consider the three strands of the investigation in the same way as contemporary allegations ie child protection, criminal investigation and employer action, where the alleged perpetrator is still employed;
  • Risk assessments must be completed in each case to establish, on all the evidence available, whether there is a current risk to children. These risk assessments must be rigorous and proportionate, explicitly giving weight to the severity and the likelihood of harm, and balancing this with any known protective factors;
  • In all cases there must be inter-agency consideration of the issues. This will involve an early dialogue between Children's Social Care, Police and any other agencies if appropriate. The Police and all other agencies should always jointly agree when to inform the alleged perpetrator (s) of the concerns which have been raised;
  • The victim should always be fully informed regarding the process including the information which will be sought, in so far as this meets the needs of the criminal investigation;
  • Historical allegations of abuse should be considered at a Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting, chaired by a Child Protection Coordinator;
  • The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) has a specific role in the response to historical allegations against people who work or worked with children;
  • The LADO provides a central point of contact for professionals, promoting consistency and high standards;
  • The LADO role is particularly relevant for people who continue to work or volunteer with children, as the LADO can provide both guidance and challenge to employers;
  • The LADO can provide advice on thresholds for intervention as in contemporaneous cases;
  • The LADO should be mindful of the timeliness of investigations. Timeliness does not necessarily mean that cases will be resolved quickly, due to the nature of the work.


4. Responsibilities

4.1 Responsibilities

Nottinghamshire County Council is responsible for managing the investigation into historical abuse if the abuse took place within the current County boundaries. This includes the LADO role.

The Historical Abuse Team (HAT) is responsible for the Children’s Social Care enquiries into any historical abuse allegation against people who work or worked with children, where the alleged victim was a child in the care of Nottinghamshire County Council at the time of the abuse and the abuse occurred in current County boundaries.

Where an adult making an allegation was looked after by Nottinghamshire County Council as a child, but was placed in another Local Authority, the responsibility for managing the investigation rests with the Authority in which the alleged abuse took place. The Historical Abuse Team will contribute to the enquiries and the Strategy Meeting. The Historical Abuse Team must ensure that they know the outcome of any investigation and consider any implications for the department, including any issues regarding the media.

Historical abuse allegations against anyone else (ie family members or other people in the community) should be referred to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). These cases will often be police led and generally only actively involve social care if there are any current risks to children either from within the family or the wider community.

Similarly, historical allegations related to the person's private life where they used to, but no longer, work in any capacity with children should be referred to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).

Advice may be sought from the Historical Abuse Team Manager as to whether a case should be referred to the HAT or the MASH.

Staff should be mindful that where historical cases become complex either due to number of children or staff involved, that there is complex abuse guidance within the Nottinghamshire and Nottingham City Safeguarding Children Boards’ Safeguarding Children Procedures.

4.2 Independence

If the person who is the subject of the investigation is a current Children's Social Care professional then any enquiries undertaken by Children's Social Care should be undertaken and managed by someone who has no personal or professional relationship with the individual. 

Where the alleged perpetrator is still working or fostering, Social Care enquiries should not be undertaken by the social worker for any child in receipt of services from the individual. In the case of allegations against residential staff, social care enquiries should not be undertaken by the social worker for any child placed in the unit. Foster carers' supervising social workers, or the support social worker for potential adoptive carers, also should not undertake any such enquiries.

If the alleged perpetrator is a current Children's Social Care professional, the Team Manager will ensure that the relevant Group Manager and the Group Manager for Historical Abuse are aware of the allegations as soon as this is known.

It is the responsibility of the relevant Group Manager to ensure that the Service Director for Children’s Social Care is aware of allegations made against current staff or foster carers.

Enquiries will ordinarily be managed by someone senior to the individual about whom the allegation is made ie if the enquiry relates to a Team Manager the enquiry will be managed by a Children’s Service Manager (CSM). The principle of independence as set out above applies.


5. Historical Abuse Strategy Discussion

On receipt of the referral the Team Manager will hold a Historical Abuse Strategy Discussion with the relevant Sergeant from the police. Following this the manager will inform the LADO Allegations Officer. The purpose of these discussions will be to:

  • Share all relevant information;
  • Ensure all safeguarding checks and any resulting actions have been completed or are in process;
  • Ensure the appropriate support is in place for the victim;
  • Decide on how best to progress the case;
  • Agree whether a Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting needs to be held.

When the alleged perpetrator is deceased, a Historical Abuse Strategy Discussion will take place between the Team Manager and the relevant Sergeant. The purpose of the discussion will be to:

  • Make a record of all allegations and analyse the allegations;
  • Share information about where the alleged perpetrator was working, where the alleged victim was living and whether there are any other relevant allegations, including those related to live investigations;
  • Agree a plan for any further work;
  • Agree whether a Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting needs to be held.
When the alleged perpetrator is deceased and a strategy meeting is not held, the victim’s need for a response and a conclusion to the matter can still be recognised. Professional judgement will be needed to consider how best to manage this situation, and a decision will be made on a case-by-case basis. It may be possible for the social worker to complete a report which makes a recommendation about whether there is sufficient information, on the balance of probabilities, to substantiate the allegations.


6. The Purpose of the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting

The function and purpose of the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting is to make an agreed plan to progress the investigation in a way that is fair, consistent, thorough and timely. This is achieved by:

  • Identifying a SMART action plan;
  • Making recommendations regarding possible action under disciplinary procedures where appropriate;
  • Co-ordinating support for the victim;
  • Coordinating support for the alleged perpetrator as appropriate;
  • Agreeing when and by whom the alleged perpetrator(s) should be made aware of the allegation, and that a Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting has taken place;
  • Considering whether any referral needs to be made to a regulatory body e.g. the HCPC;
  • Arranging any further Historical Abuse Strategy Meetings or a concluding meeting to inform all concerned about the outcome of the investigation.


7. Preparation for the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting

The timing of the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting will depend on the nature of the allegations and the amount of information known; the meeting will usually take place within 28 working days.

If there are current child protection concerns or the alleged perpetrator is currently working with children, the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting should be convened within 3 working days of the receipt of the referral.

Prior to the Strategy Meeting the Team Manager must:

  • Ensure that details of the allegation are recorded on Framework, including details of alleged perpetrator;
  • Ensure that relevant agency checks have been undertaken and that, where appropriate, reference to relevant service user files has been made to verify facts.

Prior to the Strategy Meeting the allocated social worker:

  • Will check to see if the victim or perpetrator are currently known;
  • Will check to see if they were known as a child;
  • Will check if the Local Authority holds social care files and record searches using the File Search pro forma;
  • Will check if the file is governed by Nottinghamshire County Council or Nottingham City Council;
  • Will request files from storage;
  • May start to compile a childcare chronology;
  • May attend the video interview;
  • May signpost the victim to support services;
  • Will establish if there are any safeguarding concerns (eg currently working or volunteering with children, children of their own or in their family);
  • Will request any personnel/disciplinary/conduct files and HR chronology;
  • Will contact the current employer;
  • Will check what information is held by social care (eg any previous investigations under the Managing Allegations procedures);
  • Will write a report for the meeting which includes an analysis of the allegations;
  • Will contact other Local Authorities if it is known the alleged perpetrator worked there;
  • Will contact the Risk and Insurance team to find out if there are any civil claims which relate to the victim or perpetrator.

This is not an exhaustive list and additional tasks may be necessary.

Prior to the strategy meeting the LADO Allegations Officer will:

  • Liaise with the LADO in another Local Authority if it is known the alleged perpetrator worked there.
The Team Manager and the LADO Allegations Officer must ensure that the work is progressed in a timely manner.


8. Invitations to the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting

When any agency is invited to attend a Strategy Meeting it is important to provide information about the allegation and the context so that the agency can identify an appropriate representative to attend the meeting.

It is the responsibility of the Team Manager and social worker to invite relevant agencies. Advice can be sought from the LADO or HAT Manager regarding who to invite. The following should always be invited to attend:

  • Police;
  • The current employer of the alleged perpetrator, if they are in employment;
  • Any other relevant agency involved with the alleged perpetrator, which may include previous employers.

Where the allegation is against a current member of staff for Nottinghamshire County Council Children’s Social Care, the following should always be invited to attend:

  • The relevant Group Manager;
  • Human Resources.

Where the allegation is against current or previous foster carers or prospective adopters, the following should always be invited to attend:

  • The Group Manager for Access to Resources.
Where the allegation is against current registered manager for a residential children’s home, Ofsted should be invited.


9. The Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting Process

A series of strategy meetings may be held to discuss the allegations. The format of the meetings will depend on the specifics of the case, but in the first instance meetings will centre on the alleged perpetrator. It may initially be useful to hold a meeting centred on a victim where, for example, they have made allegations against a number of people.

The meetings will endeavour to reach an outcome which is agreed by the professionals involved. Agencies will be encouraged to make a recommendation and explain their reasoning.

The outcomes used by all parties (as identified by the DfE) should be:

  • 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 there has been a deliberate act to deceive and the allegation is entirely false;
  • Unfounded: there is no evidence or proper basis which 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 or disprove the allegation. The term, therefore, does not imply guilt or innocence.

Outcomes to strategy meetings are decided on the balance of probabilities. It should be noted that this is a lower standard of proof than that required in criminal cases; it is therefore possible to substantiate allegations even if police investigations have not resulted in a prosecution.

It should also be clear whether the person of concern is aware of the outcome and that a referral to DBS has been considered where relevant.

A concluding letter should be sent to the alleged perpetrator confirming the outcome. The LADO Allegations Officer will be responsible for this task. The timing and content of this letter should be agreed in liaison with the police.

The outcome should be communicated to the victim by the social worker.


10. Minutes of the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting

These meetings will be chaired through the Independent Chair Service and will be minuted by a Child Protection minute taker.

Minutes should include a summary of the issues discussed along with the decisions and recommendations of the meeting. A copy of the minutes should be sent to all agreed parties.

The minutes of Historical Abuse Strategy Meetings could be made available to the alleged perpetrator or victim. The request for minutes should be a written request. These minutes may be redacted to remove personal information, subject to review by the chair of the Historical Abuse Strategy Meeting and in consultation with the police. The alleged perpetrator would not generally be sent a (redacted) copy of the minutes until the conclusion of the whole process, particularly where there is a police investigation. Redacted minutes will be completed by the Chair, uploaded onto Framework and identified as such.

Minutes should be completed and uploaded to Framework within twenty working days.

Minutes of the meeting should be stored on both the alleged perpetrator and victim’s files.


11. Recording

When a referral indicating an allegation/concern about an adult that works with children is received a Framework file must be created for both the alleged perpetrator and the alleged victim, if files do not already exist.

Care should be taken that personal information about individuals is only added to their file. Inevitably there will be information that will need to be added to both files but this should wherever possible be kept to a minimum. The following guidance should inform decisions about what information should be placed on which file

File Information
Alleged Perpetrator
  • Family Details;
  • Relevant personal History;
  • Relevant career History;
  • Case Notes relating to any of the above;
  • Case Notes relating to any discussion and/or meeting with the alleged perpetrator;
  • Written correspondence between Children's Social Care and the alleged perpetrator;
  • Any reference to the victim should use initials and the individual's Framework reference number, not their name;
  • Copies of the minutes from strategy discussions and/or strategy meetings.
Victim
  • Family Details;
  • Personal History;
  • Case Notes relating to any of the above;
  • Case Notes relating to any discussion and/or meeting with the alleged victim;
  • Written correspondence between Children's Social Care and the alleged victim;
  • Any reference to the alleged perpetrator should use initials and the individual's Framework reference number, not their name;
  • A case note with the date and outcome of each strategy meeting.

Access to files on Framework can be subject to a detailed audit in order to identify any unauthorised access. Unauthorised access to files is a disciplinary matter. The need to restrict access to files should be considered in this context and only cases where such a breach would have serious consequences, eg damage on-going criminal enquiries, will need to be restricted. Operational teams can seek advice from the LADO or HAT manager if there is uncertainty regarding file restriction.

If there is any indication that the individual that the concern/allegation relates to would have access to information on Framework, either themselves or through a third party, it is essential that the record is restricted.

On completion of the enquiries the CSM with line management responsibility for the team will agree with the Team Manager and Framework team what continuing restrictions are required, if any.

End