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6.8 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

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

AMENDMENT

This chapter was extensively updated in July 2021 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. Recording
  6. Historical Abuse Strategy Discussion
  7. The Purpose of 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. Complaints Process

    Appendices


1. Introduction

Allegations regarding non recent abuse may come into 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 non recent allegations, 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 should also be used to respond to other allegations of non recent abuse.


2. Definition of Historical Abuse

Non recent abuse refers to an allegation of Neglect, Physical, Sexual or Emotional Abusemade by or on behalf of someone who is now 18 years or over, relating to an incident which took place when the complainant was under 18 years old.

The term ‘non recent’ is often used interchangeably with ‘historical abuse’ and has been noted as a term which can be preferred by victims and survivors. In Nottinghamshire, the police’s Operation Equinox is the team which responds to all allegations of non recent abuse in childhood made by an adult where the alleged perpetrator is or was a professional/individual working with children in a position of trust.

‘Non recent’ abuse refers to an investigation where the offence occurred over one year before it was reported. This would be generally the case when considering any allegation made by an adult relating to childhood abuse but in exceptional cases where the complainant is 18 and the allegations are less than a year old, there would be case-by-case consideration of the appropriate management responsibility.

For the purpose of consistency, the individual making the allegation will be referred to as the complainant and the individual against whom the allegation is made will be referred to as the alleged perpetrator.


3. General Principles

Non recent allegations of abuse should be responded to similarly to contemporaneous allegations in that the intervention should include both the investigation of the alleged incident(s) and consideration of any risk currently posed to children. Consideration should be given to child protection/criminal investigation/employer action as relevant.

Where there are current risks to any children, safeguarding procedures should be followed.

The process of investigating such allegations can be seen to be distinct from investigating contemporaneous 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;
  • Such allegations can often form part of a complex web of links between complainants and alleged perpetrators;
  • Analysing and understanding current risk in these circumstances can be more complex;
  • The pace of the investigation will largely be informed by the progress of the police investigation. Where there are immediate safeguarding concerns and/or the adult remains working with children, the Social Worker, Managing Allegations Service (MAS), will take action to address these concerns in consultation with the police.

In all cases there must be inter-agency consideration of the issues. This will involve an early dialogue between LADO AO, MAS Team Manager, Children's Social Care if currently allocated, Police and any other agencies if appropriate. There must always be agreement as to when the alleged perpetrator should be informed of the concerns which have been raised.

The LADO allegations officer (herein referred to as LADO AO) should be made aware of allegations of Non recent abuse against professionals who work or worked with children.


4. Responsibilities

4.1 Responsibilities

Nottinghamshire County Council is the responsible local authority regarding allegations of Non recent abuse relating to abuse which occurred within the current county boundaries. The Managing Allegations Service (MAS) is responsible for the Children’s Social Care enquiries into all allegations made against people who work or worked with children made by both complainants who were in the care of Nottinghamshire County Council at the time of the abuse and those who were not in LA care.

Where an adult making an allegation was looked after by Nottinghamshire County Council as a child, but was placed in another local authority, the responsible local authority is that in which the alleged abuse took place. The Managing Allegations Service will contribute in terms of accessing records, being aware of the process and outcome of the investigation and be alert to any potential for media attention.

When the adult makes allegations against someone who is/was not a professional (e.g. family members or other people in the community) these will be responded to in the first instance by the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). In all cases consideration would need to be given as to whether there may be current risks to children either from within the family or the wider community.

Similarly, Non recent allegations related to an individual’s private life where they used to, but no longer, work in any capacity with children should be referred to the MASH and case responsibility will pass to the Managing Allegations Service.

Where allegations that relate to a current member of Nottinghamshire County Council staff, the Group Manager for Safeguarding Assurance and Improvement and the relevant Group Manager for the staff member needs to be informed by the relevant Team Manager in order that other senior managers can be informed.

As with contemporaneous cases, all elements of the case will be allocated to a MAS social worker.

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

4.2 Independence

If the alleged perpetrator, who is the subject of the investigation, is a current Children's Social Care member of staff or foster carer, then any enquiries by the MAS should be undertaken and managed by someone who has no personal or professional relationship with the individual. The person who becomes aware of the allegations in the first instance must ensure that the relevant Group Manager for the member of staff or foster carer and the Group Manager for Safeguarding Assurance and Improvement are made aware of the allegations immediately. It is the responsibility of the relevant Group Manager for the member of staff or foster carer to ensure that the relevant Service Director is made aware of the allegations.


5. Recording

When a referral is received, a Mosaic record must be created for both the alleged perpetrator (if known) and the complainant, if records do not already exist. The records of the complainant and alleged perpetrator must be linked with an unstated relationship.

The MAS team will record a ‘non recent abuse referral step’ on the complainant and case note on the alleged perpetrator if known. The Team Manager will also record the strategy discussion step, which completes the work flow on the complainant. It is the responsibility of the LADO AO to complete the Initial Consideration step on the alleged perpetrator. Care should be taken that personal information about an individual is added to their record only. There may be some information that will need to be appropriately added to both records, but this should be kept to a minimum. The following guidance should inform decisions about what information should be placed on which record but is not an exhaustive list.

Alleged Perpetrator

  • Family details;
  • Relevant personal history;
  • Relevant career history;
  • Case note clarifying the allegations;
  • Copy of the Annex C (proforma used by police to request information);
  • Case notes relating to any discussion and/or meeting with the alleged perpetrator;
  • Written correspondence between Children's Social Care and the alleged perpetrator;
  • Copies of the minutes from strategy discussions and/or strategy meetings.

Adult Complainant

  • Family details;
  • Relevant personal history;
  • Case notes clarifying allegations made;
  • Copy of Annex C (proforma used by police to request information) and/or Letter of Claim when civil claim received;
  • Case notes relating to any discussion and/or meeting with the complainant;
  • Written correspondence between Children's Social Care and the complainant;
  • A case note confirming that a strategy meeting has been held.

This practice of recording is consistent with the General Data Protection Regulations and, in the event of any access to record request, third party information will be removed.

Records on Mosaic relating to Non recent abuse are generally not restricted. However, sensitive records should be restricted, including those relating to current members of staff or where there are connections to members of staff. If there is any indication that the alleged perpetrator would have access to information on Mosaic, either directly or through a third party, it is essential that the record is restricted.


6. Non Recent Abuse Strategy Discussion

6.1 Following initial receipt of a non recent abuse allegation, the MAS team manager will, in the first instance, have a conversation with police and the LADO AO to determine if there is sufficient information to hold a formal strategy discussion e.g. if the perpetrator is known. This conversation will establish what actions would need to be taken before a strategy discussion should be held. Any safeguarding issues should be addressed in the first instance and where required a S47 Strategy Discussion held in relation to connected children.

At an appropriate point, the team manager will hold a non recent abuse strategy discussion with the relevant Sergeant from the police and include the LADO AO.

The purpose of the strategy discussion will be to:

  • Share all relevant information;
  • Identify what safeguarding checks are needed in relation to employment/contact with children;
  • Identify whether appropriate support is in place for the complainant;
  • Agree actions needed to progress the case;
  • Consider whether a Managing Allegations Meeting – Non Recent should be held at this point.

When a decision has been reached that a Managing Allegations Meeting – non recent is not appropriate at this stage, it should be agreed what further information is being sought and by whom and agree the next step. In some cases, it might be clear from the outset that the appropriate action is that the police will continue with sole agency enquiries. The LADO AO must be involved in such decision making.

When the alleged perpetrator is deceased, a discussion will take place between the MAS Team Manager and the relevant Police Sergeant in order to share information, make a record of all allegations and analyse the allegations as much as possible.

In these circumstances, the complainant’s need for a response should 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. Appropriate support for the complainant and advice regarding making a civil claim also need to be considered.


7. The Purpose of and Preparation for the Managing Allegations Meeting

The purpose of the Managing Allegations Meeting is to share information and formulate an agreed plan. There are agendas for both initial and review meetings which can be found as appendices to this guidance.

The timing of the meeting will depend on the nature of the allegations and the amount of information known; the meeting will usually take place within 20 working days. A clear rationale for the decision about timing must be recorded on the Mosaic record of the alleged perpetrator.

If there are current child protection concerns or the alleged perpetrator is currently working with children, the Managing Allegations Meeting should be convened within 3 working days of receipt of the allegation where there is evidence or risk of significant harm, or 5 working days for other cases. If urgent safeguarding action is needed, this should not be delayed pending a meeting taking place. It is essential that there is good communication between all relevant professionals and clear coordination of actions with an identified managerial lead.

There should be discussion with the police to agree when and by whom the alleged perpetrator(s) should be made aware of the allegation and that a Managing Allegations meeting will be held.

Consideration will also need to be given to whether referrals need to be made to a regulatory body and/or the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – the latter would usually be at the end of the process.

Prior to the meeting the social worker MAS should:

  • Ensure necessary checks regarding both the complainant and the alleged perpetrator have been undertaken;
  • Undertake file searches using the File Search Proforma;
  • Clarify the governance of any historical child care file – whether Nottinghamshire County Council or Nottingham City Council;
  • Access any relevant files;
  • Files relating to previous or current employees of the County Council should be accessed via HR;
  • Signpost the complainant to support services if required.

The MAS manager should agree with the MAS social worker other tasks needed, including contact with the Risk and Insurance Team to ascertain if there are any relevant civil claims and the completion of the initial report for the strategy meeting.

The LADO AO will:

  • Agree with the MAS manager and police the appropriate time to write to the alleged perpetrator to inform him or her of the process that they are subject to.
Agree who should contact other relevant organisations, e.g. a current employer; voluntary organisations; other local authorities.


8. Invitations to the Managing Allegations Meeting

It is the responsibility of the MAS Team Manager and social worker to advise CP CONF which agencies are to be invited. Consideration should be given to the following attendees:

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

Where the allegation is against a current member of staff of Nottinghamshire County Council, the following should always be invited to attend:

  • The relevant Group Manager for the staff member;
  • Human Resources.

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

  • The relevant Group Manager for Fostering/Adoption.
Where the allegation is against a current registered manager for a residential children’s home, Ofsted should be informed that a meeting is taking place.


9. The Managing Allegations Meeting Process

Managing Allegations Meetings will be chaired by an identified Child Protection Coordinator with a focus on non recent abuse and minutes will be taken. The subject of the meeting will be the alleged perpetrator. It may additionally be helpful in particularly complex cases, where for example a complainant has made allegations against a number of alleged perpetrators, to hold a planning meeting between the MAS team manager, social worker and police to clarify the allegations and agree the appropriate way forward. Such a meeting would not be a Managing Allegations meeting chaired by a CPC.

If for any reason a Managing Allegations Meeting needs to be postponed or cancelled this should be discussed between the CSM Safeguarding (Strategic), the ICS Service Manager and the LADO AO will be advised. The reason for the change should be recorded on Mosaic by the CSM Safeguarding Strategic and LADO and the relevant people notified by the team manager MAS that the meeting has been changed.

Non recent abuse cases which result in a Managing Allegations Meeting process will ordinarily include a police investigation and may include employment considerations. The progress of the police investigation will inform the frequency of the meetings. Meetings should only be held when there is a clear purpose. In all cases, the key consideration is whether there are any current safeguarding issues and meetings should identify how these are being addressed. In some circumstances, allegations will have been made via a civil claim process only, i.e. no report having been made to the police; police and LADA AO will be informed of these cases. In those situations, the MAS team manager in conjunction with the LADO AO and CSM Safeguarding (Strategic) will decide on any safeguarding action that needs to be taken; this could include having liaison with a current employer.

Discussion at the meeting should always confirm that appropriate support has been provided to the complainant and to the alleged perpetrator.

The meetings will endeavour to reach an outcome which is agreed by the professionals involved. The outcomes used in contemporaneous allegations against those who work with children (as identified by the DfE) are:

  • Substantiated: there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation;
  • False: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation;
  • Malicious: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation and there has been a deliberate act to deceive;
  • Unfounded: to reflect cases where there is no evidence or proper basis which supports the allegations being made;
  • Unsubstantiated: there is insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation. The term therefore does not imply guilt or innocence.

Outcomes are decided on the balance of probabilities and this is a lower standard of proof than that required in criminal prosecutions. It is therefore possible to substantiate allegations even if police investigations have not resulted in a prosecution. Non recent abuse cases are different from contemporaneous cases in the amount of information that is likely to be available. It is essential that victims and survivors feel that they have been heard and taken seriously and the above outcomes may not be helpful in achieving this, for example the understanding of what is meant by ‘unsubstantiated’. It is therefore important that analysis and views are clearly articulated in meetings and reflected in minutes. This must include whether there are any current safeguarding issues. To align with contemporaneous cases, the above ‘outcomes’ should be identified in those cases of Non recent abuse where the alleged perpetrator is still working with children or vulnerable adults.

The meeting should consider from the information available whether any further actions are warranted. For example, referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service, Social Work England, Ofsted or any other regulatory body.

It must be agreed what information will be shared with the alleged perpetrator, including whether any further actions are being taken.

A letter should be sent to the alleged perpetrator confirming the conclusion of the process. The LADO AO will be responsible for this. The timing and content of this letter should be agreed in liaison with the police.

In many of the Non recent abuse cases, ongoing contact with the complainant will have been via the police and it would be the police who would inform the complainant of the outcome of the investigation. Many complainants will have had no direct contact with the local authority; support services having been offered by the specialist Survivor’s Support Service. In those circumstances direct contact with the complainant by the local authority at the end of the process is unlikely to be required or helpful. However, there may be cases where such contact could be appropriate, for example where there has been some ongoing involvement by the MAS team, and the team manager will make such decisions on a case by case basis in liaison with the police. There should also be a discussion as to whether it is relevant to inform the complainant of the process of making a civil claim against the local authority and if so, who would be best placed to do this.

Escalation - If there are disagreements about the direction of the case then the matter should be escalated. The matter will be addressed initially at Service Manager level and then, if necessary, at Group Manger level.


10. Minutes of the Managing Allegations Meeting

Following the Managing Allegations meeting; given there will be a delay in the minutes being available, within 24 hours the minute taker will send the Action plan including a summary of the recommendations and decisions, as agreed by the chair, to all attendees. Minutes of the meeting should be placed on the alleged perpetrator’s file with a corresponding case note. A brief case note should be added to the complainant’s record confirming that a meeting has been held. The standard for minutes being completed is within twenty working days and they should be uploaded onto Mosaic within the relevant Mosaic episode. The date of the meeting will be clearly recorded in the document title indicating whether or not it is the first, second or outcome meeting etc. For example, 27 October 2020 1st Managing Allegations meeting and name of adult.

Redacted minutes will be completed by the Chair as required and uploaded onto Mosaic and identified as such.

Redacted minutes remove third party information and provide anonymised information which protects the privacy and welfare of complainants, vulnerable children and their families (where relevant) while balancing transparency and openness.

Following a request, the adult of concern would not generally be sent a redacted copy of the minutes until the conclusion of the whole process and where there is a criminal investigation and actual or potential criminal proceedings then it is highly unlikely that this will be agreed. Professional judgement needs to be exercised within this decision making though, generally by the CPC taking into account views of the police and other information. The LADO AO and Team Manager MAS can provide advice on this. Advice can be sought from the Subject Access Request Team in complex cases.


11. Complaints Process

The following has been agreed as a modified process in response to complaints regarding the outcome. This covers both contemporaneous and non recent allegations.

  • The Service Manager, Safeguarding (Strategic) will lead the response to all complaints and will liaise with the Service Manager, Independent Chair Service (SMICS) should the complaint relate directly to the Chair or outcome of the meeting;
  • As with all stage 1 responses, consideration should be given to offering to meet with the person making the complaint either as part of the initial response or following the written response at the request of the individual;
  • Where a person making a complaint remains dissatisfied following the stage 1 response (and any attendant meeting), in circumstances where the outcome of the final meeting remains the central factor, the case holder within the complaints team will discuss with the Group Manager, Safeguarding, Assurance and Improvement. Where felt appropriate the Group Manager will independently review the case before a decision is made about progression to stage 2. (This will be a file review.);
  • The outcome of this review will be:
    • Upholds the original decision;
    • Recommends a further Managing Allegations Meeting Non recent;
    • A change to the outcome classification (this will only be a conclusion in exceptional circumstances).

The outcome of the review will be communicated to the person making the complaint. If they remain dissatisfied the complaints team will consider whether the case is eligible to progress to stage 2 of the complaints process.


Appendices

Appendix 1: Agenda for Initial Managing Allegations Meeting/Review or Concluding Managing Allegations Meeting

Appendix 2 Report for Initial Managing Allegations Meeting/Report for Review or Concluding Managing Allegations Meeting

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