If an allegation is made that a staff member or volunteer has:
- behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed a child
- committed a criminal offence against, or related to, a child
- behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they are unsuitable to work with children.
You must report this immediately to the relevant agencies (for example the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000, your local child protection services or the police).
> Find out more about recognising and responding to abuse
Conducting an investigation
Your organisation must investigate any concerns raised against staff or volunteers, regardless of who the person is or how long they've been involved with the organisation.
If someone resigns from their post or refuses to cooperate with the investigation process, this must not prevent an allegation being followed up.
“Compromise agreements” (where a person agrees to resign and the employer agrees not to pursue disciplinary action) must not be used in cases of alleged abuse.
Liaise with your local child protection services and the police to ensure that your investigation is conducted in the right way.
In England, each local authority must have one or more designated officers whose role is to manage and oversee investigations of allegations against people who work with children (Department for Education, 2018c).
You should make every effort to maintain the confidentiality of all parties while an allegation is being investigated.
Consider how best to support the children involved, their parents or carers, and individuals who have had an allegation made against them. This includes:
- telling parents or carers and the employee or volunteer concerned about the allegation as soon as possible
- telling them how you are going to manage the allegation
- keeping everyone informed about the progress and outcomes of the case.
It’s important to keep a clear and comprehensive summary of:
- all allegations that have been made
- details of how allegations have been followed up and investigated
- decisions made about the allegation and actions taken.
> Read our guidance on child protection records retention and storage
If your organisation removes a member of staff or volunteer from working with children because they pose a risk of harm (or if you would have but the person has resigned or left), you have a legal duty to inform the relevant disclosure and barring agency. Failure to do this is a criminal offence.
- In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, refer to the DBS.
- In Scotland, refer to Disclosure Scotland.
> Visit our safer recruitment guidance for further information on disclosure and barring