Allegations Against Staff & Volunteers

In this final lesson, we will be looking at allegations. Organisations working with children and young people must have effective policies, procedures, codes of conduct, and a healthy culture. An important part of this is ensuring that they recruit, manage, and support staff to ensure that they are suitable for and competent in their roles and that the children in their care are protected from harm and to ensure their well-being is promoted.

What is an allegation?

An allegation is a claim that someone who has a role that gives them access to children or young people has either:

  • Harmed a child, or placed them at significant risk of harm
  • Committed a criminal offence against or involving a child
  • Or that something about their behaviour; whether in or outside work, suggests that they may be unsuitable to work with children

The allegation may be made by a parent, or someone else, or it may arise because we notice or become aware of suspicious or concerning behaviour. However the concern comes to light, it is important that it is taken seriously and investigated fairly and carefully.

How are allegations handled?

Allegations will be handled by the manager or a senior member of the organisation (e.g. a director). The considerations will be overseen by the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) where it meets the threshold.

It is important to understand that an allegation is a claim or concern that the adult may be unsuitable to work with children or young people. A LADO investigation is not a presumption of guilt, however, it is important that we keep the children safe. It is also vital that the investigation is fair and impartial, and that the person accused is supported while the allegation is investigated. It may be that the person under investigation is placed under some restrictions (e.g. redeployed or even suspended) while the investigation takes place.

Investigation outcomes

The investigation will result in one of 5 outcomes:

  • Substantiated — there is sufficient identifiable evidence to prove the allegation.
  • 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.
  • False — there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation.
  • 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.
  • Malicious — there is clear evidence to prove there has been a deliberate act to deceive and the allegation is entirely false.

Once a conclusion has been reached, a decision will be made about what will happen next. Depending upon the outcome of the investigation, this may include:

  • the removal of any restrictions that have been in place and the accused person returning to their role
  • If a malicious allegation was made, charges may be brought against the person making the allegation
  • corrective action such as additional training or support
  • Formal disciplinary action
  • If a crime has been committed, this could include prosecution

A more detailed explanation of the allegations processes can be found in part 4 of Keeping children safe in education

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