Allegations against staff, carers and volunteers
The Designated Officer (DO) (formerly LADO) provides advice and guidance to employers and other individuals/organisations who have concerns relating to an adult who works with children and young people (including volunteers, agency staff, foster carers, religious leaders, school governors etc.).
What should be referred to the DO?
There is a duty on all agencies to make arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. All organisations that provide services for children or provide staff or volunteers to care for or work with children should operate a procedure for handling allegations. The procedure should be consistent with the guidance in Working together to safeguard children 2015 (PDF, 1201kb) and the Berkshire LSCB Child Protection Procedures.
The process for managing allegations should be used in all cases when it is alleged that a member of staff or volunteer has:
- behaved in a way that has harmed or may have harmed a child
- possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child
- behaved towards a child, or behaved in other ways that suggests they may be unsuitable to work with children
- or for education staff behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates he or she would pose a risk of harm if they work regularly or closely with children
Any concern that meets the criteria above should be referred. Initially it may be unclear how serious the allegation is. If there is any doubt, the DO or the lead person for safeguarding in the agency should be contacted for advice.
What does the Designated Officer do?
The first step will be to offer an initial discussion about the concern. This may consist of advice and guidance regarding the most appropriate way of managing the allegation. Following that the DO may:
- establish what the next steps should be in terms of investigating the matter further
- liaise with the police and other agencies
- arrange meetings if required
- monitor and maintain an overview of cases to ensure they are dealt with as quickly as possible in a thorough and fair way
In cases where the adult is unaware of the concern or allegation it may not be appropriate to tell them immediately and may prejudice a potential police investigation.
The outcomes of a DO referral may be a finding that the allegation is either substantiated, unsubstantiated, malicious, unfounded or false. If substantiated, the next step might be a police investigation, an internal investigation by the employer including consideration of disciplinary procedures. If unsubstantiated there may be recommendations in relation to additional support, monitoring or training.
On conclusion of the case, the DO will advise on whether there is a need for the employer to refer to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), previously the Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA) or the appropriate professional body.