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Investigating allegations against staff and volunteers

Local Authority Designated Officer: LADO

Children and young people in schools, attending community activities, faith meetings or receiving services have a right to be treated with care and respect by staff, volunteers, faith and community leaders.  Research and enquiries have shown that sometimes people in such positions of trust abuse children. It has also been shown that some professionals who work to support children may abuse or neglect children known to them in their private or family life (‘abuse by association’).  

The MSCB expects all professionals and volunteers to have the highest standards of behaviour with regard to children and young people.

These procedures will be used to look into allegations of abuse by professionals and volunteers.  They are based on national statutory guidance and the London Child Protection Procedures. When an agency becomes aware that a member of staff or volunteer may have abused a child or young person (even if in their private life outside the agency) the agency MUST use these procedures and seek advice from the Local Authority Designated Officer on how the investigation should be conducted .

The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), has overall responsibility for the management of allegations of abuse by adults who work with Children. The LADO provides advice and guidance, liaises with the Police, Social Care Teams, Regulatory Bodies such as Ofsted and other organisations as needed and ensures a consistent, fair and thorough process for both child and adult.

LADO Flow chart

The role of the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) is set out in the HM Government Guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (March 2015), the London Child Protection Procedures (Chapter 7, 5th Edition 2015),DfE Keeping Children Safe in Education (July 2015)

They should be used in respect of all cases in which it is alleged that an employee has;

  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
  • Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or,
  • 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, is unsuitable to work with children.

A ‘staff member’ is a person whose work brings them into contact with children in their setting. It, therefore, applies to all adults whether paid or working in a voluntary capacity (including supply/agency workers) on or off premises and sites.

The procedures should be applied with common sense. It is imperative that everyone who deals with allegations of abuse maintains an open and inquiring mind, and that allegations are taken seriously. The rights of the child and member of staff must be considered. However, the child’s interests must be paramount as set out in the Children Act 1989.

All staff have a responsibility to report if they believe a member of staff is harming or using unacceptable behaviour towards a child. Information may come to light about behaviour outside of the workplace which could indicate a breach of acceptable professional conduct.

In investigating allegations, actions should be conducted in a way that recognises the vulnerability of staff and seeks to protect them as far as possible from mistaken or false allegations.

The LADO will provide advice, guidance and help to determine whether a concern or allegation sits within the scope of safeguarding procedures. They have responsibility for ensuring the workforce is safe by managing allegations of abuse or misconduct of professionals working with children, offering advice and making referrals to the relevant bodies as appropriate.

When the member of staff against whom allegations have been made or concerns have been raised, lives in a different local authority from where he/she  works, the Local Authority in which the LADO will conduct the enquiries will be the one in which the alleged incident took place. It is good practice for the LADO to liaise and keep informed the LADO in the other identified authority.

See Also

Examples of recent LADO investigations and media coverage of staff investigated for inappropriate or abusive behaviour against children and young people

Contact us

London Borough of Merton
Civic Centre, 12th Floor
London Road

Tel: 0208 545 3187 or 020 8545 3179

This page was last updated on Wednesday 12 October 2016

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