Allegations against a professional or volunteer working with children
The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) is involved in cases where there is a concern or allegation that an adult working or volunteering with children:
- has or may have harmed a child
- may have committed a criminal offence related to a child
- behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children
- gives advice and guidance on how concerns or allegations should be investigated
- will ensure that an appropriate investigation is carried out, whether that is by the police, children’s social care or the employer or a combination of these
The LADO is not involved with allegations made by children against other children.
A detailed description of the role of the LADO is given in Safeguarding Children Board website: London Child Protection Procedures">Chapter 7 of the London Child Protection Procedures.
The LADO will be involved with concerns and allegations raised both in and out of the workplace
Sometimes those working with children will have an issue that arises in their personal life which may be relevant to their role at work.
Issues that are relevant to working with children include:
- their child has been the subject of a child protection investigation by children’s social care
- their child has been placed on a child protection plan
- they have been the subject of a criminal investigation in relation to offences against children
- they have been arrested, cautioned or convicted in relation to offences of violence
- they have difficulties with drug or alcohol misuse or other issues which might impact on their ability to do their job safely
Issues that are not relevant:
- their child has received services from children’s social care as a child in need
- they are receiving services to support them emotionally e.g. counselling
Organisations that provide services to children and young people must ensure that their staff and volunteers (paid, unpaid, casual, agency and self-employed) are safe to do so.
If your workplace has a designated senior manager who deals with allegations, advise him/her of your concerns. If the manager considers that the allegation or concerns appear to meet the criteria (detailed above), he/she must contact the duty LADO within 24 hours of any situation arising to establish whether there are grounds for an investigation (see contact details below).
If you are a sole trader, or do not have a designated senior manager for allegations, you should contact the duty LADO directly. If an allegation has been made about you directly by a parent or child you should also contact the LADO.
It is important to get advice from the LADO before starting an internal investigation. For instance, it may not be appropriate to immediately inform an employee or volunteer that there has been an allegation or that there are safeguarding concerns. Such action could prejudice a criminal investigation.
This is in line with:
- Working Together to Safeguard Children
- The London Child Protection Procedures - Chapter 7
- Keeping Children Safe in Education - for education settings
The employer or, in the case of a sole trader (e.g. a childminder), may also have a duty to inform an inspectorate, such as Ofsted, or a regulatory body, about an allegation.
For advice and guidance about concerns and allegations against adults working or volunteering with children contact Gill Nash, Waltham Forest LADO:
For enquiries that are not related to a concern or allegation about a professional:
The LADO is involved throughout an investigation. They will provide advice, guidance and help to determine whether the allegation sits within the scope of the procedures.
- The LADO helps to co-ordinate information-sharing with the right people and will also monitor and track any investigation, with the aim to resolve it as quickly as possible.
- If the allegation involves a child living in the borough, the referral should be made to the Waltham Forest Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) team with a copy to the LADO. The MASH team will coordinate the response regarding the child. The LADO will coordinate the response regarding the adult against whom the allegation was made. Complete the Allegation against a professional multi-agency referral form.doc (63KB)
- If the child already has an allocated social worker, the LADO will work with the social worker to ensure the allegation is investigated. If the child does not live in the borough, the MASH team and the LADO will coordinate the response and include the appropriate agencies.
- The LADO will decide whether the allegation made is a potential criminal offence. In this case a referral will be made to the police.
- If the allegation indicates a child or children may be at risk of significant harm then a child protection investigation will be undertaken by Waltham Forest’s children’s social care. A strategy meeting is likely to be arranged to share information about the allegation, and plan the investigation and actions needed to protect children. The police, social workers and senior representatives from the organisation concerned, including representatives from human resources (HR), will attend. The subject of the allegation is not invited to attend but will have some feedback after the meeting takes place, subject to this not compromising any investigation.
- If the allegation does not indicate a potential criminal offence or child protection issue, the matter may be passed back to the organisation managing the subject of the allegation for them to resolve under their staffing, disciplinary or standards, process or as a complaint.
Organisations must ensure that they have an effective allegations policy and procedure which is understood by staff, parents and children, for raising concerns about the behaviours of employees/volunteers who are in a position of trust, working with children.
There should also be a safeguarding ‘whistleblowing’ policy so that staff can always raise concerns of this nature, even if they are unable, for some reason, to follow the organisation’s allegations against staff policy. If an organisation is situated in Waltham Forest, their whistleblowing policy must state the LADO service contact details as a referral route for staff to follow in these circumstances.
- Allegation against a professional multi-agency referral form
- Keeping Children Safe in Education
- London Child Protection Procedures
- Referrals to Disclosure and Barring Service
- Working Together to Safeguard Children
- Early Years Foundation Stage
- Whistleblowing about children's social care services to Ofsted
- NSPCC whistleblowing advice line
- Protecting Children – Supporting Foster Carers Dealing with an Allegation