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Managing safeguarding concerns

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Ongoing actions

Whatever the concern, once you have assessed it, your next task is to monitor and log any new information or actions as they arise. If possible, you should also let people who have reported to you know you’ve acted on their concern. You don’t need to give them all the details, but when people know action has been taken, they are more likely to report in future.

  • Liaison with other agencies. If other agencies are involved, you should maintain regular contact with them. Where possible, agree when updates will be given and follow up if you do not hear back. Read safeguarding concerns and working with other agencies to find out what to do if social services or the police are involved.
  • Gather additional information. Additional, relevant information may need to be gathered. This should be recorded and passed on to key safeguarding agencies if requested.
  • Check in’ with those involved. You may need to contact those involved in the concern to keep them informed of progress and establish how they’re coping. You can then assess if there are any additional support needs.
  • Monitoring. There may be a need to continually monitor the situation internally, to make sure actions are being taken and the situation does not get worse.
  • Work with the communications team. If a safeguarding concern is in the public, you need to talk with the communications team about how you respond.
  • Internal briefing. Staff and volunteers may need a simple briefing about what’s happened. This should detail whether they can talk to the media or other people about what’s happened.
  • Internal investigation. Internal investigations are only appropriate when an allegation is not investigated by social services or the police. An investigation is a fact-finding exercise to collect all the relevant information on a matter. If there’s evidence of a policy breach, action should be taken in line with your organisation’s processes.
  • Reporting to regulators. There are some regulators you may need to report to if you’re managing a safeguarding concern. Who you report to will depend on the concern.

Keeping others informed

As DSL, you may be asked to provide updates to the senior leadership and/or Board about a safeguarding concern. You will need to consider what information you are able to share without risking any investigations that may be ongoing or breaching confidentiality.

Senior leaders and the Board should be seeking assurances that the organisation’s policy and procedures for managing concerns are being followed, that risk of harm to the organisation is being managed and that when and where appropriate the relevant regulatory bodies are informed. They will rarely require details of specific incidents or people.

Summary information with non-identifiable details may include:

  • the nature (category of abuse) of the allegation or serious incident
  • who is leading the process
  • any immediate arrangements have been put in place to prevent further abuse or neglect
  • which agencies have been notified and are involved
  • Any referral or reporting requirements considered.

Additional guidance

Likely outcomes

There are a range of outcomes from a concern depending on the circumstances. Where you are managing an allegation about the behaviour of a member of staff or volunteer the three likely outcomes are:

  • Misunderstanding. The person reporting didn’t have the full information and when this was investigated, there was no wrongdoing found. In this situation, it is important to give the volunteer full feedback to reassure them an investigation has taken place.
  • Malpractice. The person was justified in their concerns. Where possible, any action taken (including learning from the incident) should be fed back to the volunteer so they are reassured the organisation has managed the situation.
  • Malicious. Occasionally, people may raise false concerns. This may be especially true for anonymous allegations. If you believe this is the case after investigation, you should refer to your organisation’s problem solving procedures for volunteers or disciplinary procedures for employees.

Closing a case

As DSL, you are responsible for deciding when a safeguarding concern is ‘closed’. Each concern will be different. Some may be closed the same day; others may take several months.

All safeguarding concerns should be closed once it’s been agreed that you, as DSL, no longer have any ongoing role or any actions left to complete.

If the police or social services are involved, they will inform you of the outcome of an investigation or tell you when there are no further actions required from you.

Anyone involved in the safeguarding concern should be informed that it has been closed and you should complete any safeguarding records and file them securely.

If anyone is leaving the organisation as a result of the concern there are additional things you must consider as you end their employment or volunteering relationship.

  • Notification. You should always confirm to someone in writing that role has come to an end and provide reasons why.
  • Referrals. Remember that, depending on your organisation and the severity of the case, you may need to make a referral to statutory agencies. You must do this even if an employee resigns and disappears or a volunteer leaves before you can notify them.
  • Internal communications. You should inform staff, volunteers and others in contact with your organisation as necessary. You must think about confidentiality for the person and make a careful judgement about what information you share
  • Partners. You should check whether there are other organisations that the person was involved with on behalf of your organisation, which should be informed.
  • Closure. You must stress that they should not seek to represent you as an employee or volunteer or have access to staff/volunteer only spaces
  • External communication. You should prepare for media interest and particularly, notify people managing your social media in case the person decides to criticise the organisation
  • Insurance. Depending on your policy and the reason for ending the relationship you may need to inform insurers.
  • Future references. Plan ahead how you will deal with a request so that you are not put on the spot.
  • Ongoing duty of care. You still have a duty to the person even when you end the role. In our CEO guide we provide some information about kinds of support that can be offered to employees or volunteers who have been involved in a safeguarding concern.

Final report

Once you close the safeguarding concern, you should complete a final report. The purpose of the report is to be a historical record of the concern.

The report should include:

  • a clear and concise summary of the concern
  • details of how the concern was followed up any actions taken and outcomes
  • any lessons learnt from the case
  • any recommendations for changes to policy or working practices.

It’s helpful to summarise concerns or share reports regularly with your senior team. If you do share the report with others in your organisation, remember not to include personal details.

Next steps

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