You have received a Safeguarding Disclosure - Do’s and Don'ts
It is important that under 18s/vulnerable adults are protected from abuse. All complaints, allegations or suspicions must be taken seriously. This guidance must be followed whenever an allegation is made that an under18/a vulnerable adult has been abused or when there is a suspicion that an under18/vulnerable adult is being or has been abused or is at risk of harm.
Responding Appropriately to a Disclosure
If an under18/vulnerable adult makes a disclosure to you of alleged abuse, the key is the ‘3 Rs’: Reassure, Report and Record.
- Reassure: stay calm, listen and show empathy. Reassure them that it will be taken seriously and explain that the issues will be reported internally and what may happen next.
Report: report to the person in charge immediately (locally).
Consider notifying external agencies, including social services or the police if necessary (see more detail on reporting in separate document).
- Record: write up notes of the conversation clearly and factually as soon as possible and pass them onto the line manager, or Local Chair, Send a copy to the Head of People and Pastoral Office (See form - Recording a Safeguarding Concern)
- Make sure the individual is safe.
- Assess whether emergency services are required and if needed call them.
- Listen carefully to what is said.
- Stay calm, offer support and reassurance. Reassure the individual that the matter will only be disclosed to those who need to know about it. (See section on confidentiality)
- Reassure the individual that they have done the right thing in telling you.
- Explain areas of confidentiality. Find an appropriate early opportunity to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – do not promise to keep secrets. It is important that the individual is sensitively informed that cases of alleged abuse will be referred to appropriate agencies for the individual’s own sake.
- Speak to your manager for support and guidance.
- Be clear to the individual about what your role is regarding the information and what action you will have to take as a result.
- Explain the procedure to the individual making the allegation. The individual’s involvement in the process of sharing information should be fully considered and their wishes and feelings taken into account.
- Ascertain and establish the basic facts. Make careful notes and obtain agreement with them, ensuring notation of dates, time and persons present are correct and agreed. Ask questions for clarification only, and at all times avoid asking questions that suggest a particular answer. Allow the individual to continue at her/his own pace.
- Tell them what you will do next, and with whom the information will be shared. Record in writing what was said, using the individual’s own words as soon as possible – note the date, time, any names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated.
- Assurances should be given to the individual that they will be kept informed of any action to be taken and why.
- Follow the correct procedure.
- Confront the alleged abuser.
- Be judgmental or voice your own opinion.
- Be dismissive of the concern.
- Investigate or interview beyond that which is necessary to establish the basic facts.
- Disturb or destroy possible forensic evidence.
- Consult with persons not directly involved with the situation.
- Ask leading questions, as this can cause problems for the subsequent investigation and any court proceedings. A ‘leading question’ is one which suggests a particular answer or contains the information you are seeking to confirm.
- Assume information.
- Make promises of confidentiality, as this may conflict with the need to ensure the safety and welfare of the individual.
- Ignore the allegation.
- Elaborate in your notes.
- Seek proof before reporting your concerns.
It is important to remember that the person who first encounters a case of alleged abuse is not responsible for deciding whether abuse has occurred.
That is a task for the professional safeguarding agencies, following a referral.