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Procedure for Dealing with Allegations Against Staff/Volunteers
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Procedure for dealing with allegations against Staff/Volunteers  

The first priority is to ensure that no child or young person is exposed to unnecessary risk. Janice Lin, Summershine Camps’ Welfare Liaison, is the person to contact if you have an issue or concern about any aspect of a child’s or young person’s safety and welfare. It is her responsibility to support and advise staff/volunteers about policy and procedures in relation to child protection and to ensure that the procedures are followed. It is also the responsibility of the Welfare Liaison to liaise with the authorities where appropriate. Both the parents/guardians and the child/young person should be informed of actions planned and taken, unless to do so would put the young person at further risk.  

The child/young person should be dealt with in an age-appropriate manner. If the complaint is made against a staff/volunteer member, they will be informed as soon as possible of the nature of the allegation; the staff/volunteer member should be given the opportunity to respond. If the complaint is of a child abuse nature, the designated person will consult with the statutory agencies first to clarify when they talk to the person the allegation is about. In order to protect children while allegations are being investigated, Summershine Camps’ disciplinary procedures will be followed, Summershine Camps’ directors Paul Taylor and/or Elia Yaremchuk should be informed as soon as possible. The relevant staff/volunteer member will work under supervision pending investigation, or if necessary, be suspended while the investigation is being carried out.

Any action following an allegation of abuse against an employee should be taken in consultation with the authorities.

It happens when:  

Sexual abuse occurs when someone uses power or control to involve a child in sexual activity in order to gratify the abuser’s own sexual, emotional or financial needs or desires.

It may include:

Emotional abuse is persistent or severe emotional ill-treatment of a child that is likely to cause serious harm to his/her development.

It may include:  

Neglect involves persistently failing to meet a child’s physical, psychological or emotional needs.

It may include:  

How you might find out about a possible case of abuse/ways that allegations might be made against an adult working for or involved with Summershine Camps include:  

What to do if an allegation is made or information is received

There are potentially two issues that need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency: Is a child in immediate danger or does she/he need emergency medical attention?

Conducting an investigation

Once any urgent necessary steps have been taken, attention can be given to dealing with the full implications of the allegations. There are up to three possible lines of enquiry when an allegation is made:

Reporting an allegation or concern

If the allegation is made by a child or family member to a member of staff, or if a member of staff observes concerning behaviour by a colleague at first hand, this should be reported immediately to the staff/volunteer member’s supervisor/manager and the Welfare Liaison, Janice Lin, Summershine Camps’ lead on handling the allegation.

If a staff member has received an allegation or observed something of concern about their own manager, the staff member should report the allegation or concern to the person more senior to their manager. If the person who is the subject of the concern is a named person for child protection, the matter should be reported to the named person’s manager. Whoever initiates the contact, there will be discussion between the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) - Department of Protective Services and Summershine Camps’s Welfare Liaison to share information about the nature and circumstances of the allegation, and to consider whether there is any evidence to suggest that it may be an immediate risk or alternatively unfounded.

If there is any reason to suspect that a child has suffered, or be likely to suffer, significant harm and there are no obvious indications that the allegation is false, the MOHW - Department of Protective Services, in cooperation with Summershine Camps, will allocate the referral for a strategy discussion. The Summershine Camps Welfare Liaison will take part in the strategy discussion. The named person and any other representative from Summershine Camps should cooperate fully with this strategy discussion and any subsequent discussion with the MOHW - Department of Protective Services. It should be asked from the outset that the MOHW - Department of Protective Services shares any information obtained during the course of their enquiries with Summershine Camps if it has any relevance to the person’s employment/voluntary role.

Dealing with a criminal offence 

If there is reason to suspect that a criminal offence may have been committed (whether or not the threshold of ‘significant harm’ is reached), the MOHW - Department of Protective Services will contact the police and involve them in a similar strategy discussion, which will include the Welfare Liaison as well. The Welfare Liaison and any other representative from Summershine Camps should cooperate fully with any discussion involving the police and should ask for similar cooperation from the police in terms of the sharing of information relevant to the person’s employment/voluntary role. Discussions with the police should also explore whether there are matters that can be acted on in a disciplinary process while the criminal investigation takes place, or whether disciplinary action must wait until the criminal process is completed.

Talking to parents about the allegation or concern

If the child’s parents/carers do not already know about the allegation, the named person and the MOHW - Department of Protective Services need to discuss how they should be informed and by whom.

Talking to the person who is the subject of the allegation.

The person at the centre of the allegation should be informed as soon as possible after the initial consultation with the MOHW - Department of Protective Services. However, if a strategy discussion with MOHW - Department of Protective Services or the police is needed, this might have to take place before the person concerned can be spoken to in full. The police and children’s MOHW - Department of Protective Services may have views on what information can be disclosed to the person. Only limited information should be given to the person in question, unless the investigating authorities have indicated that they are happy for all information to be disclosed or unless there is no need for involvement from these statutory agencies. The Welfare Liaison will need to keep in close communication with the MOHW - Department of Protective Services and the other agencies involved in order to manage the disclosure of information appropriately.

Taking disciplinary action

If the initial allegation does not involve a possible criminal offence, the Summershine Camps management group, which will include the Welfare Liaison and manager of the person at the centre of the allegation, should still consider whether formal disciplinary action is needed. If the local authority children’s social care department has undertaken any enquiries to determine whether a child or children are in need of protection, the named person should take account of any relevant information from these enquiries when considering whether disciplinary action should be brought against the person at the centre of the allegations.

The following timings should be kept to wherever possible, depending on the nature of the investigation:  

If a criminal investigation is required, it may not have been possible to make decisions about initiating disciplinary proceedings or about the person’s future work/volunteer arrangements until this is concluded. The police are required to complete their work as soon as reasonably possible and to set review dates, so the Welfare Liaison should either liaise with the police directly or via the MOHW - Department of Protective Services to check on the progress of the investigation and criminal process. The police are also required to inform Summershine Camps if the person is either convicted of an offence or acquitted or, alternatively, if a decision is made not to charge him/her with an offence or to administer a caution. In any eventuality, once the outcome is known, the Welfare Liaison should contact the MOHW - Department of Protective Services to discuss the issue of disciplinary proceedings.

Managing risk and supporting the person at the centre of the allegation


The first priority of Summershine Camps must always be the safety and welfare of children and young people. However, as an employee or volunteer, the person who is the subject of the allegation has a right to be treated in a fair, sensitive and non-judgemental manner and to have his or her privacy respected as far as this ensures the safety of the child and other children.

Information about the allegation must only be shared on a need to know basis with those directly responsible for supervising and managing the staff member or volunteer. Any other information (for example, explanations to other staff members as to why the person is not at work or working to different arrangements) should be agreed and negotiated with the individual concerned.

If the person is a member of a trades union or a professional organization, he/she should be advised to make contact with that body as soon as possible after being informed that he/she is the subject of an allegation. Arrangements should also be made for him/her to receive ongoing support and information about the progress of the investigation.

The possible risk of harm to children and young people presented by the person who is the subject of an allegation needs to be carefully managed both during and after any conclusion to the investigation processes following the allegation. This means that Summershine Camps may need to consider suspending the person if there is cause to suspect that a child may be at risk of significant harm, or if the allegation is serious enough to warrant investigation by the police, or if it is so serious that it could lead to dismissal. However, a decision to suspend should not be taken automatically, as there may be other ways of managing any risk presented by the person.

The situation should be discussed fully between the Welfare Liaison, the individual’s manager/supervisor and the MOHW - Department of Protective Services, who may seek the views of the police on the question of possible suspension. The conclusions of the discussion should also be carefully documented. Grounds for suspension should be clearly set out if this is the conclusion. If suspension is not the conclusion, then a clear plan should be made as to how any possible risk posed by the individual is to be managed. This could involve, for example, changes to the person’s duties so that they do not have direct contact with children, and/or increased levels of supervision whilst at work.

If it is decided, once the case has been concluded, that a person who has been suspended or who has taken sick leave due to the stress induced by the allegation, is able to return to work, the Welfare Liaison and the manager/supervisor of the person who has been the subject of the allegations should consider how best to support the individual in this process. A plan to facilitate a return should be drawn up in consultation with the individual him/herself, and should take into account the need to manage any remaining child protection risks and also to support the person concerned after what will have been and will remain a very difficult experience.

Summershine Camps will not enter into compromise agreements with individuals who resign following the conclusion of investigations into allegations made against them, and will always comply with its statutory obligations to share information about the individual in the interests of protecting children and young people. If MOHW - Department of Protective Services finds the allegation to be without substance or fabricated, they may consider referring the child in question for assessment as to whether he/she is in need of services or whether he/she may have been abused by someone else. If it is felt that there has been malicious intent behind the allegation, the police will decide whether there are grounds to pursue any action against the person responsible.

Keeping a record of the investigation

All those involved in dealing with the allegation should keep clear notes of the allegations made, how they were followed up, and any actions and decisions taken, together with the reasons for these. These notes should be compiled gradually as the situation unfolds, with each entry being made as soon as possible after the event it describes. The notes should be signed and dated by the person making them, and the person’s name should be printed alongside.

The notes should be kept confidentially on the file of the person who is the subject of the allegation. Discussion should take place with the MOHW - Department of Protective Services to determine whether any aspects of the notes may not be shared with the person concerned. If there are no reasons not to do so, a copy of the records should be given to the individual. The notes should be held on file for a 6-year period, whether or not the person remains with Summershine Camps for this period.