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Stage Five: Investigation

RELATED GUIDANCE

See also Summary of Stages and Timescales of the Safeguarding Process Table

This chapter was added to the manual in April 2015.


Contents

  Introduction
  Aims of the Safeguarding Assessment
  Progressing the Assessment/Changes to the Strategy Plan
  Involving and Informing the Adult who may be At Risk
  Situations Where Staff are Implicated in the Alleged Abuse
  Evidence Gathering in Criminal Cases
  Securing Files/Records
  Keeping Accurate Records
  Recording of Ongoing Support and Care


Introduction

Following the Alert, Referral, decision-making and Strategy Discussion/Meeting stages, local authorities are required to have completed a thorough assessment of the allegations and situation. This is called the Safeguarding Assessment stage.


Aims of the Safeguarding Assessment

The Safeguarding Assessment aims to:

  • Establish matters of fact;
  • Provide a professional analysis of risk, including whether on a balance of probabilities the Abuse has taken place or not;
  • Provide an analysis of the safeguarding needs of the adult;
  • Provide rationale to inform decisions with regard to what follow-up action should be taken in respect of the alleged perpetrator and the service, or its management if they have been culpable, ineffective or negligent;
  • The procedures for undertaking and completing the safeguarding assessment will vary between local authorities, however they will each incorporate elements of good practice detailed below.

See also Record Keeping – Recording Guidance.


Progressing the Assessment/Changes to the Strategy Plan

The time scale for completion of the assessment will be dependent on the severity of the alleged or suspected abuse and the risks to the physical and emotional needs of the adult(s) who may be at risk, but should be concluded within four weeks of the referral. Any necessary extension of this time scale and the reason for it should be recorded, e.g. the need for a lengthy investigation into a criminal matter.

Each agency should carry out the actions agreed at the Strategy Discussion/Meeting and should report back to the Chair of the meeting/discussion  any changes to that plan.

If any agency obtains information that could change the agreed plan/strategy they must inform the Chair promptly who will coordinate a review Strategy Meeting if required.


Involving and Informing the Adult who may be At Risk

The communication needs, wishes and decision making-capacity of alleged victims should be assessed and taken into account with appropriate use of independent advocacy, Appropriate Person, victim support services and interpreters.

The adult, if they have mental Capacity, should normally be consulted at an early stage and must be kept informed at all stages of the assessment and notified of the outcome of the investigation within 5 working days of its completion.


Situations Where Staff are Implicated in the Alleged Abuse

Where staff members are implicated in a case of alleged Abuse, immediate discussion will take place between (where appropriate) the police, the employer, Adult Social Care and health care providers.

If it is deemed appropriate to conduct an investigation prior to informing staff who are implicated, the decision should be made at a management level and the rationale clearly documented.

Where an investigation requires the suspension of the member(s) of staff implicated, the appropriate employer's procedures must be followed.

See also Dealing with Allegations (Against Staff and Volunteers, Informal Carers, Family and Friends) Procedure.


Evidence Gathering in Criminal Cases

It will always be the responsibility of the police to preserve and gather evidence when a criminal offence is suspected.

Everyone working with adults who may be at risk can play an important part in preventing evidence being lost or contaminated. See also Stage One: Raising an Alert/Duty to Enquire Procedure, Avoiding Contamination of Evidence.

Where the police are leading the investigation, any agency internal processes (such as disciplinary procedures) will usually need to be delayed until the police have completed any necessary collection of evidence and either informed the relevant agencies to continue their internal investigation or there is an end to the judicial investigation process, whichever is the soonest. This is to prevent evidence, witnesses and possible offenders being 'tested' prior to any criminal court trial. If there is any doubt, legal advice should be sought in individual cases.


Securing Files/Records

Where necessary, and to avoid tampering, relevant files and documents should be secured using the appropriate powers of partner agencies.


Keeping Accurate Records

See also Record Keeping – Recording Guidance.

Whenever a complaint or allegation of abuse is made, all agencies should keep clear and accurate records and each agency should identify procedures for incorporating, on receipt of a complaint or allegation, all relevant records into a file to record all action taken. In the case of providers registered with CQC, these should be available to service commissioners and the CQC so they can take the necessary action.

It is important that clear and accurate records are kept as they may be used as evidence in court proceedings.

When recording, always use the exact words spoken where possible.

The record should show clearly what is recorded as fact, and what is opinion.

The record of the investigation/assessment must conform to the relevant departmental procedures, policy and guidelines on recording. The following is a guide to what should be included in a report of an investigation/assessment:

  • Name, address, date of birth, ethnicity of the adult;
  • Allegation/suspicions reported - list each separately. If an allegation has been made, note who is making it; if a suspicion is held, the basis for it should be recorded, including dates and locations where known;
  • Previous related allegations/history of Abuse;
  • A brief description of the adult, including the nature of his or her disability/vulnerability, communication needs;
  • Social situation/ family network/carers and current services received;
  • An assessment of the person's mental Capacity, time and decision specific;
  • The views of the adult who may be at risk. Do they wish to involve the police?
  • Information about the person alleged to be responsible (if applicable);
  • A description of the investigation process and evidence gathered, including information about the level of cooperation received from the various people involved;
  • An assessment of the seriousness of the alleged Abuse. If it is possible that there may be criminal proceedings instigated, the report writer should not include any opinion on the seriousness of the Abuse or whether, within the balance of probability the Abuse occurred, as all reports are available to the defence counsel in court and noted opinion may service to undermine the criminal process;
  • A risk assessment;
  • Professional analysis and rationale of recommendations for action;
  • Name, organisation, team, position and qualifications of the person who has prepared the reports.

Body maps, medical and other specialist reports should be attached to the assessment report.

The report does not have to be long or complicated, just clear and to the point.

The report should be submitted to the Lead Investigating Officer/Chair as appropriate.


Recording of Ongoing Support and Care

Agencies involved in the assessment that have a role in providing ongoing support and care should ensure that this is clearly recorded.

Outcome

  • A need for a Safeguarding Plan is identified, and the elements of it; or
  • The assessment determines that a Safeguarding Plan is not needed but a referral to another agency should be made for the provision of advice and information or other services which may assist the adult concerned; or
  • That no further action is required.

End