In order to oversee and manage allegations in respect of people working with children, every Local Authority appoints a Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO). The role of the LADO is set out in the statutory guidance ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (HMG, September 2019) and Keeping Children Safe in Education (DfE , September 2018), as well as the SET (Southend, Essex and Thurrock) Child Protection Procedures (May 2019)
The LADO should be alerted to all cases in which it is alleged that a person who works with children has:
- behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child;
- possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child;
- behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children. (Working Together 2019)
This includes allegations or concerns about paid employees, volunteers, casual/agency staff and self-employed workers who will have contact with children as a part of their role.
The LADO ensures that all allegations or concerns about professionals or adults working or volunteering with children are monitored and progressed in a timely and confidential way. The LADO is involved from the initial phase of the allegation through to the conclusion of the case. The LADO provides advice and guidance to employers and voluntary organisations, liaises with the police and other agencies and monitors the progress of cases to ensure that they are dealt with as quickly as possible, consistent with a thorough and fair process.
Guidance from the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for referrers is available here, and for employees is available here.
- All staff have a responsibility to report if they believe that a member of staff is harming or using unacceptable behaviour towards a child. Any allegation should be reported immediately to a senior manager within your organisation. The LADO, in the Local Authority where the person works, should also be informed within one working day of all allegations that come to an employer’s attention, or that are made directly to the Police.
- The LADO must also be informed of any assessments/allegations about an individual’s personal /family life which could suggest that they may be a risk to children with whom they are working.
- All cases will be subject to an initial joint evaluation between the LADO and referring agency, involving relevant organisations as appropriate including, the Police, Children’s Services, employers and regulatory bodies. The focus is the nature of the concern, safeguarding for the child/children, appropriate consideration for the professional/volunteer involved and action is agreed which could be a Police investigation, enquiries and assessment by Social Care and/or consideration by an employer /voluntary organisation/regulatory body.
- An allegations management meeting, called a Management Planning Meeting (MPM) in Southend, may be convened, where necessary, to oversee specific situations.
- The protection of children is the prime consideration in the process of managing an allegation.
- For the professional involved, the assessment and subsequent action will be stressful, whatever the outcome, and support for each individual must be considered and acted upon.
- If an organisation removes an individual (paid worker or unpaid volunteer) from working with children (or would have, had the person not left first), because the person poses a risk of harm to children, the organisation must make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service for their consideration as to whether the person should be included on the list of people barred from working with children.