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STANDARD 22 - Handling allegations and suspicions of harm

(Adoption Agencies, Adoption Support Agencies)

Underpinning Legislation

The Local Authority Adoption Service (England) Regulations 2003:

The Voluntary Adoption Agencies and the Adoption Agencies (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2003:

The Adoption Support Agencies (England) and Adoption Agencies (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2005:


  • Allegations and suspicions of harm are handled in a way that provides effective protection and support for children, the person making the allegation, and at the same time supports the person who is the subject of the allegation.


All adoption agency and adoption support agency staff and volunteers understand what they must do if they receive an allegation or have suspicions that a person may have:

  1. behaved in a way that has, or may have, harmed a child;
  2. possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child; or
  3. behaved towards a child in a way that indicates they are unsuitable to work with children.

The agency ensures that the required actions are taken, or have been taken, in any relevant situation of which it is aware.


The agency’s procedure is in line with Government guidance and requirements, including the duty to refer information to statutory bodies. It is known to staff, volunteers, prospective adopters and children.


A copy of the child protection procedures is made available to staff, volunteers, prospective adopters and children. Any comments on these procedures are taken into account by the agency.


The child protection procedures are submitted for consideration and comment to the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB) and to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for Child Protection* (or other senior officer responsible for child protection matters in that department). They are consistent with the local policies and procedures agreed by the LSCB relevant to the geographical area where the prospective adopters live. Any conflicts between locally agreed procedures and those of other placing authorities are discussed and resolved as far as possible.

* Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010)


Each agency has a designated person, who is a senior manager, responsible for managing allegations. The designated person has responsibility for liaising with the LADO and for keeping the subject of the allegation informed of progress during and after the investigation.


Allegations against people that work with children, prospective adopters or adult members of their household, are reported by the agency to the LADO. This includes allegations that on the face of it may appear relatively insignificant or that have also been reported directly to the police or Children and Family Services.


A clear and comprehensive summary of any allegations made against a prospective adopter or member of the prospective adopters’ household, or staff member or volunteer, including details of how the allegation was followed up and resolved, a record of any action taken and the decisions reached, is kept on the prospective adopter’s or person’s confidential file. A copy is provided to the person as soon as the investigation is concluded. The information is retained on the confidential file, even after someone leaves the organisation, until the person reaches normal retirement age or for ten years if this is longer. In respect of prospective adopters or adult members of their household, the information is retained on their case record for 100 years from the date of the adoption order or, if the prospective adopter does not adopt a child, for a period of time according to local policies.


The adoption panel that dealt with the case is informed of any allegations made and outcomes of investigations.


Investigations into allegations or suspicions of harm are handled fairly, quickly, and consistently in a way that provides effective protection for the child, and at the same time supports the person who is the subject of the allegation. Agencies follow the framework for managing cases of allegations of abuse against people who work with children as set out in Working Together to Safeguard Children.


There is written guidance for staff which makes clear how they will be supported.


During an investigation the agency makes support, which is independent of the agency, available to the person subject to the allegation.


The adoption support agency has written procedures for dealing with allegations of historical abuse which may be made by service users during the course of service provision.