Investigation and risk assessment

Last updated: 21 Jun 2021

Investigation describes the process of gathering and clarifying information about reported concerns or incidents.

Risk assessment describes the tools used to inform this investigation.

Investigation process

The investigation should follow a clear, documented and transparent procedure that embeds a child-focused approach.

The aim of the investigation is to gather evidence and information and produce a professional, comprehensive report in a recognised, standardised format to inform the decision-making process.

The process for internal investigations should be included within the organisation’s safeguarding and disciplinary procedures.

This investigation process can begin:

  • at the conclusion of any statutory agency investigation
  • during or before statutory agency investigations (with agreement from those agencies)
  • when it has not been deemed appropriate to refer the concern to statutory agencies
  • when referrals made to statutory agencies have been passed back to the organisation for action

Investigations will vary widely in their scale and complexity and may involve:

  • direct communication with the alleged victim
  • direct communication with witnesses
  • direct communication with the individual the concern has been raised about
  • examination of documents and reports
  • new criminal records check
  • contact with statutory agencies, designated officer and other sports bodies
  • review of submitted references

Risk assessment may be part of the investigation or be used to inform future decisions about this case or individual.

Investigator role

It is important that organisations identify the skills, knowledge and experience required of individuals undertaking the investigator role on their behalf.

These may include the individual having:

  • an understanding of the nature and context of the sport and its policies
  • safeguarding experience
  • interviewing, recording and presentation skills

People with professional police, forensic or social work backgrounds often demonstrate these attributes.

Investigators may be individuals already working or volunteering within the organisation in some role or could be external consultants specifically commissioned for the investigator role.

The National Safeguarding Panel from Sport Resolutions also provides access to a pool of independent expert investigators.

Possible conclusions 

Possible conclusions from the investigation include:

  • the child has suffered or is likely to suffer abuse or a criminal offence may have been committed which means a referral to statutory agencies should take place at the earliest opportunity
  • the concerns relate to low-level concerns or a breach of the code of conduct, a referral to the designated officer (LADO) could be considered
  • the referral appears without foundation - no further action will be taken

The conclusion of the investigation should be presented to the case management group for assessment and decision making.