Referral to statutory agencies

Last updated: 21 Jun 2021

Statutory agencies include the police, children’s social care – sometimes called children’s services, designated officers – also known as LADOs (Local Authority Designated Officers) and multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH).

Where abuse or other criminal behaviour is suspected, safeguarding leads should consult with the statutory agencies before beginning their own investigation. This is required because sometimes the police will initiate enquiries before putting the concerns or allegations to the individual.

In these situations, if a sports organisation was to begin their internal investigation and alert the individual, they may inadvertently impact a police investigation.

The statutory agencies have specific roles to play in responding to safeguarding concerns.

The police

Many police forces have dedicated teams to investigate child abuse within families or by people in positions of trust. These are often called Child Abuse Investigation Teams or CAITs.

The police are available 24 hours a day. In an emergency use 999, for non-emergency calls and to speak to a force in another location dial 101.

Children’s social care

Children’s social care duties include providing services to children in need, such as children with disabilities or children in care, making enquiries if a child may be suffering significant harm such as abuse and contributing to child protection plans and arrangements where risks are assessed as ongoing.

Children’s social care services have duty officers to receive referrals and offer advice on a 24-hour basis. Children’s social care and the police will liaise and work closely together when a crime against a child is alleged or suspected and will jointly plan an investigation.

These agencies will work within the arrangements and procedures agreed by the Local Safeguarding Partnership.

Designated officers

Local authorities in England and Wales have designated officers – often referred to as Local Authority Designated Officers or LADOs, as they were previously known.

Designated officers work within children’s social care and are responsible for the management and oversight of allegations.

Designated officers should be alerted to all cases in which it is alleged that a person in a position of trust has:

  • behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed, a child
  • possibly committed a criminal offence against a child
  • behaved in a way towards a child or children that indicates they are unsuitable to work with children

The designated officer will support an organisation with advice and guidance from the initial phase of a concern arising to the conclusion of the case, regardless of whether a police investigation continues.

Multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH)

In some areas, local authorities have established multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH) to bring safeguarding agencies together and support information sharing and decision-making.

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