The way in which practitioners respond to these disclosures can determine whether the individual continues to describe what has happened to them or shuts down and retracts anything they may already have said.
As these accounts can prove crucial in legal proceedings the way in which practitioners manage them is important. It is essential to:
Example: A housing officer visits a man with learning disabilities because there have been complaints from neighbours about noise, ‘partying’ and drunk visitors. The man says he has new friends ‘who are very nice to him’. The housing officer repeats what he’s said ’You’ve got new friends’. The man replies: ‘Yes, they bought me a new large screen TV, get me lots of takeaways and bottles of beer.’ The housing officer observes the TV, empty pizza boxes and bottles. And once again reflects back; ‘they buy you things’. Yes, they do it because I am nice to them and let them keep stuff at my flat’. The housing officer responds;’So you keep stuff for them, can you tell me more about that?’. ‘Yes, and it’s great because people keep coming to see me to collect the parcels. I’ve got lots of friends now’. The housing officer has a duty to report.
Keep in mind:
It is essential that practitioners take any disclosure made to them seriously and do not make a judgement as to the reliability and validity of what has been said. It is up to social services and the police to make this judgement.
1: Duty to report concerns Report the concerns immediately to your line manager and/or (if appropriate) the practitioner in your organisation with designated responsibility for safeguarding, if not available then report directly to social services;
Ensure that the concerns are reported immediately to the local social services.
2: Record Record as soon as possible and no later than 24 hours after the disclosure what was said: