7.3 Guidelines for responding to a person disclosing abuse
- Take what is said seriously.
- Only use open questions (open questions begin with words like: who, what, when, where and how. Open questions cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’). Remain calm.
- Take into account the person’s age and level of understanding.
- Check, if face to face, whether they mind you taking notes while they talk so you can make sure you capture the information accurately. At the end you can check with them that you have understood everything correctly.
- Offer reassurance that disclosing is the right thing to do.
- Establish only as much information as is needed to be able to tell your activity leader / local Safeguarding Officer/ Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (DSA) / relevant external authorities what is believed to have happened, when and where.
- Check out what the person hopes to result from the disclosure.
- Tell the child or vulnerable adult what you are going to do next.
- Make promises that cannot be kept (e.g. that you won’t share the information).
- Make assumptions or offer alternative explanations.
- Contact the person about whom allegations have been made.
- Do a physical or medical examination.
- Make some very brief notes at the time, if appropriate, and write them up in detail as soon as possible.
- Do not destroy your original notes in case they are required by the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (DSA), local child/adult services or the police.
- Record the date, time, place and the actual words used, verbatim.
- Record facts and observable things, not your interpretations or assumptions.
- Do not speculate or jump to conclusions.
- In a life-threatening or emergency situation, ensure that the individual accesses immediate support from the local emergency services as safely and quickly as possible. In circumstances where you are unsure about how to refer an allegation, the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (DSA) or incumbent (if outside Diocesan Safeguarding Team office hours and if the allegation is not referring to them) should be consulted as soon as practicably possible.
- Otherwise report to your activity leader, local Safeguarding Officer, incumbent or the Diocesan Safeguarding Team immediately.
- The local Safeguarding Officer or incumbent must then report the concerns to the Diocesan Safeguarding Advisor (DSA) within 24 hours, or to the Diocesan out-of-hours service if the concerns arise outside of normal office hours.
- The DSA will advise regarding reporting to local child/adult services.