The West of Berkshire Safeguarding Adults Board meets four times a year to plan and scrutinise how agencies work together to keep adults at risk of abuse or neglect safe in Reading, West Berkshire and Wokingham.
Among the topics discussed at the September Board meeting were:
- support provided to homeless and vulnerable people by the Salvation Army;
- mental health and safeguarding;
- joint working between adults and children services to support victims of child sexual exploitation at the transition to adulthood;
- what staff should do if they receive a disclosure of non-recent abuse (see below)
- a framework for agencies on how to manage allegations against people in positions of trust.
The definition of non-recent abuse in the context of child abuse is that the abuse ended at least 12 months before it was reported to the Police. ‘Non-recent abuse’ is the preferred term although ‘historic abuse’ has previously been used. Thames Valley Police have clear operational guidance and procedures to manage investigations into non-recent abuse.
If staff receive a disclosure of non-recent abuse, it is a matter for their professional judgment and / or consent of the victim as to whether they report it to Police. There is no current mandatory reporting requirement. The Police encourage staff to report, but acknowledge that doing so may impact on the professional relationship with the victim and the ability to provide ongoing support to them.
If there is a current safeguarding concern, particularly with regard to other potential victims, then organisations have to seriously consider their duty to report to ensure effective safeguarding measures can be put in place.
Advice to Partner Agencies if someone reports non-recent abuse:
- Let the victim know you believe them (this is often their biggest fear).
- Listen to what they have to say and make a note of disclosures.
- Don’t question them about the disclosure (this will affect the validity of the Police interview).
- Reassure them that their allegations will be treated seriously.
- Consider the risks and take action to mitigate them without alerting the perpetrator. Although they may be reporting non-recent abuse, the perpetrator may still pose a risk to the victim or others.
- Seek the victim’s views on what they would like to happen and their consent to report.
- If a decision is made to report without the victim’s consent, then let them know.
Reports can be made to the Police in the following ways:
Call 999 if immediate emergency response is required.
Call 101 if there are no immediate concerns.
Online via TVP’s website.