Low level concerns and allegations

Safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults procedures

       Low level concerns and allegations of serious harm or abuse against staff, volunteers or agency staff

Concerns may come from a parent, child, colleague or member of the public. Allegations or concerns must be referred to the designated person without delay - even if the person making the allegation later withdraws it.

What is a low-level concern?
The NSPCC defines a low-level concern as ‘any concern that an adult has acted in a way that:

Low-level concerns are part of a spectrum of behaviour. This includes:

Examples of such behaviour could include:

(NSPCC Responding to low-level concerns about adults working in education)

Responding to low-level concerns

Any low-level concerns about the conduct of staff, students or volunteers must be shared with the designated safeguarding lead and recorded on Low level concerns form. The designated person should be informed of all low-level concerns and make the final decision on how to respond. Where appropriate this can be done in consultation with their manager.

Reporting low-level concerns about the conduct of a colleague, student or volunteer contributes towards a safeguarding culture of openness and trust. It helps ensure that adults consistently model the setting’s values and helps keep children safe. It protects adults working in the setting from potential false allegations or misunderstandings.

If it is not clear that a low-level concern meets the local authority threshold, the designated person should contact the LADO for clarification.

In most instances, low-level concerns about staff conduct can be addressed through supervision, training, or disciplinary processes where an internal investigation may take place.


An allegation against a member of staff, volunteer or agency staff constitutes serious harm or abuse if they:

-       behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed a child

-       possibly committed a criminal offence against, or related to, a child

-       behaved towards a child in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children

-       behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicates they may not be suitable to work with children


        All staff report allegations to the DSL.

·         The DSL alerts the DSP. If the DSL is unavailable the DSP contacts their equivalent until they get a response- which should be within 3-4 hours of the event. Together they should form a view about what immediate actions are taken to ensure the safety of the children and staff in the setting, and what is acceptable in terms of fact-finding.

·         It is essential that no investigation occurs until and unless the LADO has expressly given consent for this to occur, however, the person responding to the allegation does need to have an understanding of what explicitly is being alleged.

·         The DSL must take steps to ensure the immediate safety of children, parents, and staff on that day within the setting.

·         The Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) is contacted as soon as possible and within one working day. If the LADO is on leave or cannot be contacted the LADO team manager is contacted and/or advice sought from the point of entry safeguarding team/mash/point of contact, according to local arrangements.

·         A child protection referral is made by the designated person if required. The LADO, line managers and local safeguarding children’s services can advise on whether a child protection referral is required.

·         The DSL asks for clarification from the LADO on the following areas:

·         The DSL records details of discussions and liaison with the LADO including dates, type of contact, advice given, actions agreed and updates on the child’s case file.

·         Parents are not normally informed until discussion with the LADO has taken place, however in some circumstances the DSL may need to advise parents of an incident involving their child straight away, for example if the child has been injured and requires medical treatment.

·         Staff do not investigate the matter unless the LADO has specifically advised them to investigate internally. Guidance should also be sought from the LADO regarding whether or not suspension should be considered. The person dealing with the allegation must take steps to ensure that the immediate safety of children, parents and staff is assured. It may be that in the short-term measures other than suspension, such as requiring a staff member to be office based for a day, or ensuring they do not work unsupervised, can be employed until contact is made with the LADO and advice given.

·         The DSL ensures staff fill in Safeguarding incident reporting form.

·         If after discussion with the DSL, the LADO decides that the allegation is not obviously false, and there is cause to suspect that the child/ren is suffering or likely to suffer significant harm, then the LADO will normally refer the allegation to children’s social care.

·         If notification to Ofsted is required the DSL will inform Ofsted as soon as possible, but no later than 14 days after the event has occurred. The DSL will liaise with the DSP about notifying Ofsted.

·         The DSL ensures that the Confidential safeguarding incident report form is completed and sent to the designated officer. If the designated officer is unavailable their equivalent must be contacted.

·         Avenues such as performance management or coaching and supervision of staff will also be used instead of disciplinary procedures where these are appropriate and proportionate. If an allegation is ultimately upheld the LADO may also offer a view about what would be a proportionate response in relation to the accused person.

·         The DSL must consider revising or writing a new risk assessment where appropriate, for example if the incident related to an instance where a member of staff has physically intervened to ensure a child’s safety, or if an incident relates to a difficulty with the environment such as where parents and staff are coming and going and doors are left open.

·         All allegations are investigated even if the person involved resigns or ceases to be a volunteer.

Allegations against agency staff

Any allegations against agency staff must be responded to as detailed in this procedure. In addition, the DSL must contact the agency following advice from the LADO

Allegations against the designated safeguarding lead

·         If a member of staff has concerns that the DSL has behaved in a way that indicates they are not suitable to work with children as listed above, this is reported to the DSP who will investigate further.

·         During the investigation, the DSP will identify another suitably experienced person to take on the role of DSL.

·         If an allegation is made against the DSL, then the trustees are informed.


·         A record is made of an allegation/concern, along with supporting information. This is then entered on the file of the child, in the safeguarding folder.

·         If the allegation refers to more than one child, this is recorded in each child’s file

·         If relevant, a child protection referral is made, with details held on the child’s file.

Disclosure and Barring Service

·         If a member of staff is dismissed because of a proven or strong likelihood of child abuse, inappropriate behaviour towards a child, or other behaviour that may indicate they are unsuitable to work with children such as drug or alcohol abuse, or other concerns raised during supervision when the staff suitability checks are done, a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service is made.

Escalating concerns

·         If a member of staff believes at any time that children may be in danger due to the actions or otherwise of a member of staff or volunteer, they must discuss their concerns immediately with the DSP

·         If after discussions with the DSP, they still believe that appropriate action to protect children has not been taken they must speak to the DSL.

·         If there are still concerns then the whistle blowing procedure must be followed.