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Responding to a disclosure

What to do if you suspect abuse but there is no disclosure, or if abuse is disclosed to you.

If you suspect abuse, but there is no disclosure:

  • Decide if you are the appropriate person in your organisation to inquire further. If not, then report your concern to the identified colleague or manager.
  • Where indicated, use the appropriate procedures for protection of adults at risk.
  • If you are the appropriate person to make an enquiry where abuse is suspected follow the detailed procedures for your own agency.

If abuse is disclosed to you, however partially, then:

  • If you are not the appropriate person to assist further, offer the assistance of the appropriate colleague or manager. If the adult asks that no further action is taken, you will need to explain your own need to discuss this matter with the identified colleague or manager.
  • You must make it clear to the adult that you have an obligation to breach confidentiality should the disclosure raise any implications for the safety of a child, another person or the adult themselves.
  • Where indicated use the appropriate procedures for adults at risk.
  • If you are the appropriate person to make an enquiry where abuse is suspected follow the detailed procedures for your own agency.

Where appropriate provide emergency assistance and/or contact emergency services to ensure the immediate health and safety of the person concerned, yourself and others. Listen carefully to what the adult wants to happen as a result of talking to you. With permission and where appropriate to the disclosure, check out these immediate safety issues:

  • Does the person at risk have emergency contact numbers?
  • If the person at risk has children at school or in nursery, does the school/ nursery know of his/her circumstances?
  • Is the person in contact with any other support agencies such as health visitor or children's centre and are they aware of his/her circumstances?
  • If there is someone the person at risk can talk to and trust?
  • If the person at risk has pets, can they be left with someone?
  • Can the person at risk leave some emergency money, keys and important documents with anyone safe in case they need to leave in an emergency?
  • If not does the person at risk need to make their home more secure?
  • Does the person at risk need to move to a place of safety?
  • Does the person at risk have a safe means of contacting emergency services?

Consider whether the person is an adult at risk and requires a vulnerable witness interview.

In all cases:

  • Offer a gender appropriate person and a safe and private place for further discussion. Do not ask about domestic abuse or sexual violence in the presence of partners or other family members. Provide a trained interpreter if necessary. Do not suggest using family or friends to interpret for you.
  • Explain that no information will be provided about what has been discussed to family, friends or alleged perpetrator.
  • In every case information leaflets should be offered, which contain details of specialist support and available housing services.
  • Be clear about what you will do and who, if anyone, you will be contacting on behalf of the adult.
  • Be clear what the contact arrangements will be if further contact with you is requested.

Responding to concerns or a disclosure for children

In the first instance you should always follow your own organisation's procedures and protocols for promoting and safeguarding the welfare of children in your area, and know who to contact in your organisation to express concerns about a child's welfare.

Staff working with children should be familiar with the guidance in the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children's Board Safeguarding procedures.

General guidance for responding to a disclosure from a child includes:

  • listen and be supportive, avoid questioning the child
  • don't stop a child who is freely recalling events, but don't push the child to tell you more than he or she wishes
  • tell the child or young person that you will need to pass this on
  • take advice from the appropriate person in your organisation and follow any internal procedures
  • write an account of the conversation as soon as possible

For more information about information sharing please see the useful documents section.

The safeguarding children's procedures can be found on the Derby Safeguarding Children Board or the Derbyshire Safeguarding Children Board websites.