The Designated Officer is a local authority role responsible for managing and overseeing concerns, allegations or offences relating to staff and volunteers in any organisation across a local authority area. All allegations about people who work with children, in statutory or voluntary organisations, must be referred to the Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO).
A referral to the LADO must be made within 24 hours if there is information about a person indicating they have:
- Behaved in a way that has harmed a child, or may have harmed a child.
- Possibly committed a criminal offence against or related to a child or,
- Behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children.
If there is an allegation with regard to someone who works with children about children they care for in another capacity then this potentially has implications for their professional role and must also be referred to the LADO.
Any allegation may require potentially three different enquiries:
- A police investigation.
- A child protection enquiry.
- A disciplinary enquiry.
The LADO will ensure that enquiries are managed appropriately and that information is shared between the police, social care and the employer. The LADO will discuss with the employer how the person who the allegation is about will be supported and managed whilst enquiries are being undertaken and how children will be kept safe whilst enquiries are ongoing. If it is evidenced that someone is unsafe to work with children the LADO will ensure required actions have been taken including, when necessary, referring to the Independent Safeguarding Authority.
On occasions someone who works with children can behave in a way that causes their colleagues or management anxieties. Such behaviours may include the failure to understand or appreciate how his or her own actions or those of others could adversely impact upon the safety and well-being of a child; inability to make sound professional judgements which safeguard the welfare of children; failure to understand or recognise the need for clear personal and professional boundaries in his or her work; behaved in a way in his or her personal life which could put children at risk of harm; become the subject of criminal proceedings not relating to a child.
Procedure for Responding to Allegations Against Staff, Carers and Volunteers (link)
Anyone with concerns about a person's suitability to work with children should contact the LADO for advice and guidance.