Appendix 3: Procedure to be followed by Museum Staff in Case of Suspected or Alleged Child Abuse

A member of staff who suspects that a child has been abused is bound to follow the procedures below. Confidentiality cannot be guaranteed to either a staff member or a child in this situation, although our general rules on the protection of sensitive data will apply. Any personal information acquired in the course of working with children or families should only be communicated on a ‘need to know’ basis, as detailed below.

A child may be any young person up to the age of 18.

Abuse can be defined as being either physical, emotional or sexual. Neglect can also be a form of abuse.

Possible sources of abuse might include:

  • abuse by other staff
  • abuse by the public
  • parental abuse
  • self-harm
  • peer abuse (‘bullying’): children are vulnerable to abuse by their peers. Such abuse should always be taken as seriously as abuse perpetrated by an adult. A significant proportion of sex offences are committed by teenagers and, on occasion, by younger children. Adults should not dismiss some abusive behaviour as 'normal' between young people.

Any member of staff who:

  • suspects that a child has been, or is at risk of being, abused
  • has a disclosure made to them
  • receives a complaint from a member of the public relating to child protection issues in one of our sites
  • has a direct allegation made against them

should discuss the matter immediately with his or her line manager or, if not available, with another manager on duty.

This manager should assess the situation and take whatever action is appropriate to stop or prevent the abuse or potential abuse. If possible, he or she should first take advice from the Site Manager/Visitor Services Manager. If the Site Manager/Visitor Services Manager is not immediately available the manager should take appropriate action and then report to the Site Manager/Visitor Services Manager at the earliest opportunity. It is important that all allegations are recorded in writing and reported to the Site Manager/Visitor Services Manager.

The manager should also take contact details from the complainant.

If the allegation concerns another member of staff the manager should consult the HR Department in accordance with our disciplinary procedure before considering suspending him or her (or, if a contractor, excluding him or her from the site) until an appropriate investigation, which may be under the Disciplinary Procedure, can be carried out.

Concerns may also be reported to the NSPCC Child Protection Number (0808 100 2524 during office hours, or the 24-hour line 0808 800 5000), or text 88858.

If the allegation concerns a visitor or member of the public the manager should consider whether there are reasonable grounds for excluding him or her from the site until an appropriate investigation can be carried out. In some cases the immediate involvement of the police may be appropriate.

If the child involved is part of an organized group the manager should consult with the group's designated leader and make every effort to agree an appropriate course of action.

If the child involved is with a family member or other responsible adult the manager should consult with this person and will make every effort to agree an appropriate course of action.

Responding to a disclosure by a child or young person

If someone tells you that they or another child or young person is being abused:

  • show that you have heard what they are saying, and that you take their allegations seriously
  • encourage the child to talk, but do not prompt or ask leading questions. Don't interrupt when the child is recalling significant events. Don't make the child repeat their account.
  • explain what actions you must take, in a way that is appropriate to the
    age and understanding of the child
  • do not promise to keep what you have been told secret, as you have a responsibility to disclose information to those who need to know. Reporting concerns is not a betrayal of trust.
  • write down what you have been told, using the exact words if possible
  • make a note of the date, time, place and people who were present at the discussion
  • report your concerns to your line manager
  • do not worry that you might be mistaken. It is better to have discussed it with
    somebody with the experience and responsibility to make an assessment.