Non Recent (Historical) Abuse

1. Introduction

Allegations of child abuse are sometimes made by adults and children many years after the abuse has occurred. There are many reasons for an allegation not being made at the time including fear of reprisals, the degree of control exercised by the abuser and shame or fear that the allegation may not be believed. An awareness that the abuser is being investigated for a similar matter or suspicions that the abuse is continuing against other children may trigger the reporting of the abuse at a later date.

Reports of historical allegations can be complex as the alleged victims may no longer be living in the situations where the incidents occurred or the alleged perpetrators may no longer be linked to the setting or employment role. Such cases should be responded to in the same way as any other concerns and the Contacts and Referrals Procedure should be followed. It is important to ascertain as a matter of urgency if the alleged perpetrator is still working with, or caring for, children.

Organisational responses to allegations by an adult of abuse experienced as a child must be of as high a standard as a response to current abuse because:

  • There is a significant likelihood that a person who abused a child/ren in the past will have continued and may still be doing so;
  • Criminal prosecutions can still take place despite the fact that the allegations are historical in nature and may have taken place many years ago;
  • If it comes to light that the historical abuse is part of a wider setting of institutional or organised abuse, the case will be dealt with according to the Complex (Organised or Multiple) Abuse Procedure.

There is no time limit on reporting non recent abuse.

2. Response

As soon as it is apparent an adult or young person is revealing non recent abuse, the member of staff must make a record of what the adult / young person disclosed and their professional response. The professional should explain that details of the allegation will need to be shared with the Children's Services Trust; this can be done anonymously if the adult / young person making the disclosure would prefer but they should reassured that they will be supported through any subsequent investigation and encouraged to take an active part in any investigation if possible.

Details of the disclosure should be passed to the Referral and Response Team. The Children's Services Trust will share this information with Police to establish as a matter of urgency if there is any knowledge regarding the alleged perpetrator's current contact with children.

Consideration must be given to the therapeutic needs of the adult / young person and reassurance given that, even without her/his direct involvement the Police and Children's Social Care will consider the allegation.

A Section 47 Enquiry should be instigated if the alleged perpetrator is known currently to be caring for, or have access to children (including making the necessary referral to the area where the alleged perpetrator is known to live). Where there are several unrelated children and/or more than one perpetrator the Complex (Organised or Multiple) Abuse Procedure should be followed.