Stage 4: Investigation process

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1 Stage 4: Investigation process This Stage covers: Purpose of the investigation Roles and responsibilities Who should undertake the investigation? The investigator s report Purpose of the investigation The purpose of the investigation is to establish the facts and contributing factors leading to the referral. The investigation should be focused on the specific concerns or allegations agreed as requiring investigation at the strategy discussion or strategy meeting phase. In addition there are responsibilities to identify and manage risk to ensure the safety of the individual and others. It should seek to clarify the views of the adult at risk, enable a mental capacity assessment to be carried out (regarding the decision to investigate) if required and instruct an IMCA or Independent Advocate if that is indicated. The investigation process may involve a range of activities, including: The examination of documentary evidence such as clinical records, social care records, police records, care home files, accident reports, incident reports, daily logs, accounts Interviews with the adult at risk, any witnesses, and the person alleged to have caused harm and others who can provide relevant information; Assessing relevant information provided by relevant agencies Any learning observed, identified or obtained during the investigation phase The safeguarding investigation may be informed by other investigations for example, Serious Incident investigations or disciplinary investigations or contribute to other lines of enquiry (see below). In using information obtained from other investigation processes, the lead investigating officer will assure themselves that any other investigation undertaken has been robust Contributing to other lines of enquiry The investigation may also contribute to: Page 1 of 6 A Coroner s investigation A police prosecution Identifying powers to protect the adult at risk, for example, a restraining order Actions under civil law, for example, an injunction Disciplinary proceedings Inspections by the Care Quality Commission Referrals to: The Disclosure and Barring Service

2 The Care Quality Commission in relation to a regulated service (if this has not already happened when the alert was initially raised) Clinical or Social Care Commissioners of the service in relation to breach of contracts A social or private landlord in relation to a breach of a tenancy agreement A community care assessment or assessment under the Care Programme approach Professional regulators e.g. The Nursing & Midwifery Council, The General Social Care Council, The Health Professions Council, the General Medical Council A clinical assessment Standard of proof For civil, disciplinary or regulatory investigations the standard of proof is based on the balance of probability. Adult safeguarding investigations are only required to decide their outcome on the balance of probability. Similarly, any disciplinary panel convened following an investigation against a member of staff is only required to decide their outcome on the balance of probability. The standard of proof for a criminal prosecution is higher as the case has to be proved beyond all reasonable doubt. For cases to be taken to Court, the Crown Prosecution Service must be satisfied that a) the case is in the public interest and b) it is likely to be proven beyond all reasonable doubt Who should investigate? This will depend on the level of harm that has been ascribed to the incident. There are 5 levels of Harm in Trafford: Level 1: Low level harm Level 2: Moderate Harm Level 3: Significant Harm Level 4: Serious Harm Level 5: Catastrophic Harm Level 1 and 2 Harm may be investigated by the Provider. The Community Screening Team or the locality will inform the Provider when they are to be the Investigating Officer. Level 1 and 2 Harm will be investigated by a senior member of staff within the Provider s Service. The member of staff appointed by the Provider to undertake this task must be considered by the Provider to be in possession of the requisite knowledge, skills and competence to be able to undertake such an investigation. Page 2 of 6

3 Completed investigations will be returned to the appropriate commissioner by the Provider for quality assurance and sign off. The commissioning officer will ensure all documentation is uploaded into Liquid Logic, and a case note advising is recorded. The timescales set out in this document, will apply to Providers undertaking an investigation of Level 1 or 2 Harm. Level 3 and 4 Harm will be investigated using the multi-agency procedures, led by an investigating officer appointed at a Strategy Meeting Roles and responsibilities of investigating officers at different levels of harm The investigating officer for level 1 and 2 Harm An investigating Officer will be identified by the Provider from within the resources available to them. The Provider may wish to appoint an Independent Investigating Officer at non-reimbursable cost to them. The Investigating Officer must not be implicated in harm, abuse, exploitation or neglect of an adult at risk. Wherever possible, they should not be the immediate line manager of the person alleged to have caused harm, exploitation, neglect or abuse, if they are an employee. Any investigating officer appointed by the Provider should be a suitably qualified or an experienced member of staff. The Investigating Officer can use the templates contained within these procedures, these are a useful guide which supports the completion of the investigation report. The account template can be used where staff or others are requested to provide an account of events. (See Section - Related Documents at the end of each Stage) The investigating officer for level 3 and 4 Harm An investigating officer is identified at the Strategy Phase. The allocated worker will actively liaise with the person designated as the investigating officer for the duration of the investigation. The investigating officer should be a suitably qualified or an experienced member of staff. Suitably qualified and experienced for the purposes of these Procedures means: A Registered Experienced Social Worker at or a social worker under close supervision by an Experienced Social worker or Senior Practitioner Registered Nurse An Allied Health Professional A Registered Medical Practitioner If there is a criminal investigation, the police will be the lead organisation and any other investigations must be coordinated with them. Page 3 of 6

4 The Investigating Officer can complete the templates found at the end of this Section under Related Documents relevant to the case. These are a useful guide to the format of the investigation. The Investigating Officers Report Template must be used. The account template must be used where staff or others are requested to provide an account of events. The Report Template must be used where an external professional or other party is asked to attend a meeting relating to the investigation and is unable to do so Responsibilities to the adult at risk during the investigation Whether or not the person at risk has mental capacity, they should be the first person to be interviewed to establish what has occurred and what they want to happen. Address any communication needs. Identify and take into account any equality issues. Agree an interim protection plan with the adult at risk and ensure they know them and how they will be supported and kept informed during the investigation, including having an appropriate independent advocate. Whether the person has mental capacity or not, they must be involved in the process as far as possible. Review the risk assessment and protection plan with the adult at risk if they have mental capacity Where there is reason to doubt presumed capacity, a mental capacity assessment must be completed and the best interest process followed as prescribed in law. It may be necessary to involve an IMCA at this point, if this has not already happened. Discuss issues of confidentiality and information sharing with the adult at risk and if there are no others at risk, get permission to share information with other organisations as required. If there are others at risk, inform the adult at risk of the duty to share information to protect others. If during the investigation it becomes clear that the situation indicates domestic abuse and there is a high risk of harm (following completion of the CAADA DASH), a referral should be made to MARAC (See Section 8.2) If the person at risk does not have mental capacity to make decisions about their safety, the investigating officer must continue to involve them. They must also consult with their personal representative, a court-appointed deputy or attorney, if they are not implicated in the allegation and/or an IMCA or Independent Advocate if one has been instructed. If the investigation is likely to be prolonged, another strategy meeting must be considered to ensure that the interim protection plan is providing adequate safeguards for the adult at risk (and other individuals at risk if necessary). If the investigation reveals that a child or young person could be at risk, MARAT should be contacted immediately (See Appendix B: Local Contacts for contact details) Undertaking the investigation An investigation should be conducted without pre-judging its outcome. The investigation should be undertaken objectively, based upon the establishment of facts. Page 4 of 6

5 An investigation should always be sufficiently thorough to ensure a balanced perspective is obtained in relation to the incident occurring (or alleged to have occurred). The adult at risk should have the opportunity to give their account of what has happened to them. Wherever practicable a person alleged to have caused harm should be enabled to respond to allegations and the investigations findings in respect to their actions/conduct. However, there will need to be consideration as to the timing that a person is informed, so as not to prejudice any investigation required or place any person at risk. An adult at risk, and a person alleged to have caused harm are entitled to have an appropriate person accompany them to provide them with emotional support during any interview arranged, this should be agreed prior to any interview taking place with the investigating officer Timescales Unless the situation was regarded as so urgent that it was decided to conduct an immediate investigation, the investigating officer will make contact with the adult at risk and begin the investigation immediately following the strategy meeting or discussion (where this is appropriate). The investigation should be implemented without delay and should aim to be completed within 25 working days of the referral being made. If for any reason the investigation cannot be completed within the timescales, a revised agreement about timescales and any necessary action(s) to be taken must be reached with the allocated worker and other relevant organisations and recorded The investigating officer s report The report should be based upon the facts established within the investigation. Any opinions expressed within the report should be referenced as such. The investigation report should be focused on the experience of the adult at risk, whether the person has experienced abuse and what actions can safeguard them from future harm. If any person could not be interviewed or if certain records could not be accessed, the investigation report should record this along with the reasons why. The report should evidence how conclusions or recommendations have been reached. Personally identifiable information concerning the adult at risk, the person alleged to have caused harm or any other parties should be kept to the minimum necessary for the purposes of the report Sharing of the investigation report The following factors should be taken into account: Page 5 of 6

6 People contributing to the investigation should be informed as to the process being followed and how the information shared by them will be used. In exceptional circumstances a person s details may be removed from the circulated report, where: There is an identified risk to a person being identified within a report, or a person withholds consent for their name/initials to be included within a report and it is not necessary for the purposes of the safeguarding process to act contrary to their wishes More than one version of a report may be required in some circumstances to ensure that personal information relating to one adult at risk is not shared with another, or with the person alleged to have caused harm, without consent. In order to ensure that any criminal investigation or prosecution process is not compromised, permission should be sought from the police before including information shared by them within reports. Consult information sharing leads for your organisation and or information sharing guidance where required Related documents Case conference record Investigating officer report Page 6 of 6

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