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Devised by Farrer & Co’s Safeguarding Unit (Adele Eastman (lead author), Jane Foster, Owen O’Rorke and David Smellie), in collaboration with Marcus Erooga, Katherine Fudakowski and Hugh Davies QC

Creating a culture in which all concerns about adults (including where the threshold for an allegation is not met) are shared responsibly and with the right person, and recorded and dealt with appropriately, is crucial. If implemented well this should encourage an open and transparent culture; enable organisations which work with children to identify concerning, problematic or inappropriate behaviour early; minimise the risk of abuse; and ensure that adults working for or with such an organisation are clear about professional boundaries and act within them, in accordance with the ethos and values of the organisation.

We believe – based on empirical evidence and our respective experience – that there is considerable potential, in the context of sharing low-level concerns, to create a safer environment for children, and that there is a need for a revised national approach – in organisations across all sectors – including, for example, schools, charities, and sports organisations. Central to that approach is the necessity for the whole organisation to understand how institutional grooming occurs, which requires training on the patterns (including case studies). If this is not adopted, such organisations risk enabling the creation of further victims through missed opportunities to identify and effectively intervene in concerning, problematic or inappropriate behaviour.

Our ground-breaking guidance which can be found here, and which is published today, explains how organisations which work with children can develop and implement a written low-level concerns policy, as part of a culture that enables staff to share any concerns – no matter how small, and how these organisations should respond to them.

It also contains various appendices including, for example: a table of key features of 15 cases of organisational child sexual abuse; examples of low-level concerns, and to illustrate boundaries between low-level concerns and allegations; diagrams; and a detailed paper on low-level concerns and data protection.

Click here to view the guidance.

If you require further information about anything covered in this briefing, please contact Adele Eastman, Jane Foster, Owen O'Rorke and David Smellie , or your usual contact at the firm on +44 (0)20 3375 7000.

This publication is a general summary of the law. It should not replace legal advice tailored to your specific circumstances.

© Farrer & Co LLP, January 2020

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