Solicitors in Westminster, London
The key legislation in the area of the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults from harm by another or by themselves is the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, the Care Act 2014 and, in relation to sexual offences, the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
Individual sectors, particularly in publicly funded education and in the Church of England and other large organisations, have sector specific guidance and policies that professionals and volunteers working within those sectors must have regard to. In the Church of England the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016 and the House of Bishops’ approved Practice Guidance are the main authorities. The Department for Education reviews its safeguarding guidance for schools on no less than an annual basis. The one constant is that best practice and policies are continuously being updated which can make it difficult for professionals to stay up to date.
With a proliferation in scandals concerning abuse and wrongdoing against children and vulnerable adults has come an emphasis in observing policies and best practice to guard against potential offenders and to encourage and listen to disclosures from those who have been harmed. Policies and procedures have also encouraged a “whole institution” focus on making institutions safe for the vulnerable, and encouraging every member of staff to be aware of the need to play a part.
At the same time, safeguarding concerns have sometimes been used as cover for dealing with workplace disputes, and members of staff have found both their good name and official employment record blemished by unsubstantiated accusations.
At LBMW we are able to assist practitioners in applying the law, policies and procedures appropriately and safely while balancing other considerations such as data protection, employment rights, a right to fair process in the case of false accusations and other difficult aspects, particularly in the schools context and in charities and religious organisations (including the Church of England) working with children and vulnerable adults. We strive to give advice which has regard to the proportionality of the risk, regard to fair process and to the sensible application of policy.
We can help with whistleblowing, unfair dismissal and harassment cases for those who have sought to raise concerns and from those who have been falsely accused.