Misconduct allegations made against 431 who work with children in Leeds

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Hundreds of allegations of inappropriate and criminal behaviour were made against professionals who work with children in Leeds last year.

Now calls have been made for the authorities to pay greater attention to youngsters who claim they are the victims of abuse, violence and sexual misconduct.

The Leeds Safeguarding Children Board – made up of officials from various authorities in the city – recorded allegations against 431 professionals including teachers, social workers and NHS staff in 2013-14.

But Jane Held, chair of the board, said: “We found that people are still not asking the view of children and young people after an allegation is made.

“Often they don’t want a major hullabaloo, but we would like to see them having more involvement in what happens after they make a complaint.”

Ms Held said children who made allegations should be seen in private before the authorities decide what formal action needs to be taken.

Allegations recorded by the safeguarding children board can relate to all professionals working with children, from charity volunteers and scout leaders to school and health staff.

“It’s absolutely everything, for example, from a claim that a teacher has slapped a pupil to the most serious allegations of physical or sexual abuse,” Ms Held said.

Not all complaints were made by children – in some cases the allegations were made by ‘whistleblowing’ colleagues. Some complaints related to incidents in the private lives of professionals who work with children.

Of the 431 cases of allegations against professionals, 56 were deemed serious enough to require an allegation management meeting between the relevant authorities to discuss appropriate action. It is unclear how many of those resulted in criminal investigations.

About 110 cases are still being assessed. In around a third of cases no further action was deemed necessary.

Ms Held said the figures were broadly in line with previous years and added: “Sadly it’s a fact of life that in a city the size of Leeds that you will get allegations against professionals.”

Leeds City Council said it had recruited an additional officer to deal with allegations about professionals who work with children and was revising its information for children who make complaints.

Steve Walker, deputy director for children’s services, said: “The protection of a child or young person is always the prime consideration in the process of managing any allegation against a professional.

“It is important that children and young people have voice and influence in what is a very complex process involving a range of professionals and agencies.”

The Bishop of Leeds, The Rt Rev Nick Baines

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