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People have the right to expect that information shared with a member of staff will be kept confidential, however it should be made clear, that if the member of staff feels an individual is at risk or may become at risk of abuse, they have a duty of care and must report it to their manager.

If someone discloses to you, you must stay calm and ensure that any immediate needs are addressed. Let them speak without interruption and, show empathy when listening. Make sure you have clearly explained that you have to report what you have been told to the appropriate person and no one else. 

Do not question the person, except to clarify what they have said. Do not register shock or disbelief, take what you are being told seriously even if the person is confused, reassure them that they have done the right thing by telling you and that the abuse is not their fault. Listen carefully to what you are being told, you will have to write a statement when you report this but do not make promises you cannot keep.

Listen carefully to ascertain the facts and observe and take note of their body language. Do not try to finish what they are saying and do not put your words into what they have said.

If the disclosure refers to a recent abuse be aware of the possibility of forensic evidence. Ask the service user what he or she wants to do.

Disclosure means that someone is telling you that they have been or are being abused and this requires you to be very sensitive and empathetic, it is essential that you are aware of what appropriate action you need to take.

The abused person must be made safe and secure, this is paramount, reassure them that any further investigation will be conducted sensitively and with their full involvement wherever this is possible, and that the service will take steps to support and where needed, protect them in the future.
Make a written record of what you have been told, preferably using their words.

When dealing with a disclosure;

  • Do not ask questions or press the person for more details, this will be done during any subsequent investigation
  • Do not promise to keep secrets
  • Do not contact the alleged abuser
  • Do not be judgemental
  • Do not break the confidentiality agreed upon between the person disclosing the information, yourself, and your line manager
  • Do not laugh or joke about what has been said
  • Do not discuss what has been said with other members of staff or service users
  • Do not ignore what you have been told or dismiss what you have heard

The Data Protection Act is not a barrier to sharing information about abuse, be open and honest about how you plan to share information. If you are in doubt about sharing information seek advice, share with consent where appropriate. Consider the safety and well-being of those about who you are sharing information and only share information where it is necessary, in which case ensure that the sharing of information is proportionate, relevant, timely, accurate, and secure.

Keep a record of information sharing and the reason for sharing it.  You will find useful links to the Disclosure and Barring Code of Practice and other documents and relevant websites through your student login.