Unit 3: Reporting, responding and investigations


3.5 Undertaking internal investigations

The Safeguarding Lead should assess all safeguarding reports, in consultation with the safeguarding or complaints handling committee, as to whether a safeguarding investigation should be convened.

Investigations will be convened based on the connection of the Subject of the Complaint to the organisation and the severity of the alleged incident and the harm that has occurred. It is good practice for this committee to have an oversight over the investigations process by setting the terms of reference for the investigations team. It is expected that a safeguarding investigation will be convened as a matter of course where the three main criteria are met.

There are times when law enforcement is already involved, and an internal investigation is not appropriate as evidence may be tampered with.

In many contexts, safeguarding concerns are not considered criminal in nature but rather violate an organisational Code of Conduct and related policies. Therefore, an impartial, internal investigation should proceed.

If the alleged perpetrator is a staff member, suspension or administrative leave might be necessary pending the outcome of the investigation, based on the following considerations:

  • The alleged perpetrator has been accused of serious misconduct, which, if proven, would result in summary dismissal.
  • There are grounds to believe that the alleged perpetrator might pose a risk in the workplace or tamper with evidence.
  • The alleged perpetrator’s continued presence at work might prejudice the investigation in some way, for example, if there is a risk that they might intimidate survivors or witnesses. Note that survivors of SEA may not be in a position to take leave because they have not got the annual leave to take.
  • The alleged perpetrator has acted in a violent manner or has threatened violence.
  • The alleged perpetrator has been accused of serious bullying or harassment.
  • The matter under review is of a highly sensitive nature such as an incident of sexual assault.

A suspension is not a declaration of guilt. In case an alleged perpetrator is suspended, the organisation should communicate this message clearly to the individual as well as other staff members who are aware of the suspension.

Want to find out more?

For further guidance on undertaking investigations, follow the link below:

CHS Investigation Guidelines for investigations