Communication with children can take many forms depending on the age, developmental stage, and emotional state of the child. For children with disabilities and/or specific communication difficulties, or who use communication which is not conventional speech, social workers and team leader should refer to the specific guidance for staff section of these procedures.
If it is agreed that a joint police/social work investigation should take place, the police officer, social worker and team leader must meet and plan the interviews. All parties should sign the briefing form.
They must decide on:
- where the interviews will take place
- what questions will be asked
- who will ask the questions
- who will record the interviews.
The aim is to create a safe atmosphere where the child feels able to state what happened, if anything.
In deciding where to interview the child the main concern should be the child’s needs. The child should be interviewed in premises that are non-threatening and non-stigmatising. Efforts should be made to avoid taking children to police stations to be interviewed as this may have associations of blame and guilt for a child, unless there are no other suitable premises.
In carrying out interviews and throughout the investigation careful consideration must be given to providing support and security to the child. Consideration must be given to asking someone who knows the child well and is trusted by the child to sit with the child during interviews. This person should normally take no part in the interviewing of the child. Where the child has already spoken to this person about the abuse it should be noted that this person’s evidence could be challenged later in court. The overriding concern must be the child’s best interests.