How long should you keep key documents/cctv for?

We are often asked ‘ How long should I keep this document/ cctv footage for?’ We understand that nurseries create a vast array of paperwork during the course of looking after the children in their care. Completing the correct documentation is a necessary part of nursery life both to comply with the sectors regulatory bodies and as good business practice. However, we don’t always realise that these key documents also play a pivotal role in the defence of allegations of negligence.

No matter how good your day-to-day practices are, a successful defence can be difficult without the key documents to support this. It is important to realise that for incidents involving minors (which can also encompass staff under the age of 18) a claim can still be made up to 3 years after their 18th birthday. Therefore there is a risk of a claim being pursued many years after an incident has occurred. For more sensitive claims associated with child protection issues this period can be significantly longer.

With this is mind, it is very important to store documents securely and to keep copies electronically as well as on paper for as long as possible with insurers now advising 30 years being the minimum storage period.

The key documents requested as part of any investigation by insurers are listed below.

• Incident report
• Staff statements
RIDDOR report where applicable
• Photos of the area or equipment
CCTV footage if available – This can be invaluable and should not be destroyed
• Risk assessment
• Health and Safety policy
• Staff training records
• Staff and child registers to support ratios
• Child development tracker
• Copies of any correspondence from the regulatory body and HSE

Where the allegations are of a safeguarding nature the following may also be needed:

• Safeguarding policy
• DBS certificates
• HR records including application forms and references
• The child’s pre admission details, developmental records and care plans
• Records of any incidents/near misses for that child

Whilst the above is not an exhaustive list this is typical of what you will be asked to produce. Other interested parties such as the regulatory body, LADO, the police or the claimant’s solicitors may also request copies of your documentation. It is important to seek advice from insurers who in turn can obtain legal guidance, as you may not always be obligated to release all of the documents requested.

With the support of the above documentation, it is often possible to evidence good working practices and successfully defend claims where the nursery is not deemed to have been negligent.

Please remember to notify your insurers of any incident that may give rise to a claim as soon as possible to take advantage of the support they can provide. This is particularly important where there are safeguarding concerns as most policies contain provision for assistance in dealing with the range of parties that may become involved. This can include support, guidance and crisis management including how to handle the press and social media.