|Any situation where a child has been harmed as a result of abuse or neglect potentially involves a criminal offence against that child. The responsibility for carrying out any criminal investigations rests with the police and will usually be carried out by the local police child protection team. Other agencies have a responsibility to cooperate with the police in their investigations. Comprehensive, contemporaneous and accurate record keeping is essential to this process (see Safeguarding Children in Dental Practice). You may be requested to assist the police by providing a statement, copies of records or by carrying out particular forensic examinations or tests where you are qualified to do so. You need to obtain consent and should consider taking advice from your defence organisation in all such situations.
Diagrams and clinical photographs
You should consider whether your notes should include a diagram of your findings or be supplemented by clinical photographs. These should be:
- clearly labelled with the child’s identity
- marked with the date and time
- referred to in the clinical notes
- annotated with descriptions and measurements of any injuries
Other than for medical record purposes, it is not the role of the dental team to attempt to take photographs of forensic quality. There are very precise requirements for such photographs. A rigid, right-angled measuring scale (see clinical photograph below) must be incorporated and multiple views may be required when marks involve different parts of curved body surfaces.
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