Appendix 1: Case management protocol

Overview

1. This document outlines processes concerning supporting University of Leicester students in relation to interpersonal non-academic misconduct.

2. Interpersonal non-academic misconduct refers to behaviour between at least two individuals that breaches the University’s Regulations on Student Conduct and Discipline. Examples of such behaviour include, but are not limited to sexual harassment and sexual violence; hate crimes and hate incidents; bullying; physical assault; harassment.

3. Unacceptable interpersonal behaviours can take place in a number of ways. They may involve physical contact, non-physical contact, for example making inappropriate remarks or repeated and unwanted contact by telephone or text, or may take place online, for example on social media.

4. The protocol underpins the University’s Regulations, policies and procedures on Student Conduct and Discipline. Definitions of terms used in this protocol can be found in the glossary.

Scope

5. This protocol covers interpersonal non-academic misconduct. Other forms of non-academic misconduct which are not classed as ‘interpersonal’ (e.g. misconduct involving damage to property) are covered by other relevant policies and procedures.

6. Where a misconduct case involves interpersonal and non-interpersonal elements, precedence will be given to the interpersonal aspects and these will be addressed under this protocol.

7. This protocol does not apply to cases which may be initially dealt with via means of informal resolution or mediation (i.e. cases of low level/ ‘civil’ disputes).

8. Where possible and applicable, progress through stages of this protocol will depend on the choices of the student(s) involved.

Disclosure

9. It is suggested all disclosures of interpersonal non-academic misconduct, wherever they are first made, are channelled through to Student Support Services (SSS). Disclosing to SSS does not trigger any formal reporting process and is not the same as formally reporting an incident to the University. Disclosures can be received by and channelled into SSS via different means including Report and Support, or over the phone (0116 252 2448).

10. If a student makes a disclosure to someone other than a member of staff of the SSS the recipient of the disclosure can forward the disclosure to SSS via any of the mechanisms indicated above. 

11. If a disclosure is received from a member of staff, SSS will inform that member of staff when at least two attempts have been made to contact the student, and confirm whether the student has responded to the contact or not.

12. If the student is not in touch by that point, SSS will assess with the original disclosing staff member whether any further action needs to be taken.

13. Further information about how to support a student making a disclosure and refer to SSS, is given in paragraphs 41-44 below. When a disclosure is received by SSS, the disclosing student will be assigned a Case Worker who will offer the student a supportive options conversation.

14. The Case Worker will not be the individual the student made their first disclosure to, in order to safeguard potential legal processes.

15. Other students who have been affected by the disclosed incident will also be offered support and options conversations with a designated Case Worker.

Options Conversation

16. Options conversations include providing appropriate options to students in relation to both support and reporting, with both internal and external specialist services, as well as personal support networks. Having an options conversation is not the same as formally reporting an incident to the University.

17. Options, provided by the Case Worker are to be chosen by the student.

  • All options are to be presented in an objective manner
  • If particular options are to be suggested in favour of others, this must be clearly stated and explained by the Case Worker
  • Options are occasionally mutually exclusive – for instance, the disclosing student cannot pursue an internal disciplinary case and a police case simultaneously.
  • These details will always be explained in full to the disclosing student
  • Students are able to change their mind in relation to their support options at any point except for when there has been irreversible action taken (e.g. sharing of information).
  • If the disclosing student chooses to report formally to the University, they can expect to be supported further in line with the Reporting party(s)s’ Code.
  • Following the options conversation, the Case Worker will email the student to confirm a summary of the conversation and any actions decided on.

Communications in the Case Management Process

18. An options conversation will be offered via email (“Email 1”) when a disclosure or formal report is made/ received by SSS.

  • The relevant Case Management Protocol document will be shared in Email 1 (to be explained further in the first face-to-face meeting)
  • If there is no reply to Email 1, a follow up email will be sent one-two weeks later (“Email 1 Follow Up”)
  • If there is no reply to Email 1 Follow Up, no more contact will be made by the Case Worker but they will still be available to the student for support if they wish to make contact at a later date

19. If an options conversation takes place, a follow up email (“Email 2”) will be sent on the same day of that conversation (details outlined in section above):

  • If there is no reply from the student to Email 2, even if there is no further action to be taken, the Case Worker will check in on the student two weeks later (“Email 2 Follow Up”) to ensure no further support is needed
  • If there is no reply to Email 2 or Email 2 Follow Up, no more contact will be made by the Case Worker but they will still be available to the student for support if they wish to make contact at a later date

20. If the disclosing student wishes the University to investigate the reported student under the Student Conduct and Discipline Regulations the content, regularity and sender of the communications will be agreed upon with the disclosing/ reporting party(s) at the beginning of the reporting process (outlined further below).

21. Communications between the reported student with their designated Case Worker will also be mutually agreed at the beginning of the disciplinary process

Expectations and Outcomes

22. During the case management process, and if the disclosing student wishes to formally report the incident to the University, the Case Worker will regularly discuss the student’s expectations with regards to the management of the case (and disciplinary process). This will involve regularly re-visiting the student’s options, initially discussed in the options conversation. Additionally, possible outcomes of various support and reporting routes will be discussed and outlined where appropriate (e.g. at the beginning of a formal disciplinary process).

Risk Assessment and Precautionary Action

23. Throughout the case management process (including where any disciplinary action is taken), the initial and ongoing risks associated with a case will be regularly assessed. A risk assessment template will be used in these cases.

24. This assessment may take place with the Case Worker and relevant individuals (from the University Cause for Concern Group) and where this occurs, the student(s) involved will be made aware. This risk will be assessed in relation to the nature of the incident, the impact on the health, safety and wellbeing of individuals involved, and organisational risk.

25. Precautionary measures refer to action recommended by the Cause for Concern Group for the University to take to help ensure the safety and wellbeing of all of those involved in the case. Precautionary measures/ action are not penalties and will apply equally, where relevant, to all parties involved.

26. Precautionary measures are normally authorised by the Academic Registrar on the recommendation of the Cause for Concern Group. The Major Misconduct Review Group may also choose to amend, augment or withdraw any precautionary measures which are in place.

27. Precautionary action may include No-Contact Orders (NCOs) between disclosing/ reporting and reported students, and possible restrictions on access to particular shared spaces. Students may occasionally also be moved into or offered alternative accommodation provided by the University.

28. Action will only be taken without the consent of the disclosing/ reporting party(s) if the University perceives there to be a significant, imminent risk to individuals. In these instances, the case may be escalated to external agencies, for example to the police.

From Disclosure to Formal Report (Internal Disciplinary Case)

29. Diagram 1 shows how an initial disclosure can lead to a formal report to the University, in relation to the case management (disclosure and support) process.

30. This transition will only occur if:

  • the disclosing/ reporting party(s) wants to proceed with this option and has been adequately informed of the process and all other support and reporting options
  • the alleged/ reported individual is also a University of Leicester student and
  • there is no ongoing police case in relation to the same allegation of misconduct

31. In Diagram 1, options are sometimes mutually exclusive and the arrows demonstrate possible progress and outcomes in individual cases.

32. When a formal report is submitted by the disclosing (who then becomes the “reporting”) student, the reported student will then be offered support via their own designated Case Worker who will not have had any prior contact with the reporting party(s), or prior involvement with the case, as outlined above and below.

Internal Disciplinary Case Management

33. All investigations into alleged misconduct are carried out in accordance with the Policy on Student Conduct and Discipline.

34. Diagram 2 below outlines the typical process of an internal disciplinary case. In this diagram, options are sometimes mutually exclusive and the arrows demonstrate possible progress and outcomes in individual cases.

35. Further information for each step is explained in the bullet points below.

  • Reports, within the scope of this protocol, can only be received by the Student Conduct Team (the team responsible to processing and progressing disciplinary cases) after the reporting party(s) has sought support from SSS and has had an options conversation.
  • When a report is received, the reporting party(s) will receive a confirmation email from the Student Conduct Team (copying in the Case Worker) within 2 working days which will:
    • Thank the reporting party(s) for their report
    • Signpost to support if needed
    • Propose an outline of next steps and possible time scales involved – including agreeing how often the reporting party(s) would like to be contacted by the Student Conduct Team or their Case Worker regarding their case (e.g. monthly, or only when there are updates) as agreed between the student and the caseworker at the start of the process
  • As outlined above, precautionary action is also assessed during the disciplinary case process. If precautionary measures need to be put in place, these will be for the safety and wellbeing of all of those involved in the report. Precautionary measures/ action are not penalties nor a presumption that regulations have been broken and will apply equally, where relevant, to all parties involved. The decision to implement precautionary action is normally may be based on a risk assessment made by the Cause for Concern Group and authorised by the Academic Registrar.
  • When the reported student is made aware of a report, either as a result of precautionary action or at a later stage in the process, they will be offered their own designated Case Worker (a different worker to that of the reporting party(s)) from SSS for support.
  • Further information may need to be gathered before an outcome is selected in the assessment stage (step 2 in the diagram below).
  • Depending on the outcome(s) selected, the appropriate student(s) will be informed and given the justification of the decision made, where data protection allows.
  • The reported student will be given 10 working days to appeal the outcome of the disciplinary process after they have been informed.
  • The reporting party(s), who will be told the outcome of the process after the appeal process has been concluded, will be given the opportunity to reassess their options with their Case Worker and other appropriate members of staff throughout and after the disciplinary process, as stated in the Reporting party(s)s’ Code below.
  • The University may also suspend consideration of the case on the basis of other action – for instance, if a decision from the Criminal Justice Process is to be made.

Reporting party(s)s’ Code

36. Through the case management (including internal disciplinary) process, reporting party(s)s can expect to:

  • Be kept informed about the progress of their case, where relevant and appropriate, by the Student Conduct Team or their Case Worker – frequency of communications and by whom to be agreed upon after the initial receipt of the report.
  • Hear limited details of what stage the reported student is at in the process and whether any precautionary measures have been put in place
  • Apply for extra help when giving evidence as part of the investigation – in relation to disabilities/ health/ mental health conditions – to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Be told when there are changes to any previously stated action taken against the reported student.
  • Receive information and referrals/ signposting to appropriate support – including a named Case Worker from SSS.
  • Be able to reassess their options in relation to their case, including ceasing their role in and commitment to disciplinary action at any point. (an options conversation with the Case Worker and other appropriate members of staff can be requested and received at any point in the process).
  • Receive confidentiality where appropriate and possible to allow an effective investigation – to be specified in each case.
  • Have the ability to request a review at a specific part of the disciplinary process, or the process as a whole – to be supported by the Case Worker, or an independent member of SSS staff where appropriate

Reported Students’ Code

37. Through the case management (including internal disciplinary) process, reported students can expect to:

  • Be treated reasonably and fairly.
  • Be able to speak with an impartial member of staff from SSS, and be allocated a Case Worker, throughout their case and beyond, including access to specialist support on ongoing communications.
  • Be informed of the allegation(s) against them and given a fair opportunity to respond.
  • Be kept informed about any progress on their case by the Student Conduct Team or Investigators.
  • Be assured that decisions are taken by people who have had no previous involvement with their case and no reasonable perception of bias.
  • Be given clear reasons for decisions reached, including any penalties imposed.
  • Be given five working days’ notice of any formal hearing.
  • Be allowed ten working days to appeal the panel outcome and any sanctions/penalties.
  • Be provided with clear deadlines on when they are expected to make submissions, such as statements responding to the allegations or appeals.
  • Be advised on appropriate distinctions drawn between criminal matters and internal disciplinary procedures.

After or Aside from the Disciplinary Process

38. If the disclosing student does not wish submit a formal report to the University or they have decided to pursue a process outside the University (i.e. reporting to the police), or the internal disciplinary process has concluded, support is still available for all parties involved through their designated Case Worker.

39. This support could relate to any other issue that may impact on students’ academic study and will continue to be available until the student leaves the University.

40. Occasionally, based on student preference, and staff availability and expertise, students may be referred to other appropriate Case Workers from SSS. In these situations, the student will be asked whether they are happy for their information to be shared between Case Workers.

41. After the initial emails have been sent at the beginning of the case management process and, if relevant, communication as part of the disciplinary process has ceased, it will be the responsibility of the student receiving support to make contact with their Case Worker when support is needed, unless it is otherwise agreed between the student and Case Worker. Where external agencies are also involved, the Case Worker will still be the student’s main point of contact within the University.

University and Students’ Union Staff Guidance

42. If you are a staff member supporting a student who has made a disclosure, please refer to our disclosure guidance and training. Please encourage the student to disclose to SSS (including via Report and Support) to receive specialist, ongoing, impartial support, or do so on their behalf with their consent. You can support them in making their disclosure in order to avoid them having to repeat details to multiple individuals. If you are making contact on the student’s behalf, sharing certain details with SSS will be required to act in the student’s best interests. This will be in accordance with the appropriate policies e.g. Safeguarding Policy

43. When SSS receives your disclosure, we will make at least two attempts to get in touch with the student and SSS will let you know if the student has reciprocated the communication or not. If the student is not in touch by that point, SSS and the Cause for Concern Group will assess whether any further action needs to be taken.

44. The process taken when a student disclosure is received by SSS is outlined above. As part of the options conversation, the students involved will be asked whether they want their academic department (and/ or other departments they are connected to in the University e.g. Sports, Halls, Students’ Union) to be made aware of their situation. If they consent for the information to be shared, their Case Worker will ensure that appropriate details are shared, or support the student to do this.

45. If the student does not want to be known to SSS, they can disclose via Report and Support anonymously and/ or you can suggest they explore their other support options here:

If you have any questions or concerns regarding student disclosures, you can discuss anonymously with SSS to begin with using any of the methods detailed above.