Safeguarding Children, Young People and Vunerable Adults

Promoting a safe environment for vulnerable people is really important and not as difficult or complicated as it may seem.  If you take it step by step there’s no need for it to be daunting.

All adults who come into contact with children, young people or vulnerable adults in their work have a duty of care to safeguard and protect their welfare. This includes voluntary as well as paid workers.  Depending on the type of activity you are engaged in there may be some legal requirements that you will need to comply with.

Under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (SVGA 2006) if you are engaged in a Regulated Activity you must not employ individuals (this includes volunteers) who are barred from carrying out Regulated Activities by the Disclosure and Barring Service (“DBS” previously the Criminal Records Bureau and Independent Safeguarding Authority). Regulated Activities are certain specified activities which involve contact with children or vulnerable adults including teaching, training, care supervision, advice or transport which are ‘frequent’ (once a month or more) or intensive (three or more days in a 30-day period) and/or overnight.  For further details of Regulated Activities in relation to adults see: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/193418/Regulated_activity_for_adults__DBS_.pdf
and for children: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/158027/Regulated_activity_for_children__DBS__v3.pdf.

The Children Act 2004, places a duty on organisations to safeguard and promote the well-being of children and young people. This includes the need to ensure that all adults who work with, or on behalf of, children and young people are competent, confident and safe.

The vast majority of adults who work with children or vulnerable adults act professionally and aim to provide a safe and supportive environment, securing the well-being and very best outcomes for children and young people in their care. However, it is recognised that in this area of work tensions and misunderstandings can occur.  Allegations can be malicious or misplaced or they may arise from differing perceptions.  When they occur, they are inevitably distressing and difficult for all concerned.

Equally, it must be recognised that some allegations may prove to be genuine and there are adults who will deliberately seek out, create or exploit opportunities to abuse children. It is therefore essential that all possible steps are taken to safeguard children and young people and ensure that the adults working with them are safe to do so.

What does your organisation need to do?

In addition to any legal requirement there is a range of good practice you should adopt to minimize the risks that children, young people and vulnerable adults might face in relation to your event. 

Checking an individual’s criminal record – DBS check

You may need to check an applicant’s Criminal Record by applying for a DBS check for certain jobs – like working with children.  The DBS provides some clear guidance about the rules applying to DBS check: when you should apply for one, what you need to tell an the relevant individual and the cost of obtaining a check: https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/overview.

The role of the DBS is to help employers and those engaging volunteers in England and Wales make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.  It is very helpful in the recruitment process but it is not advisable to rely on disclosure alone.  For more information see: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/disclosure-and-barring-service/about

You can apply for a DBS check from a DBS umbrella body company.  A list of umbrella body companies is provided here:  https://dbs-ub-directory.homeoffice.gov.uk/

Obtaining an enhanced DBS check

Jobs that involve caring for, supervising or being in sole charge of children or adults require an enhanced DBS check (previously called an enhanced CRB check).  An enhanced DBS check with a check of the barred lists is required if your employee or volunteer will be involved in a Regulated Activity.  For more information about the requirements see:  https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/dbs-barred-lists.

Accepting a previously issued DBS check

Ultimately it is for the employer to determine whether to accept a previously issued DBS check. If the individual has joined the DBS update service you can carry out a free of charge status check. It is also up to you as employer to check the individual’s identity matches the details on the certificate and that it’s the level and type for the role the individual applied for. 

For more guidance please see:  https://www.gov.uk/disclosure-barring-service-check/arranging-checks-as-an-employer.

Child Protection/Safeguarding Policy

A ‘Child Protection’ or ‘Safeguarding’ Policy is a statement that makes it clear to staff, volunteers, parents and children what the organisation or group thinks about safeguarding, and what it will do to keep children safe.  It is good practice for all organisations working with children to have a child protection policy in place.  A good Child Protection Policy helps create a safe environment in which children are listened to and everyone is encouraged to participate.  It is vital that your policy actually applies to what you do and is not just copied from another organisation that may have a different set-up.

The NSPCC have provided some useful guidance on drafting a Child Protection/Safeguarding Policy: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/research/briefings/writing-cp-policy_wda93825.html.

The policy aim of protecting children and vulnerable adults should also be supported by you adopting some of the following measures, where necessary:

·         Ensuring that any whistleblowing policy provides a clear procedure for reporting any suspected risk of harm to children or vulnerable adults.
·         Developing a clear policy that staff, contractors and suppliers should have a zero tolerance for any form of potentially harmful behaviour and making them aware of what they should do if any concerns arise.
·         Appointing a safeguarding officer (or nominating a member of Human Resources or a director) to ensure that steps required for the protection of children and vulnerable adults are in place, operate as required and are kept under review.
·         Where there is a commercial outsourcing arrangement in place, ensuring that there are appropriate warranties in place so as to be sure of third-party compliance with safeguarding rules.
·         Providing training for relevant members of staff on the protection of vulnerable groups.

Project Work

Do a simple risk assessment at the outset and monitor risk throughout the project.  Identify the person or people who will be responsible for coordinating child protection procedures for the project.  As these people will be making decisions about children and working with children they must have an explicit written description of their role that note whether or not they require an enhanced DBS check.  There is no distinction in the law between a volunteer and a paid member of staff.

Produce simple job descriptions

All prospective staff and volunteers should have specified duties and responsibilities including the nature of the contact they will have with children and the behaviour expected of them.  Where there is regular or substantial contact with children, notification of an enhanced disclosure should be included.

Have an induction programme

Once appointed, reiterate verbally the kind of behaviour that is expected of staff or volunteers and ask them to read and sign copies of the child protection policy and procedures.  Make sure they know who to tell in the event of an incident.

Supervise contact

Use supervision as a means of protecting children – you should only ever allow one-to-one contact with a child if there is no other way of delivering the activity.  Try to avoid teaming the same people together.  Only ever allow an adult to have physical contact with a child if it is absolutely necessary for the activity and when the child has agreed.  Have a strict policy on exchanging e-mails or phone numbers and record when this is done and to whom.

Have a photography policy

Have procedures for the taking, using and storing of photographs that ensure that the individual being photographed knows what is being captured, why and where it may be seen.  It is good practice to obtain written permission from private individuals featured in photographs before using such images on a website, in promotional literature or in any other material to be issued to the public.

In relation to photographs of children, you will need to obtain parental consent prior to using an image.  Further details of the requirements in relation to children including links to example permission forms are given on the NSPCC website here: http://www.nspcc.org.uk/Inform/research/briefings/Photographing-children_wda96007.html.

Who to contact

The numbers to call if an incident of child abuse needs to be reported are:

NSPCC (help for adults concerned about a childe) 0808 800 5000

NSPCC Childline (help for children and young people) 0800 1111

Crimestoppers 0800 555 1111

The number in Cambridgeshire to call during office hours (8am – 8pm Monday to Friday) is Children’s Social Care Services at Cambridgeshire Direct on 0845 045 5203.  If you urgently need help outside these hours you can contact the Cambridgeshire Office of the Children & Young People’s Service Emergency Duty Team 01733 234724.

Further information

Councils are responsible for how organisations within their remit interact with children.  If you need assistance or support in formulating your child protection initiatives contact your Local Safeguarding Children Board on 01480 373522.  For more information see www.cambslscb.org.uk.  The information above has been drawn in part from guidance provided by the Voluntary Arts Network in association with the NSPCC.  Please make sure you check their full guidance at www.nspcc.org.uk and www.voluntaryarts.org.

Downloads

Read or download an ‘Event Lost Child or Vulnerable Person Procedure Guide’

Click here for the next section on Assessing Risks

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