Children, Young People and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy
1.01 Action for Race Equality’s (ARE) work is primarily policy and research focused with the majority of direct contact with voluntary organisations, government and other public bodies who are our main clients. However a small but increasing amount of the organisation’s work is now likely to involve contact with children and young people either through working in partnership with other agencies that provide direct services to children, young people and vulnerable adults or directly as a result of its own programme. It is within this context that this policy has been produced and agreed by the Board of Trustees.
1.02 ARE believes that it is always unacceptable for a child or young person to experience abuse of any kind and recognises our Duty of Care to safeguard the welfare and well-being of all children, young people and vulnerable adults by a commitment to practice which protects them. This policy applies to all staff, including senior managers and the Board of Trustees, paid staff, volunteers and session workers, agency staff, students on placements or anyone working on behalf of ARE.
ARE is informed by The Children Act 1989, 2004, The Education Act 2002, Every Child Matters Agenda (ECM 2003) and Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018.
We recognise that:
- The welfare and well-being of the child/young person or vulnerable adult is of primary concern.
- All children, regardless of age, disability, gender, racial heritage, religious belief, sexual orientation or identity, have the right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse.
- Working in partnership with children, young people, their parents, carers and their agencies are essential in promoting children, young people and vulnerable adults’ welfare and well-being.
- It is everyone’s responsibility to report any concerns about abuse and the responsibility of the social care profession and the police services, where appropriate, for instance, to conduct investigations.
- The need to respond to all incidents of alleged poor practice, misconduct and abuse and to take them seriously and respond swiftly and appropriately.
- The need to process data in accordance with the requirements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR 2018).
1.03 This Policy forms part of the Terms and Conditions of service, and applies to all staff within ARE, whether they work directly with vulnerable adults, children, young people under 18 years of age or not, as it may be the case that staff come into contact with information of a confidential nature that could put those children and young people at risk.
2.0 The purpose of the policy
- To provide protection for the children, young people and vulnerable adults who receive our services; and
- To provide staff and volunteers with guidance, policy and procedures they should adopt in working with children, young people and vulnerable adults. Safeguarding their right to confidentiality and the protection of data information inclusive of photographs and images of children, where they are appropriately stored and shared.
We will seek to safeguard children, young people, volunteers and adults by:
- Valuing them, listening to and respecting them
- Adopting child protection guidelines through procedures and a code of conduct for staff and volunteers; including bullying and cyber abuse;
- Recruiting staff and volunteers safely, ensuring all necessary checks are made in line with safer recruitment and DBS;
- Sharing information about child protection and good practice with children, parents, staff and volunteers;
- Respecting confidentiality we will share information on a need-to-know basis about concerns with relevant agencies
- Providing effective management for staff and volunteers through induction, supervision, support and training.
- Reviewing our policy, procedures and best practice as and when necessary/annually.
3.0 Designated Officer(s)
3.01 All staff working in ARE – whether paid or volunteer – are required to report instances of actual or suspected child abuse or neglect to the Designated Person with responsibility for child protection. The designated officers are;
- The Senior Designated Person (SDP): Brianna Cyrus, Programme Manager
3.02 The Senior Designated Person is the first point of contact for external agencies that are pursuing Child Protection investigations and will coordinate ARE’s responses at any Child Protection Conferences that may be called, where ARE’s presence is required. In all instances the SDP will liaise with the DP, who will have the ultimate responsibility for signing off all CP related issues on behalf of the Board of Trustees.
4.01 The SDP will be responsible for all aspects of child protection awareness and implementation of the policy.
4.02 The SDP will be responsible to the Board of Trustees for:
- Ensuring that the policy is implemented throughout the organisation;
- Ensuring all necessary child protection/safeguarding enquiries, procedures and investigations are carried out with relevant agencies;
- Reporting results of screening enquiries and for preserving “need-to-know” levels of confidentiality and access to secure records;
- Ensuring secure storage of confidential records relating to child protection/safeguarding concerns;
- Informing and supporting staff to understand their roles and responsibilities with respect to the implementation of the policy;
- Liaising with social services and the police services at a formal and informal level on child protection/safeguarding concerns, where this is necessary, appropriate and relevant;
- Monitoring the implementation of the policy and such issues that may arise from time to time and that requires reporting to the Board of Trustees on a regular basis;
- The reporting of allegations and suspicion of abuse to the appropriate authorities;
- Ensuring there is adequate induction and training relating to child protection/safeguarding matters;
- Ensuring that all activities carried out by ARE, especially where it involves working with children and young people, is sound in terms of child protection as regards personnel, practices and premises;
- Checking all incident reports made by staff and volunteers, countersigning them, and making referrals to the relevant agencies/authorities.
4.03 The SDP shall ensure active compliance with this policy by all staff working in ARE and shall work closely with the DP to ensure this, affording the DP every support to carry out this function. All other officers, staff and voluntary workers within ARE will be expected to apply and implement this policy.
5.0 Pre-employment checks
5.01 ARE aims to ensure as far as is possible that anyone, paid or voluntary, who seeks to work with children, young people and vulnerable adults through ARE’s activities and who gains substantial access to them (whether within activity hours and/or beyond) is as safe to do so in child protection/safeguarding terms as can be guaranteed.
5.02 The DP will ensure that the following checks are carried out on all R2S volunteers whose work may create a situation of substantial access to children, young people and vulnerable adults:
- Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check, will be undertaken at the Enhanced Level.
- Personal referee, nominated by the applicant – a person who is not related to the applicant and who preferably knows of the applicant’s character, trustworthiness, any previous experience of working with/looking after children, young people and vulnerable adults.
- Self-declaration by applicants on a ARE pro forma/application form (the self-declaration form is requested in a separate sealed envelope and is not opened until the applicant is selected for an interview).
- Consenting to a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) Check is a mandatory requirement and if the job applicant refuses, the application will be withdrawn. If the applicant is not selected the form will be returned unopened to the applicant.
5.03 No applicant will start working with children and young people (or have access to any confidential and personal details) before DBS clearance and references have been received.
5.04 ARE’s policy is to recheck all Trustees, staff and volunteers every three years. This will be undertaken by the SDP.
5.05 At all times the onus is on the R2S volunteer to reveal any conviction, caution, bind-over, probation order, or pending prosecution or change of circumstances that present a conflict of interest whether imposed prior to or within the period the staff member works for ARE.
5.06 The applicant shall produce proof of identity in true likeness, preferably passport or photographic identity (e.g. photo drivers’ licence), their right of residence and right to work. All evidence shall be maintained on the respective volunteer’s personnel file.
5.07 Any discrepancies revealed as a result of the above checks will be investigated thoroughly with the applicant by the DP and the SDP, especially as regards dates of residence, employment, voluntary work, past offences and convictions. In particular, the applicant will be advised as to the necessary procedures s/he can take if s/he queries the accuracy of a reference or check.
5.08 In the event of a break in volunteering, on return, they will be expected to undergo the previous procedures again.
6.0 Personnel Records
6.01 In addition to the standard information maintained on each volunteer or staff member in line with the Personnel Policy, each R2S volunteer member will have additional information relating to child protection safeguarding considerations, which will be kept on record in compliance with the GDPR. Thus:
- Copies of all forms, consents and replies as in paragraph 5.02 above;
- A progress check form indicating progress of the checks and replies;
- Notes for file – where the DP receives a phone call or other non-written communication, the main points shall be recorded and filed with the applicant’s records.
6.02 In line with the GDPR the file of an unsuccessful applicant shall be kept for six months and then safely destroyed by the DP. Staff who leave the employment of ARE after a period of employment, however long, their file will remain open for 12 months following their last day of employment.
6.03 Anyone working with ARE has the right to inspect their own confidential records as at 6.1 above, and may do so on request to the SDP who shall not withhold consent unreasonably and will do so within five working days. The SDP may only withhold such agreement and access if to do so might jeopardise ARE’s operation or impede police or social services investigation relating to child protection matters or might lead to a child’s welfare and safety being compromised. The SDP need give no reason for such withholding of consent. S/he will report such a situation to the Board of Trustees, purely on the lines that a request was made and refused for reasons relating to the welfare and protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults.
7.01 Prior to any activity/site/programme being commenced, the DP shall ensure that adequate child protection/safeguarding are in place.
7.02 In consultation with the respective operational manager, the DP shall ensure that an appropriate risk assessment has been undertaken, which could include the layout of premises/site, volunteers and supervision required to achieve adequate personal safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults. The risk assessment shall be undertaken with a view to recognising any problems in terms of supervision of volunteers, extended sites creating communications concerns etc. This will be particularly pertinent in relation to off-site activities for residential programmes.
7.03 Staff and volunteers should be mindful that abuse might be prevalent outside the programme, that a disclosure or symptom relating to this may become apparent within an activity, or that there may be children, young people or vulnerable adults present who have not as yet disclosed they are being abused. It is important that the environment created for programme activities is as conducive to support of a child, young person and vulnerable adult in such a situation as is possible.
7.04 In order to safeguard them but mainly as best practice, staff and volunteers are instructed that they should not initiate any inappropriate physical contact whatsoever with children, young people and vulnerable adults.
7.05 In a situation where staff, volunteers, children and young people feel that their safety is being threatened or compromised they should remove themselves from the situation.
8.0 Reporting Concerns and Dealing with Disclosures
8.01 Those working with children, young people and vulnerable adults have a particular duty to ensure that any concerns, incident, allegation or other manifestation relating to child protection/safeguarding is reported immediately.
8.02 Disclosure or evidence for concern may occur in any number of ways. This may be by what a child says, about him/herself or another child or children. It may be through interception of a written item, online or through observation of activity or behaviour giving cause for concern. It may be through changes in behaviour or attitude. There may be physical, emotional pointers such as bruising, self-harm, suicidal thoughts, bullying, child exploitation, child sexual exploitation, physical marks, online abuse or inappropriate behaviour or knowledge. These and many other signs can be picked up by staff or volunteers.
8.03 It is vital for the successful implantation of this policy that all incidents, observations, however insignificant, are logged by the observer(s) in the appropriate accident and incident report book/forms and brought to the attention of the DP.
8.04 As a duty of care staff and volunteers will be required to make a verbal and written report of anything which gave cause for concern. The report will be signed and dated. The DP will read and countersign the report, with any comments/ recommendations, and pass it to the SDP who also will read and countersign.
8.05 If more than one volunteer has an observation on the same incident on the day in question, a separate report is to be made by each worker and treated as above. The DP will ensure the reports are cross-referenced and dealt with as one.
8.06 At the same time, after the session’s completion, the DP will afford volunteers’ opportunity to discuss the matter and will note any matters which should be taken forward from the discussion. Volunteers should not feel constrained in expressing their concerns on any such matter in such a discussion.
8.07 After discussion with volunteers as in 8.6 above, where the matter is serious enough to warrant the SDP being brought in, the DP will contact the SDP who will either attend the meeting or make arrangements to meet the relevant people together as soon as possible. The SDP MUST attend if there is a serious level of allegation or evidence of abuse which may endanger a child, young person or vulnerable adult for which a more formal investigation may be required.
8.08 At such, a meeting with the SDP will chair (and have minuted), the evidence and concerns will be reviewed and the SDP will consult with the DP in making a decision on action. Any previous records relevant will also be considered by the SDP. The SDP will record his/her decision and copy filed in the appropriate restricted files.
8.09 The SDP will take an appropriate course of action where the incident/disclosure warrants escalation as follows:
- Immediate Reporting to Duty Officer at Local Safeguarding Children’s Board, Social Services, and/or Police:
- This covers any situation where, in the judgement of the SDP, following investigations, there is perceived to be an immediate danger to a child, young person or vulnerable adult or detection of criminal offences against a child, young person, vulnerable adult or other form of obvious, ongoing/future/recent serious harm. Where the Duty Social Worker cannot be located, the Police should be informed and told of the situation in locating the Social Services officer. Where a child is at risk of harm and/or increased danger/ injury or worse, then the SDP is authorised to make a complaint to the Police in order to secure immediate action and protection of a child. No protocol should ever inhibit this course of action, if it is truly warranted.
- Most situations will not require reference as in the above scenarios. It will be more appropriate for the SDP to raise them informally with a designated liaison contact at Social Services, provided that the social worker is dealing with child-related matters in the course of their duties. The SDP will always strive to ensure that there is such an informal liaison arrangement so that concerns can be discussed informally and on a regular basis. It will be appropriate at such informal meetings for all recent reports to be copied to the liaison person. The senior designated/designated person attendance at such informal liaison meetings is seen as desirable for the detailed information this can afford.
- There may quite often be situations arising from the reporting process which will not require the urgent formal reporting of the above but where it will not be appropriate to wait until a liaison meeting takes place, the SDP should never hesitate to contact the Social Services (liaison) (local authority safeguarding children’s board LSCB) person on an informal basis as soon as possible. Such situations may arise when, for instance, there is insufficient hard evidence or facts to warrant a complaint/ urgent formal referral, but there may be enough in terms of previous reports to justify referral of concerns in an informal manner.
9.0 Feedback and Reporting
9.01 Staff and volunteers will always wish to be assured that, having made a report, appropriate action has been taken. The SDP and the DP should always attempt to give such feedback from a reporting situation as is appropriate. The DP him/herself may be short on information once a report has been made to Social Services, who for reasons of confidentiality may be unable to give specific details. The SDP should seek to ascertain, on a need-to-know basis, what specific actions have been taken. For example whether the police have been informed etc.
9.02 In giving any feedback to staff or volunteers, the DP will follow the principles on information sharing and will do so on a “need-to-know” basis. The volunteer who made a report can be told what action has been taken by the DP including any referrals to DBS, Social Services/LSCB, the police or other relevant agencies.
9.03 The SDP will provide reports to the Board of Trustees and the DP on child protection matters as part of the scheduled Board meeting’s agenda (i.e. child protection/safeguarding will be a ‘standing item’ on the agenda). In the report to the Board, the SDP will cover:
- New applicant’s results of police and other checks: the person’s name and whether the checks were satisfactory or not (but without giving detail).
- Any formal report to the Police or the Duty Social Worker, omitting children’s and families’ names; also any informal report made by the DP to Social Services via liaison with them;
- Update on child protection training and staff awareness on child protection/safeguarding matters.
- Allegations Against Board of Trustees, Staff Team or Volunteers
10.01 If an allegation has been made against ARE staff, or volunteer, or a member of the Board of Trustees, procedure will come into force:
- The person receiving the complaint will contact the SDP. On receipt of the complaint, the SDP will contact Social Services to apprise them of the situation. Normally this will be by informal channels but if there is a criminal allegation, the contact will be formal to the duty social worker and also to the police.
- The SDP should inform the person against whom an allegation has been made as soon as possible unless there appears to be a case that this might prejudice a criminal investigation. This will require consultation with the police.
10.02 The course of action to be taken will be determined by the nature of the allegation(s):
- If a criminal allegation, such as sexual abuse and impropriety is made, or physical assault, or inappropriate behaviour, the SDP will activate the Disciplinary Procedure and suspend the person from any activity within ARE, pending investigation and due process – this will be on full pay pending the outcome of the investigation for staff members. The matter will be reported immediately to the police and LSCB/Social Services. The suspension will remain in force unless and until the police and/or LSCB/Social Services confirm that the allegations are unfounded. An incident report will be made and treated as confidential.
- If there is no criminal allegation the SDP will gather as much detail from available sources of information as possible, by way of investigation, but not including seeking to interview any child if there is a criminal allegation (which is a matter for the authorities). The SDP should examine to see if there is any report relating to a child protection matter concerning any involved child. Where appropriate, the SDP should consider whether suspension of the worker is advisable and recommend accordingly to the Board of Trustees. This may include a situation which, though non-criminal, could lead to a decision of gross misconduct.
- The SDP will report to the Board of Trustees on the outcome of such an investigation and will recommend whether the circumstances constitute grounds either:
- To treat the matter as a disciplinary issue, either as misconduct or gross misconduct, with associated rights of appeal; or
- To dismiss the allegations as unfounded or to make such other non-disciplinary recommendations as are appropriate. The Disciplinary Committee shall consider such recommendations and report to the next meeting of the Board of Trustees of action taken.
- The person against whom such non-criminal allegations are made should have opportunity to give an explanation or answer to any allegation at an interview conducted by the SDP and the course of such an interview should be minuted.
- In the case of criminal allegations, the suspension will remain in force on completion of the SDP’s enquiries if the Disciplinary Committee is of the view that the misconduct is so serious as to constitute grounds for immediate termination of employment or voluntary service until the dismissal procedure has been implemented. The person suspended should communicate with the DP during the period of suspension on matters relating to their employment, and it should be clear, whether or not communication includes personal contact, and the hours/times of contact.
- In the situation of (a) above, if legal proceedings result in the conviction of the person for a serious offence involving a child, the SDP shall consider any report or information from the police and /or social services and shall recommend to the Trustees the appropriate course of action up to and including instant dismissal. If the proceedings do not result in a conviction but there is evidence to suggest misconduct, the procedure in (b) may be evoked.
- In the situation of (b) above the SDP shall write to the person concerned to inform them of the outcome of the investigation and will inform the person of any decision to terminate employment or of the date and conditions, if any, of a return to duties, where a disciplinary offence has been committed but is not of a nature as to warrant immediate dismissal.
- Under no circumstances is any person suspended to re-enter the project or property or attend a session site whilst under suspension. This prohibition includes activities where there are no children/ young persons present.
- In appropriate circumstances, in consultation with the officers concerned, the SDP may recommend an instant dismissal if the evidence warrants it. For example, someone caught in the act of committing an offence involving a child on the project. This will be reported in the manner detailed above, and the SDP will make the appropriate reference to Social Services, or, if appropriate the Police. The personal file of such a worker will have the necessary note of action taken entered in it.
- Lesser forms of misconduct involving a worker in a child protection incident where the worker’s actions or behaviour are inconsistent with children’s welfare should be reported and dealt with under the ordinary Misconduct provisions of the Disciplinary Procedure, with appropriate records made in the person’s file. Social Services should be informed if the matter is related to child protection, and it is possible they may express a view on the person’s suitability to continue to work in the Project. Each case will be individual and judged on its own merits. The SDP will liaise on such issues and a report with recommendations made if necessary to the Board of Trustees.
- ARE has a duty to inform LSCB/DBS if there has been a dismissal arising from misconduct.
- Induction, Training and Awareness Raising
11.01 The Programme Manager shall ensure that there is adequate and appropriate induction and ongoing training and information to all voluntary workers concerning child protection/safeguarding matters. All Trustees, employees and voluntary workers shall be required to undergo a period of probation, a period of induction and child protection/safeguarding training. On appointment, the following shall apply to all Trustees, staff and volunteers:
- Introduction to R2S policies and procedures
- Understanding of expectations and duties
- Protecting children, young people and vulnerable adults from all forms of abuse including bullying, online (cyber bullying), child exploitation and child sexual exploitation.
- Working effectively with children, young people and vulnerable adults (including presentation skills, developing child and vulnerable adult friendly resources and activities)
- Any other identified training needs.
12.0 Review of the Policy
12.01 This policy will be regularly monitored and reviewed annually:
- In accordance with changes in legislation and guidance on the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults or changes in the operation of ARE;
- Following any issues or concerns raised about the protection of children, young people or vulnerable adults in the delivery of services within ARE;
- In all other circumstances where the policy is brought into question and therefore requires updating to take account of new legislation updates to ensure that ARE remain compliant.