Safeguarding and Protecting Children

Across the UK a wide range of children are involved in a wide range of sports activities from community participation to national and international level. However, research suggest that 58,000 children are at risk of abuse. Young people are normally abused by people they know or trust from inside or outside their family and can be both adults or other young people. Within sport and physical activity, we have a responsibility to safeguard these young people from potential abuse.  This can be done in a variety of ways, such as ensuring that a clear safeguarding policy is in place, that volunteers have had DBS checks and that everyone has sufficient training on how to spot the signs of abuse.

It is important that this is an area that people talk about, and are aware of among other things that are being prioritised within the clubs environment, this is often an area that goes unspoken about, due to the taboos that exist but it is important for us to break these down and provide knowledge and training to ensure that the issues are identified and dealt with as and when they arise.


How do I write a safeguarding policy?

A safeguarding or child protection policy statement makes it clear what your organisation or group will do to keep children safe. It should set out:

> Your organisation’s commitment to protecting all children

> The more detailed policies and procedures your organisation will put in place to keep children safe and respond to child protection concerns

You can find an example of a template safeguarding policy on.

What is a DBS?

A DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check, once known as the CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check. Majority of volunteer, and coaching positions at a club will request these people to have a valid DBS certificate. The Disclosure and Barring Service helps employers and sports clubs make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. There are 3 tiers of DBS Checks available:

> Basic DBS – the lowest level of disclosure which checks the Police National Computer for details of all current criminal convictions. Often used to support an immigration application, to vet prospective tenants or to volunteer.

> Standard DBS – covers those working in other occupations to children, vulnerable adults and the elderly but where they need to be of ‘good character’ and not have a criminal record. This could include someone applying to be employed as an accountant, working in a pharmacy or legal practice, someone applying for a firearms license or a senior manager at a bank or financial services organisation. Organisations employing someone in this sort of position want to assure themselves that the people they are considering haven not got a lengthy criminal record for dishonesty, drugs offences or violent crimes.

> Enhanced DBS – the highest level of disclosure required for those positions that can involve caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children or vulnerable adults. An Enhanced DBS will show the following offences: sexual, violence, the supply of drugs and safeguarding.

Those working in sport including volunteers should have an enhanced DBS, as they are more than likely going to be in sole charge of children and vulnerable adults.

How to apply for a DBS check?

Your club can apply for a DBS check through the Government website here. It costs £25. It’s available for people working in England and Wales

What is the definition of a child?

A child can be defined differently in different legal contexts. The individual young person’s circumstances and age will dictate what legal measures can be applied. To ensure compliance with legislation, and moral obligations towards the welfare of young people, a child should be regarded as being a person under 18 years of age.

What is the definition of a vulnerable adult?

A vulnerable adult, or an adult at risk is a person over the age of 18 who is at risk or harm or lacks the absolute most basic human life skills. For more information please visit the Ann Craft Trust Website.

Where can I get safeguarding resources and support?

The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU)  is a partnership between the NSPCC, Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland and Sport Wales. The CPSU website has a number of resources for help and advise for your club. Click here to visit the website

The NSPCC web site is also a great place to get support. If you have a safeguarding issue or dilemma you can ring their helpline and they will tell you what you need to do and what agency to get in touch with.

What do I do if I have a concern about a child?

If you think a child is in immediate danger or requires medical attention, you should call the emergency services on 999. You can also ring the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 to report immediate risks. If there is no immediate danger to the child and they are not injured, you should report the concern:

> If you are affiliated to a national governing body, refer to their safeguarding procedures about who to report the concerns to. If this is not available, report it via their complaints procedure or ring their main contact number.

> If your club or activity is not affiliated to a governing body, you can seek support from the Think Active or your local children’s social care (social services).

> If there is no one else available to help, contact the local police.

> Ensure you keep a record of your concern and how you reported it.

As a welfare officer is it my responsibility to investigate a safeguarding issue?

It is important to remember that the welfare of the child is paramount. However, it is not up to you to decide whether a child has been abused, but to report concerns appropriately. Click here to find out the roles and responsibilites of a welfare officer.

What CPD and workshops are available in safeguarding?

Nearly half a million coaches have been through the UK Coaching Safeguarding and Protecting Children workshop in the last 20 years or so.

The workshop, updated in May 2019, has been developed in partnership with the NSPCC and CPSU and includes new scenarios giving you the opportunity to learn through discussion, exploring the consequences of those decisions in a safe and supportive environment, helping to increase your confidence.

To book on a workshop click here

If you want your staff or volunteers to understand more than just the minimum standards needed for coaches in sports, then you can do a range of courses and workshops with the NSPCC as well. These include introduction to safeguarding online courses and full accredited qualifications.

Warwickshire Community and Voluntary Action (WCAVA) also run a variety of training, have training associates and can signpost to specialised training opportunities.

What can your club/group do to safeguard children in sport?

1. Appoint a named contact (i.e. a Child Protection Officer) to co-ordinate child protection within your organisation who has attended ‘Safeguarding & Protecting Children’ or other basic child protection awareness training and ‘In Safe Hands – Club Child Protection Officer’ workshop.

2. Adopt a Child Protection Policy at management/committee/board level within your organisation.

3. Identify any risks to children participating in your activities.

4. Get all adults working with children in your organisation to sign up to a Code of Conduct for working with children.

5. Support all adults working with children in your organisation to attend ‘Safeguarding & Protecting Children’ or other basic child protection awareness workshop.

6. Adopt and use an effective ‘recruitment and selection’ procedure to make sure new staff/volunteers have been carefully considered and vetted to do regulated work with children.

7. Adopt ‘responding to concerns’ procedures to ensure that staff/volunteers get the appropriate help for a child or challenge the inappropriate conduct of any adults within your organisation.

8. Adopt a ‘disciplinary’ procedure to ensure your organisation can deal with any inappropriate conduct or child abuse and if necessary, refer any individual to Disclosure Scotland for consideration on the Children’s List.

9. Adopt a procedure to review any child protection concerns which have arisen to ensure procedures are followed and appropriate action taken in the best interests of the child.

10. Adopt ‘Safe in Care’ guidelines that are appropriate to your organisation’s activities, e.g. trips away from home, physical contact, adult to child ratios, ICT and social media. Remember to communicate all the above to the children in your organisation and to their parents/carers so that everyone recognises and understands the important safeguards put in place to help keep children safe.

For more information on the above guidlines, please visit the Child Protection in Sport Unit Website.

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