United in the Community

Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy / Procedure

Introduction
United in the Community ‘UITC’ is committed to safeguarding and protecting the welfare of all who use its service.  It recognises that it has a responsibility to protect the welfare of children through its promotion of community participation in healthy recreation and the provision or assistance in the provision of facilities for sporting activities and to ensure that all children are protected from harm. 

UITC is committed to high standards of practice in safeguarding the welfare of children. It has no statutory remit or role to investigate abuse of children but acknowledges a responsibility to pass on to the appropriate statutory agency concerns in relation to the safety or welfare of a child so that these concerns can be assessed. This includes where there are concerns that a child/young person may be at risk of becoming radicalised.

Purpose
The purpose of this policy is to outline the duty and responsibility of staff and volunteers working on behalf of UITC in relation to child protection procedures.
The key objectives of this policy are:

  • To explain the responsibilities UITC and its staff and volunteers have in respect of child protection/safeguarding.
  • To provide staff and volunteers with an overview of child protection.
  • To provide a clear procedure that will be implemented where child protection issues arise.

Definition
For the purpose of this document a child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Children’s Act 1989). All children have the right to protection from all forms of abuse including exploitation, neglect, physical and mental abuse, sexual abuse regardless of their age, gender, disability, culture, language, racial origin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

Legal Framework
This guidance reflects the principles contained within the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) ratified by the United Kingdom in 1991 and the Human Rights Act 1998.

The Children’s Act 1989 sets out the legislative framework for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and the Children’s Act 2004 underpins the principle that safeguarding children is everybody’s responsibility, and the duty to cooperate as appropriate with a view to improving the well-being of children in the authority’s area so far as relating to:
(a) Physical and mental health and emotional well-being;
(b) Protection from harm and neglect;
(c) Education, training and recreation;
(d) The contribution made by them to society;
(e) Social and economic well-being.

The statutory guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) sets out how agencies and those involved with children and families in a professional or voluntary capacity should work together to safeguard children and promote their welfare.

Herefordshire local Safeguarding Procedures
sets out the local arrangements for safeguarding children that should be followed:

The Role of Staff and Volunteers
All staff and volunteers working on behalf of UITC have a duty to promote the welfare and safety of children. Identified people will hold the strategic lead and trustee safeguarding responsibilities for the safeguarding of children within UITC.

If a member of staff, volunteer or trustee is alleged to have put the welfare or safety of a child or vulnerable adult at risk, the designated person (or the designated safeguarding trustee if the allegations are against the designated person) will inform the appropriate agency and cooperate fully with the authority in the manner in which the matter is dealt with including the immediate suspension of the person pending an investigation.

Clear expectations will be made of all trustees, staff and volunteers for sharing information about children.
 
Staff and volunteers may receive disclosures of child abuse and observe children who are at risk. This policy will enable staff/volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues. Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibilities within UITC and the procedure provided below should be followed on every occasion.

What is Child Abuse?
Abuse and neglect are forms of maltreatment of a child. Someone may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children (Working Together to Safeguard Children 2015).

The ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ guidance published by the Government defines four categories of abuse as follows:

  • Physical Abuse. This may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.
  •  Emotional Abuse. This is the persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless, unloved or inadequate. It may involve bullying, causing children to feel frightened or in danger.
  • Sexual Abuse. This type of abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. Examples of physical contact include penetrative acts (rape, buggery or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts kissing, fondling, masturbation. It may include non-contact activities involving children in looking at or be involved in sexual online images and or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways. 
  •  Neglect. This is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment to the child’s health and development. It can include failing to provide adequate food, clothing and shelter, adequate supervision or failing to provide medical help when needed.

Safeguarding Procedure in the event of a disclosure
It is important that children are protected from abuse. All complaints, allegations or suspicions must be taken seriously. This procedure must be followed whenever an allegation is made that a child has been abused or when there is a suspicion that a child has been abused.

Promises of confidentiality should not be given as this may conflict with the need to ensure the safety and welfare of the child.

If the complainant is the child, questions should be kept to the minimum necessary to understand what is being alleged and leading questions should be avoided. The use of leading questions can cause problems for the subsequent investigation and any court proceedings. A full record shall be made as soon as possible of the nature of the allegation and any other relevant information. It is important to record the language/words used by the child and not attempt to change or correct them.

Information recorded should include details in relation to the date, the time, the place where the alleged abuse happened, your name and the names of others present, the name of the complainant and, where different, the name of the child who has allegedly been abused, the nature of the alleged abuse, a description of any injuries observed and the account which has been given of the allegation.

Responding to an allegation
Any suspicion, allegation or incident of abuse must be reported to the Community Manager or UITC Child Welfare Officer on that working day where possible. 

If deemed appropriate, the nominated member of staff shall telephone and report the matter to Herefordshire Children’s Services Department Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). A written record of the date and time of the report shall be made and the report must include the name and position of the person to whom the matter is reported. The telephone report must be confirmed in writing to the MASH within 24 hours.

Responding appropriately to a child making an allegation of abuse

  • Stay calm
  • Listen carefully to what is said
  • Explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – do not promise to keep secrets
  • Tell the child that the matter will only be disclosed to those who need to know about it
  • Allow the child to continue at her/his own pace
  • Ask questions for clarification only, and at all times avoid asking questions that suggest a particular answer
  • Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you
  • Tell them what you will do next, and with whom the information will be shared

Record in writing what was said, using the child’s own words as soon as possible – note the date, time, any names mentioned, to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated.

It is important to remember that the person who first encounters a case of alleged abuse is not responsible for deciding whether abuse has occurred. That is a task for the professional child protection agencies, following a referral from the designated child protection officer.

Confidentiality
Child protection raises issues of confidentiality which should be clearly understood by all. Staff and volunteers have a professional responsibility to share relevant information about the protection of children with other professionals, particularly investigative agencies.

The Government Information Sharing Guidance 2015 is a useful guide to help decisions about information sharing:

Clear boundaries of confidentiality will be communicated to all. All personal information regarding a child will be kept confidential except when; it is suspected that a child under 18 years is the victim of abuse.

If a child confides in a member of staff or volunteer and requests that the information is kept secret, it is important that the person tells the child sensitively that he or she has a responsibility to refer cases of alleged abuse to the appropriate agencies for the child’s own sake. Within that context, the child should, however, be assured that the matter will be disclosed only to people who need to know about it.

Where possible, consent should be obtained from the child before sharing personal information with third parties. In some circumstances obtaining consent may be neither possible nor desirable, as the safety and welfare of the child is the priority.

Where a disclosure has been made, the person should ensure the child knows the position regarding their role and what action they will have to take as a result they should also assure the child that they will keep them informed of any action to be taken and why. The child’s involvement in the process of sharing information should be fully considered and their wishes and feeling taken into account.

Child Protection issues are highly sensitive and members of staff or volunteers who receive information about children or their families in the course of their work should share that information only within appropriate professional contexts. All child protection records should be kept secure.

The Role of Key Individual Agencies

Children’s Services
The Children’s Act 1989 gives Local Authority Children’s Social Care the duty to investigate (Section 47 Children act 1989) if there are concerns that a child has suffered or is likely to suffer significant harm. It is their statutory duty to ensure that there is an investigation in cases of suspected abuse or significant harm.

They must take action to protect the child and to promote the welfare of the child.
This may involve convening a multi-agency Child Protection conference that will consider whether a child protection plan should be made in respect of a child. In some circumstances the Local Authority may intervene through Care Proceedings to protect children (Children Act 1989)

Police
The overriding concern of the Police in child protection is the welfare of the child. Their general duties are to investigate crimes as well as a duty to prevent offences being committed and to protect those at risk of harm.

The Children’s Act 1989 permit the Police to take a child into police protection; where there is reasonable cause to believe that he/she would otherwise be at risk of significant harm. Police and Children’s Services will work jointly where it is likely that criminal proceedings will be brought against the perpetrator of the abuse.

NSPCC
The NSPCC pursues its objective of identifying and preventing child abuse through consultation and cooperation with Social Services. They are identified as an’ authorised person’ under the Children Act 1989. NSPCC runs national Child Protection Helplines.

Child Protection Officers of the NSPCC are required to initiate procedures that ensure their own appropriate response to any complaint or request for help on all matters concerning children.

Role of Designated Child Welfare Officer
The role of the designated officer is to deal with all instances involving child protection that arises within UITC. They will respond to all child protection concerns and enquiries.

The designated Child Welfare Officer for UITC is Ruth Walkden.

Should you have any suspicions or concerns relating to Child Protection, contact the UITC Community Manager or Child Welfare Officer. For out of hours and emergency numbers please see the end of this policy.

The trustees will support the member of staff or volunteer involved with the incident and to ensure the correct procedures are followed.

The Trustees should ensure that all staff and volunteers involved with UITC are familiar with current Child Protection procedures and ensure that Child Protection/Safeguarding training is undertaken where appropriate.

Use of photographic/video equipment
Written consent to take and use images of children should be obtained prior to the taking of photographs and or video footage. Parents/carers should be made aware of when, where and how the images may be used to give their informed consent.

Training
Training will be provided, as appropriate, to ensure that staff and volunteers are aware of these procedures. Specialist training will be provided for the member of staff with child protection responsibilities.

Important Contacts

  • If you consider there to be an immediate danger call 999 for police or ambulance
  • Herefordshire Children’s Services MASH (Office Hours): 01432 260800
  • Out of Hours Emergency Duty team: 01905 768020 (note this may now be the same number as the day one, it transfers to the out of hours)
  • Local Authority Designated Officer (To report instances of abuse by those working with children, including in a voluntary capacity): 01432 260940 (260554)

LADO contact details
There is a Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO), Paul Rooney is based at the Herefordshire Council offices at 8 St Owen Street, Hereford and can be contacted on (01432) 260680.
For more information on the LADO role, click to visit the HSCB Policies and Procedures page.

  • Police non-emergency: 101
  • Child Line: 0800 1111
  • NSPCC: 0808 800 5000

Footnote:
This policy was reviewed/ approved by trustees on 20/08/2016.This policy will be reviewed every two years as part of UITC wider policy/procedure review. Should there be changes in relevant legislation it may need to be reviewed earlier.

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Board of Trustees - Mrs Ruth Walkden (Chair), Mr. Robert Ellam, Mrs. Caroline Preedy, Mr Lee Symonds
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Charity Registration Number - 1127857

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