Safeguarding and child protection policy
AACT acknowledges it has a responsibility for the safety of children. It also recognises that good safeguarding and child protection policies and procedures are of benefit to everyone involved with AACT’s work, as they can help protect them from erroneous or malicious allegations.
AACT is committed to practices which protect children from harm. The people covered by the policy include not only any employees but also those contracted to do work for the charity and those standing in a voluntary capacity. All those who have unsupervised access to or contact with children (both in person or remotely through electronic media) are required to:
• recognise and accept their responsibilities
• develop awareness of the issues which can cause children harm
• report concerns following the procedure below.
AACT will endeavour to safeguard children by:
- adopting safeguarding and child protection procedures and a code of practice for all who work on behalf of the organisation
- reporting concerns to the authorities
- following carefully procedures for recruitment and selection of employees, contractors and volunteers.
AACT acknowledges the help it has received from the several other charities who, through their websites, have provided us with education and material to use in our policy, in particular the AMRSB.
It is AACT’s policy that:
1. All those working on behalf of AACT accept responsibility for the welfare of children who come into contact with AACT in connection with its tasks and functions, and that they will report any concerns about a child or somebody else’s behaviour, using the procedures laid down.
2. There is a Designated Safeguarding Person (DSP) within AACT who will take action following any expression of concern and the lines of responsibility in respect of child protection are clear. They may be contacted through the telephone numbers given on the website or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
3. The DSP knows how to make appropriate referrals to statutory child protection agencies.
4. All those who are involved with children on behalf of AACT should adhere to the Code of Practice in relation to children.
5. Information relating to any allegation or disclosure will be clearly recorded as soon as possible, and there is a procedure setting out who should record information and the time-scales for passing it on.
6. The Children Act 1989 states that the “welfare of the child is paramount”. This means that considerations of confidentiality which might apply to other situations should not be allowed to over-ride the right of children to be protected from harm. However, every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned when an allegation has been made and is being investigated, see appendix C.
7. AACT’s policy on duty of care to children will be referred to or included in recruitment, training, moderation and policy materials where appropriate, and the policies are openly and widely available to everyone and actively promoted within the organisation.
8. A culture of mutual respect between children and those who represent AACT in all its activities will be encouraged, with adults modelling good practice in this context.
9. All volunteers and anyone in paid or unpaid work on behalf of AACT with unsupervised access to children will be vetted appropriately.
10. It is part of AACT’s acceptance of its responsibility of duty of care towards children that anybody who encounters child protection concerns in the context of their work on behalf of AACT will be supported when they report their concerns in good faith.
Code of Practice
AACT expects that all those in paid or unpaid work on its behalf will be aware of this Code of Practice and adhere to its principles in their approach to all children.
1. It is important not to have physical contact with children and this should be avoided.
2. It is not good practice to take children alone in a car on journeys, however short.
3. Do not make suggestive or inappropriate remarks to or about a child, even in fun, as this could be misinterpreted.
4. It is important not to deter children from making a ‘disclosure’ of abuse through fear of not being believed, and to listen to what they have to say. Guidance on handling a disclosure is set out in Appendix C. If this gives rise to a child protection concern it is important to follow AACT’s procedure for reporting such concerns, and not to attempt to investigate the concern yourself.
5. Remember that those who abuse children can be of any age (even other children), gender, ethnic background etc, and it is important not to allow personal preconceptions about people to prevent appropriate action taking place.
6. Good practice includes valuing and respecting children as individuals, and the adult modelling of appropriate conduct – which will always exclude bullying, shouting, racism, sectarianism or sexism.
Designated safeguarding person
AACT has appointed a Designated Safeguarding Person (DSP) who is responsible for dealing with any concerns about the protection of children. Contact details are available on the www.aact.org.uk website. The role of the DSP is to
1. Know which outside child protection agency to contact in the event of a child protection concern coming to the notice of AACT.
2. Provide information and advice on child protection within AACT.
3. Ensure that appropriate information is available at the time of referral and that the referral is confirmed in writing under confidential cover.
4. Liaise with local children’s social care services and other agencies, as appropriate.
5. Keep relevant people within AACT informed about any action taken and any further action required; for example, disciplinary action against a member.
6. Ensure that a proper record is kept of any referral and action taken, and that this is kept safely and in confidence.
7. Advise AACT of safeguarding and child protection training needs.
Procedure for reporting concerns
People could have their suspicion or concern raised in a number of ways, the most likely of which are:
- the conduct of a member of AACT or someone working, volunteering or contracting for AACT
- a child “disclosing” abuse
- bruising or evidence of physical hurt
- unusual behaviour by a child.
If someone has such concerns they should be reported to the DSP.
Concerns about a specific child should be reported immediately by telephone to the DSP and confirmed in writing within 24 hours. Delay could prejudice the welfare of a child.
If the concerns relate to the conduct of a member of AACT these should be reported by phone to the DSP immediately. Steps will be taken to fully support anyone who in good faith reports his or her concerns about a colleague and every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality for all parties whilst the allegation is considered.
The DSP will consider the report and either refer this immediately to the authorities or, after taking appropriate advice (which may include discussing the circumstances on a confidential basis with the NSPCC), decide not to refer the concerns to the authorities but keep a full record of the concerns.
Note for volunteers and contractors
AACT is a small charity, currently with no premises or staff of its own. All our work is done in partnership with other organizations and our contact with beneficiaries and the public will occur on others’ premises and normally under the supervision of a member of the partner organization. In these cases it is important that you follow any safeguarding policies in place at the host organization, for example reporting any concerns to their designated person. If this is impossible in practice, then AACT’s Designated Safeguarding Person should be contacted.
AACT also tends not to have long-term persistent contact with the same individuals. It is quite possible therefore that you will not ‘officially’ know that someone you are talking with is classified as a vulnerable adult. If you have any concerns about the safety of an individual you should report them as outlined below, whether or not you are certain of their ‘official’ vulnerable status, leaving it to professionals in the field to decide on further action.
Definitions of abuse
1. Physical Abuse
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. It may be the result of a deliberate act, but could also be caused through the omission or failure to act to protect.
2. Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve making a child feel or believe that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. Some level o emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child, though it may occur alone.
3. Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, whether or not the child is aware of, or consents to, what is happening. It may involve physical contact, including rape or oral sex, or non penetrative acts such as fondling. Boys and girls can be sexually abused by males and/or females, and by other young people. It also includes non-contact activities such as involving children in watching or taking part in the making of pornographic material, or encouraging children to behave in inappropriate ways.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. It may involve failing to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing, or failing to ensure that a child gets appropriate medical care or treatment.
Recruitment and selection procedures
AACT has adopted appropriate recruitment and selection procedures for volunteers and consultants in the context of safeguarding and child protection and these include the following:
1. A clear definition of any role so that the most suitable appointee can be identified.
2. Identification of key selection criteria.
3. Confirmation of the identity of the applicant.
4. Requirement to declare previous convictions and obtain CRB disclosure for those candidates whose work will bring them into contact with children or who will have a management responsibility in relation to those whose work does bring them into such contact.
5. A clear guarantee that disclosed information will be treated in confidence and not used against applicants unfairly, including adherence to the Criminal Records Bureau code of practice.
6. Use of several selection techniques to maximise the chance of safe recruitment, eg interview, references, checks.
7. At least one representative from AACT meeting personally with every applicant, and an exploration of their attitudes towards working with children.
Responding appropriately to a child making an allegation of abuse
1. Stay calm.
2. Listen carefully to what is said.
3. Find an appropriate early opportunity to explain that it is likely that the information will need to be shared with others – do not promise to keep secrets.
4. Tell the child that the matter will only be disclosed to those who need to know about it.
5. Allow the child to continue at her/his own pace.
6. Ask questions for clarification only, and at all times avoid asking questions that suggest a particular answer.
7. Reassure the child that they have done the right thing in telling you.
8. Tell them what you will do next, and with whom the information will be shared.
9. As soon as possible, record in writing what was said/communicated, using the child’s own words. Note the date, time, any names mentioned and to whom the information was given and ensure that the record is signed and dated.
10. 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 Safeguarding Person in the organisation.