Children & Vulnerable Adults Policy

Introduction

Woodbridge Riverside Trust (WRT) wishes to ensure that children and vulnerable adults are safe and protected from harm whilst engaged in project activities and visiting its premises.

This Policy outlines the systems and procedures in place in order to achieve this aim. The policy and its operation will be reviewed on an annual basis.

Section 1: Principles and Definitions

Policy Statement

To ensure that children and vulnerable adults are protected from harm while they engage in projects organized for by or on behalf of WRT, the Trust will:

  1. Follow Government guidelines to select appropriate staff and to carry out Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks as per these guidelines.
  2. Ensure that staff and volunteers are aware of the WRT Policy for the Protection of Children & Vulnerable Adults and that staff are trained in implementing its procedures.
  3. Take all reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of any child or vulnerable adult engaged in a WRT project or visiting its premises.
  4. Take all reasonable steps to prevent any staff member, volunteer or member of the public from physically, emotionally or sexually abusing any child or vulnerable adult.
  5. Give staff, teachers, group leaders, service-providers and any other interested parties information on WRT procedures for ensuring the safety of children and vulnerable adults on its premises.
  6. Provide information to teachers, group leaders, service-providers and any other interested parties about WRT expectations of their responsibilities for ensuring children and vulnerable adults are protected while visiting its premises.
  7. Bring WRT complaints procedure to the attention of all visitors.

Main Principles

The main principles underlying this policy are:

  1. Anyone under the age of 18 years should be considered a child for the purposes of this document.[1]
  2. All children and vulnerable adults have the right to protection from abuse.
  3. All allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
  4. Staff and volunteers are trained to protect children and vulnerable adults in their care and also to protect themselves so that they do not place themselves in an unnecessarily vulnerable position.

Definitions of Child Abuse

According to the Department of Health document ‘Co-operating to Safeguard Children’ (2003):

‘Child abuse occurs when a child is neglected, harmed or not provided with proper care. Children may be abused in many settings, in a family, in an institutional or community setting, by those who know them, or more rarely, by a stranger. There are different types of abuse and a child may suffer more than one of them. These types of abuse include:

Physical Abuse
Physical abuse is the deliberate physical injury to a child, or the willful or neglectful failure to prevent injury or suffering. This may include hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, confinement to a room or cot, or inappropriately giving drugs to control behaviour.

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 conveying to children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may involve causing children frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill treatment of a child, though it may occur alone. Domestic violence, adult mental health problems and parental substance misuse may expose children to emotional abuse.

Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child to take part in sexual activities. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative and non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children to act in sexually inappropriate ways.

Neglect
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s physical, emotional and/or psychological needs, likely to result in significant harm. It may involve a parent or carer failing to provide adequate foods, shelter and clothing, failing to protect a child from physical harm or danger, failing to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment, lack of stimulation or lack of supervision’.

Bullying
For the purposes of this document WRT views bullying as another form of child abuse. Bullying is most often defined in terms of three components:

In an NSPCC study the most common experiences of bullying and discrimination reported by young people were at the hands of other young people and included:

Section 2: Practical guidance for staff and volunteers working with children and vulnerable adults

This section offers practical guidance to those engaged in activities that involve contact with children and vulnerable adults to ensure that they and those with whom they are working are protected.

The WRT Chairman is the designated Safeguarding Officer for the Trust and any matters relating to application of this policy should be referred to him in the first instance:

Chairman, Woodbridge Riverside Trust
The Longshed
Tide Mill Way
Woodbridge IP12 1FP

Project leads for particular projects or events will be responsible for liaising with the Chairman regarding detailed arrangements for application of this policy for each project or event that they lead.

2.1 General conduct

Stated below are the standards of behavior required of staff and volunteers in order to ensure that a safe environment is created for all WRT activities involving contact with children and vulnerable adults:

2.2 Unacceptable practices

Staff and volunteers should never be allowed to:

2.2.2 Spend excessive amounts of time alone with children or vulnerable adults away from others.

2.3 Responding to complaints and alleged or suspected incidents

The following guidelines should be used when an allegation is made by a child or vulnerable adult to a member of staff and/or volunteer:

2.3.1 Listen and reassure

  1. Maintain confidentiality but do not make promises you cannot keep, and explain that the information will have to be passed on and what action you will take
  2. Be calm
  3. Be reassuring and make it clear that you are glad they have told you
  4. Show that you are taking the child or vulnerable adult seriously and that you understand and believe them
  5. Keep questions to a minimum; if you have to ask questions keep them open and not leading
  6. Important points to remember when dealing with a disclosure
  7. Try not to display any sign of shock or disapproval when the child or vulnerable adult is making a disclosure
  8. Do not jump to conclusions
  9. The child or vulnerable adult may not regard the experience as either bad or painful, they may not feel guilty or angry
  10. Be aware of your own feelings which may be different to those of the child or vulnerable adult
  11. Do not destroy any evidence as it may be useful in a court of law
  12. Initial disclosure, even if retracted, must still be referred

Recording Information

It is essential that the details of the alleged abuse be recorded correctly and legibly, as this will be critical later on in the proceedings. A disclosure form is available (see Appendix 1) as a guide to show the type of information that should be recorded. This should be done immediately if possible, and certainly within 24 hours.

Informing the appropriate authorities

If abuse has been disclosed to you or you suspect that it is happening you must inform your Project leader as soon as possible. You must then complete a disclosure form and give it to the Project leader who will liaise accordingly with the child’s or vulnerable adult’s school/college, or with their parent(s) or guardian(s) or carer(s).

What to do in case of an accident

2.4.1 Depending on your judgment of the situation, go to the scene immediately and/or summon first aid assistance and/or contact the emergency services.

2.4.2 Even if a child or vulnerable adult is accompanied and you think the accident is not being treated seriously enough, get medical assistance on your own initiative if necessary.

What to do if a child or vulnerable adult is lost or unattended

2.5.1 Child reported lost

  1. Immediately inform your Project Manager who will contact all staff to look for the child or vulnerable adult and organize a search.
  2. If a child or vulnerable adult has not been found after a reasonable time, contact the police. If the decision is taken to contact the police you will need the individual’s name, age, address, description, accompanying person’s name and details of where and when they were last seen.

Unattended child or vulnerable adult

  1. Introduce yourself and try to establish who they are with and where they last saw them. If you cannot get this information take them to your visitor reception area. Remember the accompanying adult(s) will be looking for the child or vulnerable adult too, so stay in an open, visible location.
  2. Do not try to force a child or vulnerable adult to come with you. If necessary call for help or stay with the individual until they have been reunited with someone they know and are willing to be with.
  3. If the child or vulnerable adult is definitely lost, explain who you are, find out their name, who they were with etc and ask them to come with you to the visitor reception area. Try to prevent them becoming distressed by giving them something to do (drawing, colouring) and stay with them.
  4. If the person they were with does not appear after a reasonable amount of time call the police.

2.6 Guidelines for those planning or attending a WRT event

WRT staff and volunteers responsible for events involving children or vulnerable adults have a duty of care to manage the event in such a way as to ensure prevention of abuse or allegations of abuse of all those involved. Pre-planning for events should always consider the potential risks and the ways in which these can be eliminated or minimized. The following guidelines have been produced to assist those responsible for planning events:

Employer’s & Public Liability

WRT has insurance cover in accordance with the relevant legal liability statutes for injury to employees and injury to third parties.

2.6.2 External Visits

If a member of staff or a volunteer is organising a visit to another venue, a preparatory visit to the organisation should be arranged in order to:

  1. Undertake a risk assessment
  2. Get to know the venue before the visit
  3. Ensure the venue is suitable for children or vulnerable adults
  4. Make sure the venue is suitable for the aims and objectives of the planned activity

Internet Activities

If children or vulnerable adults are to undertake any activities involving the internet, it is essential that the following guidelines be followed:

  1. Tell them they should never give out their e-mail address on the internet
  2. Ensure they are closely supervised at all times
  3. Install suitable software to restrict viewing of inappropriate web sites

2.6.4 Parental Consent

  1. For school groups visiting WRT premises for a planned educational activity the responsibility for obtaining consent lies with the school. Information such as emergency contact details (including telephone number) and any relevant medical details should be known to the organiser of the event
  2. If the school/college/organising body is responsible for obtaining parental consent, then a record of this should be kept by the member of staff organising the event and should be placed on the event-working file

2.6.5 Photography

This section sets out good practice on the use of photographs and video images for publicity purposesand is based upon advice available on the DfES website: www.teachernet.gov.uk/management/childprotection/usefulinformation/photosandvideos

Whilst it is not illegal to take photographs of children or vulnerable adults participating in WRT activities, photographs and video images of children or vulnerable adults are classed as personal data under the terms of the Data Protection Act 1998. Therefore using such images for publicity purposes will require the consent of either the individual concerned or in the case of children, their legal guardians. This means that WRT will not display images on websites, in publications or elsewhere without such consent. If photographs do need to be taken a consent form must be completed before the commencement of the event (see Appendix 2).

WRT will ensure:

  1. That visitors are aware if there is an official photographer on site and that they understand the photographs are for WRT use. School parties should be told in advance so that consents can be arranged
  2. That the photographer is aware of this Policy and that he/she is not left alone with children or vulnerable adults
  3. The photographer introduces him/herself and ensures that consents have been given. Afterwards these consents must be stored with the pictures
  4. That if the photograph is used, the child or vulnerable adult will not be named
  5. That if the child or vulnerable adult is named, their photograph will not be used
  6. Images are securely stored and used only by those authorized do so

All members of staff and volunteers should exercise vigilance when supervising children/vulnerable adults and not allow any photographs or video footage to be taken of any children/vulnerable adults in their care unless the above consent has been given.

2.6.6 Police (background) Checks

  1. Learning/Education staff must obtain enhanced check from the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS).
  2. WRT will ensure that members of staff and volunteers running any event involving extensive contact with children and vulnerable adults will obtain an enhanced disclosure and they will have responsibility for making judgements with regard to the need for disclosure for others involved in the event they are leading. In addition, it is the responsibility of the member of staff running an event to determine whether any staff or volunteers helping to deliver the event need to obtain a disclosure. Staff will be required to undertake appropriate training in child safety and ensure that others involved in delivering the event have been provided with basic information on child and vulnerable adult protection.

2.6.7 Responsibilities of children and vulnerable adults

  1. WRT staff and volunteers should ensure that children and vulnerable adults are aware that they should not take unnecessary risks. They must follow instructions given and behave in a sensible manner. Any child or vulnerable adult whose behavior may be considered a danger to themselves or the group should be excluded from the activity.
  2. Any child or vulnerable adult who appears to be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or illegal substances should immediately be referred to the member of staff leading the event.

2.6.8 Risk Assessments

Risk assessments should be undertaken prior to any event involving children or vulnerable adults. The aim is to assess any risks that might occur during the visit, the likelihood of their occurrence and the steps that can be taken to manage the risk. WRT staff and volunteers participating in the event should be made aware of the risks.

2.6.9 Volunteers

A copy of this policy should be given to all volunteers working on any event involving children or vulnerable adults. Time should be made available to ensure that all volunteers have had the opportunity to read the document in advance of the event. This will most commonly take place as part of a volunteer’s initial training or the training involved in running an event.

The most important points to be stressed to volunteers are:

  1. That protection is for the safety of children and vulnerable adults, and themselves
  2. That it is not their role to discipline the children or vulnerable adults. If they encounter any behavioral problems these should be referred to the member of staff leading the event
  3. That they must stay with their group of children or vulnerable adults at all times.
  4. The principles of good conduct set out in section 2.1 of this policy and the practices never to be sanctioned set out in section 2.2
  5. The procedure for dealing with disclosure set out in section 2.3 of this policy

2.6.10 Project Leaders’/Teachers’ Responsibilities

An important measure for ensuring the safety of children and vulnerable adults is supervision. A duty of care means that there must be a suitable ratio of staff to children and vulnerable adults at all times, to ensure safe supervision. It is essential to have a sufficiently high ratio of adult supervisors to children/vulnerable adults.

DfES guidelines* on supervision ratios are as follows:

Project leaders/teachers should ensure that:

  1. Children/vulnerable adults are supervised at all times
  2. A head count of children/vulnerable adults involved in an event should take place at regular intervals, especially when proceeding to, or leaving a venue
  3. In the event of an accident or lost child or vulnerable adult, a member of staff in the visitor reception centre is contacted who will follow the correct procedures
  4. The group is informed of behavioral expectations whilst on WRT premises
  5. Project leaders should not allow members of their group to:
    • make any offensive remarks towards any person or other group
    • vandalise WRT property
    • leave litter
    • use bad language
    • enter areas of the premises that are cordoned off
    • smoke or consume alcohol or use proscribed drugs
    • bully others, either verbally or physically
    • use threatening, abusive or violent behavior
  6. Teachers/college lecturers attending visits are in loco parentis and therefore should have conducted risk assessments and be able to maintain supervision levels
[*Health and Safety of Pupils on Educational Visits, DfES, 1998]

2.7 Guidelines for staff when dealing with work experience students

If students from local schools and colleges attend WRT premises on work placements, some staff will be required to work on a one-to-one basis with young or vulnerable adults. Any member of staff or volunteers engaged in a mentoring relationship with young or vulnerable adults will be required to obtain an enhanced check by the Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) and will undertake appropriate training to ensure both the individual’s safety and their own protection from unfair allegations during the work placement.

Schools and colleges expect these students to develop independence, responsibility and the ability to make their own decisions. It is also recognized that it is not always practical to have two or more members of staff working with one young or vulnerable adult during their work experience. However, the welfare of the student is paramount. To enable both the work experience student and the member(s) of WRT staff to have a positive experience the points outlined below should therefore be noted.

If you are spending time with a student:

  1. Always ensure that another staff member knows your location and the proposed activity
  2. Ensure that a door is left ajar, where possible, or that there is a clear view into the room through a window
  3. Ensure that WRT guidelines and policies on internet use are adhered to
  4. If travelling alone in a vehicle with the student, ensure that another member of staff knows where you are going and why, and the estimated duration of your journey

2.8 Complaints against members of WRT staff or volunteers[3]

Where there is a complaint or allegation against a member of staff there may be three types of investigation:

In the case of a police or child protection investigation, the results may influence the disciplinary investigation.

2.8.1 Concerns about poor practice

If, following consideration, the complaint or allegation is clearly about poor practice, the relevant Manager will deal with it as a misconduct issue and decide whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings.

2.8.2 Concerns about suspected abuse

Any suspicion that a child or vulnerable adult has been abused by either a member of staff or a volunteer should be reported to the staff leading the event, who will immediately inform their Project lead and take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question as well as any others who may be at risk.

2.8.3 Confidentiality

Every effort will be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information will be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only and stored in a secure place accessed only by designated staff, in line with data protection laws.

Policy written September 2017
Updated May 2018
Next review January 2020

Section 3: References/Further Reading

Appendix 1: Woodbridge Riverside Trust Disclosure of Information Form

Please complete this form immediately after the disclosure making every effort to record what the child/vulnerable adult has said and/or your concerns as clearly and accurately as possible.

Child’s/vulnerable adult’s Surname: ………………………………….……………….

Forename(s): …………………………………………………………………………………….

Address:…………………………………………….………………………………………………..

………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Date of Birth:…………………………

Your Observations (e.g. change in behavior and/or physical appearance):

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Child/vulnerable adult’s account of what happened (if given):

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Action that you took as a result of this disclosure:
(Please note you must inform the child/vulnerable adult of the action you propose to take)

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Your Signature…………………………………………. Date ………………………………

Please ensure that this form has been filled out correctly and as accurately as possible. In the event of a disclosure being made, the relevant authorities will contact the person to whom the disclosure was made for a full account.

Appendix 2: Film/Photography Consent Form

Woodbridge Riverside Trust is committed to the protection of children and vulnerable adults. In accordance with our Policy for the Protection of Children & Vulnerable Adults, we will not permit photography or filming of children/vulnerable adults without the consent of each individual’s parents, guardians or carers.

It is useful for us to keep a photographic record of holiday activities and other events to use in future publicity and in articles for our website. However, before we take any photographs of your child, we must have your permission. We should therefore be grateful if you would complete the consent declaration below.

WRT will take all reasonable measures to ensure that these images are used solely for the purposes for which they are intended.

Event:……………………………………………………………………………………………….

Venue: ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Date:………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

I ………………………………….…..……………………………..……………. the parent/legal guardian*

of …………………………………………………………………………….……. give Woodbridge Riverside Trust authority to use appropriate photographs/film of my child/ward in publications, on attraction websites, in attraction publicity and other material relating to the event/activity at which they were taken, on the understanding that any pictures used for publicity purposes will not identify my child by name.

[*Please delete as appropriate]

Signed…………………………………………………. Date………………………………

Please return this form to:

Project lead name and contact details

[1]Definition taken from ‘Cooperating to Safeguard Children’, Department of Health 2003.
[2]www.nspcc.org. NSPCC publications – Safeguarding Children: a Shared Responsibilityand Safeguarding Children: Everybody’s Business

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