Guidance for those carrying out activities involving adults at risk or children

If you are the designated safeguarding lead for the activity you should also read the guidance for safeguarding leads.

General guidance for anyone engaged in activities with children or at risk adults

General considerations

If you are acting in a position of trust with children or adults at risk, you are expected to be mindful that you are acting as a role model and therefore should demonstrate exemplary behaviour.

Care should be taken to ensure conduct is appropriate to each circumstance and environment since well-intentioned actions can be misinterpreted.

All activities should have undergone a risk assessment, and you should have a copy of the risk assessment which will identify a key contact to whom any concerns should be addressed promptly.

In your role:

  • you may become aware of, or suspect another person of abusing an at risk person, or an at risk person may disclose an allegation of abuse to you, and you will need to take action in such circumstances;
  • allegations of inappropriate behaviour may be made against you, and such allegations will need to be investigated, and may result in referral to external agencies.

Types of abuse

The Government publication Keeping children safe in education defines abuse as: “a form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. They may be abused by an adult or adults or another child or children”

The same principles apply for at risk adults: abuse may be physical, emotional, sexual or neglect.

Expectations of those working with adults at risk or children

You should:
Ensure you have completed the online course An Introduction to Safeguarding and that you know what you should do if an at risk person makes a disclosure to you.
Ensure you are familiar with the risk assessment and understand who the key contact is for the activity you are engaged in.
Give due regard to cultural difference.
Be alert to and tackle inappropriate behaviour in others, including peer-to-peer behaviours.  Abusive behaviour such as bullying (including cyber-bullying), ridiculing or aggression must not be allowed to go unchallenged.
If you have to give feedback, take care that it is not unnecessarily negative.
Take care that language is not open to sexual connotation.
Report any suspicions promptly and confidentially to the designated safeguarding lead for the activity, or in the event that the suspicions/allegations involve that person, to the appropriate Safeguarding Officer [link] for the University.
Deal with information sensitively.
You should not:
Engage in, or allow, any form of inappropriate touching.  This would include doing personal things for a child or an adult at risk that they can do for themselves.  Where the person is disabled tasks should only be carried out with the full consent of the individual, or their parent.
Use inappropriate language, or allow others to use it without challenging it.
Engage in any physical ‘adult’ relationship with a person to whom you are in a position of trust, even if they give their consent.
Give your personal contact details (such as personal phone number, home address, email, Skype address or other communication routes) to a child or an adult at risk, or use any such route to communicate with a child or adult at risk other than regarding the activity (for example through the official website for the activity).
Interact in a personal capacity with children or adults at risk outside of the activity, including through any form of social media,  for example, by becoming ‘friends’ on Facebook.
Allow allegations of inappropriate behaviour to go unchallenged, recorded or acted on.
Take photographs, or make other recordings of at risk people without specific written consent of the individual, or someone with parental responsibility for the individual.
You should seek advice from the designated safeguarding lead for the activity if:
 You suspect a relationship is developing which may be an abuse of trust.
 You are worried that a child or adult at risk is becoming attracted to you or a colleague who works with them.
 You think a child or adult at risk has misinterpreted something you have done or said.
 You have had to physically restrain a child or adult at risk to prevent them from harming themselves, another person or causing significant damage to property.
 A child or adult at risk tells you that they are being abused, or describes experiences that you consider may be abuse.
 You see suspicious or unexplained marks on a child or adult at risk or witness behaviours which are unusual or inappropriate.

 Dealing with allegations, or suspicions, of inappropriate behaviour

  • Consider the urgency of the situation: in the event there is a risk of immediate serious harm to a child or an adult at risk the emergency services should be contacted via 999 or the police via the 101 service. Anybody can make a referral in these circumstances.   The relevant Safeguarding Officer should then be notified of the case and will need to determine whether to refer serious cases to the relevant authorities within one working day.
  • Remain calm, and ensure that the person knows you are taking them seriously. Reassure them that they are right to have told someone, but do not touch them (for example by putting an arm round them).
  • DO NOT try to investigate or act on the matter yourself: doing so may seriously compromise investigation by the relevant authorities.  You need only clarify what is being said to you (in order to establish that there is a suspicion of harm), and then refer the matter to the appropriate individual as set out in the Code of Practice.
  • Be supportive but DO NOT promise confidentiality.  Explain that, in order that the allegation can be addressed you will have to talk to other people about it.  Explain who you will talk to.
  • Avoid ‘leading’ questions, or expressing a view about what you have been told.
  • Use clear language, appropriate to the person you are dealing with.
  • Do not talk to anyone else about the matter.  If you need to seek support for yourself you should speak to the designated safeguarding lead for the activity or one of the University’s Safeguarding Officer.
  • Write down what you have been told as soon as possible. In all events this must be done on the same day but this should not delay prompt action. Write down exactly what was said in the person’s own words as far as possible, include the time, place, and as much detail as you can remember, but ensure that the note is as factual as possible and avoid assumption, speculation or opinion. Sign and date the note. Bear in mind that the note will be disclosable to both internal and external agencies.