It is the policy of BRWR to support volunteers in the process of raising a concern about suspected abuse of children or vulnerable adults.
In all cases, any suspicion, allegation, incidents of abuse or actions taken, as above must be reported.
For the purposes of this policy the following definitions shall apply:
Definition of a Child
Child Protection Procedures apply to children and young people who have not yet reached their 16th birthday. (Procedures also apply to young people with additional support needs which may place them at increased risk, up to 18 years). BRWR considers all refugees relocated here under the SVPS scheme to be vulnerable persons therefore Child Protection Procedures apply to Refugees up to the age of 18.
Volunteers should not be alone with a child. BRWR’s principle is that working to help children should always involve their parent(s) or carer.
Definition of a Vulnerable Adult
A vulnerable adult is a person who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themself. BRWR considers all refugees relocated here to be Vulnerable Persons.
The definition of ‘vulnerable adult’ has now been widened to include individuals who might be at risk of being radicalised.
n Recognising areas of concern:
1. What is child abuse (or abuse of a vulnerable adult)?
Abuse can involve any one or more of the following:
a) Physical injury – this may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child/vulnerable adult. It may also be caused through an omission or the failure to act to protect a child/vulnerable adult at risk.
b) Emotional Abuse – this is the persistent emotional ill treatment of a child/vulnerable adult. It may involve making a child/vulnerable adult feel worthless, unloved, or inadequate; have inappropriate expectations imposed on them; making a child/vulnerable adult feel frequently frightened or in danger, exploited or corrupted.
c) Sexual Abuse – involves causing or encouraging a child/vulnerable adult to take part in sexual activities, whether or not they are aware of, or consent to what is happening. This involves both physical acts. Also non-contact activities, such as viewing sexual activity, or being involved in the production of pornographic materials or being encouraged to act in sexually inappropriate ways.
d) Neglect – is the persistent failure to meet a child’s/vulnerable adult's basic physical and/or psychological needs.
It is accepted that in all forms of abuse there are elements of emotional abuse, and that some children/vulnerable adults are subjected to more than one form of abuse.
For adults the types of abuse may include the following
b) domestic violence,
e) financial or material,
f) modern slavery,
i) neglect and acts of omission and self-neglect
2. How might someone recognise or become aware of child abuse (or abuse of vulnerable adult)?
Recognising child abuse or abuse of a vulnerable adult is not easy. It is not the responsibility of BRWR to decide whether abuse has taken place or if a child/vulnerable adult is at significant risk. That is the responsibility of Safeguarding agencies following a referral to them of concern about a child/vulnerable adult. We do though, have the responsibility to act on concerns and all complaints, allegations, or suspicions must be taken seriously.
Someone may become aware of child abuse or abuse of vulnerable adult by:
a) Being told by a child/vulnerable adult.
b) Someone else reporting that a child/vulnerable adult has told them or that they strongly believe that a child has been abused.
c) A child/vulnerable adult showing some signs of physical injury for which there appears to be no satisfactory explanation.
d) Witnessing a child’s/vulnerable adult's behaviour which may indicate that it is likely that they are being abused.
e) Something in the behaviour of other individuals, or in the way the individual relates to a child/vulnerable adult, which alerts them to the possibility of abuse.
f) Observing one child/vulnerable adult abuse another.
3. Areas of concern other than abuse
Volunteers should be aware that there may be situations other than abuse or suspected abuse that should be reported. These may include (but are not limited to) the following:
· Inappropriate behaviour by a child/vulnerable adult.
· Situations that may be open to misinterpretation.
If in doubt the group member should complete a safeguarding form and inform the friendship group lead and the Chair who will decide whether further action is needed. The safeguarding form will be filed confidentially and kept for six years.
4. Areas of concern with relation to the Prevent Strategy
The Prevent Strategy is part of the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy led by the Home Office. This encourages organisations to work with the police to contribute to the prevention of terrorism. Members may have concerns relating to an individual’s behaviour, which could indicate that they may be being drawn into terrorist activity.
Signs or indicators that someone is being drawn into terrorist activity may include:
· Graffiti symbols, writing or artwork promoting extremist messages or images.
· Volunteers, young people or staff accessing terrorist related material online, including through social network sites.
· Parental/family reports of changes in behaviour, friendships or actions, coupled with requests for assistance.
· Other Voluntary Sector organisations’, local authority services’ and police reports of issues affecting people in other organisations.
· Volunteers, young people or staff voicing opinions drawn from terrorist related ideologies and narratives.
· Use of extremist or hate terms to exclude others or incite violence.
n Responding to concerns of abuse or inappropriate behaviour:
1. Responding to signs of, or suspicions of, abuse or other concerns
How the committee respond to suspicions or signs of abuse will vary depending upon where and in what circumstances suspicions arise. The Vice Chair who acts as designated safeguarding lead will be the first point of contact and will decide on further action which might include taking advice from BARN Designated Safeguarding Lead, the Police, Refugee Action, Social Services, NSPCC re what has happened and what action needs to be taken.
2. Designated Safeguarding Lead
The responsibilities of the Designated Safeguarding Lead in relation to concerns of abuse or inappropriate behaviour are to:
a) Receive and record in writing information from volunteers and others who have Safeguarding concerns using a BRWR safeguarding form.
b) Assess the information promptly and carefully, clarifying or obtaining more information about the matter as appropriate, and then to record such further information.
c) Inform and consult with Social Services or the NSPCC of relevant concerns.
d) Ensure that all relevant procedures are followed.
e) If appropriate, make a formal referral to either the Social Services or the NSPCC without delay.
f) Ensure that appropriate information is available at the time of referral and the referral is confirmed in writing, under confidential cover.
g) Keep relevant people in the organisation informed about action taken and further action required, for example against a Volunteer.
h) Ensure that an individual case record is maintained of the action taken by the organisation and liaison with other agencies on the Safeguarding form.
i) Provide information and advice on Safeguarding within the organisation.
j) Advise the organisation of Safeguarding training needs.
k) Establish contact with the senior member of staff of Social Services responsible for Safeguarding in the local area.
l) Be aware of the Area Safeguarding Committee and be familiar with local procedures.
3. Responding to a child or vulnerable adult disclosing abuse
If a child/vulnerable adult discloses an allegation of abuse to a group member they should:
a) Stay calm.
b) Listen carefully to what is said.
c) Not promise to keep secrets – explain at an early opportunity that it is likely you will need to share the information.
d) Allow the child/vulnerable adult to continue at their own pace.
e) Ask questions for clarification and only to understand what is being alleged. This is because the use of leading questions can cause problems for the subsequent investigation and any court proceedings.
f) Reassure the child/vulnerable adult that they have done the right thing in telling you.
g) Tell them what you will do next and with whom the information will be shared.
h) Record in writing what was said using the child’s/vulnerable adult's own words as soon as possible.
If this happens at a school or other venue, volunteers should contact that venue’s liaison person, unless this is clearly inappropriate. Volunteers should then report what has happened to BRWR’s Co-chairpersons who act as Designated Safeguarding Lead as soon as possible. If a Designated Safeguarding Lead cannot be contacted, or that person is involved in the allegation, the report should be made to the alternative contact, BRWR’s other Co-Chairperson.
On being notified of any such matter the Designated Safeguarding Lead or alternative contact shall take such steps as they consider necessary to ensure the safety of the child/vulnerable adult in question, in line with 2 above.
4. Responding to allegations of abuse against a BRWR Volunteer
Any suspicion, allegation or actual abuse of a child/vulnerable adult by a volunteer in BRWR must be reported to the Designated Safeguarding Lead as soon as possible. If the Designated Safeguarding Lead cannot be contacted, or that person is involved in the allegation, the report should be made to the alternative contact.
On being notified of any such matter the Designated Safeguarding Lead shall:
a) Notify the alternative contact.
b) Take such steps as they consider necessary to ensure the safety of the child/vulnerable adult in question and any other child/vulnerable adult who might be at risk.
c) The volunteer in question will have their volunteering duties suspended until the matter is resolved.
5. Responding to allegations of abuse against someone else
Any suspicion, allegation or actual abuse of a child by someone not volunteering in or for BRWR must be reported to the Designated Safeguarding Lead with responsibility for safeguarding as soon as possible. If this happens at a school or other venue you should contact that venue’s liaison person.
If the Designated Safeguarding Lead cannot be contacted the report should be made to the alternative contact; the other Co-Chairperson of BRWR.
On being notified of any such matter the Designated Safeguarding Lead or alternative contact shall take such steps as they consider necessary to ensure the safety of the child/vulnerable adult in question and any other child/vulnerable adult who might be at risk.
n Responding to concerns relating to the Prevent strategy:
The definition of ‘vulnerable adult’ has been widened to include individuals who might be at risk of being radicalised. If concerns are raised regarding potential radicalisation the following procedure should be followed:
Note down factual signs and symptoms of potential or suspected radicalisation without alarming the individual.
Alert and discuss your concerns with your Designated Safeguarding Lead.
If appropriate, the Designated Safeguarding Lead will inform the Worcestershire Safeguarding Team and supply them with a copy of your recorded observations
When reporting information, reports should be restricted to
· The nature of the suspicious behaviour or concern.
· Facts which support the concerns.
Telephone notifications will be confirmed in writing by email or letter within 48 hours.
Ensure that all observations are recorded and related to the Worcestershire Safeguarding Team/police. They should be kept confidentially in the safeguarding file together with advice received and actions taken.
n Recording and Reporting:
1. Recording and Reporting Information
A full record should be made as soon as possible of the nature of the allegation/observation and any other relevant information on BRWR’s safeguarding form including:
a) The date.
b) The time.
c) The place where the alleged abuse or concerning behaviour happened.
d) The name of the complainant if there is one and, where different, the name of the child/vulnerable adult who has allegedly been abused or at risk of radicalisation, including any other names mentioned.
e) The nature of the alleged abuse or behaviour.
f) Description of any injuries observed.
g) The account which has been given of the allegation.
h) Signed and dated with contact details.
2. Recording actions after an allegation
All details of the report and actions taken after an allegation of abuse is made shall be recorded by the Designated Safeguarding Lead. The report shall deal with all the matters set out in section 1 above, plus:
a) Date and time of incident or disclosure.
b) Parties who were involved.
c) Any action taken by the organisation involved to investigate the matter further, if relevant.
d) Any further action e.g. suspension of a volunteer.
e) Where relevant, reasons why there is no referral to a statutory agency.
f) Names of persons reporting and to whom reported.
The record should be clear and factual as it may be needed as evidence in court.
Copies of reports, notes etc. will be kept secure at all times, with one of the Co-Chairpersons of BRWR and kept for a period of not less than six years.
3. Confidentiality Policy
The legal principle that ‘the welfare of the child is paramount’ means that the considerations of confidentiality which might apply to other situations in the organisation should not be allowed to over-ride the right of the child/vulnerable adult to be protected. However, every effort should be made to ensure confidentiality is maintained for all concerned when an allegation has been made and is being investigated.
Promises of confidentiality should not be given as the matter may develop in such a way that these cannot be honoured.
Should volunteers have concerns that there has been improper conduct or omissions from the procedures by the Designated Safeguarding Lead, they should complain to any member of the committee but also have the right to report safeguarding issues direct to the police or social services.
Failure to comply with this policy could result in suspension from BRWR.
n Other issues:
Use of photographic/video equipment
Written consent to take and use images of children/vulnerable adults 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. Permission may be obtained directly from the parent/carer, or from the responsible organisation (e.g. school, Scout troop etc.) but must be in writing.
Should be made in the first instance to one of the Co- chairpersons.
All BRWR volunteers who work directly one to one with Refugees must be hold a current Enhanced DBS check which has been registered with BRWR together with photographic ID. They must be given a copy of this Safeguarding policy.
n Referral routes:
Regarding children or young people
If you have any concerns about a particular child or young person and feel that they may be in need of protection or safeguarding contact the Worcestershire County Council Access Centre on 01905 822666 from Monday to Friday 8.30am to 5.00pm. For assistance out of office hours (5:00pm to 8:00 am weekdays and all day at weekends and bank holidays) contact 01905 768020. Online referrals can be made at https://eservices.worcestershire.gov.uk/FrameworkiEHForm/AccessCentreForm.aspx
Advice, support and referral routes can also be offered by the NSPCC. They can be reached on 0808 800 5000 or email email@example.com. More information about this process can be found at https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/report-abuse/.
If you think a child or young person is in immediate danger inform the police straight away on 999.
Regarding vulnerable adults
If you have any concerns about a particular vulnerable adult and feel that they may be in need of protection or safeguarding contact Worcestershire County Council Adult Social Care on 01905 768053. At the time of writing there is no online referral method.
If you think a vulnerable adult is in immediate danger inform the police straight away on 999. For less urgent or more general concerns you can speak to the local force using 101.