Safeguarding Children & Vulnerable Adults

The policy applies to all staff, volunteers and anyone working with, or on behalf of, Wellbeing 4 Life CIC (hereafter referred to as “Motivated Minds”).

Introduction

Safeguarding has a meaning wider than child protection. The policy aims to ensure that all participants, staff, volunteers, customers, linked employers, freelance trainers’, stakeholders and visitors are safe from harm and abuse, harassment and bullying. Harm and harassment have formal legal meaning within civil and criminal law. Safeguarding also includes all staff acting in a responsible way to avoid any false allegations of inappropriate behaviour being made about their conduct that would give cause for concern.

This policy is based on the law and statutory guidance applicable in England only. The safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and the protection of Freedoms Act 2012 deal with aspects of regulated activity (see below).

Motivated Minds believe that in the interest of good practice there should be a policy and associated practices/guidelines to safeguard children, young people and adults at risk of harm or abuse, and those that come into contact with them.

 Our Commitment

Motivated Minds are committed in the interests to safeguard those under 18 as well those classed as vulnerable adults, and persons who come into contact with them. We aim to provide an environment where all can work safely and we will take every reasonable precaution to minimise risk while providing demanding, challenging and enjoyable activities at our premises and the premises of our contractors.

Rationale

The rationale of the policy is to contribute to the personal safety of all children and adults using our facilities and resources, through activity promoting awareness, good practice and sound procedures. The organisation is committed to ensure that all and specifically those that are vulnerable are kept safe from harm while they are involved with the organisation.

Principles

Safeguarding has a meaning wider than child protection. The policy aims to ensure that all participants, staff, customers, linked employers, freelance trainers’, stakeholders, and visitors are safe from harm and abuse, harassment and bullying. Harm and harassment have formal legal meaning within civil and criminal law. Safeguarding also includes all staff acting in a responsible way to avoid any false allegations of inappropriate behaviour being made about their conduct that would give cause for concern.

This policy is based on the law and statutory guidance applicable in England only. The safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and the protection of Freedoms Act 2012 deal with aspects of regulated activity (see below).

Legislation and Guidance

There are numerous pieces of legislation/Guidance which provide the foundation for action which needs to be taken to safeguard young children, and vulnerable adults:

  • The Children Act 1989: a key principle of which is that the welfare of the child is paramount.  The Act places certain responsibilities on local authorities.
  • The Data Protection Act 1998: provides pathways for sharing information
  • Protection of Children Act 1999: places a statutory requirements on defined ‘child care organisations’ to check the names of individuals applying for child care position.  The act also encourages ‘other organisations’ to apply the provisions of the act
  • Education Act 2002: Section 175 places a duty on bodies of further education to safeguard and promote the welfare of young people.
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003: introduced a range of new offences, including that of ‘abuse of trust’.
  • Safeguarding Children in Education [DfES Guidance 2004]: provides a framework for educational establishments to discharge their duty to safeguard children; again HEIs are not named in this report, but it does provide some useful guidelines to be considered when meeting our ‘enhanced duty of care’.
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children [DfES 2006]
  • Human Rights Act 1998
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
  • Safeguarding Children and Safer Recruitment in Education [DfES 2006]

Staff Responsibilities and Procedures

All staff are in a position of trust, in particular those who facilitate, support and guide or in any way interact with our clients.  It is important that we are all aware of this and act accordingly at all time. 

Attention is drawn in particular to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 which introduced the notion of ‘abuse of trust’ and which has made it a criminal offence for an adult to engage in any kind of sexual activity with a child (a person under 18) where the adult is in a position of trust.   [See Appendix 2]

Recruitment and selection procedures already include Disclosure and Barring Service checks for staff and volunteers working directly with children or vulnerable adults and repeated at three yearly intervals confirming their suitability to work with children and vulnerable adults.

In accordance with guidance a Designated Safeguarding Officer has been appointed and will lead and co-ordination on child protection and safeguarding issues. 

Staff and volunteers are asked to seek advice from the Motivated Minds Safeguarding Officer where they conduct activities which involve interaction with children. 

It is important that all staff contact the Designated Safeguarding Officer if they have any reason to believe that anyone covered by this policy is at risk of or may be suffering abuse, either at the Motivated Minds, or elsewhere , e.g. at home. [Appendix 2:  Signs and Symptoms of possible abuse].

Action to be Taken

In cases where a situation of risk involves a person under 18 the Designated Safeguarding Officer or other designated person will seek advice from Essex’s Child Protection Officer and/or Children’s Social Care (formerly Social Services).   It is important to be aware that it is not possible to keep secrets or offer confidentiality to a person under 18 as any disclosure must be reported.

Where the concern involves a vulnerable adult, the Designated Officer will consult with the Disabilities Service Manager and other relevant staff ensure the most appropriate course of action.  In a wider context Motivated Minds has a responsibility to ensure appropriate support measures for vulnerable adults and any concerns that a vulnerable adult may be unsupported should be discussed with the Disabilities Service Manager or Safeguarding at Essex County Council. 

The Designated Safeguarding Officer will ensure that secure records are kept of all incidents and are held in accordance with the Data Protection Act/GDPR and related legislation

Information Sharing

It is important that all involved remain confident that their personal information is kept safe and secure and that practitioners maintain the privacy rights of the individual, whilst sharing information to deliver better services. It is important that practitioners can share information appropriately as part of their day-to-day practice and do so confidently.

There are six golden rules for information sharing:

  • Remember that the Data protection Act 1998 is not a barrier to sharing information
  • Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it. Record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose
  • Be open and honest with the person (and/or their family where appropriate) at the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  • Seek advice if you are in any doubt, without disclosing the identity of the person where possible
  • Share with consent where appropriate and, where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to share confidential information. You may still share information without consent if, in your judgement, that lack of consent can be overridden in public interest. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case
  • Consider safety and well-being of the person and others who may be affected by their actions

Safe Recruitment

Recruiting managers shall seek guidance from Managing Director, to determine the level of DBS (formerly CRB) check required for the role. The manager shall ensure clearance is obtained before the applicant commences employment. As an employer of staff in a ‘regulated activity’ has a responsibility to refer concerns to the DBS in accordance with the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. Managers must report concerns to the Managing Director who should seek advice from the Essex County Councils Safeguarding team.

Training

Motivated Minds are working to ensure that the Designated Safeguarding Officer, and anyone authorised to deputise on his/her behalf, and other staff likely to be in regular contact with under 18s  or vulnerable adults receive appropriate training/awareness raising, and to include signs and symptoms of abuse and an understand what to do if anyone covered by the policy discloses abuse or any other protection issue. [see Appendix 2]

Allegations of Abuse or Inappropriate Behaviour Involving Staff/Volunteers

Allegations involving a member of staff/volunteer should be reported to the Designated Safeguarding Officer, who will follow agreed procedures. For a person under 18 should they will seek advice from Essex’s Child Protection Officer and/or Children’s Social Care Services and b) any action to be taken in relation to the staff member. If a allegation is made by a vulnerable adult the Designated Safeguarding Officer will seek advice from Disabilities Service Manager or Safeguarding Officer at Essex County Council.

APPENDIX 1

Legislative Framework

Responsibilities for safeguarding are enshrined in legislation. Some duties apply only to children, some apply only to adults, and some apply to both.

This section deals with each in turn. There are fundamental differences between the legislative framework for safeguarding for children, and for adults, which stem from who can make decisions. Adults have a legal right to make their own decisions, even if they are unwise, as long as they have capacity to make that decision and are free from coercion or undue influence. However decision-making power relating to children lies with those who have parental responsibility for the child. As a child grows in maturity and understanding, the law gives the child a greater say in decisions. Once a child understands fully the choice to be made and its consequences, the child's view prevails at least as regards consent, though on occasions the courts have been prepared to override a capable child’s refusal of life-saving treatment.

The Mental Capacity Act covers and empowers children aged 16 and 17. Once 18, the young person is an adult. When issues about a child’s upbringing, or their money or property, are considered by a court, statute makes it clear that “the child’s welfare shall be the court’s paramount consideration”. Known widely as the “paramountcy principle”, this has a far-reaching effect on children’s social care practice, emphasising to all what a court would need to see in order to approve arrangements.

Children and young people

The legislation and guidance relevant to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children includes the following:

  • Children Act 1989 and 2004
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (2015) – statutory guidance
  • Promoting the Health and Well-being of Looked After Children – statutory guidance

There is a duty to “safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in need”. The concept of “need” is defined very broadly, covering any child whose health or development will be impaired without support, or who has a disability.

  • a further duty to take reasonable steps…to prevent children suffering ill-treatment or neglect.
  • All organisations providing services to children must make arrangements for ensuring that their functions are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. A child-centred approach is required. As far as reasonably possible, which must ascertain the child’s wishes and feelings, and devise their support in consideration of those wishes and feelings.

Adults at risk of harm or abuse

The legislation and guidance relevant to safeguarding adults at risk of harm or abuse includes the following:

  • Care Act 2014
  • Care and Support Statutory Guidance

There are some broad and fundamental safeguarding duties covering adult services, namely:

  • Local authorities must promote the adult’s “well-being”. Within this broad concept, the authority must “have regard to the need to protect people from abuse and neglect.
  • If someone has reasonable cause to suspect an adult in there care is suffering or is at risk of abuse and neglect, and has needs which leave him or her unable to protect himself or herself, then it must ensure enquiries are made in order to decide what action (if any) should be taken, and by whom. Enquiries should be made by the safeguarding officer.

The Government has issued a policy statement on adult safeguarding which sets out six principles for safeguarding adults. Whilst not legal duties, these do represent best practice and provide a foundation for achieving good outcomes:

  • Empowerment - presumption of person led decisions and consent.
  • Protection - support and representation for those in greatest need.
  • Prevention of harm or abuse.
  • Proportionality and least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
  • Partnerships - local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.
  • Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.

APPENDIX 2

Definition of Abuse towards Children under 18

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse 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

Emotional abuse 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 children that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond the child’s development capability, as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill treatment of another. It may involve serious bulling, 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 maltreatment of a child, though it may occur alone.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (e.g. rape, buggery or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the looking at, or in the production of, sexual online images, watching sexual activities or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Neglect

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to:

  • Provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
  • Protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • Ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
  • Ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs.

Staff also need to be aware of vulnerable groups such as those with disabilities, children living away from home, asylum seekers, children and young people in hospital, children in contact with the youth justice system, victims of domestic abuse and those vulnerable due to religion, ethnicity etc. and those who may be exposed to violent extremism.

Definition of adults at risk of harm or abuse

Living a life that is free from harm and abuse, is a fundamental human right for every person and an essential requirement for health and well-being. Safeguarding adults is about safety and well-being but providing additional measures for those least able to protect themselves from harm or abuse.

Physical

Examples of physical abuse are assault, rough handling, hitting, pushing, pinching, shaking, misusing medication, scalding, inappropriate sanctions and exposure to excessive heat or cold. Unlawful or inappropriate use of restraint or physical interventions and/or deprivation of liberty are also physical abuse.

Sexual and Sexual Exploitation

Some examples of sexual abuse/assault include the direct or indirect involvement of the adult at risk in sexual activity or relationships which:

  • They do not want or have not consented to;
  • They cannot understand and lack the mental capacity to be able to give consent to;
  • They have been coerced into because the other person is in a position of trust, power or authority, for example, a care worker; or
  • Required to watch sexual activity.

Psychological/ Emotional

This is behaviour that has a harmful effect on the person’s emotional health and development or any form of mental cruelty that results in:

  • Mental distress;
  • The denial of basic human and civil rights such as self-expression, privacy and dignity;
  • Negating the right of the adult at risk to make choices and undermining their self-esteem;
  • Isolation and over-dependence that has a harmful effect on the person’s emotional health, development or well-being;
  • Bullying;
  • Verbal Attacks; or

Neglect

A person’s well-being is impaired and care needs not met. Behaviour that can lead to neglect includes ignoring medical or physical needs, failing to allow access to appropriate health, social care and educational services, and withholding the necessities of life such as medication, adequate nutrition, hydration or heating. Neglect can be intentional or unintentional. Intentional neglect would result from:

  • Wilfully failing to provide care;
  • Wilfully preventing the adult at risk from getting the care they needed; or
  • Being reckless about the consequences of the person not getting the care they need.

Unintentional neglect could result from a carer failing to meet the needs of the adult at risk because they do not understand the needs of the individual, they may not know about services that are available or because their own needs prevent them from being able to give the care the person needs. It may also occur if the individuals are unaware of or do not understand the possible effect of the lack of action on the adult at risk.

Discrimination

Discriminatory abuse exists when values, beliefs or culture result in a misuse of power that denies opportunity to some groups or individuals and this results in harm. Psychological abuse that is racist, sexist or linked to a person’s sexuality, disability, religion, ethnic origin, gender, culture or age.

Institutional

Observed lack of dignity and respect in the care setting, rigid routine, processes/tasks organised to meet staff needs, disrespectful language and attitudes.

Domestic violence and self-harm need to be considered as possible indicators of abuse and /or contributory factors.

Financial

It is the use of a person’s property, assets, income, funds or any resources without their informed consent or authorisation. It includes:

  • Theft;
  • Fraud;
  • Exploitation;
  • Undue pressure in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions;
  • The misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits; or
  • The misuse of an enduring power of attorney or a lasting power of attorney, or appointeeship.