Safeguarding children and adults at risk– policy & procedures
Introduction Section 1
What is abuse Section 2
Recognising signs and symptoms Section 3
Adults at risk Section 4
Safeguarding Procedure Section 5
Responding to disclosure Section 6
Responsibilities Section 7
- ACT has a legal obligation to safeguard all Children and Adults at risk, and failure to immediately report any disclosures or suspicions of abuse may result in disciplinary action.
- ACT believes that the welfare of children and adults at risk is of primary importance to the Trust’s existence and to all of its activities and deliberations. It believes that all children and adults have the right to be protected from all forms of abuse. Any allegation of abuse against a child or an adult in contact with ACT or otherwise helped by ACT will be treated seriously, dealt with swiftly, carefully and appropriately.
- Staff have very little direct contact with children. When they do, it is in the presence of a parent or other adult family member.
- The charity mainly works with parents (some of whom are adults at risk).
- Any concerns about child protection are likely to be indirect, and concerns about adults at risk may be more frequent.
- ACT’s Trustees also have a duty of care to safeguard their employees.
- It is the responsibility of all ACT’s staff and committee members to understand their duty to report concerns about child safety.
- ACT recognises that investigation of allegations of child abuse rests with the statutory social work and police services, and ACT will therefore contact the appropriate statutory service in each instance, share information appropriately, and not seek in any way to undertake its own investigation.
- ACT is mindful that many of its beneficiary, families include children at greater risk of abuse or who are less able to disclose abuse, including babies and infants, and children and young adults with physical or learning disabilities.
- What is abuse?
- Abuse is mistreatment by any other person or persons that violates a person’s human and/or civil rights. The abuse can vary from treating someone with disrespect in a way which significantly affects the person’s quality of life, to causing actual physical suffering.
- Different types of abuse include:
- Physical abuse such as hitting, pushing, pinching, shaking, misusing medication, scalding, restraint, hair pulling.
- Sexual abuse such as rape, sexual assault, or sexual acts to which the adult has not or could not have consented, or to which they were pressured into consenting. Children under 16 cannot lawfully consent to sexual intercourse, although in practice may be involved in sexual contact to which they have agreed. A child under 13 is considered incapable of providing consent. It is illegal to digitally send indecent images of children, even if they are sent by the child themselves.
- Child sexual exploitation: Using children to take part in sexual activity for financial gain and non-contact activities – involving a child looking at abusive images, (re)producing of abusive images/encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
- Psychological or emotional abuse such as threats of harm or abandonment, being deprived of social or any other form of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, being prevented from receiving services or support.
- Financial or material abuse such as theft, fraud or exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property, or inheritance, misuse of property, possessions or benefits.
- Neglect such as ignoring medical or physical care needs and preventing access to health, social care or educational services or withholding the necessities of life such as food, drink and heating.
- Discriminatory abuse such as that based on race or sexuality or a person’s disability and other forms of harassment.
- Institutional abuse can sometimes happen in residential homes, nursing homes or hospitals when people are mistreated because of poor or inadequate care, neglect and poor practice that affects the whole of that service.
- Any of these forms of abuse can be either deliberate or be the result of ignorance, or lack of training, knowledge or understanding. Often if a person is being abused in one way they are also being abused in other ways.
- For further information on types of abuse of children see: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/child-abuse-and-neglect/
- Recognising signs and symptoms
- A child may be experiencing abuse or neglect if he or she is:
- frequently dirty, tired, hungry or inadequately dressed
- suffering bruises, burns, cuts or fractures
- left in unsafe situations or without medical attention, talking about being left at home alone or with strangers
- constantly “put down”, insulted, sworn at or humiliated
- seems afraid of parents or carers, shying away from touch or flinching, making strong efforts to avoid specific family members or friends without an obvious reason, reluctant to go home, shares concerns about younger siblings or a parent, or talks about running away
- having problems at school: for example, a lack of concentration and learning, regularly missing from school, poor punctuality or consistently late being picked up;
- isolating self, avoiding former friends, spending excessive time on the internet or mobile phone or showing disproportionate anxiety when access is withdrawn
- late reaching developmental milestones, such as learning to speak or walk, with no medical reason;
- displays sexual behaviour which doesn’t seem appropriate for their age or is reluctant to change clothes in front of others
- growing up in a home where there is domestic violence
- showing signs of behaviour changes – they may become aggressive, challenging, disruptive, withdrawn or clingy, or they might have difficulty sleeping or start wetting the bed;
- sudden or significant changes in friendship group; a new and intense relationship with a previously unknown friend
- drinking or using substances heavily from a young age
- living with parents or carers involved in serious drug or alcohol abuse
- Adults at risk
- An adult at risk of abuse is someone aged 18 or over who may be unable to take care, speak out, or protect themselves against abuse or exploitation.
- Abuse is behaviour towards a person that causes harm, puts their life in danger, or violates their rights. This includes:
- physical abuse
- sexual abuse
- psychological abuse
- financial or material abuse
- discriminatory abuse
- organisational abuse
- domestic abuse
- An adult with a physical or mental disability or illness is statistically at greater risk of abuse than other adults.
- A particular characteristic, illness or disability does not automatically mean that an adult is an adult at risk. Their circumstances as a whole should be considered.
- For further information about adults at risk, please see:
- ACT’s safeguarding procedure: If a member of staff or Trustee suspects that there may be an indication of possible abuse or neglect of a child or vulnerable adult related to ACT’s services, or receives a report of possible or actual abuse, they must immediately:
- Notify their line manager (or the Chair) that this procedure is being activated, but not be dissuaded by that person from activating it.
- Telephone the multi-agency safeguarding hub (MASH) for Camden on Tel: 020 7974 3317 (9am to 5pm) Out of Hours Tel: 020 7974 4444 (ACT’s local authority) or the Safeguarding Board of the authority of the child or adult, to seek practical guidance.
- Compile an urgent written report including an account of the conversation with MASH and/or other advisers, recommendations given, and actions to be taken. Sign and date this report, place copies on the case file and the Trustees’ file.
- Telephone their line manager (or the Chair) and submit the report to them, and agree ACT’s action plan.
- If an incident has been notified to the police or if there is significant public reporting of allegations which might damage ACT’s reputation or the notion of ‘charity’, the Chair (or another Trustee in their stead) will urgently telephone the Charity Commission for guidance (0300 066 9197).
- The Chair will then brief all Trustees with a confidential memo.
- Responding to disclosure
- If you’re in a situation where a child or adult discloses abuse to you, there are a number of steps you can take.
- Listen carefully. Avoid expressing your own views on the matter. A reaction of shock or disbelief could cause the individual to ‘shut down’, retract or stop talking
- Let them know they’ve done the right thing. Reassurance can make a big impact to the individual who may have been keeping the abuse secret
- Tell them it’s not their fault. Abuse is never the victim’s fault and they need to know this
- Say you believe them. An individual could keep abuse secret in fear they won’t be believed. They’ve told you because they want help and trust you’ll be the person to believe them and help them
- Don’t talk to the alleged abuser. Confronting the alleged abuser about what you have been told could make the situation a lot worse for the individual.
- Explain what you’ll do next.If age appropriate, explain that you’ll need to report the abuse to someone who will be able to help
- Don’t delay reporting the abuse.The sooner the abuse is reported after the disclosure the better. Report as soon as possible so details are fresh in your mind and action can be taken quickly.
- Never make promises. Never promise to keep the information confidential, make it clear that you have a duty to pass this information on. You can tell the individual that you will need to tell some people whose job it is to protect.
- ACT is committed to safe recruitment and vetting of staff, and will endeavour to refresh knowledge and follow best practice during staff recruitment.
- Confidentiality procedures of the Trustees in handling casework will apply. In the case of unproven suspicion or allegation of abuse by an outsider but relating to a beneficiary, the Executive Director may seek to inform only the Chair of this specific aspect of the case, and a confidential minute will be retained on the case file to this effect, with discussion only brought to a full Trustees’ review if substantiated or relevant to ACT’s support.
- Incidents, referrals and concerns will be recorded securely as part of the family’s case file, in compliance with data protection regulations, and will be kept only for the period in which the case is open with ACT, unless ACT’s insurer or a statutory authority should stipulate otherwise.
- ACT will not establish any on-line service in which children and young people have discussion forums or chatrooms, and will not endorse any similar service provided by others.
- ACT will aim not to publish identifiable photographs or details of children, whether in print media or on-line.
- ACT is a grant-making trust and not a direct provider of children’s services and thus does not maintain detailed anti-bullying policies and procedures, but remains opposed to bullying in all its forms.
- ACT will urge all families who employ childminders, tutors and other professionals, or whose children attend extra-curricular activities, to ensure that they have seen the original copy of their criminal record DBS check, and ensure they have a copy of Camden’s guildance (“Are you thinking of using a private tutor, tuition centre or after-school arts or sports class for your child? Guidance for parents, carers and organisations”).
- ACT will at all times be mindful that adults may also be at risk, including parents in contact with ACT.
- The Family Support team will be supervised and monitored by the Executive Director, and training will be ensured as part of staff induction.
- If a child beneficiary or potential applicant visits the ACT office unaccompanied and if there is only one staff or committee member present, that person will in the first instance aim to recruit a colleague from the neighbouring organisations in the building for assistance. In the continued absence of the child’s parent, and inability to contact the child’s parent, Camden’s MASH team will be contacted for guidance and if in any doubt at any stage the police must be notified. Please refer to lone working policy for further guidance.
- Parent-beneficiaries and/or their children will be informed of this policy as appropriate, and that any concerns or complaints should be addressed to the Executive Director in the first instance (or to the Chair if their concern relates to the Executive Director) by whatever form or medium is most accessible to the complainant.
- Only staff with enhanced criminal records checks from the DBS may have direct contact with child beneficiaries, and such contact will be in the presence of a parent or carer and generally take place as part of a family visit or other meeting with the parent, and thus most likely be with ACT’s Family Support.
- Indirect contact with children under 18 is limited to occasional receipt of posted thank you cards and letters, as contact will be via their parent(s). Students aged 18+ will usually make contact by email.
- Boundaries: staff and Trustees must always be aware of the appropriateness and safety of their actions (e.g. never inviting a parent or child beneficiary to one’s own home; caution before sharing any journey with a beneficiary; not sharing personal information with beneficiaries; not giving beneficiaries presents or money outside ACT’s charity support; not behaving in a way that might bring ACT into disrepute; not encouraging gifts from beneficiaries).
- The role of the Designated Safeguarding Office (named Trustee) is:
- To have strategic oversight of safeguarding, annually auditing processes at board meetings, staff and Trustee training needs, ACT’s organisational culture, and office and casework procedures.
- To be available to discuss with staff any concerns relating to any aspect of safeguarding.
- To check that records of any safeguarding matters are held securely and in line with data protection regulations, and securely destroyed when appropriate.
Revised and updated 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2017 and July 2018.