The Sussex Otters Swimming Club
Child and Vulnerable Persons Protection Policy
The welfare of the child or vulnerable person is paramount
- All persons, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and/or sexual identity, have the right to protection from abuse.
- All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
- All members have a responsibility to report concerns to the Club Protection Officer.
Our Protection Policy Statement
Sussex Otters Swimming Club has a duty of care to safeguard all children and vulnerable persons involved with The Sussex Otters Swimming Club from harm. All children and vulnerable persons have a right to protection and the needs of all must be taken into account. Sussex Otters Swimming Club will ensure the safety and protection of all children and vulnerable persons involved through adherence to the Child and Vulnerable persons guidelines adopted by the Sussex Otters Swimming Club. ( A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 years Ė The Children Act 1989. )
The aim of the Sussex Otters Swimming Club Child and Vulnerable Persons Protection Policy is to promote good practice:
Providing all members and especially children and vulnerable persons with appropriate safety and protection whilst swimming with the Sussex Otters Swimming Club.
- Allow all volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific child and vulnerable persons issues.
Promoting Good Practice
Child and vulnerable person abuse, particularly sexual abuse, can arouse strong emotions in those facing such a situation. It is important to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with your judgement about the appropriate action to take.
Abuse can occur within many situations including the home, school and the sporting environment. Some individuals will actively seek voluntary work with young people in order to harm them. A volunteer will have regular contact with young people and be an important link in identifying cases where they need protection. Any suspicious cases of poor practice should be reported following the guidelines in this document.
When a person enters the club having been subjected to abuse outside the sporting environment, sport can play a crucial role in improving the personís self-esteem. In such cases the club must work with the appropriate agencies to ensure that the person receives the required support.
Good Practice Guidelines
All volunteers should be encouraged to demonstrate exemplary behaviour in order to protect themselves from false allegations. The following are commonsense examples of how to create a positive culture and climate.
Good Practice means:
Always working in an open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication.
- Treating all young people/disabled adults equally with dignity and respect.
- Always putting the welfare of each young person first.
- Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with swimmers (eg it is not appropriate for volunteers to have an intimate relationship with a child or vulnerable person or to share a changing room with them).
- Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust and empowering children and vulnerable people to share in decision making.
- Making sport fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play.
- Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly and according to guidelines provided. If it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is constantly moving, young people should always be consulted and their agreement gained. Some parents/carers are becoming increasingly sensitive about manual support and their views should always be carefully considered.
- Keeping up to date with technical skills, qualifications and insurance.
- Involving parents/carers wherever possible. For example, encouraging them to take responsibility for their children in the changing rooms. If groups have to be supervised in the changing rooms, always ensure that parents, carers and volunteers work in pairs.
- Being an excellent role model Ė this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of young people.
- Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.
- Recognising the development needs and capacity of young people and disabled adults Ė avoiding excessive training or pushing them against their will.
- Keeping a written record of any injury that occurs, along with the details of any treatment given.
- Requesting written parental consent if club officials are required to transport young people in their cars.
Practices to be avoided
The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If a case arises where these situations are unavoidable (eg the child / vulnerable person sustains an injury and needs to go to hospital, or a parent/carer fails to arrive to pick a person up at the end of a session), it should be with the full knowledge and consent of someone in charge in the Club or the childís/vulnerable personís parents/carers.
- Spending excessive amounts of time alone with children/vulnerable persons away from others
- Taking or dropping off a child/vulnerable person to an event.
Practices never to be sanctioned
The following should never be sanctioned. You should never:
- Engage in rough physical or sexually provocative games, includinghorseplay
- Share a changing room with a child/vulnerable person
- Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching
- Allow children/vulnerable persons to use inappropriate language unchallenged
- Make sexually suggestive comments to a child/ vulnerable person, even in fun.
- Reduce a child/ vulnerable person to tears as a form of control.
- Allow allegations made by a child/ vulnerable person to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon.
- Do things of a personal nature for children or disabled adults that they can do for themselves.
- Invite or allow children/ vulnerable persons to stay with you at your home unsupervised.
NB It may sometimes be necessary for volunteers to do things of a personal nature for children and vulnerable persons, particularly if they are young or disabled. These tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of parents/carers and the persons involved. There is a need to be responsive to a personís reactions. If a person is fully dependent on you, talk with him/her about what you are doing and give choices where possible. This is particularly so if you are involved in any dressing or undressing of outer clothing or where there is physical contact, lifting or assisting a person to carry out particular activities. Avoid taking on the responsibility for tasks for which you are not appropriately trained.
Incidents that must be reported/recorded
If any of the following occur you should report this immediately to another colleague and record the incident. You should also ensure the parents of the child/vulnerable person are informed:
if you accidentally hurt a child/vulnerable person
- If he/she seems distressed in any manner
- if he/she appears to be sexually aroused by your actions
- if he/she misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done.
Use of photographic/filming equipment at sporting events
There is evidence that some people have used sporting events as an opportunity to take inappropriate photographs or film footage of young and disabled sportspeople in vulnerable positions. All clubs should be vigilant and any concerns should to be reported to the Club Protection Officer.
Recruitment and training of staff and volunteers
The Sussex Otters Swimming Club recognises that anyone may have the potential to abuse children or vulnerable persons in some way and that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from helping with them.
Pre-selection checks must included the following:
Volunteers can broadly be divided into two categories:-
Young people completing the "Service" section for the Duke of Edinburgh Award and those persons who have disabled family members in the Sussex Otters Swimming Club and are already known to the Club.
Other persons who have shown an interest in helping (either at the Pool side or in an Administrative capacity) having been introduced to us through one of our advertisements or our web site.
- All volunteers will be required to complete a basic application form.
- Those joining from Section B will be required to give details of their past and a self-disclosure about any criminal record. Consent will be obtained from an applicant to seek information from the Criminal Records Bureau. (The system employed will be explained at the time) Two confidential references, including one regarding previous work with children/vulnerable persons should be obtained. These references must be taken up and confirmed through telephone contact. Evidence of identity (eg passport or driving licence with photo) will be required as part of the Criminal Records Bureau check.
All volunteers will be required to undergo an interview carried out to acceptable protocol and recommendations and should receive an informal induction, during which:
A check should be made that the application form has been completed in full (including sections on criminal records and self-disclosures).
- Their qualifications should be substantiated.
- The help they are required to give and their responsibilities should be clarified.
- Child protection procedures are explained and training needs are identified.
- They should sign that they have received (and understood) a copy of The Sussex Otters Swimming Clubís Protection Policy.
In addition to pre-selection checks, the safeguarding process includes training after recruitment to help volunteers to:
Analyse their own practice against established good practice, and to ensure their practice is likely to protect them from false allegations.
- Recognise their responsibilities and report any concerns about suspected poor practice or possible abuse.
- Respond to concerns expressed by a child or young person.
- Work safely and effectively with children.
Sussex Otters Swimming Club requires that where possible:
- All Poolside volunteers should receive advice to ensure their practice is exemplary and to facilitate the development of a positive culture towards good practice and child protection.
- All volunteers to receive advisory information outlining good practice and informing them about what to do if they have concerns about the behaviour of an adult towards a young person.
- As the Westgate Centre provides trained first aid personnel it is unlikely that any volunteers will be required to undergo first aid training. Volunteers may be aware of a memberís medical conditions and this information may be helpful should an emergency arise.
Criminal Records Bureau Checks:
As all current helpers, volunteers and Management Committee have been known to the Club for a number of years, it is not considered necessary that CRB checks be carried out on these members. This arrangement will need to be reviewed should the law require it.
Responding to allegations or suspicions
It is not the responsibility of any volunteer of Sussex Otters Swimming Club to decide whether or not abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities.
Sussex Otters Swimming Club will assure all volunteers that it will fully support and protect anyone who in good faith reports his/her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child/vulnerable person.
Where there is a complaint against a member of staff there may be three types of investigation:
- a child protection investigation
- a disciplinary or misconduct investigation.
The results of the police and child protection investigation may well influence the disciplinary investigation, but not necessarily.
1. Concerns about poor practice:
- If, following consideration, the allegation is clearly about poor practice, the Club Protection Officer will deal with it as a misconduct issue.
- If the allegation is about poor practice by the Club Protection Officer, or if the matter has been handled inadequately and concerns remain, it should be reported to the General Committee who will decide how to deal with the allegation and whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings.
2. Concerns about suspected abuse:
- Any suspicion that a child / vulnerable person has been abused by a volunteer should be reported to the Club Protection Officer, who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the person in question and any other person who may be at risk.
- The Club Protection Officer will refer the allegation to the social services department which may involve the police, or go directly to the police if out-of-hours.
- The parents/ carers of the person will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department.
- The Club Protection Officer will deal with any media enquiries.
- If the Club Protection Officer is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to the General Committee who will refer the allegation to social services.
Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only.
This includes the following people:
- the Club Protection Officer
- the parents/carers of the person who is alleged to have been abused
- the person making the allegation
- the alleged abuser (and parents/carer if the alleged abuser is a child).
Seek social services advice on who should approach the alleged abuser.
Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (eg that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).
Internal enquiries and suspension
- The Club Protection Officer will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries.
- Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries the General Committee will assess all individual cases to decide whether a volunteer can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled. This may be a difficult decision, particularly where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police. In such cases, the General Committee must reach a decision based upon the available information, which could suggest that on a balance of probability, it is more likely than not that the allegation is true. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout.
Support to deal with the aftermath of abuse
- Consideration should be given to the kind of support that children, vulnerable persons, parents and volunteers may need. Use of helplines, support groups and open meetings will maintain an open culture and help the healing process. The British Association for Counselling Directory is available from The British Association for Counselling, 1 Regent Place, Rugby CV21 2PJ, Tel: 01788 550899, Fax: 01788 562189, Email: email@example.com., Internet: www.bacp.co.uk.www.bacp.co.uk
- Consideration should be given to what kind of support may be appropriate for the alleged perpetrator.
Allegations of previous abuse
Allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event (eg by an adult who was abused as a child or by a volunteer who is still currently working with children/vulnerable persons).
Where such an allegation is made, the club should follow the procedures as detailed above and report the matter to the social services or the police. This is because other children/vulnerable persons, either within or outside sport, may be at risk from this person. Anyone who has a previous criminal conviction for offences related to abuse is automatically excluded from working with children. This is reinforced by the details of the Protection of Children Act 1999.
Action if bullying is suspected
If bullying is suspected, the same procedure should be followed as set out in 'Responding to suspicions or allegations' above.
Action to help the victim and prevent bullying in sport:
- or threatens suicide, seek professional help immediately). Help the victim to speak out and tell the person in charge or someone in authority.
- Investigate all allegations and take action to ensure the victim is safe. Speak with the victim and the bully(ies) separately.
- Reassure the victim that you can be trusted and will help them, although you cannot promise to tell no one else.
- Take all signs of bullying very seriously.
- Encourage all children/ vulnerable persons to speak and share their concerns (It is believed that up to 12 children per year commit suicide as a result of bullying, so if anyone talks about Keep records of what is said (what happened, by whom, when).
- Report any concerns to the Club Protection Officer or the school (wherever the bullying is occurring).
Action towards the bully(ies):
- Talk with the bully(ies), explain the situation, and try to get the bully(ies) to understand the consequences of their behaviour. Seek an apology to the victim(s).
- Inform the bully(ies)ís parents.
- Insist on the return of 'borrowed' items and that the bully(ies) compensate the victim.
- Impose sanctions as necessary.
- Encourage and support the bully(ies) to change behaviour.
- Hold meetings with the families to report on progress.
- Inform all club members of action taken.
- Keep a written record of action taken.
3. Concerns outside the immediate swimming environment (eg a parent or carer):
- Report your concerns to the Club Protection Officer, who should contact social services or the police as soon as possible.
- See 4. below for the information social services or the police will need.
- If the Club Protection Officer is not available, the person being told of or discovering the abuse should contact social services or the police immediately.
- Social services and the Club Protection Officer will decide how to involve the parents/carers.
- The Club Protection Officer should also report the incident to the General Committee of the Sussex Otters Swimming Club who should ascertain whether or not the person/(s) involved in the incident play a role in the Otters Swimming Club. And act accordingly.
- Maintain confidentiality on a need to know basis only.
- See 4. below regarding information needed for social services.
4. Information for social services or the police about suspected abuse:
To ensure that this information is as helpful as possible, a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern, which should include the following:
The personís name, age and date of birth.
- The personís home address and telephone number.
- Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else.
- The nature of the allegation. Include dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information.
- Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.
- A description of any visible bruising or other injuries. Also any indirect signs, such as behavioural changes.
- Details of witnesses to the incidents.
- The personís account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred.
- Have the parents/carers been contacted?
- If so, what has been said?
- Has anyone else been consulted? If so, record details.
- If the person abused was not the person who reported the incident, has the person abused been spoken to? If so, what was said?
- Has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record details.
- Where possible referral to the police or social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded.
If you are worried about sharing concerns about abuse with a senior colleague, you can contact social services or the police direct, or the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 5000, or Childline on 0800 1111.
The above policy was agreed at a Committee Meeting of the Sussex Otters Swimming Club held on 3 April 2007 and will be subject to an annual review. The Club Protection Officer will take all necessary steps to ensure that it is adhered to.
signed - M.A.Morris
The Club/Child Protection Officer for the Sussex Otters Swimming Club is:-
Michael A. Morris
Telephone: 01243 781259