The policy is intended to both safeguard children and vulnerable adults from abuse and to protect Decipha staff and volunteers from false allegations.
The designated Safeguarding Officer at Decipha is Nick Catlin. If for any reason, they are not available, Janet Hoskin should be the first point of contact.
Decipha Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults Policy Statement
Decipha has a duty of care to safeguard from harm, all children and vulnerable young adults involved in all its activities. All children have a right to protection and the need of the disabled children and others who may be particularly vulnerable must be taken into account. Decipha will ensure the safety and protection of all children involved in all activities related to Decipha through adherence to the Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults guidelines adopted by Decipha.
The aim of Decipha Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults Policy is to:
In all work with children and vulnerable adults, Decipha will adhere to the following principles:
1. The well-being and safety of each child or vulnerable adult is our primary concern.
2. We respect the rights of every child and vulnerable adult we work with.
3. All children and vulnerable adults are treated equitably and sensitively.
4. Relationships between our staff and children, or staff and vulnerable adults are based on mutual trust and respect.
5. The feelings and concerns of any child or vulnerable adult and/or their parent/carer are listened to and acted upon.
6. All our employees and volunteers including the Board of Trustees, have a responsibility to prevent the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of any child or vulnerable adult, with whom they come into contact. Any suspicions of abuse are taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
7. Training in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults will be offered to employees and volunteers whose job involves working closely with children, young people and vulnerable adults.
8. Staff and volunteer recruitment processes will include Criminal Record checks where appropriate.
Decipha will use the term ‘child’ to refer to anyone under the age of 18, as defined by the children Act 1989.
Decipha will use the term ‘vulnerable adult’ to refer to anyone over 16 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 him/herself or unable to protect him/herself against significant harm or exploitation, as defined by the Law Commission, ‘Making Decisions’ Lord Chancellors Dept 1999.
Promoting good practice
Child abuse, or the abuse of vulnerable adults particularly sexual abuse, can arouse strong emotions in those facing such a situation. It is important for anyone involved to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with their judgment about the appropriate action to take.
Abuse can occur within many situations including the home, school, workplace, social events, fundraising events, publicity events and volunteering opportunities. Some individuals will actively seek employment or voluntary work with young people or vulnerable adults in order to harm them. A health or support professional, learning support assistant (LSA), teacher, official or volunteer will have regular contact with young and vulnerable people and be an important link in identifying cases where they need protection. All suspicious cases of poor practice should be reported.
Incidents and accidents
Any incident or accident involving an employee or volunteer must be reported to the most senior member of staff involved (e.g. Head teacher) and reported to a parent and/or carer of the child or vulnerable adult involved. Details should be recorded in an incident or accident register with date, time, location, what happened and who was there.
The taking of, use and storage of images of children
Photographs will only be taken with the permission of a child or vulnerable adult and their parent and/or carer. This permission will be obtained verbally or by through a Consent Form.
The photographs or video recordings will only be used for the purposes of promoting Decipha such as brochures, leaflets, web articles, displays and reports to funders.
All photographs and videos of children will be stored in a secure place.
MeAsures to protect children and vulnerable adults
Decipha recognises that anyone may have the potential to abuse children in some way and that all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.
Most professionals working with children whilst they use the Decipha programme will not be employees or volunteers of Decipha, they will most likely be school staff. Most larger schools will have a designated internet safety co-ordinator in place and an acceptable use policy (AUP). Safe Use of ICT in Education (SUICT) is the Advisory Group which leads the debate on e-safety issues.
Several measures have been put in place to ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults as far as is practical:
Children using the web
Disabled children can be particularly vulnerable as they may find it easier to communicate via text/typing than in person. They may be vulnerable to peer abuse via the web. Contact via the web with an abuser and their reaction to the abuse may indicate other abuse. However it is for a safeguarding professional and social services to determine what is happening. Decipha and support staff should be vigilant in recording incidents and concerns such as these rather than judging whether they are abuse or not.
Responding to allegations or suspicions
It is not the responsibility of anyone working in Decipha, in a paid or unpaid capacity, to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities. Decipha will assure all employees, volunteers or cross agency professionals, that it will fully support and protect anyone who in good faith reports their concern that a colleague or other person they come into contact during their work, is, or may be, abusing a child or vulnerable adult.
If someone is concerned about a child or vulnerable adult they must in the first instance report their concerns to Janet Hoskins who will notify the relevant school or organisational safeguarding officer. If there are concerns about a school or organisational employee, Decipha will report their concerns to the school or organisational Safeguarding Officer. They may then be asked to complete a report. For this reason all evidence including communications must be recorded and kept in a safe place.
Concerns about poor practice
If an external body alleges poor practice by a Decipha employee, Decipha will request that a meeting be set up to discuss the concerns and investigate what has happened. It may be that some good practice standards need to be adhered to or training is required. If Decipha and the school or organisation differ on safeguarding approaches an agreement will be made. For example whilst Decipha does not recommend support staff work with a child alone in a closed space where they cannot be seen or heard, some schools may see this as a better alternative than a noisy classroom.
Concerns about suspected abuse
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:
Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (e.g. that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).
Internal enquiries and suspension
Nick Catlin will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended from using or working with a Decipha programme pending further police and social services inquiries.
Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries Decipha will assess all individual cases to decide whether a Decipha employee or 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, Decipha will 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 or vulnerable adult will remain of paramount importance throughout.
Allegations of previous abuse
Allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event (e.g. by an adult who was abused as a child or by a member of staff who is still currently working with children).
Where such an allegation is made, Decipha will follow the procedures as detailed above and report the matter to the social services or the police. This is because other children or vulnerable adults 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.
Support to deal with the aftermath of abuse
Consideration should be given to the kind of support that children, vulnerable adults, parents, carers and members of staff may need. Use of helplines, support groups and open meetings will maintain an open culture and help the healing process.
Consideration should be given to what kind of support may be appropriate for the alleged perpetrator.
Local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs)
Local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) are the key statutory mechanism for agreeing how the relevant organisations in each local area will cooperate to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, and for ensuring the effectiveness of what they do.
The scope of the LSCB role falls into three categories:
County-level and unitary local authorities (LAs) are responsible for establishing an LSCB in their area and ensuring that it is run effectively. LSCBs should have a clear and distinct identity within local Children’s Trust governance arrangements. It is the responsibility of the LA to appoint the LSCB Chair. Membership of the LSCB is made up of senior managers from different services and agencies in a local area, including the independent and voluntary sector. In addition, the Board receives input from experts, for example, the designated nurse or doctor.