Decipha Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy


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.

Policy Aim

The aim of Decipha Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults Policy is to:

  1. Promote good practice.
  2. Provide children and vulnerable adults with appropriate safety and protection whilst in the care of a Decipha member of staff.
  3. Provide children and vulnerable adults with appropriate safety and protection whilst using Decipha products and/or services.
  4. Allow all staff/volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific safeguarding children and vulnerable adults issues.


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.

Legal context

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:


  1. All Decipha staff and volunteers will be CRB checked.
  2. Decipha staff will make themselves and any Decipha programme known to the internet safety co-ordinator and/or make themselves familiar with a school or organisations acceptable use policy, where appropriate.
  3. Decipha will only set up a programme for a child where their parent or carer or a health or education professional, who has undergone the appropriate checks, is working with the child.
  4. LSAs or other support staff working with children on the Decipha website and programme must ensure they are using school or organisational equipment which is virus protected, filtered and firewalled and cannot be remotely accessed in a way which allows an external user to contact a child on the Decipha programme. Details of technical standards can be found at
  5. LSAs or other support staff working with children on the Decipha website and programme should not work with children on their own in a closed room or environment where no one can see or hear them.
  6. When setting up a programme with a parent, school or other organisation the Decipha member of staff will ascertain what safeguarding measures are already in place and whether the individual or individuals to be supporting a child or children are appropriate for 1:1 support on an online programme.
  7. A Decipha programme will be delivered in a professional setting unless being delivered by a parent or carer. Users must not use the programme in public settings, e.g. internet cafes, which may pose confidentiality and data risks.
  8. A Decipha Programme should only be used in a person’s home if it is being used by the child and their parent in their own home.
  9. Support staff and their school or organisational details will be recorded and kept during the registration process.

Children using the web

  1. A child or vulnerable adult should not be left alone when the internet is being used. Others may try to contact them using instant messaging or through a blog.
  2. When closing down the Decipha programme and internet session the LSA or other support staff should ensure no other sites or programmes have been accessed.
  3. LSAs and support staff should be aware that when accessing other websites or using online communication tools such as email or instant messaging people they communicate may not be who they say they are.
  4. Everyone involved in a child’s use of a Decipha programme should be vigilant in monitoring a child’s online communications without intruding on their privacy this can include:
    1. Asking who they talk to on email, on a social network or via instant messaging.
    2. Asking what the content of the messages is.
    3. Asking if the person they are communicating with has ever sent them photographs, asked to meet them or asked them to do something that made them feel uncomfortable or that they didn’t understand.
    4. Asking if they can see the messages.

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.

Website precautions

  1. Access to a child’s details will be password protected and Decipha programme users will be instructed on keeping passwords and data confidential (see privacy policy).
  2. Decipha collects visit details to the Decipha site and resources used on the site, which can be used to identify anyone misusing the system or attempting to communicate with a child or vulnerable adult.
  3. Anyone found to be posting indecent, purposefully inaccurate or inflammatory information will have their contract cancelled and the posts will be removed.
  4. Information submitted to the site is stored on secure servers.

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

  1. Any suspicion that a child or vulnerable adult has been abused by either an employee or a volunteer should be reported immediately to the Safeguarding Officer (if there is one) and Nick Catlin who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child or vulnerable adult in question and any other person who may be at risk.

  1. The Safeguarding Officer Nick Catlin will refer the allegation to the social services department which may involve the police, or go directly to the police if out-of-hours.

  1. The Safeguarding Officer or Nick Catlin will contact the parents or carers of the child or vulnerable adult following advice from the social services department.

  1. Nick Catlin will deal with any media enquiries that relate to Decipha. Enquiries regarding other organisations or a school will be referred to that organisation or school.

  1. If the Safeguarding Officer is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to the most senior manager.


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:

  1. Nick Catlin

  1. The Safeguarding Officer.

  1. The parents and/or carers of the child or person who is alleged to have been abused.

  1. The person making the allegation.

  1. Social services/police.
  2. The alleged abuser (and parents if the alleged abuser is a child). The Safeguarding Officer will 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 (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:

  1. They engage in activities that safeguard all children and aim to identify and prevent maltreatment, or impairment of health or development, and to ensure that children are growing up in circumstances consistent with safe and effective care;
  2. They lead and coordinate proactive work that aims to target particular groups; and
  3. They lead and co-ordinate arrangements for responsive work to protect children who are suffering, or likely to suffer, significant harm.

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.

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