Last revision: 01/03/2021
Safeguarding Policy for Children and Vulnerable Adults
Policy and Principles
Irish Heritage is committed to safeguarding the welfare of children and vulnerable adults who are entitled to protection from harm and have the right to take part in the charity’s musical activities in a safe, positive and enjoyable environment.
The key principles on which this Policy statement is based are:
- The welfare of the child or vulnerable adult is paramount;
- All participants regardless of age, gender, ability or disability, race, faith, size, language or sexual identity have the right to protection from harm;
- All allegations and suspicions of harm will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly, fairly and appropriately;
- Everyone involved with Irish Heritage will work in partnership to promote the welfare, health and development of children and vulnerable adults;
- The interests of those who volunteer or work with children and vulnerable adults will be protected.
This policy should be read in conjunction with the organisation’s policies on anti-bullying, health and safety online and photography.
This policy and the procedures described herein must be reviewed at least annually by the Board of Trustees and immediately in the event of a safeguarding incident. The review will take place at a meeting exclusively dedicated to the charity’s policies.
Children are defined in the Children Act 2004 as people under the age of 18 years. For the purposes of this Policy the legal definition applies.
Defining Vulnerable Adults
Vulnerable adults are defined by the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 as someone 18 years or older who has:
- A dependency upon others, or a requirement for assistance from others, in the performance of basic physical functions;
- Severe impairment in their ability to communicate with others;
- Impairment in their ability to protect themselves from assault, abuse or neglect;
- Has been detained in lawful custody or is being supervised as a result of a Court order.
While this Policy refers to both children and vulnerable adults throughout, there are instances in which the management, both internally and externally, of concerns and incidents involving vulnerable adults may vary slightly from those involving children. In particular, and in contrast to the situation when dealing with children, it is essential to obtain a vulnerable adult’s consent (where possible) before referring the matter to any of the statutory agencies.
Putting this Policy into Practice: Safe Recruitment
Children and vulnerable adults are entitled to participate in musical activities in a safe and welcoming environment. While anyone has the potential to abuse children or vulnerable adults, safe recruitment procedures will enable the organisation to reduce this risk. When recruiting volunteers or employees all reasonable steps should be taken to ensure that only suitable people are selected.
Mandatory Vetting of Volunteers and Employees
Adults working with children and vulnerable adults in a voluntary or paid capacity for Irish Heritage must have an Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) disclosure processed and risk assessed.
The DBS is an Executive Agency of the Home Office which helps organisations to make safer recruitment decisions.
Before working unsupervised with children or vulnerable adults, DBS clearance is essential and vetting through DBS application must be undertaken.
DBS certificates will be cleared or investigated as appropriate. Applications must be submitted within six weeks of taking up a role with Irish Heritage and must be renewed every three years.
Irish Heritage does not accept DBS clearance obtained through any other organisation.
Safeguarding legislation introduced on 12th October 2009 applies as part of this Policy:
- It is a criminal offence for a barred person to volunteer or work in Regulated Activity, or to seek to offer to do so;
- It is a criminal offence to knowingly allow a barred person to volunteer or work in Regulated Activity (see below).
- The maximum penalty for either of the above offences is up to five years in prison, or a fine, or both, to be decided by the Court.
- If the organisation dismisses a volunteer or member of staff because they have harmed a child or vulnerable adult, or the organisation would have done if they had not left it, Irish Heritage must inform the Independent Safeguarding Authority as part of its legal responsibilities.
Regulated Activity is where a person aged 16 or over is, on a frequent (once a week or more often), or intensive (four days or more in any 30 day period) or overnight (between 2.00am and 6.00am) basis, deployed to work with children or vulnerable adults. It also includes roles managing or supervising, on a regular basis, the work of those carrying out these activities.
Irish Heritage will ensure the following is undertaken:
- Appoint a Safeguarding Officer (CSO) and where appropriate a deputy, as a first point of contact for safeguarding and welfare concerns;
- Publish this Safeguarding Policy and make it accessible;
- Ensure all Irish Heritage volunteers and employees are aware of their safeguarding responsibilities;
- Identify any signs of harm and report them to the CSO and Chairman of Trustees;
- Ensure that the organisations volunteers and paid workers are appropriately vetted and follow the Best Practice Guidance.
Best Practice Guidance
Irish Heritage’s aim is to create a culture where everyone feels confident to raise legitimate concerns without prejudice to their own position. Concerns about the behaviour of volunteers or employees which may be harmful to a child or vulnerable adult in their care must be reported to the Safeguarding Officer.
While remembering that it is the safety and welfare of children and vulnerable adults that is of paramount importance, there will be times when those responsible will need to exercise discretion and common sense to ensure their wellbeing. This guidance is designed to provide information on a number of different topics which volunteers or employees may find useful and will help them create safe, friendly and welcoming environments for children and vulnerable adults.
A safe environment is one where the possibility of abuse is openly acknowledged: volunteers and employees are vetted and trained, and those who report suspicions and concerns are confident that they will be treated seriously and confidentially.
Communication is central to maintaining a safe environment; this includes information given to parents, choosing the correct and appropriate method of providing information to children and vulnerable adults (email/phone to parents), listening to children’s views on matters which affect them, as well as considering how to communicate in an emergency (mobile/landline).
Messages relating to children, sent via telephone, emails and texts, should be through their parents/guardians. Direct personal communication with children should always be avoided unless in exceptional circumstances.
Irish Heritage should have suitable volunteers and employees and all reasonable steps should be taken to exclude anyone who may pose a threat to children or vulnerable adults.
When recruiting new volunteers the organisation should consider asking anyone unknown to them to provide references which should be verified.
To provide a safe environment, Irish Heritage will ensure that volunteers and employees when working with children or vulnerable adults avoid working in isolation out of sight of parents or other volunteers. While volunteers and employees are awaiting their CRB disclosure they must be supervised by someone who already has CRB clearance.
Adult Child Ratios
There should always be more than one suitably vetted adult in charge of any group of children or vulnerable adults. Irish Heritage recommends a minimum ratio of:
- 1:10 for children over eight years old or vulnerable adults;
- 1:8 for children eight years old;
- 1:6 for children under seven years old.
Inappropriate Relationships with Children or Vulnerable Adults
An adult in a position of trust must not enter into a sexual relationship with a child in their care. Sexual intercourse, sexual activity or inappropriate touching by an adult with a child under the age of 16 years is a criminal offence, even when there is apparent consent from the child.
A consensual sexual relationship between an adult in a positon of trust and a child over 16 years of age, or a vulnerable adult, is a breach of trust and an abuse of the adult’s positon. While it may not be a criminal offence, setting it will be treated very seriously and may result in disciplinary action.
No one in a position of trust should encourage a physical or emotionally dependent relationship to develop between them and a child or vulnerable adult in their care; this is often referred to as ‘grooming’. Adults must never send children or vulnerable adults inappropriate or sexually provocative messages or images by test, or other electronic media.
Safeguarding Disabled Children and Vulnerable Adults
Disabled children and adults and their families may need additional information, help and support. Irish Heritage’s volunteers and employees may require training and advice to ensure they include and safeguard those in their care.
Good Role Models
Irish Heritage’s volunteers and employees should consistently display high standards of personal behaviour and appearance and refrain from pursuits considered unhealthy in front of those they are interacting with.
They must not make sexually explicit comments to children or vulnerable adults. In addition, the use of any language which causes them to feel uncomfortable, lose confidence or self-esteem is unacceptable, as is the use of obscene or foul language.
It is against the law:
- To sell alcohol to someone under 18;
- For an adult to buy or attempt to buy alcohol on behalf of someone under 18;
- For someone under 18 to buy alcohol, attempt to buy alcohol or to be sold alcohol;
- For someone under 18 to drink alcohol in licensed premises, with one exception: 16 and 17-year-olds accompanied by an adult can drink but not buy beer, wine and cider with a table meal;
- For an adult to buy alcohol for a person under 18 for consumption on licensed premises, except as above.
The unexpected can always happen at events or other gatherings; there should always be adults who abstain from drinking alcohol to deal with any emergencies and to manage the safety and welfare of children and vulnerable adults in their care.
Irish Heritage will develop a transportation policy to be publicised to parents and guardians via its website giving advice on dropping off or collecting children or vulnerable adults.
The policy will make clear that in most instances it is the responsibility of parents or guardians, not Irish Heritage, to transport their child or vulnerable adult to and from the nominated meeting point. If parents decide between themselves to provide transport, this is a private arrangement at the parents’ discretion.
Irish Heritage welcomes the taking of appropriate images of children performing musical activities and has developed guidance for parents and for volunteers and employees to enable suitable photographs to be taken.
All images taken by any authorised person will have been briefed by the organisation (and where possible a designated safeguarding lead) responsible for the activity being photographed and/or filmed. The following will apply in order to protect children:
- Before taking or publishing images of children (for example on the IH website or in a newsletter) parental consent is sought in writing at the start of each event. Parents/legal guardians are responsible for informing Irish Heritage of any change of circumstances which may affect consent.
- Parents/legal guardians will be informed of how the image will be used. The organisation will not allow an image to be used for something other than that for which it was initially agreed.
- All children featured in Irish Heritage publications will be appropriately dressed.
- Only use the first name of the child on any publication if consent has been given.
- Encourage children to tell Irish Heritage if they are worried about any photographs that have been taken of them.
- Were possible, the image will focus on the activity taking place and not a specific child.
- Where appropriate, images represent the broad range of people participating safely in the event.
- Designated Irish Heritage photographers will, where applicable, undertake a DBS and complete a Safeguarding Children workshop and in any case will be personally responsible for keeping up-to-date with the latest guidelines on the ‘Use of Images’. Where feasible Irish Heritage identification will be worn.
- Children who are subject to family, care or legal proceedings, or who are under a court order will not have their images published in any Irish Heritage document.
- No images of children featured in the organisation’s publications will be accompanied by personal details such as their school or home address.
- Any instances of inappropriate images should be reported to a designated safeguarding lead immediately.
- Photography is forbidden in private areas such as changing rooms, toilets, showers, whilst a child is in a state of undress.
Everyone involved with the organisation should be aware of and comply with the above guidance.
Sharing of Electronic Material and Media
Websites and social media channels can be a positive way to communicate with children, however, there are risks associated with internet usage.
Irish Heritage is legally responsible for its website content and will ensure there is nothing included which could harm a child, directly or indirectly.
The online environment is constantly changing; this guidance will be reviewed and updated when necessary.
Reacting to Concerns about Children and Vulnerable Adults
Safeguarding children and vulnerable adults is everyone’s responsibility. This means that all concerned with Irish Heritage have a responsibility to respond to any concerns that they or others may have about a child or vulnerable adult being harmed, or the behaviour of an adult.
Harm in the context of this policy is an action or behaviour which has a detrimental effect on the child or vulnerable adult’s physical or emotional health or wellbeing.
Neither poor practice nor suspicions of harm should be ignored. Whether physical, emotional, bullying or neglect, suspicions of harm should always be reported and victims supported throughout.
Signs of Harm
It is important that in an inclusive environment signs of harm are not ignored. These signs may include a child or vulnerable adult: changing their usual routine; beginning to be disruptive; becoming withdrawn, anxious or lacking in confidence; having possessions going missing; becoming aggressive or unreasonable; starting to stammer or stopping communicating; having unexplained cuts or bruises; starting to bully other children; being frequently dirty or hungry; displaying inappropriate sexual behaviour or using sexual language; seeming afraid of parents or carers; stopping eating; being frightened to say what’s wrong; not wanting to attend classes or activities.
The above indicators should always be taken seriously and any concerns reported verbally and in writing to the organisation’s Safeguarding Officer.
There may be a number of reasons why a child displays concerning behaviour or their behaviour changes. It is advisable to discuss concerns with parents or carers in the first instance except where this may place the child at increased risk.
If a child or vulnerable adult discloses information to you, you should: stay calm; reassure them that they are not to blame; avoid making promises of confidentiality or outcome; keep questions to a minimum and make brief, accurate notes at the earliest opportunity.
An individual who becomes aware of any suspicions or concerns about the safety and welfare of a child or vulnerable adult must pass these on to the organisation’s Safeguarding Officer as soon as possible. If they feel the child is at immediate risk of abuse, then a statutory local agency (children’s services or police) should be contacted immediately. If a vulnerable adult is at risk of abuse, their consent to the statutory agencies being contacted should be obtained if possible, before doing so.
How Irish Heritage Responds to Suspicions or Concerns
Irish Heritage encourages and supports “whistle-blowing” and will, where appropriate, notify the statutory agencies of any allegation and work in partnership with them.
In the event of an incident that is a cause of concern, the Trustee or volunteer involved must report their concerns to the organisation’s Safeguarding Officer. He will ensure that the confidentially of the source is respected and activate the investigation procedure described below.
The wellbeing of the child or vulnerable adult must be central to any procedures involving them. Irish Heritage will work with in partnership with local children’s services or care services departments to support the victim and witnesses.
Incident Referral Process
Once Irish Heritage’s Safeguarding Officer receives written notification of an incident, allegation or disclosure he/she will assume management of the case (providing it is not being dealt with by the police).
A safeguarding investigation will follow that will examine the case and assess the risk that individuals pose to children or vulnerable adults. The investigation will be supported by an independent, external child protection adviser.
Those under Investigation
Under this policy Irish Heritage is committed, first and foremost, to protecting the interests of the child or vulnerable adult. In the course of a referral being made to statutory agencies, individuals who are accused of causing harm will be informed of the procedures by the organisation. They may also request at any time an update on the progress of the referral. No further support will be offered to them by Irish Heritage during the investigation. The Citizens Advice Bureau may be a useful source of information and support in these instances.
Investigations are concluded as quickly as possible to ensure that those guilty of causing harm are dealt with expeditiously and those falsely or mistakenly accused can return to their role with reputation intact.
Complaints about Irish Heritage Volunteers
Irish Heritage will ensure that any allegations against its representatives or volunteers, with a child and young person’s protection aspect, are dealt with urgently, with concerns about volunteers to be reported to the designated Safeguarding Officer.
Irish Heritage Safeguarding Officer and Deputy
Irish Heritage’s designated Safeguarding Officer is the Chairman. The Deputy Safeguarding Officer is Director and Trustee, Keith Raffan.
Key Contact Phone Numbers
- Emergency Services: 999
- Metropolitan Police Child Protection Service (non-emergency): 101
- NSPCC Helpline: 0808 800 5000
- Local Authority Children’s Social Care Team: Check local area
- NHS Helpline: 111
Annual Safeguarding Training for Trustees and Volunteers
Irish Heritage will arrange an annual half-day seminar, on a date to be agreed, to ensure that Trustees, Committee members and volunteers are familiar with the latest best practice and legislative changes in safeguarding. The seminar will be led by an acknowledged expert in safeguarding issues with support from the police, social services and NSPCC. In addition, the charity will ensure that Trustees, Committee members and volunteers are updated with any changes to legislation and best practice.
Irish Heritage believes this policy is comprehensive and protects the interests of children and vulnerable adults that it may come into contact with in the course of the organisation’s activities.
Any comments about the policy should be addressed to the Board of Irish Heritage Limited.