LimboTechs Child and Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding Policy Updated April 2020
LimboTech is fully committed to practice that safeguards children and vulnerable adults from harm. Signals is an organisation that regularly works with children and vulnerable adults both on our premises and offsite. Staff and volunteers recognise our responsibilities to develop awareness of the issues surrounding safeguarding children and vulnerable adults and take steps to ensure those we work with are informed and safe. This policy aims to keep all children and vulnerable adults safe and provide them with safe environments. LimboTechs Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy links in with other company policies, including Equal Opportunities, and takes into consideration the needs of children and vulnerable adults from minority ethnic and / or disabled groups and the barriers they may face. This policy is based upon current legislation including the Children’s Act 1989, Children’s Act 2004 and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006. All staff whether on permanent, part-time, freelance or project contracts, and all volunteers and space hire clients will be inducted in LimboTechs Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy and associated procedures. LimboTech will regularly monitor its approach to child and vulnerable adults safeguarding at staff, projects and review this policy on an annual basis. This document is LimboTechs policy and incorporates procedures. All staff, freelancers, volunteers and space hire clients are required to read and agree to comply with this policy and sign the register attached.
For the purpose of this policy, LimboTech will outline some definitions of the terminology used within this document. ‘LimboTech’ or ‘We’ – the organisation whose policy this is and whose responsibility it is to ensure this policy is understood and upheld. ‘Children’ or ‘Child’ – the Criminal Justice Court Service Act (CJCSA) defines a child as someone who is under 18 (under 16 if the child is employed). ‘Vulnerable Adult’ – a person over 18 years of age “who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age, illness and who is unable to take care of him/herself or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation” -- “Who decides” consultancy paper Lord Chancellor Department, 1997 ‘DBS’ – refers to the Disclosure and Barring Service who provide wider access to criminal record information. A DBS disclosure (standard or enhanced) is a document that is required for positions involving contact with children or vulnerable adults.
3.1 Definitions of ‘Abuse’
Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. Any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm. It commonly occurs within relationships of trust or responsibility and represents an abuse of power and/or a breach of trust. Abuse can happen to a child or vulnerable adult regardless or their age, gender, disability or race. Abuse may consist of a single act or repeated acts.
3.1.1. Physical Abuse
This can involve hitting, spitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm or failing to protect from harm. It also includes Munchausen Syndrome by proxy, whereby a parent/carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes ill health in a child/vulnerable adult.
3.1.2. Emotional Abuse
Persistent emotional maltreatment, which is likely to cause serious severe and persistent adverse effects on a child or vulnerable adult’s emotional development or harm and distress. It may involve conveying to an individual that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on individuals. These may include interactions that are beyond the child/vulnerable adult’s LimboTechs Child and Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding Policy Updated December 2017 6 developmental capability, as well as overprotection or limitation of exploration and learning, or preventing the child/vulnerable adult participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the maltreatment of another. It may involve serious bullying causing individuals frequently to feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children/vulnerable adults. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child/vulnerable adult, though it may occur alone.
3.1.3. Sexual Abuse
This involves forcing or enticing a child/vulnerable adult to take part in sexual activities, including prostitution whether or not they are aware of what is happening. It may involve physical contact, penetrative or non-penetrative acts. It may also involve non-contact activities, such as involving children or vulnerable adults in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging children or vulnerable adults to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
3.1.4. Physical and Emotional Neglect
The persistent failure to meet basic physical and/or physiological needs, which is likely to result in serious impairment to health or development. This may include the failure of the parent/carer to supply food, shelter or clothing or a failure to protect from physical or emotional harm and danger, failure to ensure adequate supervision including the use of inadequate care takers or the failure to ensure access to medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to basic emotional needs.
3.1.5 Harm -
Children The Children Act 1989 defines ‘harm’ in Section 31(9) as ill treatment, the impairment of health, the impairment of development. Impairment suffered from the seeing and hearing the ill treatment of others is included. Therefore this should be considered.
• Development means physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioral development;
• Health means physical or mental health;
• Ill-treatment includes sexual abuse and forms of ill-treatment, which are not physical.
– Vulnerable Adults The definition of ‘Harm’ of vulnerable adults is taken from "who decides" Lord Chancellors Department 1997) "...harm should be taken to include not only ill treatment (including sexual abuse and forms of ill treatment that are not physical); the impairment of, or an avoidable deterioration in, physical or mental health; and the impairment of physical, emotional, social or behavioral development"
3.1.7 Discriminatory Abuse
This includes racist, sexist, that based on a person’s disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.
3.1.8 Financial or Material Abuse
This includes theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
3.2. Signs and Indicators of Abuse
• Unexplained or untreated bruising or injuries
• Suffering continual stomach pains or other physical ailments without any medical explanation • Aggressive or withdrawn behaviour and refusal to talk about injuries
• Unexpected fear of an adult and flinching when touched
• Sexually explicit behaviour and language
• Unaccounted for sources of money
• Fear of going home to parents or carers or of them being contacted
• Changes over time in manner and appearance such as losing weight, becoming dirty and dishevelled, being constantly tired and always hungry
• Telling staff about being asked to ‘keep a secret’ or dropping other hints or clues about abuse
For the purposes of all LimboTech activities and this policy, we regard bullying as exposing any person, regardless of age or background, to repeated negative actions on the part of one or more persons. Any interaction that is of a negative nature is unwelcome and will be treated as bullying, and investigated and addressed as such. LimboTech is fully committed in opposing oppressive, abusive or inappropriate behaviour, regardless of whether it is incidental or intentional. Any ‘bullying’ behaviour, however casual and minimal it may be, will be challenged by LimboTech staff and may result in disciplinary action. Bullying can include:
• teasing and name calling
• threats and physical violence
• damage to property
• leaving someone out of social activities deliberately
• spreading rumors
• upsetting mobile phone, email or internet messages / comments
Changes to the Law
LimboTech is committed to following and implementing child and vulnerable adult safeguarding law. We recognise that this is an area that is often updated, so we will endeavor to keep our staff, board and freelancers informed of any changes to the law which may affect our organisation and its practices whenever possible. Changes to the law have led to the implementation of a new DBS Update Service. Applicants for a DBS check can now subscribe and can benefit from being able to keep their DBS certificate up to date and take it from role to role, where the same level and type of check are required.
• Organisations can now also take advantage of free, instant online status checks of individuals’ DBS certificates where they have subscribed. This means they have not had to apply for a new check and wait for the DBS certificate to come through when they are recruiting someone or if want to carry out a re-check on an individual.
It is not the responsibility of anyone working for LimboTech in a paid or unpaid capacity 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 so that they can then make inquiries and take necessary action to protect the child or vulnerable adult. This applies BOTH to allegations of abuse occurring within LimboTech and disclosures of abuse taking place elsewhere. This section explains how to respond to disclosures and allegations.
5.1. Responding to signs or suspicions of abuse
All staff and freelancers have a duty to refer cases where abuse is known to have happened or is suspected. You must tell the safeguarding officer or duty officer if you have any slight suspicion and these will be recorded. Be alert for signs of abuse. However, even if a child or vulnerable adult is displaying some or all of these signs, it does not necessarily mean s/he is being abused – there may be other causes. Also, none of these signs may be present – there may just be a cause for concern. If staff are worried about possible abuse it is their responsibility to put the interests of the child or vulnerable adult first and report it immediately. Staff should report to the designated LimboTech Child and Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding Officer. If the concerns are about this person, then reports should be made to the Deputy Safeguarding Officer. If this is impossible, go directly to the Police or Social Services. Contact details can be found at the very beginning of this policy. If working in a setting such as a school or residential establishment, this setting should have established procedures in place regarding suspicions or allegations of abuse. Staff should follow whichever policy is the most robust, but also inform the Signals designated Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Officer.
5.2. Responding to disclosures of abuse
It is common that a child or vulnerable adult will start to disclose whilst on their own with an adult. If a child or vulnerable adult discloses abuse to you, follow these guidelines:
• Remain calm
• Listen carefully to what is being said
• Don’t give your own view or opinions
• Don’t promise to keep a secret
• Reassure them that they have done the right thing
• Even if what they are saying is shocking to you, try not to show this
• Make notes straight after your meeting with the child or vulnerable adult (not during)
Remember that it is not your job to prove abuse, but it is your job to record the disclosure and tell the relevant people as soon as possible Once a child or vulnerable adult has made a disclosure, this information must be taken to the Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Officer or, if unavailable or if the disclosure makes allegations about them, report the information to the Deputy Safeguarding Officer. If this is impossible, please use the contact details at the beginning of this policy to notify the Police or Social Services. The Safeguarding Officer will ask for an account of the disclosure to be recorded in the Allegations Book and will take advice from NSPCC or Social Services. If it is decided a referral should be made, the Child and Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding Officer or Deputy Safeguarding Officer will write a confirmation to Social Services within 48 hours of the disclosure being made. From there, Social Services will confirm receipt of the disclosure within 24 hours and will decide on course of action to be taken. 5.3. Responding to allegations of abuse If a disclosure has been made and involves allegations concerning LimboTechs staff, freelancer(s) or volunteer(s), the Child and Vulnerable Adult Safeguarding Officer will immediately report to the Director of LimboTech who will suspend the individual(s) without pay pending further Police and Social Services inquiries. If this is impossible (for example if the allegation concerns a Signals Safeguarding Officer or Director), then the other/ Deputy Safeguarding Officer will report to the Chair of the Board (all contact details can be found at the start of this policy). Irrespective of the findings of the Social Services or Police inquiries, LimboTech will assess all individual cases to decide whether a member of staff, freelancer or volunteer can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled. This may be a difficult decision; especially where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout the decision making process.
5.4. The importance of keeping records
If you have any suspicions about a child’s behaviour then you must tell the Safeguarding Officer so that they are recorded. All records are kept in a safe locked place. If you have to record signs of physical abuse, for example bruises, do not take photos. You can use a body map sheet to show the area and describe the marks you have seen. If possible get two people to sign the body mark sheet. Remember that small and insignificant sign of potential abuse could add to a case, which will result in action being taken so it is very important to ‘think the unthinkable’ and take action of suspicion. Diagram of Responding to Signs, Disclosures or Allegations of Abuse Confidentiality The legal principle on confidentiality is that the ‘welfare of the child is paramount’. Privacy and confidentiality should be respected where possible but if doing this leaves a child or vulnerable adult at risk of harm then their safety has to come first. Remember:
• The right of a child, young person or vulnerable adult to protection takes precedence over his/her right to confidentiality. If you believe a child has been abused you should report it.
• It is important to observe confidentiality within Signals. We will ensure the names of children, young people, vulnerable adults or staff members about whom there are concerns or who have breached the code of conduct are not shared around our organisation. We will retain any records and the Allegations Book in a central, lockable, non-portable cabinet. The Government recommend that records should be kept 6 years after the last contact with the child, young person or vulnerable adult.
LimboTech will endeavour to safeguard children and vulnerable adults by:
7.1. Recognising that all children and vulnerable adults have a right to freedom from abuse;
7.2. Finding out the needs of children and vulnerable adults prior to meeting and making sure sufficient provision is available for their physical, emotional and learning needs;
7.3. Ensuring that our staff and freelancers are carefully selected and that those in contact with children and vulnerable adults have current enhanced DBS disclosures. Due to the project-based nature of our work Signals may occasionally hire freelancers or volunteers who have a DBS check pending. A DBS application may take between 4 – 6 weeks to process. If the freelancer does work with children and vulnerable adults in that period, LimboTech will notify relevant partners and staff and only proceed with their approval. LimboTech will carry out all background checks outlined in 5.1 and ensure that the individual has at least two DBS checked staff or supervisors with them at all times during the working day(s); 7.4. Where possible, LimboTechs permanent staff (our core team) must subscribe to the DBS Update Service within 14 days of receipt of their new DBS certificate, enabling LimboTech to check the status of the DBS check without having to apply for a new certificate every 2 years. We request all permanent employees to keep their DBS certificate onsite in our locked cabinet for easy access when carrying out work in schools etc. For freelancers, board members and temporary staff, we need to see the original certificate and take a photocopy for our records;
7.5. Within LimboTech activities both on and offsite, there should be no reason, except in an emergency situation, why any physical contact should occur between a member of staff, freelancer or volunteer and child or vulnerable adult. Even if a child of vulnerable adult is upset, physical contact should be avoided. If physical contact cannot be avoided, for example when instructing someone on how to correctly operate equipment, staff must: i. ensure there are other responsible adults present ii. gain permission from the individual first iii. explain why, how and where you are going to touch them;
7.6. Ensuring alcohol and drug consumption is strictly prohibited during all LimboTech activities both on and offsite;
7.7. Actively discouraging bullying, violent and degrading behaviour and taking measures to deal with such incidents should they arise. Working with vulnerable groups to establish an appropriate Behaviour Contract during introductory time / sessions which everyone agrees to and signs;
7.8. Appointing a designated Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Officer who will take specific responsibility for child and vulnerable adults safety and act as the main point of contact for parents/carers, children /vulnerable adults and outside agencies on all issues and queries regarding safeguarding;
7.9. Ensuring the Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Officer and Deputy Safeguarding Officer attend bi-annual child/vulnerable adult safeguarding training and any relevant seminars/training days regarding changes in the law etc as and when appropriate. Information from these training days and child safeguarding updates should be disseminated to all those registered on this policy;
7.10. Responding swiftly and appropriately to all suspicions, disclosures and allegations of abuse and providing parents/carers and children / vulnerable adults with the opportunity to voice any concerns they may have;
7.11. Ensuring that the designated Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Officer maintains an Allegations Book in which to record the details of any specific concerns or incidents in relation to child/vulnerable adult’s safeguarding. This logbook will be kept in a lockable, non-portable cabinet. The logbook will contain the following information:
i. Child/vulnerable adult’s name
ii. Parent/carer’s details
iii. Child/vulnerable adult’s address
iv. Phone numbers
v. What happened and when
vi. Who else was there
vii. What was said
viii. Any evidence
ix. Who has been told
x. Who was concerned
xi. Did the child/vulnerable adult say anything
xii. Have the parents/carers been advised; Information shall be passed to the relevant authorities and agencies immediately according to the procedures outlined in this policy. The logbook will be made available to the LimboTech Director only if absolutely necessary;
7.12. Ensuring access to confidential information is restricted to the designated Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Officer and Deputy Officer. Information to be shared with LimboTech Director, Board and external authorities as and when necessary;
7.13. Sharing information about child and vulnerable adult’s safeguarding and good practice with children, vulnerable adults, parents and carers, staff and volunteers and agencies that need to know. A PDF and paper copy of this policy will be made available for parents, carers and other agencies to view;
7.14. Producing a Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Pack for all LimboTech staff, freelancers and volunteers to be sent out with staff contracts. The pack will include this policy and supporting information;
7.15. Running enhanced DBS checks for all temporary staff and freelancers and review information on each individual member of staff every 2 years or on a project-by-project basis. Due to recent changes in the law regarding the portability of DBS, LimboTech will accept a DBS check that has been transferred from a third party organisation from freelancers and volunteers, if it is an enhanced check and less than 2 years old;
7.16. Reviewing the effectiveness of the Child and Vulnerable Adults Safeguarding Policy and Signals activities each year at Board level, or earlier if changes to the law occur
7.17. Any attempt by a child or vulnerable adult to form a relationship with LimboTech staff, freelancers or volunteers must be reported to the Child and Vulnerable adults Safeguarding Officer or Deputy Officer.. Working Offsite LimboTech has a responsibility to look after children, young people and vulnerable adults in our own spaces. We have taken steps to reduce the risk of harm and provide safe and nurturing environments in which our regular activities can take place. When delivering outreach, organisations have a responsibility to make sure relevant staff are on the register before visiting sites. Schools may ask for evidence. If a child protection issue arises whilst delivering outreach work in another organisation then that organisation’s child protection policy should be followed and the incident should be reported to their named/designated person. If no other child protection policy is in place, LimboTechs Child and Vulnerable Adults Protection Policy should be followed. General Care and Precautions for those working with Children and Vulnerable Adults Staff and freelancers must take every precaution to protect children and vulnerable adults. They should also protect themselves from allegations of abuse. Be aware that any allegation made against a member of staff, freelancer or volunteer will be reported to the authorities.
• Do not engage in one to one contact even if initiated by the child/vulnerable adult
• Never agree to meet outside the group or give a ride home
• Avoid touching of any kind – unless it is absolutely necessary. If physical contact cannot be avoided, ensure there are other responsible adults present, gain permission from the individual first and explain why, how and where you are going to touch them. The key message is to take action in a situation, rather than be too anxious about doing the wrong thing. Reporting is essential – remember that the welfare of the child or vulnerable adult is paramount.
This policy is to be reviewed annually – the date of the next review will be September 2021.