Safeguarding policy and procedures
Young people and adults at risk
In line with its values, The Scouts recognises its responsibility to deal fairly, constructively and consistently with expressions of concern or dissatisfaction from members and nonmembers, including parents and carers on behalf of themselves or their children.
As Scouts we’re guided by the values of integrity, respect, care, belief and co-operation.
When applying this policy, these values should be at the forefront of every interaction and decision that’s made, and all involved should be regularly reminded of them.
Focusing on the values of respect and care, the wellbeing and mental health of all involved when dealing with an expression of concern or dissatisfaction should be considered throughout. The ‘Supporting the wellbeing and mental health when a concern is raised’ webpage.
It’s the policy of The Scout Association to safeguard the welfare of those members aged under 18 as well as adults at risk by protecting them from neglect and from physical, sexual and emotional harm. The Safeguarding Policy is for everyone in The Scouts and includes all volunteers and staff. The Yellow Card sets out a Code of Practice, which is essential for all adults in Scouting to follow. Where there are concerns that an adult volunteer or staff member has not followed the code of practice or procedures, the matter must be reported to the Safeguarding team who will co-ordinate any investigation in partnership with the appropriate commissioner.
The new Safeguarding policy underpins everything The Scouts do to develop skills for life. It offers guidance for anyone who has a concern about the welfare of a young person or adult at risk, and how to report a safeguarding allegation or disclosure.
It includes new areas about adults at risk, and pre-existing relationships.
Guidance is provided around how to support adults at risk, our responsibilities, reasonable adjustments to make and how to raise concerns.
It provides the particular circumstances where a pre-existing relationship will be permitted between someone taking on a leadership role at the age of 18 who is already in an existing relationship with a young person in Scouting who is under 18 and a framework to be followed.
The new policy also covers the various types of abuse and exploitation a young person or adult at risk may suffer or be at risk of harm from, including self-harm or self-neglect, addiction, exploitation and harmful traditional practices.
The policy also refers to specialist areas that may need to be managed using the safeguarding processes, and where further support can be provided – such as mental wellbeing, radicalisation and transitioning.
The Scouts understand that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and it is embedded across our organisation.
We recognise that the welfare of children, young people and adults at risk is paramount and that all children, young people and adults at risk, regardless of age, disability, gender, gender reassignment, pregnancy, maternity, marriage/civil partnership, race, religion and/or sexual orientation (all defined as protected characteristics within the Equality Act 2010) have the right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse. Working in partnership with children, young people, adults at risk and their family, support network, volunteers and staff is essential in promoting and embedding this policy. This is a national policy and subject to the laws and guidance of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Island; it’s also in-line with the Local Safeguarding Partnerships in England, Wales (previously LSCB) and Scottish and Northern Ireland counterparts.
Guidance on safeguarding young people
It’s the responsibility of all adults to make sure that their behaviour’s appropriate at all times as laid out in the code of practice, ‘Young People First’ (Yellow Card).
The Yellow Card sets out a Code of Practice which is essential for all adults in The Scouts to follow. Where there are concerns that an adult volunteer or staff member has not followed the code of practice or procedures, the matter must be reported to the Safeguarding team who’ll co-ordinate any investigation. The Safeguarding team, in collaboration with the appropriate commissioner, may suspend an adult’s role/s while an investigation takes place.
Any safeguarding concerns in regards to a child or young person must be reported to the Safeguarding team. All concerns must be reported to the Safeguarding Team via the Group Scout Leader or District Commissioner or direct to the Safeguarding Team, advising the Group Scout Leader or District Commissioner after making the referral.
If you’re in doubt of what to do contact the Safeguarding Team. If a child or young person is at immediate risk of significant harm call 999 and request the police. Contact details of the Safeguarding team are found in S.16. Referral form.
Adult at risk guidance
If any adult’s unable to understand and/or uphold the Safeguarding policy and the Code of Practice set out on the Yellow Card, or is unable to safeguard children or young people, then they cannot be considered for adult appointments.
- The Scouts also has a Whistleblowing process if you feel you aren’t being listened to.
- The Scouts’ mandatory safeguarding training incorporates adult at risk advice that will assist in recognising any concerns, what to do and where to report. There’s also a reporting process for raising concerns within the adult at risk process. All concerns that reach the safeguarding threshold MUST be reported to the Safeguarding team on the adult at risk referral form (Appendix E).
- There are variants across the nations, for the purposes of Scouts, an adult at risk is an individual who has reached the age of 18 years (see Appendix A)
Types of abuse and exploitation
Types of abuse and exploitation (defined by legislation or relevant guidance)
Abuse is a form of maltreatment and can either be inflicted by others or self-inflicted. Abuse can take place at home, education or within any physical environment. It can also happen in an online or virtual environment such as social media or gaming apps. An abuser can be anyone, but they’re often known by the young person or adult at risk. An abuser may make every effort to build a trusting relationship with the young person or adult at risk and will often befriend or seek to maintain the respect of friends and colleagues. This is grooming behaviour. Abuse can occur in any relationship at any time. It can occur within any community, culture or religion. It may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person subjected to it.
Specialist areas of safeguarding
Safeguarding is an underpinning principle of everything we do in The Scouts. Sometimes a particular aspect of working with children and young people is not in itself a safeguarding issue but may need to be managed by utilising safeguarding processes.
We’re an inclusive organisation and encourage all members to talk to their leaders or volunteer line managers around how The Scouts can better support them.
If any volunteer or staff member has a concern in regard to any of these areas, contact the Safeguarding team for advice and guidance. Further information can be found online.
The Yellow Card states, ‘Do not overstep the boundaries between yourself and young people by engaging in friendships or sexual relationships’. This is an important factor to prevent any breaches of the position of trust, to make sure that any volunteer acts appropriately towards our young people, and to prevent grooming and child abuse occurring. However, in line with S.24 sexual offences, there are particular circumstances where a pre-existing relationship will be accepted.
In the above circumstances, the District Commissioner must satisfy themselves that the above conditions are in place. A meeting must be held with the young person (the under 18) and their parent/carer to make sure that there’s a full understanding of the situation and any restrictions that’ll be put in place. An agreement will be undertaken and strictly adhered to that the adult won’t volunteer in the Group or Unit, or at any event that the under 18 year old that they’re in a relationship with attends.
This exception to the Yellow Card can only be used in the specific circumstances stated and strict adherence of this must be monitored to avoid abuse in the guise of a pre-existing relationship. A framework for conversations regarding pre-existing relationships is in Appendix F.
If any volunteer or staff member has a concern in regard to any of these areas, contact the Safeguarding team for advice and guidance.
Roles and responsibilities for safeguarding
Everyone within The Scouts must fully understand and implement the safeguarding policies and procedures relevant to their role. To enable this to happen, we have a comprehensive training programme and a safeguarding structure that makes sure we’re proactively safeguarding across the organisation.
Full details of the safeguarding structure are listed in Appendix C.
Promoting a safe, trusted environment and a culture that prioritises safeguarding.
All volunteers, staff and trustees will respect children, young people and adults at risk, and establish a culture where we put young people first so they can develop their skills for life.
They will also provide supportive and safe spaces for everyone involved.
The Scouts will strive to create and maintain environments which are safe for everyone who has dealings with them.
This policy will be regularly reviewed and updated accordingly.
If any adult is unable to understand and/or uphold the safeguarding policy and the Code of Practice set out on the ‘Yellow Card’ or is unable to safeguard children or young people, then they cannot be considered for adult appointments.
Reasonable adjustments should respond to the needs of the individual and remove or
reduce any barriers or support access, by making changes to:
- Physical environment (eg the meeting place)
- The way things are done (eg the programme, routines)
- The support provided (eg equipment, adapting communication, the level of support)
These considerations should be explored in detail, in consultation with the individual and where appropriate, their carer. The situation should be regularly reviewed to make sure that the adjustments are removing barriers to participation, are being implemented effectively and are responding to the needs of the individual. What’s reasonable is dependent upon the effectiveness of the adjustment, whether it can actually be done, and the cost and resources available to the Group at that time. Reasonable adjustments is a legal term which recognises that each Group will have different practical resources to meet the needs of an individual person.
How do we make sure adults are safe to work with adults at risk?
It’s the policy of The Scouts that all adult volunteers, which includes carers, must have the appropriate disclosure check for the role and the regulated activity they’re undertaking.
In line with our safer recruitment and safeguarding policies, a member must not undertake a role until they’ve successfully:
- completed the relevant recruitment checks for that role; and
- completed the required training for that role.
In addition, no individual should be expected to undertake a role that they don’t feel comfortable with.
The concept of ‘mental capacity’ to make informed safeguarding decisions
Mental capacity is a legal term and is contained in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice, which is statutory guidance.
Mental capacity’s assessed in relation to the particular decision which needs to be made.
This means that whether a person has mental capacity to make a particular decision or not has to be considered on an individual basis in the light of the circumstances at the time. You mustn’t just make a conclusion that someone lacks mental capacity generally. If a person lacks the capacity to make this particular decision, then someone else (usually their parent/carer) may be able to make that decision for them.
Advice should be sought from the Safeguarding team if there are concerns regarding mental capacity.
The Scouts is committed to making sure that adults who volunteers within Scouts are
appropriate candidates. Our priorities are to safeguard children, young people and adults at risk.
To achieve this, we’re invested in recruiting the best people and supporting them in their role
through our Safer recruitment policy.
Legislation and guidance
The Scouts’ safeguarding procedures are set out in the end to end process.
Scouts policy documents and government legislation across the UK support this policy. All these documents are underpinned by Human Rights Act 1998 and UN Convention on the rights of the child, 1992. For full details of legislation see Appendix B.
This policy is due for review:
- every 12 months or
- following any legislative changes, or;
- following any learning by The Scouts, or;
- as required by the Charity Commission, or;
- any change in jurisdictional guidance, whichever comes first.
The policy will be reviewed by the Chief Safeguarding Offer and the Safeguarding Committee, and revisions will be recommended to the Board of Trustees.
Safeguarding team contact details
Appendix A Key definitions
The Scouts will refer to any person under the age of 18 years old as a young person. Within safeguarding legislation, different terminology is adopted and this is reflected across this policy.
Appendix B Legislation and guidance across all jurisdictions
This policy complies with the following pieces of legislation.
This is not an exhaustive list.
Specific guidance across regions
Adult at risk relevant legislation
This policy complies with the following pieces of legislation specifically. See also Safeguarding children and young people policy.
This is not an exhaustive list.
Appendix C Roles and responsibilities for safeguarding
Everyone within The Scouts must fully understand and implement the safeguarding policies and procedures relevant to their role. To enable this to happen, we have a comprehensive training programme and a safeguarding structure that makes sure we’re pro-actively safeguarding right across the organisation.
Our structure includes:
Appendix D Adult at risk referral
Appendix E Young person safeguarding referral
Pre-existing relationship conversation framework
This framework’s designed to support initial conversations with all parties involved where a discussion around a pre-existing relationship.