The attached safeguarding policy was agreed by the SVBG Steering Group on March 7th 2023. It is subject to regular review with the next review date noted in the document.
Sid Valley Biodiversity Group
Children and Adult at Risk Safeguarding Policy and Procedures
1. Purpose of the policy
Sid Valley Biodiversity Group is committed to safeguarding practices that help ensure the safety of children and adults at risk whilst taking part in our group activities. This policy helps everyone involved in our group:
be aware of our legal responsibilities
understand the safeguarding risks in any group
know what to do if they have a concern about the wellbeing or welfare of any child or adult at risk that comes into contact with our group.
This safeguarding policy, and associated procedures, apply to all individuals involved in the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group including Steering group members, supporters, volunteers and those leading activities at our request. The policy applies to all concerns about the safety of children and adults at risk while taking part in our group and the activities we run.
2. Code of conduct
When working with children and adults at risk we are acting in a position of trust. We recognise that keeping our group safe is everyone’s responsibility, and we expect our members, supporters, volunteers and those leading activities at our request to behave according to the following values:
All children and adults at risk have an equal right to protection from abuse and to be kept safe from harm regardless of their age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.
We recognise some children and adults at risk are additionally vulnerable because of the impact of previous experiences, their level of dependency, communication needs or other issues.
We listen to and respect everyone in the group.
We use language that is appropriate for age and ability, and not offensive or discriminatory.
We encourage a culture of honesty, where everyone feels comfortable to point out attitudes or behaviours they do not like.
We know it isn’t always easy to be vocal about concerns – for ourselves or for other people.
We ensure that whenever possible there is more than one adult present during activities with children and vulnerable adults or, if this isn’t possible, that we are within sight or hearing of other adults.
All allegations and suspicions of neglect and abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
This means when working with children and adults at risk, we will never:
Promise to keep secrets – safeguarding relies on sharing concerns appropriately with other agencies.
Allow suspicions or allegations of abuse or neglect to go unreported
Act in a way that is threatening, abusive or bullying
Jump to conclusions about others without checking facts
Enter into a sexual or intimate relationship with a child or adult at risk.
This policy, and the practices within it, are based on the relevant legislation and guidance seeking to protect children and adults at risk, including:
The Children Acts 1989 and 2004;
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018
Adults at risk
The Care Act 2014; and
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (which protects people’s right to make their own decisions in any situation where they are able to do so).
We base our practices on the principles laid out in the Care Act 2014 i.e.
Empowerment – People being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent.
Prevention – It is better to take action before harm occurs.
Proportionality – The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
Protection – Support and representation for those in greatest need.
Partnership – Local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.
Accountability – Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.
The Children Act 1989 defines a child as: anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday, even if they are living independently, are a member of the armed forces or are in hospital.
Child abuse happens when a person harms a child. Children may be abused by: family members; friends; people working or volunteering in organisational or community settings; people they know; or strangers.
Adults at risk
According to the Care Act 2014 (applicable in England) an adult at risk is an individual aged 18 years and over who:
has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) AND;
is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect, AND;
as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of, abuse or neglect.
Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by another person or persons. It can occur in any relationship and may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person subjected to it. Any or all of the following types of abuse may be perpetrated as the result of deliberate intent, negligence, omission or ignorance. Often the perpetrator of abuse is known to the adult and may be in a position of trust and power.
The types of abuse we need to be aware of are:
Bullying and cyberbullying
Child sexual exploitation
Child criminal exploitation
Female genital mutilation
Adults at risk:
Neglect and acts of omission
Financial or material abuse
Organisational / institutional
Domestic abuse (including coercive control)
5. Recognising safeguarding concerns
There are many signs and indicators that may suggest a child or adult at risk is experiencing abuse or neglect. There may be other explanations too, but Sid Valley Biodiversity Group will not ignore any of these signs if they are apparent.
A child or adult at risk may confide (disclose) to a member, supporter or volunteer of Sid Valley Biodiversity Group that they are experiencing abuse, inside or outside the activities of the group. Or someone else may notice signs in a particular child or adult at risk.
Organisations listed in section 12 offer advice about how to look out for signs of abuse or neglect.
6. Responding to concerns
Sid Valley Biodiversity Group recognises that it can be difficult for many reasons to speak up if you think a child or adult at risk is being abused or neglected. However, we expect our members, supporters, volunteers and those leading activities at our request to take action in response to any concerns. The person raising the concerns, as well as the child or adult at risk of/experiencing abuse will be supported and reassured that they are doing the right thing.The approach should be as follows:
Always make sure they feel they are being listened to and supported
Reassure them they have done the right thing by telling you
Emphasise that abuse is never their fault
Don’t promise to keep information confidential between you and them. Explain that you need to share the information with someone who will be able to help.
Write a clear statement of what you have been told, seen, or heard.
Your primary concern should be the best interests of the child or adult who is at risk of harm. However, the person sharing this concern with you may also be distressed by the situation, even if they are reporting on behalf of someone else. Everyone can respond to worries about another differently. If someone has previously experienced trauma they can find it especially upsetting.
Sid Valley Biodiversity Group nominates one or more Safeguarding Leads for any event involving children or adults at risk and their contact details will be made available to those attending the event.
If a child or adult at risk makes a disclosure it should be reported in the first place to the event leader and/or the Sid Valley Biodiversity Group Safeguarding Lead(s). These will be agreed and publicised for each event.
If the child or adult is at immediate risk call the emergency services on 999.
If they are not in immediate danger you should make a referral to the relevant local authority safeguarding team within 24 hours (details in section 12).
If the child or adult at risk is showing signs or if there is concern but there has not been a direct disclosure, you can consult with the NSPCC Helpline (contact details in section 12) and be guided by them on any further actions.
If allegations are made about Sid Valley Biodiversity Group members, supporters, volunteers and those leading activities at our request, the following applies:
Contact the local authority safeguarding team (contact details are in section 12) as soon as possible within 24 hours and be guided by them on any further actions. required of you.
If the safeguarding concern is about another organisation, their staff, volunteers or the people they work with, the following applies:
As soon as possible within 24 hours contact the designated safeguarding lead of the organisation in question and pass on your concerns, if this has not already happened.
In some circumstances you may decide to follow up with the organisation to confirm they have acted on the issue.
If at any point you think the organisation has not acted and someone is at risk, you should contact the local authority safeguarding team yourself.
8. Keeping records
Sid Valley Biodiversity Group recognises that it is vital to record and store details about any child or adult at risk protection concerns that arise. We will record information, even if the concerns have not been shared with the police or the local authority safeguarding team. These records are extremely sensitive and will be stored on a computer, password protected and with protection against hackers and viruses.
The following information should be recorded about every safeguarding concern:
The date and time of the incident/disclosure/concern
The date and time of the report
The name and role of the person to whom the concern was originally reported and their contact details
The name and role of the person making the report (if this is different to the above) and their contact details
The names of all parties who were involved in the incident, including any witnesses
The name, age and any other relevant information about the child or adult who is the subject of the concern
What was said or done and by whom
Any action taken to look into the matter
Any further action taken (such as a referral being made)
The reasons why the organisation decided not to refer those concerns to a statutory agency (if relevant)
Each record will be signed and dated by the person making the report.
9. Confidentiality, consent and information sharing
Timely information sharing is key to keeping children and adults at risk safe and responding appropriately to concerns about their welfare. In general, Sid Valley Biodiversity Group expects steering group members, supporters, volunteers and those leading activities at our request, to maintain confidentiality and act in accordance with the UK General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
Parents/carers are normally the first point of contact for any concerns about a child. If there is a disclosure or suspicion of abuse, however, we will take guidance from the NSPCC Helpline and/or local authority safeguarding team as to whether we should make parents/carers aware of it or whether it should be left to other authorities to speak with the parent/carers.
10. Recruiting and training volunteers
Sid Valley Biodiversity Group members, supporters, volunteers and those leading activities at our request, who work with children and adults at risk will be given a copy of the safeguarding policy and procedures and asked to familiarise themselves with it including our code of conduct; definitions of abuse and harm; how to respond to concerns and disclosures, how to report incidents and where to go for further information. Those leading and volunteering will know who is the designated safeguarding lead for a particular event, and that they should go to them with any concerns.
11. Reviewing policy and procedures
This policy and its procedures will be reviewed every 2 years. It is next due to be reviewed in March 2025.
12. Key contacts
Sid Valley Biodiversity Group
Devon County Council (Children and Families)
This is the local authority safeguarding team to contact to make a referral about a child.
0345 155 1071
Torbay and Devon Safeguarding Adults Partnership
This is the local authority safeguarding team to contact to make a referral about an adult.
0345 1551 007
For adults to call for support or advice about child safeguarding concerns
0808 800 5000
For children to call for support
24 hours a day, 7 days a week