Safeguarding concerns must be passed on in a timely manner – both within the organisation and to external agencies when appropriate – so that action can be taken to address and manage them. To do this the organisation must establish clear reporting procedures.
The reporting procedures should reflect the safeguarding structure already in place within the organisation and refer to the specific safeguarding job titles that are being used. These titles are often club welfare officer, regional welfare officer and national lead officer. Safeguarding concerns should usually be directed to these safeguarding leads.
The reporting procedures should address concerns from within the sport, such as those relating to the behaviour of a coach or participant, as well as concerns away from sport such as at home, school or in the wider community.
The procedures and guidance should be communicated to all stakeholders including staff, volunteers, young people and parents and provided in a language and format that can be easily understood so that everyone is aware of what is required.
A lower-level concern is any concern, doubt, or sense of unease, no matter how small, that someone may have acted in a way that is inconsistent with an organisations code of conduct. This includes inappropriate behaviour outside of work, volunteering, or being an athlete. These concerns are often not considered serious enough to refer to a statutory service such as the police or children’s services.
It's important that an organisation challenges all concerns, including those thought of as lower-level, as it discourages any further rule breaking or escalating behaviour from taking place. When lower-level concerns are left unchallenged it creates the environment for more serious rule breaks and even abuse to occur.
The organisation’s lead safeguarding officer or case management group – sometimes with local authority designated officer (LADO) support – may decide that a concern constitutes a lower-level concern.
Lower-level concerns may require investigation or subsequent management at a local level through the regional, county or club welfare officer, depending on the organisation’s safeguarding structure. If affiliated to a national governing body, contact them to find out the process within your sport.
Persistent lower-level concerns, or investigations that reveal serious concerns, should be referred to the national safeguarding lead or the case management group for a decision about further action. This will usually include consultation with – or referral to – statutory agencies.
Concerns from outside sport
Adults working or volunteering with children in sport are often able to recognise the signs of a safeguarding concern or even hear about something of concern directly from a young person, even if the concern is from outside sport.
It’s essential that concerns coming to light from outside sport are still acted on in the child’s interests and reported in line with organisational safeguarding policy and procedures.
This usually means reporting concerns to the relevant club or organisational safeguarding lead or in urgent situations referring directly to local statutory agencies.
Guidance and support should be accessible to everyone in the organisation about how to respond to, report and record these concerns.