Putting safeguards in place

Policies, procedures and plans

Safeguarding policies, procedures and plans

It's important to have a clear set of guidelines to make sure your organisation deals with safeguarding concerns effectively.

This page includes all the areas that should be included in a safeguarding policy – and the procedures to implement it – to create a safe environment for children and young people taking part in sport.

Use one of our sports safeguarding tools to ensure you are doing everything you can to keep children safe.


Click on the following links to jump to a specific topic:

Policy statement

A policy statement makes it clear to staff, volunteers, parents and children what your organisation will do to keep children safe.

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Our introduction to safeguarding section provides information about what is meant by safeguarding, child protection and the categories of child abuse as these pertain to a sports context.

More detailed descriptions of these topics can be found on the NSPCC Learning website: 

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Responding to and reporting concerns

It is not the responsibility of anyone working in a club or organisation to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns by reporting these to the appropriate officer or the appropriate authorities.

It's important that each organisation has one or more people with specific responsibility for safeguarding. This person will:

Each club should also have someone with a designated safeguarding role, such as a club welfare officer.

All concerns about a child should be reported to the club welfare officer or national safeguarding lead, following the National Governing Body (NGB) or Active Partnerships (previously County Sports Partnerships) procedures.

Where concerns are about child abuse, this may lead to a referral to children's services who may involve the police. An organisation may also encounter lower-level concerns, which refers to any concern, doubt, or sense of unease that someone may have acted in a way that is inconsistent with codes of conduct. All concerns, no matter how small, require investigating, and the NGB or Active Partnership procedures will define the course of action to address these kinds of concerns.

For further information, see the following CPSU guidance: 

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It is important that all concerns are recorded – including information about:

  • the concern
  • how it was responded to
  • where it was reported to
  • and what the outcome of this report was

Useful resources for this include our Incident reporting referral form and Case management tool.

Your organisation should also be aware of how to store and retain this information – see our guidance on child protection records retention and storage.

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Codes of conduct

Codes of conduct for staff and volunteers, parents and guardians, and children and young people should also be developed to ensure all those involved in the club are clear on what behaviour is expected and what will not be tolerated.

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Safer recruitment

The majority of people who want to work or volunteer with children within sport are well motivated. Without them sports clubs and organisations could not operate.

Unfortunately, some individuals are not appropriate to work with children and young people. It is therefore essential that you have effective recruitment and selection procedures for staff and volunteers to help screen out and discourage those who are not suitable from joining your club or organisation.

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.

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Supervision, support and training

Once recruited, all staff and volunteers should be well informed, trained, supervised and supported to ensure that they effectively safeguard children and know how to respond to any concerns.

The organisation should ensure that training and resources are available to encourage the development of staff and volunteers. This should include:

  • an induction to the work and the organisation
  • a trial period in which to develop skills whilst supervised
  • ongoing support and monitoring

There are currently no formal qualifications specifically for safeguarding and protecting children in sport.

However, training developed by sports and other organisations is available to strengthen the skills and knowledge of the workforce to safeguard children and young people.

Training plays an important role in equipping staff and volunteers to do their job safely and effectively. Different safeguarding training is available depending on the person's role.

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It's important that people within your organisation have the confidence to come forward to speak or act if they're unhappy with anything.

Whistleblowing occurs when a person raises a concern about dangerous or illegal activity, or any wrongdoing within their sports organisation.

The NSPCC has a whistleblowing advice line to support professionals who have concerns about how child protection issues are being handled in their own or another organisation.

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In order to ensure that you develop an open culture where children and staff feel able to raise any issues, it's important that your organisation has a procedure for dealing with complaints from a child, worker, volunteer, parent or carer.

This should be linked to the organisation's complaints procedures, ensuring the provision of support and advocacy for the people involved.

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Writing a safeguarding plan

Using an effective safeguarding plan enables organisations and providers to meet their safeguarding responsibilities by setting out the work being done to make activities safer for everyone.

The safeguarding plan should bring together all of the safeguarding work taking place within your organisation or club. This should include any safeguarding priorities, ongoing projects and areas for development as well as the day-to-day work.

Our guide to writing a safeguarding plan can help you get started.

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Links to other organisational procedures

It's useful to cross-reference other relevant organisational policies, including your:

  • equity policy
  • complaints and grievance procedures
  • disciplinary procedures
  • health and safety policy 

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Further information

Visit our Resource library for all our publications, best-practice examples, policies, videos, and sample forms to help organisations in safeguarding children and young people taking part in sports activities.

If you're not a sporting organisation, take a look at this NSPCC safeguarding policy and their guidance on safeguarding in a wider context. 

Related documents

Specific issues and topics

Specific issues and topics


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Sports organisations play an important role in creating a positive club ethos that challenges bullying. They do this by empowering young people to understand the impact of bullying and how best to deal with it, and to agree to standards of behaviour.

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Deaf and disabled children and young people

The vast majority of deaf and disabled children and young people are ready, willing and able to participate in sport and physical activity when they can access facilities and appropriately trained staff who can support them.

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Use of photographic and video equipment

Parents and carers often want to be able to celebrate the achievements of their children when taking part in sporting activities through taking photographs or videos. Sports organisations may also want to take photos to promote their activities and increase participation.

Appropriate and proportionate safeguards should be in place to protect children and young people from the inappropriate use of their images. 

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Social media and online safety

Online technology has advanced and changed the way people communicate and interact on a daily basis. Sports organisations, coaches and others involved in providing activities for children and young people are increasingly using the internet and social media to promote sport and communicate.

Although digital media and communication can provide benefits for those involved, they also pose potential safeguarding risks to children and young people.

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Elite athletes

A number of researchers over the years have highlighted the particular vulnerability of young people moving through the talent pathway and participating in elite level sport.

We have developed guidance for sports organisations and athletes about the impact and pressure being placed on young talented athletes and what is acceptable practice. 

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Event planning

When organising events, activities and competitions your organisation must meet the safeguarding responsibilities for the event and take steps to promote the wellbeing of all the participants and young people involved, including volunteers and officials.

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Safeguarding in performing arts

Performing arts activities can take place in a number of settings. Organisations need to prioritise the wellbeing of children involved in the activity and follow relevant legislation and guidance for child performers. The NSPCC has developed resources to help organisations with this.

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Related documents

Safeguarding roles and responsibilities

Key safeguarding roles and responsibilities

This glossary outlines the key safeguarding roles at different levels of sport and in related organisations, and what those roles entail.

Club welfare officer / Club safeguarding officer

The person within a sports club with primary responsibility for managing and reporting concerns about children and for putting into place procedures to safeguard children in the club.

Regional welfare officer / Regional safeguarding officer

The person within a sports organisation with primary responsibility for managing and reporting concerns about children and for putting into place procedures to safeguard children in the county structure, and supporting club welfare officers where relevant. Also known as county welfare officers.

National Lead safeguarding officer / National Lead child protection officer

The designated person within a sports organisation with primary responsibility for managing and reporting concerns about children and for putting into place procedures to safeguard children in the organisation, including supporting club, county and regional welfare officers, where relevant.

Case management group

The role of a case management group (CMG) is to manage the sports organisation's initial response to reported concerns about the welfare or abuse of children and young people, and potential risks from adults or other young people. This includes:

  • the level at which the concern will be dealt with (from local to national)
  • which procedures will be used
  • whether or not the concerns should be discussed with or referred to statutory agencies

The CMG should also monitor progress on cases and report to the organisation’s senior management or board on issues arising from cases and trends that require management action

Board safeguarding champion

The role of board safeguarding champion is to lead and inform safeguarding discussion and planning within board meetings, to ensure the board prioritise these discussions and resource appropriately. They’re the link between the lead safeguarding officer and the board.

The person in this role should have an understanding of their organisation’s safeguarding structure and procedures as well as having strategic insight into safeguarding and child protection issues. This role includes:

  • supporting the NGB to maintain the safeguarding standards and embedding good practice
  • to drive the development and implementation of the safeguarding action plan
  • to ensure safeguarding is embedded within the work, discussions and decisions of the board
  • promoting the importance of developing a culture of listening to young people within and through NGB policies, procedures and services
  • providing support, check and challenge to the NGB safeguarding lead through regular meetings and discussions
  • promoting safeguarding at a strategic level to the wider network

Children’s social care / Children’s services

The statutory organisation responsible for responding to concerns about children and leading investigations about child abuse in partnership with the police. Also known as social services.

Local Safeguarding Partnerships (LSPs)

Local Safeguarding Partnerships (formerly Local Safeguarding Children Boards or LSCBs) are responsible for local arrangements for protecting children and young people. They provide inter-agency guidelines for child protection.

Further information on the role of an LSP is outlined on the NSPCC website: Child protection in England – Legislation, policy and guidance.

Links to the Local Safeguarding Partnerships for each region can be found on the Safe Activities for Everyone (SAFE) website.

Designated Officer (previously known as a LADO) – England and Wales

A Designated Officer, or a team of officers, work within children’s services departments and are responsible for the management and oversight of allegations.

They should be alerted to all cases in which it is alleged that a person who works with children (in a paid, unpaid, volunteer, casual, agency or self-employed capacity) has:

  • behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed, a child
  • possibly committed a criminal offence against children
  • related to or behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they are unsuitable to work with children

The Designated Officer should support the organisation with advice and guidance from the initial phase of a concern arising to the conclusion of the case, whether or not a police investigation continues.

For more information about the role of the designated officer: 

Related documents