Putting safeguards in place

Getting started

If you’re starting to put safeguards in place in your club, activity or group, it can be difficult to know where to start and what you need to set up or create.

In this section we will provide you with the knowledge and information you need to get started on safeguarding your club or activity.

What do I need to know?

To help keep children and young people safe, it is important to understand what is meant by safeguarding and child protection and how this can be applied in your organisation. Take a look at our introduction to safeguarding guidance for more information.

It's important to have a clear set of guidelines to make sure your club or organisation deals with safeguarding concerns effectively. In this guidance we highlight all the areas that should be included in your safeguarding policy and the procedures to implement it – to create a safe environment for children and young people taking part in sport or activity.

For further guidance about getting started, listen to our Basics of safeguarding podcast to help you with your safeguarding journey.

Further information

Our self-assessment tools will help you find out what safeguards you have place and what you can build on for future.

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.

Safeguarding policy statement

What is a safeguarding policy statement?

A safeguarding policy outlines your safeguarding intension to protect children and young people whilst in your care. It also makes it clear to staff, volunteers, parents, carers and children what you and your organisation will do to keep children and young people safe.

Why is a safeguarding policy statement important?

Your policy should outline your commitment to safeguarding children and young people and establishes a safeguarding culture in your sport or activity. Having a safeguarding policy statement in place helps to protect children and young people from harm, as well as protecting your staff and volunteers too. Without a policy statement there is no clear safeguarding plan to work to, that is underpinned by government legislation or statutory guidance.

What should your safeguarding policy statement include?

  • your acknowledgement of your duty of care to safeguard, protect and promote the welfare of children and young people
  • your commitment to making sure safeguarding practice reflects statutory responsibilities, government guidance and complies with best practice
  • contact details of a safeguarding lead person, and any deputy roles that support your lead person
  • reference to legislation and statutory guidance that underpin your policy
  • your commitment to being inclusive for all individuals
  • the date your policy was last updated

How often should your safeguarding policy statement and procedures be updated?

These should be reviewed a year after they have first been developed and then every 3 years, or in the following circumstances:

  • changes in legislation or government guidance
  • as required by the local safeguarding partnership, UK Sport or home county sports councils
  • because of any other significant change or event

Writing a safeguarding policy statement

We’ve developed a sample safeguarding policy statement which you can use and adapt to suit your needs. Your safeguarding policy statement should make it clear to staff, volunteers, parents and children what you will do to keep children and young people safe whilst in your care.

Related documents

Safeguarding procedures

What are safeguarding procedures?

Safeguarding procedures outline how you will protect children and young people and what practical safeguarding measures will be put in place to do so.

Why are safeguarding procedures important?

Safeguarding procedures provide you with guidance that clearly outlines how to respond and act on safeguarding topics. Without clear procedures it may result in an inconsistent approach to safeguarding within your club, activity or organisation.

What safeguarding procedures should be in place?

We’ve created some sample procedures on various topics that your club, activity or organisation could use as a guide to create your own procedures. These include:

Complaints and grievances

Complaints or grievances should be raised if you are concerned about how something has been handled within a club or activity. It's important that the organisation has a procedure for dealing with complaints or grievances from a child, staff member, volunteer, parent or carer.

Promoting these processes will help to develop an open culture where children and staff feel able to raise any worries or concerns. This should be linked to the organisation's complaints procedures, ensuring the provision of support and advocacy for the people involved.

Whistleblowing

Whistleblowing occurs when an individual raises a concern about dangerous or illegal activity, or any wrongdoing within their club or organisation. It's important that people within your organisation have the confidence to come forward to speak or act if they're unhappy with anything.

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.

Key safeguarding roles and responsibilities

Key safeguarding roles and responsibilities

There are various safeguarding roles in sport and physical activity depending on the organisation and context. Here we outline the different roles and responsibilities within sport and physical activities.

Club welfare officer or Club safeguarding officer

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

See our sample job description for a club welfare officer.

Regional or county welfare officer or Regional or county safeguarding officer

The lead person within an established organisational region or county sport or activity with primary responsibility for managing and reporting concerns about children and young people. This role is also responsible for putting into place procedures to safeguard children and supporting the club welfare officers, where relevant.

See our sample job description for a county or regional welfare officer.

National lead safeguarding officer, organisational lead or safeguarding lead

The designated person 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.

See our sample job description for a lead safeguarding officer.

Board safeguarding lead

The role of board safeguarding lead is to steer 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 understand their organisation’s safeguarding structure and procedures as well as having strategic insight into safeguarding and child protection issues. This role includes:

  • supporting the organisation to maintain the safeguarding standards and embedding good practice
  • driving the development and implementation of a safeguarding action plan
  • embedding safeguarding within the work, discussions, and decisions of the board
  • promoting a culture of listening to children and young people
  • providing support to the safeguarding lead through regular meetings and discussions
  • promoting safeguarding at a strategic level to the wider network

See our In conversation with a board safeguarding champion blog, to hear more from a board member about their role.

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.

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

Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) – England, Wales and Scotland

A LADO, 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
  • behaved towards a child or children in a way that indicates they may pose a risk of harm to children
  • behaved or may have behaved in a way that indicated they may not be suitable to work with children

Read our In conversation with a local authority designated officer blog, to learn more about their role in helping to keep children safe in sport and activity.

Recruiting, training and supporting staff and volunteers

Recruiting, training and supporting staff and volunteers

It is important to recruit and train the right people to work with children and young people within your club, activity or organisation.

Recruiting the right people

Most people who want to work or volunteer with young people are well motivated; without them sports organisations could not operate.

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

Staff 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 or worries.

For more guidance, see our safer recruitment topic pages.

New starters

We have created guidance that will help you once you’ve recruited a new starter, which includes:

  • key areas to cover in your induction process
  • establishing training needs
  • probationary and trial period
  • training

Download our new starter induction checklist for more information.

Training

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

Responding to and reporting concerns

Responding to and reporting concerns

It is not the responsibility of anyone working in a club, activity 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 safeguarding lead person or authorities (if the child is in immediate danger).

It's important that your club, activity or organisation has one or more people with specific responsibility for safeguarding at both national (where relevant) and local levels. These safeguarding leads will:

Reporting safeguarding concerns

All concerns about a child or young person should be reported to the safeguarding lead person, (club welfare officer or national safeguarding lead) and following your organisation’s procedures.

If there are concerns about child abuse, this may lead to a referral to children's services and/or the police. A club or organisation may also have 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 the codes of conduct.

All concerns, no matter how small, require investigating, and the organisational procedures will define the course of action to address how these are managed.

For further information, visit our guidance on:

Recording

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

  • the concern
  • who it was responded to
  • where it was reported to
  • the relevant times and dates and what the outcome of this report was

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

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

Building and embedding safeguards

Building and embedding safeguards

Creating a safeguarding plan

Using an effective safeguarding plan enables clubs, activities and organisations to meet their safeguarding responsibilities by setting out the work being done to make activities safer for everyone. It may be useful to consider how you communicate and measures your safeguarding expectations.

We’ve developed sports safeguarding tools which you can use to help support your safeguarding processes and progress.

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

See our guidance on writing a safeguarding plan which will help with creating your own safeguarding plans.

Links to other procedures

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

  • equality, diversity and inclusion procedures
  • complaints and grievance procedures
  • disciplinary procedures
  • health and safety procedure