Putting safeguards in place

Last updated: 06 Jul 2018
Safeguarding policies and procedures

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 our safeguarding self-assessment tool 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.

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 NGB or CSP's procedures.

Where concerns are about child abuse, this may lead to a referral to children's services who may involve the police. If concerns are about poor practice, the NGB or CSP's procedures will define the course of action to address this.

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 Model 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), which replaced the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA), helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.

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 sporting children’s 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.


In order to ensure that you develop an open culture where children and staff feel able to express any concerns, 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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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

Writing an implementation plan

Safeguarding implementation plans are important to inform the planning and prioritising of safeguarding work within the organisation. They should be based upon a sound assessment of safeguarding priorities, strengths and areas to build upon for the organisation. 

To assist the development of this plan, the following questions should ensure that you have considered and included all relevant areas:

  1. Have you completed a self assessment of safeguarding within the organisation?
  2. Does your plan include all safeguarding work within the organisation?
    • highlight the priorities but don’t forget to include ongoing areas of work and development too
  3. Are realistic timescales outlined throughout the plan?
    • these should be spread throughout the year and be based upon established priorities
  4. Have you considered communication of new information?
  5. Are children, young people and parents engaged with the plans? Are there plans to involve and consult with them?
  6. Have you identified who is taking responsibility for each area? Is this divided between individuals? Are these individuals provided with appropriate support for the task?
    • it's important that there's a whole organisational commitment to safeguarding and not just one person responsible for all tasks
  7. Have resources for each area of the plans been identified?
    • this could include staffing, money, time, website resources, etc
  8. Are plans specific? How will you know when you’ve achieved your aims?
  9. How will the plan be reviewed and monitored throughout the year?
    • it can be useful to build in steps to achieve each main area, to break this down into manageable chunks

You may find this template for a safeguarding implementation plan a useful resource in creating and implementing your plan. 

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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.

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Specific issues and topics

This page deals with a number of specific concerns relating to putting safeguards in place.


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


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.

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.

The CPSU recommends that appropriate and proportionate safeguards should be in place to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect children and young people from the inappropriate use of their images in resources and media publications, on the internet and elsewhere.

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 those young people who participate in elite level sport.

The CPSU has produced a briefing paper to assist governing bodies, coaches and parents to consider the impact and pressure being placed on young elite athletes and what is acceptable practice within their sport:

Event planning

When organising events, activities and competitions, it's important that your organisation meets the safeguarding responsibilities for the event and takes steps to promote the wellbeing of all participants and other young people involved, including volunteers and officials.

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

Key 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.

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.

Further infomation on the role of local authority children's social care is available on the National Archives website.

Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs)

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 LSCB is outlined on the NSPCC website: Child protection in England – Legislation, policy and guidance.

Designated Officer (previously known as a LADO) – England

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 s/he is unsuitable to work with children

The Designated Officer will 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.

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