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
- Responding to and reporting concerns
- Codes of conduct
- Safer recruitment
- Supervision, support and training
- Writing a safeguarding plan
- Links to other organisational procedures
A policy statement makes it clear to staff, volunteers, parents and children what your organisation will do to keep children safe.
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:
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:
- coordinate concerns about children and young people – see our incident reporting form
- support those working in clubs
- put safeguards in place
- act on reports of concerns – see our safeguarding reporting-procedure flowcharts
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:
- Safeguarding reporting procedures
- Responding to reports of non-recent abuse in sport
- Information sharing – safeguarding concerns
- Case management tool
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
Your organisation should also be aware of how to store and retain this information – see our guidance on child protection records retention and storage.
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.
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.
- for more information, see our safer recruitment topic page
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children.
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.
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 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.
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.
It's useful to cross-reference other relevant organisational policies, including your:
- equity policy
- complaints and grievance procedures
- disciplinary procedures
- health and safety policy