In December 2020, Working together to safeguard children was updated. We’ve put together this summary, which outlines the key changes and what this means for sport and physical activity organisations.
The update includes changes to information sharing, the homelessness duty and domestic abuse. The following areas were added or amended.
Contextual safeguarding was renamed in the guidance as 'assessment of risk outside the home' (p.25), and teenage relationship abuse has been added as an area of risk, however the primary content of this section has not changed. Contextual safeguarding or assessment of risk outside the home is a growing area of interest for sport; the CPSU will be developing further content on this topic in 2021.
Mental health concerns
The importance of mental health concerns for children has been emphasised throughout the revised document. Mental health has been added to physical health (p.7 & p.14) and the significance of mental health concerns about a child has been linked to abuse, neglect or exploitation. While aimed at school staff, the advice to refer concerns about a child’s mental health to children’s services while not making mental health diagnoses (p.18) is relevant to other roles including sport.
The impact of domestic abuse, including controlling or coercive behaviour, has been integrated throughout the revised guidance. Both domestic violence and controlling and coercive control have been added to the definitions (pp.110-111). The changes (p.14) state that practitioners need to develop their knowledge and skills in addressing the impact that domestic violence has upon children, both as witnesses and by being forced to collude in this.
As a significant area of growth in reports throughout 2020, this is an area that the NSPCC and CPSU will be providing increased resources to address.
Criminal exploitation has been added to the areas of risk in which practitioners should be developing their skills and knowledge to address (p.14). The National Working Group has provided resources and training to support sports organisations in this area.
This information has been refined in response to the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This includes guidance about appropriate information sharing of safeguarding and child protection concerns. This includes the explicit statement that data protection legislation does not prevent the sharing of information to keep a child safe and that consent is not required when sharing information for safeguarding and protecting the welfare of a child (p.19).
In making decisions about appropriate information sharing, the guidance recommends using GDPR lawful bases for sharing, i.e. legal obligation (the exercise of official authority) or public task (a task performed in the public interest). Further information about this is available in the new appendices (Appendix B) and includes a useful myth-busting guide to information sharing (p.21).
It is also stated (p.15) that, while encouraged, the agreement of the child and parents is not required to share information, although it is important to explain the reasons for this.
This strengthened guidance should support sports organisations in sharing information between themselves and with statutory bodies.
The Homelessness duty has been added to this guidance (p.23) in relation to local authorities’ duties to intervene at an earlier stage in homelessness. Full information is found in the Homelessness Code of Guidance. This has little direct application for sports organisations.