Assess the risks

Can you describe all the ways you come into contact with children and young people?

Consider the following:

  • all on- and off-site activities
  • leadership, coaching or mentorship roles and relationships that volunteers and staff may have with children
  • face-to-face and online activities and communications

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Have you considered the particular needs of all groups of children involved?

Children’s needs vary based on their:

  • age and maturity
  • gender
  • ability and skills
  • disability or medical condition
  • communication styles
  • cultural background
  • language
  • sexual orientation

Some groups of young people are known to be more vulnerable to abuse, bullying and poor practice than others. These young people may find it harder to access activities, or may need adaptations or adjustment to:

  • physical access
  • communications
  • leadership styles
  • rules of engagement or codes of conduct

Think of ways that your group or club can accommodate different groups of children and young people.

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What do you already do or have in place to safeguard children?

Consider the policies and procedures that you already have in place that contribute to developing a safe and inclusive environment and culture for children.

Key things to have in place:

  • a process for safe recruitment
  • codes of conduct or behaviour
  • safe use of social media – both for staff and volunteers, and for young people
  • consent for photography and how photos will be used
  • a nominated safeguarding lead with clear responsibilities
  • registration information for young people, parents and volunteers when they join

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What are the potential risks to children involved in your activity?

It's important for you club or group to assess what the possible risks are and how you currently manage them. Your organisation should consider:

  • the suitability of the physical environment, venue and equipment
  • whether your activity is inclusive for everyone. If not, what could be put in place to be more inclusive for all groups?
  • the suitability of all the adults involved in your activities 
  • the risks associated with the activities you offer

Completing a formal risk assessment for all activities (including day-to-day sessions, trips, competitions and events) within your group or club will enable you to address any possible risks and put safeguards in place where needed.

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Identify safeguarding leaders

Have you identified someone to lead on developing safeguarding arrangements?

It is important for everyone associated with your activities that you are clear about who will take a lead on all safeguarding arrangements, including:

  • developing policies and procedures
  • promoting safeguarding in your club or group
  • implementing safeguarding practice

Depending on skills, experience and size of your club or group, you may appoint different people to lead on the different elements of safeguarding.

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Is there a nominated safeguarding lead to respond to concerns?

It isn’t enough to simply appoint someone to be the nominated safeguarding lead.

The group or club must be clear about the specific roles and responsibilities for the person, particularly in relation to responding to any safeguarding concerns that may arise. Support should be provided, including safeguarding training, to enable the person to fulfil these important responsibilities.

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Are you clear about the appropriate knowledge, skills and experience needed for the role?

A clear description of the role will help you identify the type of person that will be best suited to the role. There may be someone within your setting with relevant professional experience and knowledge, such as a social worker or police officer.

The role will include receiving concerns from and offering advice to: 

  • leaders
  • volunteers
  • members
  • young people
  • parents

The nominated person needs to have good communication skills with a range of people, and be warm and approachable.

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Does the nominated person sit on the management or leadership group or committee?

In order to drive the safeguarding work within your group or club, safeguarding considerations should be embedded in all decision-making.  

To show the commitment that your group or club has to safeguarding, the nominated safeguarding lead should be a formal part of the management group. Management meetings should include safeguarding as a standing agenda item.

Support from your leadership group will demonstrate that your group or club is prioritising safeguarding children and young people within its activities. This could include the nominated safeguarding lead being on the management committee or equivalent.

Is information about your designated safeguarding lead communicated to everyone?

These details should be readily available to everyone associated with the activities, including children and parents, as well as all members, volunteers and staff at the group or club.

Information should be shared:

  • via a welcome or induction pack
  • inside the venue, on a noticeboard or similar
  • by email or social media

Does the safeguarding lead have access to relevant information, support and guidance?

It’s important that the nominated lead, at least, has access to basic safeguarding information and undertakes training, and is able to update this knowledge regularly. Ideally, this should be training specifically designed for nominated safeguarding leads.

The nominated safeguarding lead will occasionally need to seek advice and refer safeguarding concerns to outside agencies. Ensure that they have details for local agencies (including out-of-hours contacts) for the following:

  • children’s services, also known as children’s social care or social services
  • police
  • health services
  • local authority designated officers (LADOs), for England and Wales
  • multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH), which are available in some counties

The NSPCC helpline also offers information and advice to individuals. It can be contacted on 0808 800 5000 or you can email the NSPCC helpline.

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Get support

Has your group or club looked for external support to develop your safeguarding work?

You can seek support from a range of organisations or agencies. Local safeguarding agencies (such as Safeguarding Partnerships in England) work together to help ensure that organisations providing services and activities for children establish safeguarding arrangements.

We have a range of practical safeguarding materials and guidance for sports, activity groups and clubs, which we have linked to throughout this tool.

There are also local and national organisations that support voluntary and community organisations (VCOs), including providing or signposting to safeguarding guidance.

In England, Active Partnerships also provide support and advice to local activity deliverers in each of 43 regions.

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Are parents and young people involved in developing safeguarding arrangements?

If your group or club would like to involve parents and young people in developing safeguarding arrangements, there are some key things to consider. These include:

  • What are you planning to consult them on?
  • Who will this include? Parents and/or children?
  • Who will lead on this piece of work?
  • How will consultations take place and be resourced?

Following consultation, it is key that you provide feedback to parents and children on the decisions that were made and the reasons behind these.

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Write a safeguarding policy statement

Do you have a clear safeguarding policy statement?

A policy statement makes it clear to staff, parents, children and young people what your group or club will do to keep children safe. This includes procedures that detail how to respond to concerns about a child or young person.

The welfare of children and young people is paramount and should be prioritised within your policy statement and the activities you deliver.

This policy statement should be reviewed at least every 3 years.

Is the statement easy for all stakeholders to read and understand?

A policy statement will make it clear to staff, volunteers, parents, young people and children what your group or club will do to keep children safe. Some questions to consider are:

  • Is it written in clear and jargon-free sentences?
  • Is it easy to understand?
  • Do you get feedback from your members and participants?
  • How do you act on this feedback?
  • Do you have a process if members or participants don’t understand the policy statement?

Is your safeguarding policy statement well publicised and promoted?

It’s important to promote and publicise the safeguards of your group or club to members and stakeholders.

  • Do you provide new members and parents with the statement when they join your club or group?
  • How is the policy statement shared with members?
  • How else is your policy statement promoted (for example, leaflets or social media)?

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Write procedures

Are there clear procedures for what to do when safeguarding concerns arise?

Safeguarding procedures provide details of your group or club’s safeguarding processes.

Important things to consider when developing procedures:

  • be clear who the procedures are for
  • provide clear definitions of abuse within the procedures, including guidance about how to respond to a child in the event of a concern
  • have a process for recording incidents, concerns and referrals, and how to store these securely in compliance with relevant legislation
  • include guidance on confidentiality and information sharing
  • have a process for dealing with concerns about the behaviour of volunteers, staff or participants, and any concerns arising outside the activity
  • decide where the procedures will be saved and how they will be made available, both internally and externally

Your procedures should also include contact details (including out-of-hours contacts) and links for national and local statutory agencies where you can seek advice and refer safeguarding concerns, including:

  • children’s services, also known as children’s social care or social services
  • police
  • health services
  • local authority designated officers (LADOs), for England and Wales
  • multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH), which are available in some counties

For further safeguarding help or advice, the NSPCC helpline offers information to individuals and can be contacted on 0808 800 5000 or you can email the NSPCC helpline.

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Are your procedures easily available to everyone involved in the activity?

Think about how you make your information available – consider these questions:

  • How is information about the procedures distributed and promoted?
  • Is information available in different formats – for example, for those with particular communication needs – where required?
  • How accessible are your procedures to all audiences, including those with additional needs?
  • How have you analysed your key audience and their communication needs?
  • What translation facilities could be available for the website and leaflets, and how will these be resourced?
  • Have you considered audience needs – such as size of fonts, use of images, etc – in all promotional materials?
  • Has there been consultation with children and young people to ensure that materials and websites designed for them are appropriate and accessible?

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Do you have procedures and guidance to cover a range of safeguarding considerations?

Having a range of procedures in place will help you know how to respond to various possible safeguarding issues that may arise, including, but not limited to:

  • the safe and responsible use of video and photography at events
  • the safe use of social media
  • the safe use of changing facilities
  • supervision levels
  • transporting children to and from an activity
  • codes of conduct
  • anti-bullying procedures

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Set codes of behaviour

Is there guidance for all stakeholders that clarifies expected standards of behaviour?

Your club or activity should have codes of conduct and behaviour that you expect everyone to follow. You should have separate codes for staff and volunteers, children and young people, and parents.

You should be transparent about these behaviours, and everyone within the group or club should be in agreement.

You will need a process for people to sign up to these codes. This could form part of a staff or volunteer induction or of registration for children and their parents.

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Do your codes of behaviour also include values and ethical elements?

A code of ethics refers to the values and beliefs that underpin the code. Codes of conduct relate to the specific behaviours that are outlined and agreed to by your sports group or club.

Consider how your sports group or club includes these elements:

  • a code of ethics – this could either be separate code or integrated into the code of conduct
  • core ideals such as valuing children, respecting rights, commitment to fair play, and equality

You should also think about how the code will be distributed and promoted.

Select the right staff and volunteers

Do you have clear processes to assess the suitability of volunteers, staff and leaders?

The same procedures should be used whether staff are paid or unpaid, full- or part-time. A safer recruitment process will help your sports group or club to assess that the individual has the right skills, knowledge and attitude for the role you are looking to recruit to.

It’s important to ensure your organisation is doing all that it can to recruit the most suitable person for a role and one that will best suit your setting, including a robust induction process. You should consider the following:

  • look into any gaps in employment history and any previous concerns raised within references about the applicant's conduct that may affect their suitability to work with children and young people
  • have a clear induction plan and a process for putting this into practice
  • introduce them to your safeguarding policy and procedures, and sign them up to your code of conduct

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Do you have the right information to assess candidates?

To select the right people for your sports group or club, it’s essential to produce an application pack and any supporting information about your club and the role. This pack should be made available to any person interested in applying for a role, paid or voluntary.

Your recruitment process should include reviewing qualifications, experience, references and criminal records checks for qualifying roles. Information supplied during the application process will help when it comes to shortlisting applicants and identifying any concerns that need following up. 

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Are there clear job descriptions for these roles to help assess individuals’ suitability?

It’s important that recruitment is planned to include safeguarding considerations, as this is the first opportunity to set out that your organisation takes safeguarding responsibilities seriously.

It’s important to indicate that the post involves working with children, and that other relevant safer recruitment processes will be undertaken, including:

  • self-declaration
  • references
  • criminal records check

The following should be included in the hiring process:

  • a clear job role or job description that describes the full range of tasks and responsibilities
  • a person specification that best describes the skills, values, experience and attributes that the successful candidate needs to carry out the role, including experience of working with children
  • a plan for advertising and promoting the role to attract the widest response and demonstrate an open recruitment process

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Do you have a clear interview and pre-appointment process?

Choosing wisely and conducting an effective interview and selection process will help you to select the most suitable person for the role.

Key points when interviewing an applicant:

  • the process should be conducted fairly
  • any gaps in the application form or employment history should be investigated
  • applicant must meet the standards required to adhere to the safeguarding policy
  • you may want to explore the applicant’s attitude to power, authority and discipline

Check thoroughly that the applicant has undergone the relevant pre-employment checks and risk assessment, including:

  • references – at least 2 written references, including 1 from their last employer; the reference form should include the opportunity to comment on the candidate’s suitability to work with children
  • ID and qualifications – request to see original copies
  • right to work in the UK
  • criminal records check, where roles are eligible for this
  • self-declaration – requires an individual to provide information to be used as part of a decision on their suitability to work with children

All of the above should be recorded alongside the interview outcome and stored securely.

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Do you have a system to address any concerns that arise during recruitment?

If any concerning information arises during the recruitment process, a risk assessment should be undertaken by an appropriately experienced and trained individual. This could be the person with lead safeguarding responsibility within the organisation. Information about previous criminal convictions or other concerns should be part of this risk assessment.

Establishing a case management group, or similar system, within your organisation can help to risk-assess information returned from vetting checks and written references. It's important to not employ or deploy an individual until a risk-assessment process is complete.

Our case management tool provides guidance, templates and good-practice examples to help your organisation manage safeguarding cases more effectively.

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Get informed and stay up to date

Do new volunteers and staff receive an induction that includes safeguarding procedures?

An induction pack is a great tool to help your new starters settle in as soon as possible. An induction should start on the first day of joining and should be completed as soon as is practical.

Things to consider as part of your induction:

  • have clear induction guidance and documentation
  • put this guidance into practice
  • include familiarisation with the safeguarding policy and procedures, and who to contact if you have a concern

Related information

Is there a way for all stakeholders to receive safeguarding information and updates?

Communicating safeguarding updates and information to all stakeholders, including parents and young people, should be done when relevant and when any key changes have been put into place. This could include a change of nominated safeguarding lead or if a procedure has been amended.

Consider the following:

  • What is the best way to communicate this information to parents?
  • What is the most suitable way to communicate this to children and young people involved in your activity?

You could update parents in a newsletter or e-newsletter, create posters for notice boards and update this information on your website and social media channels.

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Are volunteers and staff required to undertake relevant safeguarding training?

Safeguarding training should be provided for roles working with children and young people. It’s important to consider the following:

  • the training required for different staff and volunteers, ensuring the appropriate level is selected for each role
  • knowing how and where to access and resource relevant training
  • maintaining records of training attendance
  • staff and volunteers having regular opportunities to update their knowledge and understanding
  • that training is provided to those responsible for dealing with complaints and disciplinary processes
  • being clear which roles require training around safe recruitment

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Can the designated safeguarding lead access training, support and updates?

As well as having access to specific safeguarding training, safeguarding leads should be provided with information on additional support and guidance available to them. You should consider:

  • What arrangements do you have for providing advice and support to the designated safeguarding role?
  • How do designated roles find out about information about training, advice and support?

The CPSU website has a wealth of information that you can draw on. Our Help and advice section covers general safeguarding processes and concerns, as well as looking in depth at topics ranging from anti-bullying guidance to how to deal with photography and video recording. In our resource library, you'll find sample policies, best practice guidance, podcasts, webinars, videos, tools and other resources.

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Ensure arrangements are effective

Are safeguarding policies and procedures reviewed, updated and communicated?

It's recommended that you annually update your policy and complete a full review every 3 years.

Communicating with stakeholders about your club or group's safeguarding processes, policies and procedures will better inform everyone what action will be taken if an issue arises.

It is also important to keep everyone involved in the organisation up to date if information or processes change. Clear communication will help to create a safer culture and environment.

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Do leaders or management review the use of safeguarding procedures?

Safeguarding procedures should be reviewed throughout the organisation so that your club or group has ownership of the procedures that are put in place.

You should consider:

  • How often this review is completed?
  • What is the process?
  • Who is involved and why?

You could review the use of your safeguarding procedures through regular presentations to your committee or management board.

Following a safeguarding issue, do you review how well the procedures worked?

Involving your case management group (if you have one) in reviewing all relevant policies and procedures after a safeguarding issue has arisen will allow your club or group to learn from this issue, so you can amend any procedures or policies as required.

Things to consider:

  • the support structures that are in place in the organisation
  • how these would be resourced if required
  • external organisational contacts that are available to provide support, advice and information
  • who will be involved in reviews and where they will be discussed
  • what support will be available for these
  • how the outcome of reviews will be acted on
  • a written process and timetable for future reviews

If you don’t have a case management group, it would be useful to consider who you can contact to help support this process, such as national and local statutory agencies. These include:

  • children’s services, also known as children’s social care or social services
  • police
  • health services
  • local authority designated officers (LADOs), for England and Wales
  • multi-agency safeguarding hubs (MASH), which are available in some counties

The NSPCC helpline also offers information and advice to individuals. It can be contacted on 0808 800 5000 or you can email the NSPCC helpline.

Related information