NMTC’s Safeguarding, Child Protection and Vulnerable Adult Policy and Procedures
Including reporting concerns and whistle-blowing
NMTC’s Designated Safeguarding Officer is Jayne Maryan-Minter
Contact Telephone Number is 07974 573920
Northampton Musical Theatre Company (NMTC) is fully committed to safeguarding the welfare of all of our Company members especially children, young people and vulnerable adults by taking all reasonable steps to protect them from neglect, physical, sexual or emotional harm. Safeguarding is at the centre of NMTC’s activities and beliefs and is the responsibility of everyone. NMTC aims to keep safe all of the Company members, children, young people and vulnerable adults who use NMTC’s services as well as the paid staff and volunteers who work for NMTC.
NMTC aims to provide safe, positive and empowering environments for all, who engage in projects, programmes and events organised directly by it, or in partnership with other organisations. NMTC’s work with it’s Company members especially our young people and vulnerable adults aims to be fun, informative and inspirational.
This can only be achieved in an atmosphere of trust and respect. NMTC recognises that there are a variety of approaches required to ensure an effective prevention of harm strategy (see what constitutes abuse page 5). These include: creating the right environment, developing practice standards, empowering Company members and our young people, vulnerable adults, paid staff and volunteers in sharing information and developing a monitoring role.
NMTC paid staff and volunteers must, at all times, show respect for and understanding of the rights, safety and welfare of our users and conduct themselves in a way that reflects this.
NMTC takes any concerns or suspicions seriously. Full support will be given to any individuals who raise concerns.
Compliance with NMTC’s policies and procedures should achieve the above.
All paid staff and volunteers will be made aware of this policy and procedure as part of their induction. They have a responsibility to adhere to it. It will be made freely available to all NMTC users via our website.
This Policy and Procedure will be reviewed every 2 years by The Committee, to ensure that the operation of this procedure is satisfactory. This document was created in July 2016. Reviewed 2018,2020, Next review date July 2022 NMTC will review any incidents during the year and take the appropriate action to resolve them, adapting policies and procedures immediately if so required.
Young people/person – All safeguarding and child protection legislation and guidance recognises a child or young person as anyone up to the age of 18.
Vulnerable adult – Someone over the age of 18, who is considered ‘vulnerable’ for one reason or another and unable to protect themselves, e.g. someone with a physical, sensory or mental impairment.
NMTC Company members, paid staff and volunteers – This includes all full and part time paid staff as well as volunteers which includes freelance contracted staff, Committee Members and Cast Members.
Legislation to protect children and young people
- Human Rights Act 1998 and The United Nation’s Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Children Act 2004, 1989
- Protection of Children Act 1999
- Police Act 1997 Part V
- Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
- Disability Discrimination Act 1995
- Health and Safety at Work Act 1974
- Data Protection Act 1984 and 1998
- Sexual Offences Act
- Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Ace
Designated Safeguarding Officer
The designated worker takes responsibility for disseminating and implementing safeguarding procedures within the organisation at all times. In particular, they will:
- Be specifically trained to carry out this role
- Be familiar with and have an understanding of all legislation and guidance relating to safeguarding and child protection
- Receive information from Company members, paid staff, volunteers, children and young people, parents and carers about child protection concerns
- Assess this information promptly and take appropriate action
- Maintain secure, confidential records of any child protection or other safeguarding concerns raised, action taken and follow-up required
- Provide support during and after incidents involving child protection
- Know how to contact and establish links with the Local Safeguarding Children Boards and the relevant departments within Local Authorities and police and be familiar with local referral procedures
- Assess the safeguarding and child protection learning and development needs of all staff and volunteers and coordinate the training
- Promote safeguarding across the organisation and keep all staff and volunteers informed on good practice and new legislation and guidance
- Monitor the overall trend of safeguarding concerns, keep records of their disposal and feed back to the organisation on the quality of their safeguarding work
Code of conduct
NMTC believes that all members of its paid staff and volunteers have a clear understanding of the responsibilities and powers their positions of trust carry. The Staff and Volunteers’ Code of Conduct clearly outlines what is acceptable behaviour and what is not and how to behave appropriately when working with young people and as such ensuring that the ‘position of trust’ is not abused. This not only protects those in the positions of trust, but also safeguards those being cared for.
Failure to comply with the Code may be deemed a disciplinary matter.
Safe practice when working with young people at NMTC events or residential trips
Information to parents and carers
Parents and carers must be provided with event information for any NMTC activity involving a person under the age of 18 years. The information provided must include – date, times, location, travel arrangements, refreshments, money, clothing or equipment needed and contact information should a parent or carer wish to contact the member of staff in charge of the activity.
Consent of parent or carer
Consent must be obtained from a child’s parent or carer for any NMTC activity involving a person under the age of 18 years or a vulnerable young person up to the age of 25. The NMTC consent form will be used for this purpose. For young people aged 18 and over they will be asked to complete a consent from providing
emergency contact, health and medical information.
During activities, copies of consent forms will be available to relevant staff present, in case of an emergency and the need to contact a parent or carer. Forms will be kept in a place which is only accessible to staff and the location of the forms must be known to all staff participating in the event. On conclusion of the event, forms will either be destroyed or stored securely.
Original copies of consent forms will be filed in a locked cabinet, accessible only to those who need to fulfil their duties.
Staff to participant ratio and risk assessment
The Children’s Legal Centre recommends staffing levels of the following:
- One adult to 10-15 children aged eight to 11 and one adult for 15 to 20 children aged 11 to 12 for lower risk activities
- One adult to 10 children for residential trips, trips abroad or for water or adventure sports
- One adult to six children where there are children under the age of eight in the group
These ratios will be considered in the risk assessment for each activity or event.
NMTC believes it good practice to have at least two members of paid staff or volunteers present throughout the duration of any trip or activity, preferably of both genders. It is recognised that some children and young people with special needs may require one to one or even two to one care. Each situation is risk assessed and judged accordingly.
Risk assessments are completed before any activity or event and risk assessing is ongoing throughout the event/activity.
NMTC uses the Health and Safety Executive Five Steps to Risk Assessment as a basis for risk assessing.
When carrying out risk assessments the following are considered:
- The type of activity and level of difficulty at which it is being undertaken
- Appropriate separate sleeping and washing arrangements
- The location of the activity
- Weather conditions, if the activity takes place outdoors
- The competence, qualifications and experience of paid staff and volunteers and any on-site staff if the activity is taking place in a different location
- The age, competence, fitness and experience of the participants
- What will happen if one of the leaders gets hurt or becomes ill, has to take a child/young person to the hospital, has to take a child or young person home
- Visa requirements
- Driving regulations
- Cultural and religious differences
- Appropriate transport arrangements e.g. use of a minibus ensuring it is correctly licensed, taxed and insured and driven by a suitably qualified individual, seatbelts are worn, first aid kit, etc.
Use of Internet, mobile telephone and social networks
It is acceptable to use email, text and internet based social networks to communicate with children and young people however the following safe working practice should be applied
- Parents or carers must be informed about how NMTC staff communicates with young people and give their consent
- Parents or carers must be given the opportunity to be ‘copied in’ to communications with their child if they so wish
- Paid staff and volunteers must only use NMTC email or mobile telephone to text message. If social network websites are used there must be a separate NMTC identity or profile established and any such site subject to regular monitoring by a line manager or the Designated Safeguarding Officer. Such sites must be moderated to ensure the continued safe use and security of young people using the site
- Staff must never use personal email, mobile telephones or internet based social networks to communicate with children or young people
- All electronic communications from NMTC to a young person must be recorded.
Use of photographs or recorded images of children and young people
NMTC may want to take photographs or record the activities undertaken by the young people. NMTC commits to ensure that all publications and media represent participants appropriately and with due respect. A photograph or image of a child or young person will not be published without consent. Personal information about the individual will not accompany the image. NMTC receives a blanket permission to record our events through film and photography. This permission restricts use for NMTC’s own promotional use, e.g. publications and website. Individuals and organisations commissioned by us or working in partnership with us cannot use film and photography without the consent of the participating groups. Where possible and appropriate NMTC gets explicit consent when people register for an event directly. Where a youth theatre leader books for an event on behalf of a young people, NMTC gets the leader to sign to say they are responsible for getting explicit, individual consent. NMTC states at events “NMTC will be taking photographs and video shots of activities and performances for use within NMTC’s photographic library, printed NMTC publications, publicity and on the NMTC website, to support and promote the work of the Company. If you or your parents have any objections to this please let us know so that we can identify anyone who does not wish us to use their image. Otherwise it will be assumed that consent has been given.”
NMTC websites will be carefully monitored to eliminate the use of inappropriate images or improper text.
Whilst NMTC staff will ensure that young people’s rights to privacy and confidence is respected, there may be times when this confidence needs to be breached. If a young person discloses information about him/herself or another young person, which raises safeguarding concerns about the safety of that young person or others, then these concerns will be reported to the Designated Safeguarding Officer in line with NMTC reporting concerns procedure which is included in this policy. NMTC will ensure that the young person is involved, consulted and kept informed about what action, if any, is to be taken and during each step of the reporting procedure.
Any personal information gathered about a young person regarding a child protection concern will be stored in a secured and confidential place. Only appropriate staff will have access to this information (e.g. paid staff member or volunteer involved, Designated Safeguarding Officer). It may be necessary to pass this information on to the relevant Local Authority and police. When doing so, NMTC will ensure that the young person is involved and gives consent in making that decision where possible. The only situation when a referral can and will be made without the consent of the young person will be if that young person is at risk of serious harm.
NMTC staff will ensure that any information gained or given will be treated with the strictest of confidence. Young people will be consulted and involved in the decision making process.
What constitutes child abuse
Child abuse occurs when a child or young person has suffered from, or is at significant risk of suffering from, ill-treatment or impairment of development, by any person who knowingly colludes with or fails to prevent the ill-treatment of the child or young person by not ensuring reasonable standards of care and protection.
All paid staff and volunteers should be aware that abusers are not just strangers. They can include parents, carers, family members, friends, people in positions of trust and authority, other children or young people, or anyone who has contact with children and young people.
Children and young people who are abused are often abused by an adult they know and trust. Disabled children and young people are more vulnerable to abuse; they are more dependent on intimate care and occasionally they may be less able to tell or escape from abusive situations.
Misunderstandings and misinterpretations of different cultural and religious beliefs and practices often mean that children and young people from these communities and families may be more vulnerable to abuse going undetected and often statutory services fail to meet the needs or deliver appropriate services to the children and young people
It is important to remember that, although many abusers are men, women also abuse, and that abusers come from all social and ethnic backgrounds, races, classes and professions.
Definitions of abuse
Four categories of abuse have been defined and are generally accepted, although it is important to remember that abuse will often fall into more than one category at any one time
Neglect – the persistent or severe neglect and failure to meet the child’s or young person’s basic physical and or psychological needs, i.e. food, warmth, shelter, clothing, care and protection
Physical – any form of non-accidental injury or failure to protect against injury to a child or young person. This may involve hitting, shaking, poisoning, throwing, suffocating, burning and scalding. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer puts on the symptoms of, or deliberately causes, ill health to a child or young person under their care.
Emotional – severe or persistent rejection or emotional ill-treatment of the child or young person which would negatively affect the emotional or behavioural development of the child or young person.
Sexual – the actual, or likely, sexual exploitation of the child or young person by any person, whether or not that child or young person is aware of what is happening. This would include physical contact (penetrative or non-penetrative) and non-physical contact (looking at pornographic materials, watching sexual activities, or encouraging children/young people to behave in sexually inappropriate ways).
It is also recognised that there are other sources of stress for children and young people and their families, for example social exclusion, domestic violence, mental illness or drug and alcohol misuse.
NMTC recommends the approach taken by the Learning and Skills Improvement Service in framing their thinking within the 5Rs i.e. Recognise, Respond, Report, Record and Refer.
How to recognise abuse
The following is a guide to help paid staff and volunteers to become more alert to and aware of the signs of possible abuse. These lists are not definitive. Please bear in mind that there may also be other factors within the family that may be the reason for sudden changes in behaviour, for example death, the birth of a new sibling, etc.
Recognising possible abuse is a complex and complicated procedure. It is not your responsibility to decide whether a young person has been abused or is at significant risk. Investigation of child abuse is a specialised professional task which should only be undertaken by the designated agencies, i.e. the Local Authority Children’s Services, police, Local Safeguarding Children’s Board or the NSPCC. However, you do have a responsibility to act on any concerns and report them in accordance with the reporting procedure.
The one thing a staff member must not do is NOTHING!
Neglect – this can be a difficult form of abuse to recognise and yet it can have some of the most lasting and damaging effects. The physical signs and changes in behaviour that may indicate neglect may include:
- Constantly hungry, perhaps stealing food from others
- Constantly dirty or in an unkempt, unwashed state
- Inappropriately dressed for the weather conditions
- A loss of weight or being constantly underweight
- Being tired all the time
- Failure to attend medical appointments or not requesting them
- Mentioning being left alone or unsupervised
Physical abuse – It is quite normal for children and young people to get cuts and bruises as part of their daily life. However, some children and young people will have bruising or cuts that could only have been caused non-accidentally. Important indicators are where on the body the bruises or injuries occur, whether any explanation given, or the lack of explanation, fits the injury and also whether there was a delay in seeking medical treatment when treatment may be quite necessary.
The physical signs and changes in behaviour that may indicate physical abuse may include:
- Injuries on any part of the body that cannot be explained
- Bruises which reflect hand marks or fingertips from slapping or pinching
- Cigarette burns, bite marks, broken bones, scalds
- A fear of approaching parents for an explanation
- Aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts
- Flinching when touched or approached
- Depression, withdrawn behaviour
- Running away from home
- Reluctance to get changed
Emotional abuse – again this is can be very difficult to identify; often those who appear well cared for may be emotionally abused by being put down or belittled. Also, some children and young people may be receiving little or no love, affection and/or attention from their parents or carers. Those not allowed to mix and play with others may also be experiencing emotional abuse.
The physical signs and changes in behaviour that may indicate emotional abuse may include:
- A failure to thrive or glow
- Sudden speech disorders
- Delayed development, either physically or emotionally
- Exhibiting neurotic behaviour such as hair twisting or rocking
- Reluctance to have their parents or carers contacted or approached regarding their behaviour
- Exhibiting a lack of confidence or the need for approval or attention
- Fear of making mistakes
- Exhibiting self-harming behaviour
Sexual abuse – adults who exploit their power and use children or young people to gratify their own sexual needs abuse both girls and boys of all ages, cultures and abilities, including babies, toddlers and young people. More often than not, the child’s or young person’s behaviour will cause you to become concerned; however, there are physical signs that highlight concerns. In all cases, children and young people who talk about sexual abuse do so because they want it to stop. Therefore, it is vitally important that they are listened to and taken seriously.
The physical signs and changes in behaviour that may indicate sexual abuse may include:
- Stomach pains, discomfort when walking or sitting down
- Bruising or injuries to parts of the body that are not normally seen
- Pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections
- Sudden or unexplained changes in behaviour and/or mood i.e. becoming aggressive or withdrawn
- Nervousness or fear of being left with specific persons or groups
- Acting in a sexually inappropriate way with peers and or adults
- Sexual knowledge, drawings and language that are beyond the child or young person’s age or developmental level
- Running away
- Self-harm and mutilation, suicide attempts
- Eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia
- Indicating that they have secrets that cannot be told to anyone
- Substance abuse (drug and alcohol)
NB These are some typical signs and indicators for each type of abuse, but all could indicate a different type of abuse or another concern.
The appropriate response is vital. No disclosure about possible abuse or neglect should ever be ignored. In order to determine the most appropriate response, ascertain what you are dealing with. See also section below If a child or young person confides in you, you must do the following:
Reporting concerns, suspicions and allegations
What to do if you have a concern, suspect or have a disclosure about abuse
Report any safeguarding concerns to the Designated Safeguarding Officer or their Deputy as soon as possible. Once you have reported concerns about abuse to the Designated Safeguarding Officer the responsibility for taking action lies with them.
Any concern being reported will be taken seriously. NMTC will support children, young people, paid staff and volunteers in raising any concern or suspicions which will continue whilst concerns are being investigated.
NMTC recognises that it is important to create an environment where paid staff and volunteers trust each other and the organisation and can honestly discuss things in confidence which concern them.
Whistle blowing – revelation of wrongdoing, abuse or unethical behaviour by paid staff or volunteer that pushes boundaries beyond acceptable limits within an organisation to those in positions of authority. This should happen where someone feels there has been a breach of the Paid Staff and Volunteers’ Code of Conduct, other policies and procedures or other behaviour.
- Any concerns must be raised with the Safeguarding Designated Officer or a Deputy, immediately. If the concern is regarding one of these people then it should be raised with the Chair of the Committee
- All paid staff and volunteers have the right to report any concerns or suspicions they may have in good faith about another member of paid staff or volunteer in confidence without harassment, being treated unfairly or being penalised. See above. Their identity will be kept anonymous wherever possible. NMTC will think carefully about what confidential information it shares and what support should be given by whom
- Where an allegation has been made about a member of paid staff or a volunteer they will receive support throughout the process and thereafter as necessary, as agreed with their line manager
- It is hoped that relatively minor concerns will be resolved via a discussion or with further training, but if it is a major incident it is recognised that it could result in a criminal investigation and or a disciplinary or misconduct investigation and action. All procedures will adhere to NMTC’s disciplinary policy, support mechanisms put in place must not jeopardise any investigation or put young people at risk which may result in a paid staff member of volunteer being suspended from duty until all investigation has been completed.
If a child or young person confides in you, you must do the following:
- Stay calm and approachable. Do not let your shock show
- Listen very carefully to what is being said using empathic listening skills without interrupting
- Explain at an appropriate time as early as possible that the information being given by the child or young person will need to be shared and passed on to others –but stress only to those who need to know. Do not in any circumstances promise to keep it a secret
- Make it clear that you are taking the child or young person seriously and acknowledge how difficult this must be. Reassure them that they have done the right thing
- Allow the child or young person to speak at their own pace
- Reassure the child or young person that they are doing the right thing in telling you
- If you need to ask questions, then only ask questions for clarification, avoid asking questions that suggest particular answers, avoid asking probing questions – you do not need to know all the details, that is the job of the experts. Keep your questions open
- Let the child or young person know what will happen next, who you will report the information to, what will happen once it’s been reported
- Record all the details of what was said immediately after on the NMTC Disclosure Form. Use the child or young person’s exact wording – do not try to interpret any of the information yourself unless necessary and if you do, identify which part is your interpretation. Record details such as names mentioned, dates, times, who the information went to and what action was taken next. Don’t forget to sign and date the form. Share this information with the designated person and/or line manager as soon as practical.
- Act immediately – do not delay
Action to be taken by the Designated Safeguarding Officer
- Act immediately – do not delay
- Consider whether the child or young person is in immediate danger. If they are, contact the police, Local Authority, Local Safeguarding Children’s Board or parents or carers (if appropriate)
- If the child/young person is not in immediate danger and you are with the young person, listen to what they want to share with you about the incident. Do not ask leading or interrogating questions, just questions for clarification only
- If allegations have been made about a member of staff or a volunteer, report the matter to someone higher within the organisation. The organisation’s disciplinary procedure should be followed
- Contact your local services team and discuss any future action with them, e.g. if an allegation against a member of staff or a volunteer contact the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board Local Authority Designated Officer, if regarding a young person contact Children’s Services and if regarding a vulnerable adult contact Adult Services, etc.
- Agree with the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board team ongoing support for the child or young person. When considering and taking any action, the child or young person’s welfare must be paramount.
Information for Local Safeguarding Children’s Board or the Police about suspected abuse
To ensure that this information is as helpful as possible, a clear, accurate and detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern (or within 24 hours) on the NMTC Disclosure Form. This should include details of the young person’s:
- Name, age, date of birth, home address and telephone number
- Whether or not the person making the report is expressing their own concerns or those of someone else
- The nature of the allegation. Include dates, times, any special factors and other relevant information
- Make a clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay
- A description of any visible bruising or other injuries. Also any indirect signs, such as unusual or distinctive behaviour
- Details of witnesses to the incidents
- The young person’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred
- If the parents have been contacted and if so what has been said?
- If anyone else has been consulted? If so record details
- If the young person was not the person who reported the incident, has the young person been spoken to? If so what was said?
- Has anyone been alleged to be the abuser? Record details
Where possible referral to the Police or appropriate Local Authority Services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded. Referral is the responsibility of the Designated Safeguarding Officer. The Designated Safeguarding Officer should include on the NMTC Disclosure Form, what action they have taken and any feedback as a result of the referral.
Process for reporting child protection concerns
- Paid staff and volunteers have a suspicion or concern about possible abuse occurring, or abuse has been disclosed to them:
- About a child or young person;
- About the behaviour of paid staff, volunteer or parents and carers, or other
- The Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) must be informed
- All facts and information must be considered and initial investigations made
- If suspicions or concerns dispelled:
- All records must be kept
- No further action will need to be taken
- If not serious enough for referral, support may be offered and the situation monitored internally
- Suspicions or concerns ongoing:
- DSO to contact Local Authority Departments, Local Safeguarding Children’s Board and/or police, and parents as appropriate
- Statutory bodies will make an initial assessment:
- Child protection investigations will begin
- Assessment of need will be made.
- Feedback should be given to the referrer i.e. DSO