The Child Protection Officer for the Starr Trust is the Starr Outreach Manager.
All children have a right to protection from abuse, violence and exploitation.
The Starr Trust works to create a safe environment for children who benefit from or fundraise for The Starr Trust.
No member of the Starr Trust Team (Volunteer or Staff Member) is to ever be alone with a person under 18. The child’s parent/guardian or appropriately DBS checked adult must be present at all times.
This mandatory policy is approved and endorsed by the Board of Trustees and makes clear The Starr Trust’s position on child protection. It applies to all staff, trustees, and volunteers in The Starr Trust, including the Hove and other representative offices. It is essential that all staff, trustees, volunteers, partners, international organisations, beneficiaries, donors and the general public are aware of its central messages and any duties/responsibilities it places on them. It will be publicised and promoted in Starr Trust material to relevant audiences. All Starr Trust representative offices will be expected to adapt the policy and procedures to ensure it is made relevant to their work. Partners will be encouraged to develop a child protection policy and procedures. Future partnership agreements will include such a policy as part of the agreement. Children and young people need protection and safeguarding for many reasons.
As an organisation that makes provisions for children and young people we ensure that:
- The welfare of the child is paramount.
- All children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and/or sexual identity, have the right to protection from abuse.
- All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
- All staff and volunteers have a responsibility to report concerns and allegations of abuse to the appropriate officer, Mel Stoner.
Our Child Protection Policy Statement
The Starr Trust has a duty of care to safeguard all children involved in The Starr Trust from harm. All children have a right to protection, and the needs of disabled children and others who may be particularly vulnerable must be taken into account. The Starr Trust will endeavour to safeguard and protect all children involved in The Starr Trust through adherence to the Child Protection guidelines adopted by The Starr Trust.
A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Children Act 1989).
The aim of The Starr Trust Child Protection Policy is to promote good practice:
- Providing children and young people with appropriate safety and protection whilst involved with The Starr Trust
- Allow the Starr Trust Team to make informed and confident responses to specific child protection issues.
Promoting good practice
Child abuse, particularly sexual abuse, can arouse strong emotions in those facing such a situation. It is important to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with your judgement about the appropriate action to take.
Abuse can occur within many situations including the home, school and other environments. Some individuals will actively seek employment or voluntary work with young people in order to harm them. An instructor, teacher, mentor, official or volunteer will have regular contact with young people and be an important link in identifying cases where they need protection. All suspicious cases of poor practice should be reported following the guidelines in this document.
Good practice guidelines
All personnel should be encouraged to demonstrate exemplary behaviour in order to protect themselves from false allegations. The following are common sense examples of how to create a positive culture and climate.
Good practice means:
- Never being alone with someone under 18. A parent//guardian or DBS checked adult must always be present.
- Always working in an open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication.
- Treating all young people/disabled adults equally with respect and dignity.
- Always putting the welfare of each young person first.
- Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance with fundraisers and beneficiaries (eg it is not appropriate for staff or volunteers to have an intimate relationship with a child or to share a room with them).
- Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust and empowering children to share in decision making.
- Keeping up to date with DBS qualifications (if the Starr Trust Team member’s duties involves being alone with children) and insurance.
- Always involving parents/carers.
- Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of young people.
- Giving enthusiastic and constructive feedback rather than negative criticism.
- Recognising the developmental needs and capacity of young people and disabled adults.
- Requesting written parental consent if the Starr Trust Team are required to transport young people in their cars.
Practices to be avoided
The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If a case arises where these situations are unavoidable (eg the child sustains an injury and needs to go to hospital, or a parent fails to arrive to pick a child up at the end of a session), it should be with the full knowledge and consent of someone in charge at an event or the child’s parents.
- Spending any amount of time alone with children away from others.
- Taking or dropping off a child to an event.
Practices never to be sanctioned
The following should never be sanctioned. You should never:
- Engage in rough physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
- Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching.
- Allow children to use inappropriate language unchallenged.
- Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun.
- Reduce a child to tears as a form of control.
- Allow allegations made by a child to go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon.
- Do things of a personal nature for children or disabled adults that they can do for themselves.
- Invite or allow children to stay with you at your home.
NB It may sometimes be necessary for staff or volunteers to do things of a personal nature for children, particularly if they are young or are disabled. These tasks should only be carried out with the full understanding and consent of parents and the children involved. There is a need to be responsive to a person’s reactions. If a person is fully dependent on you, talk with him/her about what you are doing and give choices where possible. Avoid taking on the responsibility for tasks for which you are not appropriately trained.
Incidents that must be reported/recorded
If any of the following occur you should report this immediately to another colleague and record the incident. You should also ensure the parents of the child are informed:
- If you accidentally hurt a fundraiser/beneficiary
- If he/she seems distressed in any manner
- If a fundraiser/beneficiary appears to be sexually aroused by your actions
- If a fundraiser/beneficiary misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done.
Use of photographic/filming equipment at fundraising/sponsored events
There is evidence that some people have used fundraising/sponsored events as an opportunity to take inappropriate photographs or film footage of young and disabled sportspeople in vulnerable positions. All should be vigilant and any concerns should to be reported to the Child Protection Officer.
Video as an educational/promotional aid: there is no intention to prevent using video equipment as a legitimate educational/promotional aid. However, fundraisers/beneficiaries and their parents/carers should be made aware that this is part of the educational/promotional programme and such films should be stored safely.
Recruitment and training of the Starr Trust Team
The Starr Trust recognises that anyone may have the potential to abuse children in some way and that all reasonable steps are taken to ensure unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.
Pre-selection checks must include the following:
- All members of the Starr Trust Team should complete a DBS application form if their duties require them to work directly with children. The application form will elicit information about an applicant's past and a self-disclosure about any criminal record.
- Consent should be obtained from an applicant to seek information from the Disclosure and Barring Service.
- Two confidential references, including one regarding previous work with children.
- These references must be taken up and confirmed through telephone contact.
- Evidence of identity should be provided (eg passport or driving licence with photo).
Interview and Induction
All the Starr Trust Team will be required to undergo an interview carried out to acceptable protocol and recommendations. All the Starr Trust Team should receive formal or informal induction, during which:
- A check should be made that the DBS application form (if required) has been completed in full (including sections on criminal records and self-disclosures).
- Their qualifications should be substantiated.
- Their responsibilities should be clarified.
- They should sign up to The Starr Trust’s Code of Ethics and Conduct.
- Child protection procedures are explained and training needs are identified
In addition to pre-selection checks, the safeguarding process includes training after recruitment to help the Starr Trust Team to:
- Analyse their own practice against established good practice, and to ensure their practice is likely to protect them from false allegations.
- Recognise their responsibilities and report any concerns about suspected poor practice or possible abuse.
- Respond to concerns expressed by a child or young person.
- Work safely and effectively with children.
Responding to allegations or suspicions
It is not the responsibility of anyone in The Starr Trust to decide whether or not child abuse has taken place. However, there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities.
The Starr Trust will assure the Starr Trust Team that it will fully support and protect anyone who in good faith reports his/her concern that a colleague is, or may be, abusing a child.
Where there is a complaint against a member of the Starr Trust Team there may be three types of investigation:
- A criminal investigation
- A child protection investigation
- A disciplinary or misconduct investigation.
In cases where a complaint against a member of staff has been made, the CPO will refer to the LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer) and upon their advice inform the parent(s) or carer(s) of the child/ren involved. The LADO is be consulted first to ensure that this does not impede the disciplinary or investigative processes. In some circumstances, however, the parent(s)/carer(s) may need to be told straight away, e.g. if a child is injured and requires medical treatment.
All suspected concerns or allegations of significant harm should be reported to the LADO within 1 working day. The responsibility for carrying out the LADO duties rests with the LADO for the area where the person works.
Similarly the decision to proceed with disciplinary procedures when a member of the Starr Trust Team is subject to a criminal investigation needs careful consideration for the same reasons and the advice of the LADO should be sought, who will in turn seek agreement from the Police and Social Care teams. This decision will be discussed and agreed at an ‘Initial Strategy Meeting’ involving the Police, Social Care, LADO and employer.
The results of the police and child protection investigation may well influence the disciplinary investigation, but not necessarily.
Concerns about poor practice:
- If, following consideration, the allegation is clearly about poor practice, the Child Protection Officer will deal with it as a misconduct issue.
- f the allegation is about poor practice by the Child Protection Officer, or if the matter has been handled inadequately and concerns remain, it should be reported to the relevant officer who will decide how to deal with the allegation and whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings.
Concerns about suspected abuse:
- Any suspicion that a child has been abused by a member of the Starr Trust Team should be reported to the Child Protection Officer, who will take such steps as considered necessary to ensure the safety of the child in question and any other child who may be at risk.
- The Child Protection Officer will refer the allegation to the social services department which may involve the police, or go directly to the police if out-of-hours.
- The parents or carers of the child will be contacted as soon as possible following advice from the social services department.
- The Child Protection Officer will deal with any media enquiries.
- If the Child Protection Officer is the subject of the suspicion/allegation, the report must be made to the appropriate Manager, who will refer the allegation to social services.
The CPO will, as soon as possible, inform the person who is subject to the allegation or the concern relates to about the nature of the allegation, how enquiries will be conducted and the possible outcome e.g. disciplinary action. Advice should first be sought from the LADO as the Police and/or Children's Social Care may want to impose restrictions on the information that can be provided.
The member of the Starr Trust Team should:
- Be treated fairly and honestly and helped to understand the concerns expressed and processes involved;
- Be kept informed of the progress and outcome of any investigation and the implications for any disciplinary or related process; and
- If suspended, be kept up to date about events in the workplace.
See the pan sussex allegation disciplinary flowchart held on the Starr Trust Drive/Child Protection Policy.
Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. Information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only.
This includes the following people:
- The Child Protection Officer
- The parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused
- The person making the allegation
- Social services/police
- The alleged abuser (and parents if the alleged abuser is a child).
Seek social services advice on who should approach the alleged abuser.
Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (eg that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).
Internal enquiries and suspension
- The Starr Trust Child Protection Officer will make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending further police and social services inquiries.
- Irrespective of the findings of the social services or police inquiries The Starr Trust Disciplinary Committee will assess all individual cases to decide if the member of the Starr Trust Team can be reinstated and how this can be sensitively handled. This may be a difficult decision, particularly where there is insufficient evidence to uphold any action by the police. In such cases, The Starr Trust Disciplinary Committee must reach a decision based upon the available information, which could suggest that on a balance of probability, it is more likely than not that the allegation is true. The welfare of the child should remain of paramount importance throughout.
Support to deal with the aftermath of abuse
- Consideration should be given to the kind of support that children, parents and members of the Starr Trust Team may need. Use of helplines, support groups and open meetings will maintain an open culture and help the healing process. The British Association for Counselling Directory is available from The British Association for Counselling, 1 Regent Place, Rugby CV21 2PJ, Tel: 01788 550899, Fax: 01788 562189
- Consideration should be given to what kind of support may be appropriate for the alleged perpetrator.
Allegations of previous abuse
Allegations of abuse may be made some time after the event (eg by an adult who was abused as a child or by someone who is still currently working with children).
Where such an allegation is made the procedures as detailed above will be followed and the matter will be reported to the social services or the police. This is because other children may be at risk from this person. Anyone who has a previous criminal conviction for offences related to abuse is automatically excluded from working with children. This is reinforced by the details of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. Historic allegations should be reported to the LADO as well as the Police and Social Services.
Local Social Services:
Whitehawk Community Hub and Library
179A Whitehawk Road
Local Authority Designated Officer
Brighton & Hove City Council
Rm 310a, Kings House,
Grand Avenue, Hove
Alternative Contact David Young on 01273 291407
Refer to the Vetting and Barring Scheme leaflet on the U drive, also kept in the Child Protection Folder in the office.
Action if bullying is suspected
If bullying is suspected, the same procedure should be followed as set out in 'Responding to suspicions or allegations' above.
Action to help the victim and prevent bullying:
- Take all signs of bullying very seriously.
- Encourage all children to speak and share their concerns (It is believed that up to 12 children per year commit suicide as a result of bullying, so if anyone talks about or threatens suicide, seek professional help immediately). Help the victim to speak out and tell the person in charge or someone in authority.
- Investigate all allegations and take action to ensure the victim is safe. Speak with the victim and the bully(ies) separately.
- Reassure the victim that you can be trusted and will help them, although you cannot promise to tell no one else.
- Keep records of what is said (what happened, by whom, when).
- Report any concerns to the Child Protection Officer.
Action towards the bully(ies):
- Talk with the bully(ies), explain the situation, and try to get the bully(ies) to understand the consequences of their behaviour. Seek an apology to the victim(s).
- Inform the bully(ies)’s parents.
- Insist on the return of 'borrowed' items and that the bully(ies) compensate the victim.
- Impose sanctions as necessary.
- Encourage and support the bully(ies) to change behaviour
- Hold meetings with the families to report on progress.
- Inform all organisation members of action taken.
- Keep a written record of action taken.
Concerns outside the immediate environment (eg a parent or carer):
Report your concerns to the Child Protection Officer, who should contact social services or the police as soon as possible.
See 4. below for the information social services or the police will need.
If the Child Protection Officer is not available, the person being told of or discovering the abuse should contact social services or the police immediately.
Social services and the Child Protection Officer will decide how to involve the parents/carers.
The Child Protection Officer should also report the incident to The Starr Trust board. The board should ascertain whether or not the person/(s) involved in the incident play a role in The Starr Trust and act accordingly.
Maintain confidentiality on a need to know basis only.
See 4. below regarding information needed for social services.
Information for social services or the police about suspected abuse:
To ensure that this information is as helpful as possible, a detailed record should always be made at the time of the disclosure/concern, which should include the following:
- The child's name, age and date of birth .
- The child's 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 behavioural changes.
- Details of witnesses to the incidents.
- The child’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred.
- Have the parents been contacted?
- If so, what has been said?
- Has anyone else been consulted? If so, record details
- If the child was not the person who reported the incident, has the child 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 social services should be confirmed in writing within 24 hours and the name of the contact who took the referral should be recorded
- If you are worried about sharing concerns about abuse with a senior colleague, you can contact social services or the police direct, or the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 5000, or Childline on 0800 1111.