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The Importance of Safeguarding

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding is a term we use to describe how an organisation is going to protect adults and children abuse, harm and/or neglect. It is also a fundamental part of meeting the public benefit element of running a charity, where trustees must take all reasonable steps to protect anyone who comes into contact with the charity from harm.

The Care Act (2014) defines adult safeguarding as:

Protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action. This must recognise that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances.

Whilst the NSPCC defines the safeguarding of children and young adults as being: The action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Safeguarding means:

  • Protecting children from abuse and maltreatment

  • Preventing harm to children’s health and development

  • Ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care

  • Taking action to enable all children and young people have the best outcomes

The Charity Commission guidance has described safeguarding as meaning “the range of measures in place to protect people in a charity, or those it comes into contact with, from abuse and maltreatment of any kind.” With this in mind, it is the responsibility of the trustees to:

  • Take reasonable steps to safeguard and protect all beneficiaries from abuse, even when these are not children and vulnerable adults. Charity Commission guidance defines a beneficiary as “a person or group of people eligible to benefit from a charity. A charity’s beneficiary group is usually defined in its governing document. Some charities call their beneficiaries clients or service users.”

  • Take reasonable steps in the protection of not only the beneficiaries but also staff, volunteers, those connected with any activities of the organisation and who come into contact with the organisation, from harm.

Whilst safeguarding roles can be delegated to other members of staff within the organisation, the ultimate responsibility remains with the trustees. Should concerns be raised with the Charity Commission, regarding the conduct or management of your organisation, investigations will be checking that appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures are in place, where adequate due diligence took place, were appropriate actions taken, have incidents been reported in a prompt manner to the appropriate ages and where necessary, reported to the Charity Commission via the Serious Incident Reporting process? (see for further details). If, in the eyes of the Charity Commission, trustees have failed to manage matters adequately then it may be seen that misconduct and breach of trustee’s duties. In some instances, this can lead to criminal proceedings and prosecution.

Safeguarding Definitions

A child is defined as being anyone under the age of 18 years (Children’s Act (1989)

A vulnerable adult is anyone aged 18 years or over; Who may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

What legislation underpins safeguarding?

There are a number of legislations that are used to inform decisions relating to safeguarding matters. Whilst no one expects you to know the ins and outs of each legislation, it is good to be aware of where the principles and guidance you are working with originated and the reasons behind your expected actions. By gaining knowledge and an understanding of safeguarding you will ensure you are able to meet the moral and legal responsibilities expected of you.

Below is a table of these legislations:

Adult Legislations Children and Young Adult Legislations

  • Care Act (2014)

  • Mental Capacity Act (2005)

  • Mental Health Act (2007)

  • Human Rights Act (1998)

  • European Conventions on Human Rights (1953)

  • Health and Social Care Act (2012)

  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act (2006)

  • Equalities Act (2010)

  • Statutory Care and Support Guidance (2014/2016)

  • Modern Slavery Act (2015)

  • Domestic Violence, Crimes and Victims (2004)

  • Sexual Offences (2003)

  • Public Interest and Disclosures Act (1998)

The Children’s Act (2004) Working Together to Safeguard Children (2010) Human Rights Act (1998) The United Nations convention on the Rights of the Child (1992) The Equality Act (2010) The Children and Families Act (2014) The Human Rights Act (1998)

About your safeguarding policy. As part of your duty of care, and as a legal requirement, a safeguarding policy is required. This is a document that outlines a best practice framework and your commitment safeguarding, your approach to protecting those who come into contact with your organisation and how you will respond to signs or allegations of abuse. A comprehensive safeguarding policy will:

  • Demonstrate ownership and accountability for safeguarding within your organisation.

  • Give clear instructions on maintaining and reviewing the records for concerns raised

  • Outline safe recruitment procedures, inc. any relevant Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks required for each role

  • A clear overview of staff training, intervals and expectations of staff

  • Raise awareness of the responsibility and expectations of staff members

  • How to report concerns

  • Outline the signs and symptoms of abuse, allowing staff to be alert

  • Overview of Whistleblowing Policy

  • Ensure an open door policy for staff to raise concerns, without fear of being discriminated against

As mentioned above, it is not just about the safeguarding policy itself, it will also have other robust and comprehensive polices in place that help underpin it and should be mentioned within the policy to signpost for further reading. Other policies include:

  • Code of Conduct - outlining the expectations of all staff within your organisation

  • Recruitment and Selection Policy - demonstrating ‘Safer Recruitment’ practices to minimising the risk of recruiting those unsuitable for any position

  • Whistleblowing Policy – whistleblowing is an essential part of safeguarding and a vital part in identifying risks to anyone’s safety.

It is best practice to ensure, if working with both vulnerable adults and children, that two separate safeguarding policies are in place. This is to ensure everyone within your organisation is aware of the different approaches required for safeguarding adults and children. Separate polices will help to get the message across. It also prevents the risks to adults being diluted within a policy that also contains child safeguarding.

Safeguarding must be the primary concern for ALL staff in organisations that are working with vulnerable adults, children and young adults.

Need advice, policies, procedures or training on Safeguarding within your organisation please email us on or call 0121 368 0056

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