Child Protection Policy

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Introduction

The Bristol Exploration Club (BEC) has adopted this policy to comply with the terms of the Protection of Children Act 1999 (PoCA), which places a broad duty of care upon all adults (and therefore upon the organisations that those adults are members of) where the abuse of children, or possible abuse of children is concerned. 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 term “children” for this purpose includes all young persons under the age of 18 years.

PoCA clearly spells out “abuse” as including “sexual”, “emotional” and “physical” abuse and also “neglect”.

Caving is a ‘risk activity’ so “neglect” in terms of caving must be taken to include ‘failure to minimise risk’ by ensuring adequate or sensible precautions are undertaken for physical safety, adequate/appropriate nutrition and protection against hypothermia, drowning, rock-fall, injury through falling, etc.

General Policy Statement

The BEC is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for club members under 18 years old and children of club members whenever they are involved in any activities organised and run by members of the club and staying at the Belfry and on away meets.

Recommendations of the British Caving Association (BCA)

The BEC agrees to abide by the BCA’s minimum recommendations as detailed in their Child Protection Policy which is available on the BCA website (http://british-caving.org.uk).

Guidance Notes

Child Protection Policy (CPP):

  • Children are only allowed to take part in residential trips (those involving an overnight stay) if their parent or guardian is present throughout the trip.
  • At least two adult members are to be present on all such trips and any activities involving children, at least one of which must be their parent or guardian.
  • The ‘Basic Principles of Safeguarding Children’ shall be made available and promoted to all members. (see below).
  • Any member leading trips which includes under 18s needs to have at least a fundamental knowledge of the ‘Basic Principles of Safeguarding Children’, and conduct themselves appropriately.
  • The BEC shall take all reasonable steps to ensure that all members are aware of their CPP.
  • The BEC shall nominate a Child Protection Contact (CPC) from within the BEC Committee (this will be the Membership Secretary unless stated otherwise).
  • All members, including those under 18 and their parents/guardians, shall be informed who the CPC is, and what his/her role is within the BEC.
  • This CPP shall be available upon request to the Hon. Secretary and by way of a public internet page to any third party with an interest in the activities of the BEC insofar as Child Protection matters are
  • concerned.
  • All members under 18 shall be advised to contact the CPC in the event of any behaviour towards them during BEC activities by any person that could be deemed improper or inappropriate.
  • All adult members shall be advised to contact the CPC if they have concerns about any specific inappropriate behaviour towards children during any BEC activities.
  • The CPP is to be reviewed regularly by the Committee and may be updated from time to time.
  • The role of the CPC is outlined separately below.

Role of the Child Protection Contact (CPC):

  • The CPC should be familiar with the BCA Child Protection Guidance Notes.
  • The CPC is not a designated Child Protection Officer.
  • The CPC does not authorise Club members to take care of Minors.
  • The CPC does not make judgements in cases of reported inappropriate behaviour towards children.
  • The CPC provides a contact for any member with concerns over matters of inappropriate behaviour towards children.
  • The CPC provides a contact for any member reporting a BEC activity that occurs in contravention of this CPP.
  • In the event of becoming aware of such concerns the CPC shall act appropriately, from simply advising relevant members that the rules must be followed, to passing on concerns over inappropriate behaviour to the BEC Committee and/or external single point of contact described below.
  • As and when required, the CPC shall establish a single point of contact with an appropriate Child Protection Authority when matters of abuse or suspected abuse are reported. The BCA Guidance Notes provide recommendations on which bodies are appropriate.
  • The CPC shall protect the privacy of all members in matters of reported or suspected abuse, bearing in mind that although rare, false allegations are sometimes made. (see ‘Confidentiality Statement’ below)

Basic Principles of Safeguarding Children

Good practice guidelines:

All BEC members 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:

  • All children whilst on trips, taking part in social activities or staying overnight in the club headquarters (which includes camping) must be in the care of their parent/guardian.
  • Always work in an open environment avoiding private or unobserved situations and encouraging open communication.
  • Treat all children equally with respect and dignity.
  • Ensuring that if any form of manual/physical support is required, it should be provided openly. If it is difficult to maintain hand positions when the child is constantly moving, young people should always be consulted and their agreement gained. Some parents are becoming increasingly sensitive about manual support and their views should always be carefully considered.

Practices to be avoided:

The following should be avoided except in emergencies. If a case arises where these situations are unavoidable, it should be with the full knowledge and consent of a BEC Committee member and/or the child's parents.

  • Spending time alone with children away from others.
  • Transporting a child on a one to one basis.

Practices never to be sanctioned:

The following should never be sanctioned. You should never:

  • Engage in rough physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.
  • Share a room with a child unless the child is accompanied by a parent/guardian.
  • Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching.
  • 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.

Incidents that must be reported/recorded:

If any of the following occur you should record the incident and report this to the CPC as soon as possible. You should also ensure the parents of the child are informed:

  • If you accidentally hurt a child.
  • If he/she seems distressed in any manner.
  • If a child misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done.

Confidentiality Statement:

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 BEC Committee and BEC Trustees.
  • The parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused.
  • The person making the allegation.

Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection laws (e.g. that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure).

Internal Enquiries and Suspension:

The BEC Committee may make an immediate decision about whether any individual accused of abuse should be temporarily suspended pending possible further police or social services enquiries.

1st Draft – 1/9/2014.
2nd Draft – 7/11/2014 Approved – 7/11/14 Last Reviewed -  Next Review due – Nov 2015