We want children to enjoy their involvement with us and it is important that we form, educate and enthuse children about the work we do.
Through this Policy we aim to:
- adopt the highest possible standards and
- take all reasonable steps in relation to the safety and welfare of the children with whom we come into contact in relation to our work.
It is impossible to ensure that no child ever comes to any harm while in contact with us. However implementing this policy and following the guidelines will enable you to undertake your work with children confident that you have taken all reasonable precautions to prevent harm occurring while being prepared to deal with an incident should it occur.
We expect you to apply this policy to all of your work with children and young people under the age of 18 years. You should apply similar safeguards when dealing with vulnerable people of all ages. All references to child or children throughout this Policy and Guidelines should be taken to refer to those referred to above.
Our work with children and young people
It is important to remember that as a member of our staff you may come into contact with children in a wide range of situations. In addition to organised visits to the forest, these will include:
- children using recreation and holiday facilities
- children attending shows or events
- children coming to us as part of event days such as ‘Bring your daughter to work’ and;
- young people gaining work experience.
It is important that this policy is seen to apply and the guidelines followed in all situations in which you have contact with children, young people and vulnerable people of all ages.
To whom does this policy apply
The policy applies to:
all staff (including permanent, fixed term and short term temporary appointments) and
those whose work with us, and brings them into contact with children eg.
- any other person working with us or on our land who a member of the public might reasonably assume was a member of staff
All those covered by the policy have a duty to do everything reasonable in their power to ensure the safety and welfare of children while they are in contact with us, and to act in accordance with the Guidelines at Appendices 1-6.
All references to staff throughout these documents should be taken to include all those listed above.
You are expected to:
- Respect the wishes of a child as you would an adult, you must not impose yourself on them.
- Take all reasonable steps to ensure the health, safety and welfare of any child in contact with us.
- Remember that children regard adults as role models and ensure your behaviour, language, gestures etc. are appropriate and above reproach.
- Be aware of Child Protection issues in relation to the work you do and do not become complacent and believe ‘it could never happen to me’.
- Prevent any other member of staff from putting any child in a situation in which there is a significant risk to their health and safety. Take appropriate action if you become aware of anyone physically, emotionally or sexually abusing a child.
- Report any evidence or reasonable suspicion that a child has been physically, emotionally or sexually abused whether by an adult or another child to the Child Protection Team.
- Not physically, emotionally or sexually abuse any child or young or vulnerable person.
Activities where a non Forestry Commission person eg parent, teacher or other group leader accompanies a child or leads a group.
Where children are accompanied by an adult primary responsibility for the children remains with that person. Our staff should nonetheless use the Child Protection Policy and Guidelines as the basis for their action and any advice they offer. They should not agree to anything which contravenes the Policy and is not in line with the Guidelines.
If, due to illness or another unexpected event a member of staff is left in charge of a child or group then they should act in accordance with our Policy and Guidelines.
Activities where children are unaccompanied
In most instances the children you come into contact with will be accompanied by a teacher or parent. However should you be the leader of an unaccompanied group then it is your responsibility to:
- plan the activities and make decisions during the event following the principles set out in these Policy and Guidelines.
- assign clear tasks to others involved in the children’s activities and ensure that procedures are followed.
- maintain appropriate child to adult ratios as required by the relevant local authority and ensure that your decisions are based on the principles described in the Child Protection Guidelines (Appendices 1-6).
This must underpin your main aim of providing an enjoyable and safe experience for the children.
Occasional assistance provided by a member of staff who has not been through the Disclosure process
Any member of staff may assist in activities with children on an occasional basis. They may do so only if the group is led by a parent, teacher or other group leader or member of staff who has been appointed following the necessary pre-appointment checks. The person leading the activities must be the one to allocate tasks and make relevant decisions. The member of staff must not agree to anything which is not in line with our Policy and Guidelines.
Volunteers ‘recruited’ by the FC
Offers of help whether from other members of staff or other individuals are always welcome and should be encouraged.
When a volunteer is ‘recruited’ directly by us, and is to work with children they must be made aware we have a Policy and Guidelines and agree to work in accordance with them.
Further guidance is given at Appendix 2.
D. Golden Rule - Safety in numbers
In as many situations as possible we should aim to ensure that no adult is in a one to one situation with a child. Safety in numbers should be the golden rule, whether the numbers are other children or adults.
If for any reason a one to one situation is unavoidable eg work placement then additional safeguards should be put in place. See Appendix 5.
Appointment to a post which involves regular, substantial or unaccompanied contact with children.
All individuals appointed to posts which involve regular, substantial or unaccompanied contact with children will be subject to pre-appointment checks aimed at assuring us of their suitability to work with children. These will include the applicant being asked to apply to The Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) or Disclosure Scotland, for either a Standard or Enhanced Disclosure. For most posts a Standard Disclosure will be appropriate. However if the post involves:
- regularly managing events with unaccompanied children;
- contact with children over a series of events;
- or work experience involving one to one contact;
then an Enhanced Disclosure should be sought. Further information about the Disclosure process is at Annex 2.
The appointment will only proceed if:
- the pre-employment checks prove satisfactory
- the Disclosure provides no cause for concern as to their suitability to work with children.
This applies whether the appointment is the result of recruitment or an internal move. Managers must also be mindful of these requirements as the content of posts develop over time and new tasks are assigned.
Staff and job applicants subject to checks previously
Some staff, job applicants or volunteers may have been subject to a Disclosure (or other appropriate check prior to April 2002). If they offer this evidence they must be asked to send it in a sealed envelope marked ‘Restricted Private’ to a co-signatory (see SN15). The co-signatory will request a Disclosure in all appropriate cases where the previous one was obtained more than 3 months previously and may do so in other instances if they consider it necessary.
Individuals are free to share the contents of a Disclosure with whoever they wish but under no circumstances must they be required to do so. No copies may be taken and held locally. This is illegal.
For a description of the Disclosure process and explanation of the Co-signatory role see Annex 2.
Individuals awaiting receipt of Disclosure
Any person whether a member of staff or other person who is requested to apply for a Disclosure must be accompanied when they are dealing with children until the unit manager is advised the Disclosure has been received.
F. When working with others involves children
Contractors and Franchisees
Units may only engage contractors or franchisees whose work involves ‘regular, substantial or unaccompanied’ contact with children if the individual produces a Disclosure certificate. If the Co-signatory (see Appendix 2) requires a further Disclosure or a Disclosure at a different level is sought we will act as the Co-Signatory though the individual will be required to pay the fee.
Where we are working in partnership with other organisations and the work involves children, young people or vulnerable people of any age we should use the Policy and Guidelines as the basis for discussion and where appropriate include explicit conditions relating to child protection in the partnership agreement. This may be achieved by a simple reference to our Policy and Guidelines and/or those of our partners. Copies of the Policy and Guidelines may be shared with other organisations to assist this process.
FC funding other organisations
Where we are funding, whether through cash or other contributions the work of other organisations and that work involves children we should, if necessary, seek to influence the way in which the organisation carries out that work to ensure that Child Protection is a factor in the way their work is carried out.
Lost or injured children
Any unit which deals regularly with children, whether accompanied or unaccompanied should have an agreed framework for dealing with a lost or injured child. All staff in the unit should be made aware of the framework. See Appendix 4 for further guidance.
H. Allegation of abuse
We hope that you will never have to deal with an alleged incident of child abuse. But it is sensible that you are prepared to do so if necessary and this will be assisted if you have discussed the issue locally
There are four likely scenarios which you should be aware of and be prepared to deal with if necessary. These are;
- There is suspicion or evidence that a child is being abused by a member of staff or other person associated with the FC.
- A child accuses a member of staff or other person associated with us of abusing them.
- Abuse takes place or is suspected on our land or at our event by individual unrelated to us.
- A child discloses abuse happening elsewhere eg at home
For definitions of abuse see Appendix 1
In all cases you must:
- Be prompt, calm, assured and professional
- Keep any details strictly confidential and share only on a ‘need to know’ basis.
- Follow the guidelines at Appendix 4 and your local framework.
I. Allegations against staff
Though our focus must be on safeguarding children you must also be aware that allegations of abuse made by children about adults do occasionally happen. Some prove mistaken or, very rarely, malicious. The Policy and Guidelines are there to help you to avoid situations in which well-intentioned actions could be misinterpreted and ensure that you do not find yourself in a situation where an allegation by a child, young or vulnerable person can be made.
J. Use of Information relating to children
Information about children eg names and addresses, must be treated confidentially. It must be kept securely by the group leader, stored only as long as necessary and disposed of in a way which maintains their confidentiality.
K. Discussion of the issues
Open discussion of child protection should be encouraged since this helps to make staff more comfortable with the issues involved. Do not keep it ‘under wraps’ for fear of upsetting or embarassing people.