At beatbullying, we will often encounter young people in situations that give cause for concern and that need to be handled confidentially. It is essential that we differentiate clearly between issues that arise from a young person’s bullying or being bullied (which can be dealt with within the organisation), and situations that appear to involve the emotional, psychological, physical or sexual abuse of a young person (which should be referred to social services and/or the police). This policy exists to address situations where there is a suggestion that abuse has occurred.
This Child Protection Policy forms part of the terms and conditions of employment for all staff, members of the management committee and partners of beatbullying, and applies to all beatbullying activities where children and young people under 18 years of age are present, and to all working in such activities, whether as an employee, volunteer, management representative or partner.
1. Mission statement
beatbullying is concerned about the welfare and safety of all the young people that it works with and attempts to create an environment in which young people feel secure, valued, listened to and are taken seriously.
2. General principles
- All beatbullying staff and volunteers should be alert to signs of abuse and report any concerns or suspicions to the designated member of staff for child protection, John Quinn (Development Director).
- All partners of beatbullying who participate in the Beatbullying youth forums (whether they be parents, teachers, youth workers, etc.) are responsible for the safety and well-being of the young people in their charge.
- The designated member of staff for child protection is responsible for co-ordinating action within beatbullying and for liaising with other agencies on child protection issues.
- beatbullying staff with designated responsibility for child protection should receive appropriate training.
3. Role of the designated member of staff for Child Protection
The role of the designated member of staff for child protection is to:
- Ensure that beatbullying’s Child Protection Policy is implemented throughout the organisation’s work.
- Ensure that all necessary child protection-related enquiries, procedures and investigations are carried out (e.g. all beatbullying staff and volunteers must be police checked before they can commence work with young people, or have access to any sensitive information with regard to the young people we work with), and to report the results of such screening enquiries to the Management Committee.
- Ensure secure and confidential record-keeping on child protection matters, that a “need to know” confidentiality policy is preserved on such matters and that all staff, volunteers, and members of the management committee apply themselves fully to the Data Protection Act, 1998.
- Liaise with social services and the police in the relevant boroughs on child protection matters, both formally and informally.
- Report on the implementation of the Child Protection policy at all Beatbullying management committee meetings.
- Report allegations and suspicions of abuse to the appropriate authorities.
- Ensure that there is adequate and appropriate induction and training for all staff and volunteers on child protection matters.
- Ensure that all activities carried out by beatbullying satisfy child protection requirements with regard to personnel, practises and premises.
- Check and countersign all incident reports made by staff and volunteers, making such reference to outside agencies as is appropriate after consultation with the Executive Director.
The Chief Executive of beatbullying is Emma-Jane Cross. She shall ensure active compliance with this policy by all working within or for the organisation, and shall work closely with John Quinn, as designated member of staff for child protection.
4. Personnel checks
4.1 beatbullying’s aim is to ensure as far as is possible that anyone, paid or voluntary, who seeks to work on behalf of beatbullying with young people through the organisation’s activities and who gains substantial access to them thereby is as safe to do so in child protection terms as can be guaranteed.
Therefore the designated member of staff for child protection will ensure that the following checks are carried out on all prospective members of the management committee, staff, and volunteers:
- An enhanced background check with the Criminal Records Bureau.
- A personal reference from someone nominated by the applicant, who cannot be related to the applicant and who is preferably in a position to comment on the applicant’s character, trustworthiness and any previous experience of working with/looking after children and young people.
4.2 Written consent must be obtained from an applicant before these checks can be carried out. No application can proceed unless such permission is given by the applicant.
4.3 The forms for the police check, etc. will be completed by the designated member of staff for child protection (in consultation with the Chief Executive at a confidential interview with the applicant.
4.4 At interview stage all applicants shall be given written notification of the fact that these checks are required as a condition of working for beatbullying, and shall be required to confirm in writing that they understand and agree to this requirement.
4.5 No applicant may start to work unsupervised with young people until the above checks have been completed, but the Chief Executive may, in consultation with the designated member of staff for child protection, authorise an applicant to commence work where they are supervised on a one-to-one basis until the checks have been completed where there is no reason to believe that any difficulty will arise from the checks.
4.6 The designated member of staff for child protection shall be responsible for sending the enquiries to their destinations under a strictly confidential heading at all times.
4.7 beatbullying’s policy is to recheck all staff, volunteers and management committee members with the CRB after three years service. This will be undertaken by the designated member of staff for child protection in consultation with the Chief Executive.
4.8 The onus is on the applicant/employee/volunteer to reveal any conviction, caution, bind-over, probation order or pending prosecution, whether imposed prior to or within the period that the applicant/employee/volunteer works on beatbullying activities.
4.9 The applicant shall produce proof of identity, preferably photographic (e.g. a passport), and of residence (e.g. a utility bill) which checks the designated member of staff for child protection. A note is made in the applicant’s records.
4.10 The designated member of staff for child protection shall not accept any previous reference, police check, social services endorsement, etc. provided by an applicant. beatbullying must, in all cases, make its own independent enquiries.
5. Reporting of Personnel Check results
5.1 The designated member of staff will indicate to the Chief Executive whether an applicant is suitable to work on Beatbullying activities according to the results of the Personnel checks detailed at 4.1.
5.2 Where a Schedule 1 offence is indicated by the above process, the designated member of staff must rule an applicant unsuitable, and that person must not undertake any form of work for beatbullying or help with any beatbullying activity. If such an attempt is made by a convicted Schedule One offender or by any person prohibited under legislation from working with children and young people or from being in proximity to places where they may gather, the designated member of staff shall immediately inform social services and police.
5.3 At each meeting of the management committee, the designated member of staff will recommend on the acceptance or rejection of applicants. No details other than that an applicant was accepted or rejected shall be given or minuted. The Chief Executive may make a recommendation on any application at this stage, in child protection terms. The management committee shall consider the designated member of staff’s recommendation and their decision shall be recorded in the minutes.
5.4 Once all results from personnel checks have been received, the applicant will be invited to attend an interview with the designated officer and the Chief Executive. The designated member of staff will show the applicant all results received. The Chief Executive will also read these to ensure fair play and non-bias/collusion, etc.
5.5 Any discrepancies revealed between the applicant’s statements and the results of the checks must be investigated thoroughly with the applicant by the designated member of staff and the Chief Executive, especially as regards dates of residence, employment, voluntary work, past offences and convictions. The replies given may be taken into account by the designated member of staff, in consultation with the Chief Executive, in making a recommendation to the management committee (as at 5.3).
5.6 Where an applicant declines to attend the interview described at 5.5, the designated member of staff shall write to the applicant to inform him/her that their application has not been successful.
5.7 The designated member of staff shall be authorised to undertake any additional enquiries as sanctioned by the applicant which may assist the making of a recommendation to the management committee.
6. Personnel Records
6.1 The designated member of staff shall maintain a confidential file at the beatbullying offices on each applicant which shall contain:
a. copies of all forms consents and replies, as in paragraph 4.2 above;
b. a progress check form indicating progress of the checks and replies received;
c. notes for file (where the designated officer receives a phone call or other non-written communication, the main points shall be recorded and filed with the applicant’s records.)
6.2 The file of an unsuccessful applicant shall be kept for six months and then safely destroyed by the designated member of staff – likewise for any successful applicant who then declines to start employment with beatbullying.
6.3 The file of any member of staff who leaves the service of beatbullying shall be kept for 12 months from the date of leaving employment and then safely destroyed by the designated member of staff.
6.4 Anyone working with beatbullying has the right to inspect the contents of their own confidential file, and may do so by applying to the designated member of staff who shall not withhold consent unreasonably and will respond to the request within one working day. The designated member of staff may only withhold such consent and access if not to do so might jeopardise a beatbullying/police/social services investigation into child protection matters or might lead to a child’s welfare and safety being compromised. In such an instance, the designated member of staff need give no reason for withholding consent. He/she will report such a situation to the management committee by simply stating that a request was made and refused for reasons relating to the welfare of children.
6.5 The Chief Executive may have access to such confidential files, except in the instance described at 6.4.
7.1 Prior to any activity involving children and young people, the designated member of staff shall ensure that the space in which that activity is to take place is adequate and appropriate for that activity, and that the organisations that own the premises have the appropriate health and safety procedures in place.
7.2 No volunteer with beatbullying shall be left with fewer than three young people for more than 10 minutes without supervision from a member of staff. As a general rule, each group of young people that beatbullying works with should have a volunteer and a member of staff supervising, or at least two volunteers who are visited by a member of staff at regular intervals during the course of that activity.
7.3 All sessions with young people shall be conducted with the provisions and mission statement of this policy in mind.
7.4 All workers with beatbullying shall be aware of the possibility that any of the young people that they work with may be suffering abuse outside the project. It is essential that the environment created by beatbullying is as conducive as possible to the support of any young person who may be in such a situation.
7.5 For their own protection, but mainly as good practice and common courtesy, there shall be no physical contact between young people and Beatbullying staff or volunteers.
8. Allegations against workers or management
8.1 If a child or parent makes allegations to beatbullying against any person working for the organisation, whether paid or unpaid, or a member of the management committee, the following procedure must be followed and incident reports will be made at all stages, as appropriate:
a) The beatbullying worker to whom the complaint is made will contact the Chief Executive, who will contact the designated member of staff for child protection and the Chair of the management committee immediately. As soon as he/she is notified the designated member of staff will contact Social Services to appraise them of the situation. This contact will be by informal channels, except where a criminal allegation has been made, in which case formal contact will be made with the Duty Social Worker and the Police.
b) The Chair of the management committee should inform the beatbullying worker against whom the complaint has been made as soon as possible, unless there appears to be a case that this might prejudice a criminal investigation. The Chair of the management committee should consult with police in order to ascertain this.
8.2 If the allegation/s made is/are of a criminal nature, e.g. allegations of sexual abuse, physical assault or inappropriate behaviour, the Chair will start disciplinary proceedings and suspend the person from any activity in beatbullying for reasons of alleged gross misconduct. If it is warranted, this suspension may be without pay should the evidence against the worker appear strong enough to justify this. For example, if a worker is discovered in a situation of actual wrongful behaviour. The matter must then be reported immediately to the Police and Duty Social Worker. The member of staff in question will remain suspended unless and until the police and/or social services confirm there was no substance to the report. An incident report will be made and treated as confidential.
8.3 If no criminal allegation has been made the designated member of staff for child protection will conduct an investigation by gathering as much detail as possible from available sources of information. The designated member of staff should go through beatbullying’s confidential records to check whether there is any report relating to a child protection matter concerning any young person involved in the allegation. Where appropriate, the designated member of staff should consider whether suspension of the worker is advisable, and make a recommendation to the Chair of the management committee. This may include a situation which, though not criminal, could lead to a decision of gross misconduct.
8.4 In cases where no criminal allegation has been made, once the designated member of staff has conducted the investigation described at 8.3, he/she will report on the outcomes to the Chair and recommend whether the matter should be treated as:
a) a disciplinary issue, either as misconduct or gross misconduct with associated rights of appeal; or
b) dismissed as based on unfounded allegations, or to make such other non-disciplinary recommendations as are appropriate. The Chair shall consider such recommendations and report to the next meeting of the management committee on action taken. The person against whom such non-criminal allegations are made should have the opportunity to give an explanation or answer to any allegation at an interview conducted by the designated member of staff, and the course of such an interview should be minuted by the Chief Executive who should be present.
8.5 In cases that fall under 8.2 above, the suspension will remain in force beyond the designated member of staff’s enquiries if the Chair of the management committee is of the view that the misconduct is so serious that it constitutes grounds for immediate termination of employment or voluntary service until the dismissal procedure has been implemented. The Chair should advise the person who is suspended of a member of staff within beatbullying that he/she can communicate with during the period of suspension on matters relating to his/her employment, and both the person who is suspended and the member of staff who is the contact should be made clearly aware of the address to which any such communication should be made, whether or not communication includes personal contact, and the hours/times of contact.
9. Induction and Training
9.1 beatbullying shall ensure that there is adequate and appropriate induction and ongoing training and information to all employed staff, members of the management committee and voluntary workers concerning child protection. This training shall be the responsibility of the Chief Executive to devise/commission and implement, in consultation with the designated member of staff for child protection. All members of the management committee, employees and voluntary workers shall have this policy drawn to their attention on joining beatbullying and it shall be the duty of the Chief Executive, in consultation with the designated member of staff, to ensure that such persons are fully aware of how and where to access the full policy statement, and that they should direct any queries concerning that policy to the Chief Executive.
10. Review of this policy
10.1 The management committee, in consultation with the Chief Executive and the designated member of staff for child protection, shall review this policy, its effectiveness and issues regarding its implementation every two years. The designated member of staff and the Chief Executive shall ensure that the views of all workers, paid and voluntary, are sought and reflected in this review process, and that any statutory authority input is sought if appropriate.