The purpose of this policy is to make clear to all what is required in relation to the protection of children and vulnerable people. The policy will help to maintain a safe and positive environment for children and vulnerable people.
2. POLICY COVERAGE
This policy applies to all employees, volunteers and Members of Marlow Town Council.
A child is defined as a person under the age of 18 (The Children Act, 1989).
A vulnerable personis defined as someone who is or maybe 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/herself or unable to protect him/herself against significant harm or exploitation.’
This policy is to be used in conjunction with the Council’s Risk Management Plan, Health and Safety Policies, Equal Opportunities Policy, Complaints Policy and Procedure, and Grievance Procedure.
3. POLICY PRINCIPLES
- Marlow Town Council is a statutory organisation committed to providing a safe environment for all.
- The welfare of children and vulnerable people is paramount.
- All children and vulnerable adults have an equal right to protection from abuse.
- Everybody at the Council has a responsibility to support the care and protection of children and vulnerable persons.
4. POLICY STATEMENT
Marlow Town Council is committed to taking all reasonable precautions to safeguard the welfare of children and vulnerable persons that use its services and promotes a safeguarding culture and environment.
5. PROCEDURES AND SYSTEMS
5.1 Definitions of Abuse:
Abuse is any form of physical, emotion or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm.
Neglect – where adults fail to meet a child’s or vulnerable person’s basic physical/psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of their health or development. For example, failure to ensure that a child is protected from unnecessary risk of injury, or exposing them to undue cold.
Physical Abuse – where physical pain or injury is caused, e.g. hitting, shaking, biting, etc.
Sexual Abuse – where children or vulnerable adults knowingly or unknowingly take part in an activity that meets the sexual needs of the other person or persons involved. This includes inappropriate photography or videoing.
Emotional Abuse – where there is persistent emotional ill treatment that causes severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s or vulnerable person’s emotional status. Examples of emotional abuse include bullying (including cyber and text bullying), constant criticism and unrealistic pressure to perform.
Disabled children may be particularly vulnerable to abuse and may have added difficulties in communicating what is happening to them. Dependency on others for primary needs, e.g. feeding and clothing may make a person feel powerless to report abusive treatment.
5.2 Use of Video and Photography
The use of photographs and images of young people will be controlled to prevent possible misuse. In general, agreement will be sought from parents or guardians that images can be used as appropriate.
The use of camera phones that also have video recording capabilities are also required to have a consent form. Failure to comply with this policy will result in removal from the premises.
5.3 Responding to a child or vulnerable person who reports that either they or another child or vulnerable person is/are being abused and responding to allegations against an employee/volunteer/Member or another young person:
If a person discloses to you abuse by someone else:
(a) Allow the person to speak without interruption, accepting what is said, but DO NOT investigate.
(b) Alleviate feelings of guilt and isolation, while passing no judgement. Reassure them that they did the right thing by talking to you.
(c) Advise that you will try to offer support, but that you MUST pass the information on.
(d) Record the facts as you know them.
(e) Refer the allegation immediately and directly to the appropriate person. If an employee or volunteer is implicated, refer to their Line Manager. If a Section Head, Member or another young person is implicated, refer directly to the Town Clerk. If the Town Clerk is implicated, refer to the Town Mayor.
All allegations must be referred, no matter how insignificant they seem to be, or when they occur.
(f) Try to ensure that no-one is placed in a position which could cause further compromise.
Action to be taken by the person receiving the referral as soon as possible, in any event within 24 hours:
(a) Write down notes, dates, times, facts, observations, verbatim speech, if possible, as soon as possible after the incident or disclosure has occurred.
(b) Ensure correct details are available: young/vulnerable person’s name and address, and the name and address of their parent or guardian.
(c) Immediately contact the Social Care Department at Buckinghamshire County Council. Ask for a duty officer and indicate that you wish to discuss a matter of child/vulnerable person protection. Ask for the name of the person with whom you are speaking. Do not filter out or withhold any information. Ask if there is anyone else who should be informed.
(d) Inform the District Council’s Monitoring Officer (Head of Legal Services, Wycombe District Council).
(e) Prepare a confidential file. Record all notes, conversations and advice from Social Care. Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned.
(f) Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with data protection legislation.
(g) Follow advice from Social Care. Take no other action unless advised to do so by Social Care.
If in doubt about the advice you have received at any stage refer to Social Care for guidance.
5.4 Responding to concerns about a child’s welfare where there has been no specific disclosure or allegation:
All employees, volunteers and Members are encouraged to share concerns with the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk will, if appropriate, make a referral to Social Care.
Recognising abuse is not always easy. The below list provides some indicators of abuse; however, the list is not exhaustive and contains only indicators, not confirmation, of abuse:
(a) Having unexplained or suspicious injuries, e.g. bites or bruising.
(b) Having an injury for which the explanation seems inconsistent or which has not been treated adequately.
(c) Change in behaviour, including becoming withdrawn, or becoming aggressive.
(d) Displaying inappropriate sexual awareness for their age.
(e) Refusal to remove clothing for normal activities, e.g. swimming.
(f) Looking neglected in appearance.
(g) Losing or putting on weight for no apparent reason.
(h) Lack of trust in adults.
5.5 Contact Details for Social Care, Monitoring Officer, the Police and NSPCC:
Social Care – Buckinghamshire Council:
Monday to Thursday, 9 am to 5.30 pm. Friday, 9 am to 5 pm.
Telephone: 01494 475037 or 01494 475211
Free Phone Care-line: 0800 137915
Fax: 01494 475252
For serious emergencies in the evenings, weekends or public holidays: 01494 675802.
Thames Valley Police:
Non-emergency telephone: 0845 8 505 505
Emergency telephone: 999
NSPCC Child Protection Helpline:
Telephone: 0808 800 5000
Textphone: 0800 056 0566