Safeguarding Policy

1. Introduction

1.1 The University aims to adopt the highest possible standards and take all reasonable steps in relation to the safety and welfare of children and other vulnerable groups.

1.2 This policy applies to all staff, students and volunteers who may be working with children (i.e. those aged under 16), young persons (i.e. those aged 16 to 18) and adults in a vulnerable situation (as defined in the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 and as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012) whom the University encounters through its teaching and research activities as well as through its outreach programmes.

1.3 This policy does not seek to discourage such activities. Instead, this policy seeks to support these activities and to offer assurances to both staff, students volunteers and visitors that, through its implementation, the University seeks to protect children and other vulnerable groups and to keep them safe from harm when in contact with University students and staff (whether acting in a paid or unpaid capacity).

2. Aims and objectives

2.1 The University wishes to ensure that it maintains the highest possible standards to meet its social, moral and legal responsibilities to protect and safeguard the welfare of all vulnerable groups with whom the University’s work brings it into contact, whilst recognising that it cannot act “in loco parentis”. Ultimate responsibility will continue to rest with parents and guardians.

2.2 While it is impossible to ensure that a child, young person or adult in a vulnerable situation would never come to any harm, the adoption of this policy and associated guidelines aims to facilitate the management of the risk associated with the duty to protect such individuals.

2.3 The aim of this policy is to highlight the four areas that form the basis of the University’s approach to safeguarding the well-being of vulnerable groups (“the Cornerstones”) and to set out a code of practice (see Appendix) for all staff, students and volunteers at the University who may work with them.

3. The Cornerstones

Guidelines on risk assessment in relation to safeguarding vulnerable groups (PDF, 104kB)

3.1 All staff that intend to, or may be put in the position of, working with children or other vulnerable groups should ensure that they understand the implications of this policy before commencing any programme, event, visit or other activity.

1 An adult is in a vulnerable situation if they require an activity or service which leads to that adult being considered vulnerable at that particular time. The Disclosure and Barring Service have produced eligibility guidance to assist employers.

3.2 A designated individual should complete a risk assessment before any new or changed programme, event, visit or any other activity involving vulnerable groups, or before admitting [or employing] an under-18.

3.3 All those involved in the risk assessment process should understand that the risk assessment is not only a way to mitigate or remove any potential risks but may also be a prompt to consider alternative working practices.

Guidelines on recruitment, selection and employment procedures (PDF, 71kB)Guidelines on recruitment, selection and employment procedures (PDF, 71kB)Guidelines on recruitment, selection and employment procedures (PDF, 71kB)

3.4 The University will take all appropriate steps to ensure that unsuitable people are prevented from working with children.

3.5 Where the risk assessment has identified that students or staff are likely to have regular contact with or encounter members of vulnerable groups (which might include regular processing of information), rigorous checks into their eligibility will be required. Such processes will be compliant with the University's Equality and Diversity policy.

3.6 The University is registered with the Disclosure and Barring Service (“DBS”) and will ensure that any member of staff or any student who will have substantial one-to-one contact with vulnerable groups will be checked for relevant criminal convictions.

3.7 Admissions Tutors and Heads of Schools will be provided with guidance on the admission and employment of under-18s.

Guidelines on dealing with suspicions or allegations of abuse (PDF, 585kB)Guidelines on dealing with suspicions or allegations of abuse (PDF, 585kB)Guidelines on dealing with suspicions or allegations of abuse (PDF, 585kB)

3.8 Concerns for the safety and well-being of vulnerable groups could arise in a variety of ways and in a range of different settings. For example, a child may report or display signs of abuse; someone may hint that a child is at risk or that a colleague is an abuser; an individual may witness or hear about abuse in another organisation. It is essential to act quickly and professionally in all cases of suspected abuse.

3.9 Any allegation by a child, young person or adult in a vulnerable situation against a member of staff, another student or a volunteer should be reported immediately to the relevant designated individual who has responsibility under this policy. In dealing with any such allegation the University has a duty of care both to the child, young person or adult in a vulnerable situation concerned and to the member of staff, student or volunteer against whom the allegation is made.

Training and support

3.10 The University will provide appropriate guidance and training on this policy.

4. Responsibility

4.1 Guidelines will be issued to implement this policy and designated individuals will be appointed within each Department or Faculty to undertake risk assessments.

4.2 The Secretary’s Office will be responsible for reviewing and updating this policy. Members of the University are encouraged to discuss any concerns under this policy with the Director of Legal Services/Deputy Secretary.

4.3 The Director of Student Recruitment, Access and Admissions will advise on the admission of under-18 students, in conjunction with the Director of Student Services and Employability and the relevant Head of Department. The relevant Head of Department, with advice from the Director of Student Services and Employability, will be responsible for monitoring the welfare of under-18 students. This responsibility may be devolved as appropriate.

4.4 The Resourcing Manager in Human Resources will advise on the employment of under-18 members of staff and, in conjunction with the relevant Head of Department, will be responsible for monitoring their welfare. This responsibility may be devolved as appropriate.

4.5 Allegations or suspicions of abuse involving students should be reported to the Director of Student Services and Employability. Allegations or suspicions of abuse involving staff who are under 18 years of age should be reported to the Resourcing Manager.


Code of Practice

The following code of practice applies to all University staff and students working with children, young people or adults in a vulnerable situation, whether acting in a paid or unpaid capacity:

  • Avoid unnecessary physical contact.
  • Avoid taking members of vulnerable groups alone in a vehicle on journeys, however short.
  • Unless circumstances make it impossible to comply, do not take members of vulnerable groups to the toilet unless either (a) another adult is present or (b) another adult is aware (this may include a parent or group leader).
  • If you find you are in a situation where you are alone with a member of a vulnerable group wherever practicable make sure that others can clearly observe you.
  • Avoid close personal relationships with members of vulnerable groups in relation to whom you are in a position of trust.
  • Do not make suggestive or inappropriate remarks to or about members of vulnerable groups, even in fun, as this could be misinterpreted.
  • If a member of a vulnerable group accuses a student or member of staff of abuse or inappropriate behaviour, you should report this immediately to the relevant person.
  • The duty to report applies equally to complaints or accusations of historic, and not just recent, abuse/inappropriate behaviour.
  • If you are the recipient of any complaint or accusation from a member of a vulnerable group, it is important to listen without making or implying any judgement as to the truth of the complaint or accusation.
  • If a member of a vulnerable group makes a complaint, or if there are other reasons for suspecting abuse, you should not attempt to investigate this yourself, but should report your concerns to the designated individual appointed under the University’s policy (“the policy”) on the safeguarding of children and other vulnerable groups.
  • Participate in the training available to you to support you in your work with vulnerable groups.
  • Remember that those who abuse members of vulnerable groups can be of any age (even other members of vulnerable groups), gender, ethnic background or class, and it is important not to allow personal preconceptions about people to prevent appropriate action taking place.
  • Good practice includes valuing and respecting members of vulnerable groups as individuals, and the adult modelling of appropriate conduct – which would exclude bullying, aggressive behaviour and discrimination in any form.
  • Those dealing with any allegations of abuse or misconduct should adhere to the principles set out in the policy. Any information received should be acted upon sensitively, effectively and efficiently. Wherever possible, those making allegations should be given information about the outcome.
  • Although allegations should be reported only on a “need to know” basis, staff and students making allegations need not be concerned that they will be breaching confidentiality or the Data Protection Act, as complying with the policy overrides such obligations. If the person making the allegation feels they need counselling or other appropriate support from the University, they are encouraged to seek it.
  • Ensure that you comply with appropriate licensing laws.

Approved by Council 11 July 2007

Last updated May 2013