What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding in Sport ()

Safeguarding is the process of protecting children and adults from harm by providing safe and effective care. It includes all procedures designed to prevent harm. 

Everyone who engages in sport whether they are a volunteer, participant, spectator or an elite athlete should never have to worry about abuse or harassment.

It is also everyone’s responsibility to safeguard children and adults. Everyone has a role to play in keeping others safe and people should know what to do if they have any concerns. 

Sport and Recreation Alliance Statement: Safeguarding and protecting children released 29 November 2016

It is important to note that safeguarding and child protection are different. Child protection is part of the safeguarding process and is about protecting individual children identified as suffering or likely to suffer significant harm.

The Government released guidelines in Working Together to Safeguard Children (HM Government, 2015; PDF) which outlines the duties of all organisations that work with children. This includes a glossary that will help you identify the meaning of key terms often referenced in relation to safeguarding.

There is also Government advice on What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused: advice for practitioners which has tips on how to identify the signs of child abuse and neglect and the action to take. However, remember if you are not a safeguarding practitioner your main responsibility is to report any concerns to the appropriate person. For example, there may be a Club Welfare Officer in the Club.

But please remember, if you think a child is in immediate danger you should call the police on 999. You can also ring the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 straight away if it relates to a child. 

Safeguarding adults is as important as safeguarding children. It is about protecting a person’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. Any organisation working with adults should have in place appropriate policies and procedures.

But please remember, if you think an adult is in immediate danger you should call the police on 999. 

Where can organisations that offer a sport or activity seek advice and help?

The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) is a partnership between the NSPCC, Sport England, Sport Northern Ireland and Sport Wales. There is a similar partnership in Scotland between Children 1st and sportscotland.

The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) provides excellent advice and support around safeguarding children. This includes a Self-Assessment Tool which takes you through the Standards for safeguarding children in sport.

Club Matters, Sport England’s advisory website for sports clubs, has information and advice on safeguarding and welfare in the policies and procedures section. This includes advice for clubs, that are affiliated with your organisation, about where they can get help and support.

The Ann Craft Trust leads a project called Safeguarding Adults in Sport. This is funded by Sport England to help NGBs, county sports partnerships, regional partnerships and sports clubs to develop best practice in safeguarding adults at risk. There is also a Safeguarding Adults in Sport resource pack.

It is important to remember if you think a child or adult is in immediate danger you should call the police on 999. You can also ring the NSPCC helpline on 0808 800 5000 straight away if it relates to a child.

Disclosure and Barring Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) aims to help organisations to make safer recruitment decisions by identifying candidates who may be unsuitable for working with children and vulnerable adults. It replaces the old CRB system. You can find out more information on the Government website and the Child Protection in Sport Unit has a helpful FAQ.

Revised DBS Supervision guidance

The Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) updated Defining ‘Supervision’ and Regulated Activity Sport and Recreation Sector Guidance in January 2017 to ensure that advice about DBS eligibility for mixed (adult and child) activities (on page 14) now reflects current DBS advice. Any queries about the guidance should be directed to the CPSU.