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POLICY FOR THE PROTECTION OF UNDER-18s AND VULNERABLE ADULTS

University of Essex

Updated June 2013

University Responsibilities

The University is legally obliged and committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of under-18s[1]  and vulnerable adults[2]  who participate in its organised activities or services. These include registered students who are under 18 or would be regarded as vulnerable groups, children who come on to University premises as part of organised activities such as visits or summer schools and University staff working off campus (e.g. outreach activities in local schools). The University must ensure that reasonable steps to promote and safeguard the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable groups are taken and to ensure that relevant legislation and government guidance is complied with[3]. This policy applies to all under 18s and vulnerable adults regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or religion.  

All University staff are in a position of trust, in particular those staff who teach, support, guide or in any way interact with students. It is incumbent on all staff to be aware of this and to act accordingly at all times.  

The contact details for the University’s designated safeguarding officers and further information and guidance are available from: http://www2.essex.ac.uk/stdsup/policies/u18andvadults_index.shtm  

Safer Recruitment and Selection Procedures

Many staff across the University will be in regular or significant occasional contact with under-18s or vulnerable adults in the course of their teaching or other work, or will be in positions of particular trust e.g. Student Support staff, security staff, senior members of the Residents’ Support Network, named advisers in departments. Some students are required to work or undertake placements which will bring them into contact with under-18s or vulnerable adults.  

The University will maintain robust recruitment practices and take steps to ensure that it complies with the requirements of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006.  This will include Disclosure and Barring Service(DBS) checks for staff and students required to work with under-18s or vulnerable groups in regulated activity where required.  The University is committed to ensuring that relevant staff and students have appropriate checks in accordance with accepted practice to ensure their suitability to work with under-18s and vulnerable adults or their fitness to practice on certain courses.  Guidance on whether staff or students should be subject to a DBS check can be obtained from Human Resources for staff and the Academic Section for students. Please go to www.essex.ac.uk/dbs for further information.  

Child Protection Procedures

The Essex Safeguarding Children Board (ESCB) is a multi-agency group which has established child protection policy and practice for Essex, in accordance with the law and statutory regulation. The University will work within the policy framework of the ESCB and, in particular, will comply with the Joint Child Protection Guidelines 2006 (Previously ‘the Blue Book- Essex Child Protection Guidelines 2000’) http://www.escb.org.uk  and will follow existing University complaints and disciplinary procedures.  

In accordance with this guidance the University has appointed a “Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer” with regard to child protection issues. The Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer is a senior member of the University’s management structure, and has responsibility for coordinating the University’s safeguarding practice. The Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer will be assisted by several “Designated Safeguarding Officers” (DSOs) to ensure that there is always a Designated Safeguarding Officer to act in his/her absence.  The names of these staff will be held by Student Support and will be published on the University website.  

All University staff must contact a DSO if they have any cause to believe that a child is in any way at risk. The DSO will contact the relevant Social Services Department in accordance with the requirements of the Essex Child Protection Procedures and will follow their instructions.  

Vulnerable adults

The Essex Safeguarding Adults Board (ESAB) is a multi agency organisation which aims to promote and develop an effective protection system for vulnerable adults in Essex.http://www.evapc.org.  

Where possible, the University will identify vulnerable adults and ensure that there are appropriate support measures in place. This is most likely to be when the student presents to, or is referred to, Student Support and has mental health difficulties or a disability that would meet the legal definition of ‘vulnerable’.  In addition there could be some students who are vulnerable to or at risk of radicalisation or extremism.   

Any member of staff across the University with concerns regarding an adult student whom they believe or know to be vulnerable must contact a Designated Safeguarding Officer who will liaise with the Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer if necessary. Where the concern involves a vulnerable adult, the Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer will consult with the DSO(s) and any other relevant staff in order to determine the most appropriate course of action. Where abuse is suspected Essex Social Care will be informed in accordance with ESAB guidelines. Where radicalisation or extremism is suspected, the University Security Manager will be informed in accordance with the University’s Policy on Tackling Violent Extremism in the name of ideology or belief and maintaining cohesive campus relations http://www.essex.ac.uk/academic/docs/regs/camrelations.shtm  

Code of Behaviour

Guidance on Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable groups is available for staff who may come into contact with under-18s or vulnerable adults in the course of their work (see http://www2.essex.ac.uk/stdsup/policies/u18andvadults_index.shtm).   

The following general principals should be adhered to by all staff who are expected to familiarise themselves with this guidance:  

  • Safeguarding issues are to be regarded as top priority and staff are reminded that it is the welfare of the child or vulnerable person which is of a primary concern and it is their duty to report any concerns to a Designated Safeguarding Officer.

  • If staff, in the course of their work at the University, have a safeguarding issue brought to their attention, observe an incident of abuse themselves, or have cause for concern, they must treat this as a priority over other work and address the issue immediately.

  • If staff wish to seek guidance with regard to a specific incident or area of concern, advice can be sought from the Designated Safeguarding Officers who may refer the matter to the Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer or the Essex Safeguarding Children Board/ Essex Safeguarding Adults Board /Essex Social Care or other relevant authority.  

As a member of student staff, you have a legal responsibility to report and pass on information about incidents and suspicions of abuse. You do not have any responsibility or authority to deal with the incident or attempt to resolve it.  

If abuse is suspected The Safeguarding Disclosure Procedure (Appendix A) must be followed.   

Induction, training and supervision

The University will ensure that the Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer, Designated Safeguarding Officers and other staff likely to be in regular contact with under-18s and/or vulnerable adults receive appropriate training. This will also include student staff employed as student ambassadors and in similar roles.  

The University will also provide information to raise awareness to ensure that all staff understand what to do if someone covered by this policy discloses abuse or any other safeguarding issue.  

Relationships with young people aged 16-17

It should be noted that whilst a child can consent to sexual activity once they reach the age of 16, under the Sexual Offences Act 2003 it is an criminal offence for a person over 18 (teacher, student mentor, academic staff etc.) to have a sexual relationship with a child under 18 where that person is in a position of trust, even if the relationship is consensual.   

Outreach and Recruitment Activities

The University carries out a wide range of activities for young people in order to increase the levels of successful participation in further and higher education for students and many University staff will go into local schools as part of widening participation and recruitment activities.  

Childcare provision

The University of Essex Day Nursery provides childcare services at the Colchester campus and is covered by its own child protection policy.  The Sports Centre offer specific activities for children including Children's Holidays at the University of Essex Multi-activity Sports (CHUMS).  Separate guidance for Sports Centre staff has been produced.  

Students Under 18

Offers of admission to students who will be under 18 at registration will only be made where the University is satisfied that the student is equipped to study within a mainly adult, independent learning environment. Applicants will be notified of the University’s safeguarding policy and procedures and must agree to comply with any arrangements to support and safeguard under-18s (for example relating to licensed premises on campus, providing emergency contacts in event of welfare concerns).  Details of the admissions processes for applicants who will be under 18 at registration can be obtained from Undergraduate Admissions.

Record Keeping and Confidentiality

Records will be kept of all referrals to Designated Safeguarding Officers and their outcomes and held by the Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer in accordance with the Data Protection Act.

It should be noted that consent is still required from under 18s in the same way as for adults with regard to matters of data protection, however in accordance with statutory requirements, where safeguarding issues are involved, it is not possible to promise confidentiality as any disclosures must be reported, although consent will normally be sought.        

Monitoring and Review

The implementation of the policy and associated guidance and procedures will be reviewed and updated every three years. The Lead Designated Safeguarding Officer will ensure that this policy is reviewed if there are any legislative developments that are relevant.

[1] The Children Act 1989 states the legal definition of a child as “a person under the age of 18”.
[2] Section 115(4)(a) of the Police Act 1997 states that a person can be considered to be vulnerable if they are “substantially dependent upon others in performing basic physical functions, or his ability to communicate with those providing services, or to communicate with others, is severely impaired, and, as a result, he would be incapable of protecting himself from assault or other physical abuse, or there is a potential danger that his will or moral well-being may be subverted or overpowered”.
[3] For example Safeguarding Children: Guidance for English Higher Education Institutions,  Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, December 2007

 
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