Safeguarding Children Policy

Approved by the Exec Team: July 2020
Approved by the Board: N/A
Implemented on: July 2020
Review Date: July 2023
Service Area: Operations

1. Scope

1.1 This policy defines the action Mount Green will take to prevent harm and respond effectively if concerns are raised about children and young people living at or visiting our properties.

1.2 This document should be read in line with Mount Green’s Data Protection and Confidentiality Policy.

2. Aims

2.1 This policy aims to ensure that Mount Green:

  • follows Local Authorities’ Safeguarding Children Board Policy and Procedures
  • responds to safeguarding issues in line with Multi-Agency safeguarding procedures.

3. Introduction

3.1 Mount Green comes into contact with a wide range of children and families, and as such we acknowledge that some of these children may be at risk of some form of abuse. Whilst we do not generally work with children directly and will rarely be the lead agency, we recognise that everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play in safeguarding children.

4. Definitions

4.1 What does ‘safeguarding children’ mean?

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this policy as:

  • protecting children from maltreatment
  • preventing impairment of children’s health or development
  • ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the
  • provision of safe and effective care
  • taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes

4.2 Who is a child?

The ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2018’ document defines a child as being anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. It applies to all children up to the age of 18 years whether living with their families, in state care, or living independently.

4.3 Types of Abuse

4.3.1 Children may be vulnerable to neglect and abuse or exploitation from within their family and from individuals they come across in their day-to-day lives. These threats can take a variety of different forms, including: sexual, physical and emotional abuse; neglect; exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups; trafficking; online abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation.

Whatever the form of abuse or neglect, we will put the needs of children first when determining what action to take.

4.3.2 Definition of child abuse

Domestic abuse
Witnessing domestic abuse is child abuse, and teenagers can suffer domestic abuse in their relationships
Sexual abuse
A child is sexually abused when they are forced or persuaded to take part in sexual activities. This doesn’t have to be physical contact, and it can happen online.
Neglect
Neglect is the ongoing failure to meet a child’s basic needs. It’s dangerous and children can suffer serious and long-term harm.
Online abuse
Online abuse is any type of abuse that happens on the internet, whether through social networks, playing online games or using mobile phones.
Physical abuse
Physical abuse is deliberately hurting a child causing injuries such as bruises, broken bones, burns or cuts.
Emotional abuse
Children who are emotionally abused suffer emotional maltreatment or neglect. It’s sometimes called psychological abuse and can cause children serious harm.
Child sexual exploitation
Child sexual exploitation is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
Female genital mutilation (FGM)
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is the partial or total removal of external female genitalia for non-medical reasons.
Bullying and cyberbullying
Bullying can happen anywhere – at school, at home or online (cyberbullying). It’s usually repeated over a long period of time and can hurt a child both physically and emotionally.
Child trafficking
Child trafficking is a type of abuse where children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold.
Grooming
Children and young people can be groomed online or in the real world, by a stranger or by someone they know – a family member, friend or professional.
Harmful sexual behaviour
Children and young people who develop harmful sexual behaviour harm themselves and others.

5. Policy Statement

Section 11 of the Children Act 2004 places duties on a range of organisations, agencies and individuals, including housing, to ensure their functions, and any services that they contract out to others, are discharged having regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

Anyone raising a safeguarding alert or concern will always be listened to, believed, and acted upon. We have a duty to tell Social Services if there are any safeguarding concerns about any child.

5.1 Policy Objectives

We have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children at risk and we will comply with all relevant legislation and good practice to do so. We will:

  • Ensure staff are aware they have a duty to act promptly on any concern or suspicion that a child is being, or is at risk of being, abused.
  • Make clear factual records of any concerns and actions taken
  • Share appropriate information in a timely way and discuss any concerns about an individual child with colleagues and local authority children’s social care
  • Make a referral to local authority children’s social care. Follow up concerns if we are not satisfied with the local authority children’s social care response.
  • Ensure that all staff understand their role in relation to safeguarding children. We will make sure they have access to appropriate training and are competent in preventing, recognising and acting on abuse and neglect.
  • Ensure that all staff receive appropriate management supervision that affords them the opportunity to reflect on their practice and the impact of their actions on others.

5.2 Principles

The following six principles will inform the ways in which staff work with children at risk and underpin all child safeguarding work.

  • Empowerment – Children will be supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and choices wherever possible.
  • Prevention – The emphasis will be on prevention as it is better to take action before harm occurs.
  • Proportionality – We will always seek the least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
  • Protection – We will support and seek to represent those in greatest need.
  • Partnership – We will work with others to identify local solutions through a range of services.
  • Accountability – We seek to be accountable and transparent in all our services.

5.3 Partnership Working

As a provider of housing and support services, we play an important role in
building and maintaining partnerships with local authorities and key specialist
agencies.

We are committed to working swiftly and productively with these agencies to
take action to protect a child who may be experiencing or is likely to
experience significant harm. We recognise that we have an important role
to play with local authorities and the police in the prevention, detection and
reporting of concerns and will always support them with their investigations in
the best way possible. However, we recognise that local authorities are the
lead agency when co-ordinating child safeguarding investigations.

We will ensure that all staff, contractors, agents and any third party working on
our behalf understand this policy and procedure, are aware of the signs of
abuse and know what to do if they have reason to believe that abuse is taking
place.

5.4 Confidentiality and Sharing Information

Effective sharing of information between Mount Green and other organisations and agencies is essential for early identification of need, assessment and service provision to keep children safe. We will proactively share information as early as possible to help identify and respond to risk or concerns about the safety and welfare of children. The GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 do not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purposes of keeping children and young people safe, but provides a framework
to ensure that personal information is shared appropriately. We will always share information with the Local Authorities Children’s Single Point of Access (C-SPA) where we have reasonable cause to suspect that a child may be suffering or may be at risk of suffering significant harm.

While, in general, we will seek to discuss any concerns with the family and, where possible, seek their agreement to making referrals to the C-SPA, there will be some circumstances where we would not seek consent e.g. where to do so would:

  • Place a child at increased risk of significant harm;
  • Place an adult at risk of serious harm;
  • Prejudice the prevention or detection of a serious crime;
  • Lead to unjustified delay in making enquiries about allegations of significant harm.

We will share information in line with the Local Authorities’ Multi Agency Information Sharing Protocol.

5.5 Responding to suspected or alleged abuse or neglect

Our staff may enter residents’ homes to carry out a range of tasks and in doing so they may see evidence of abuse or neglect. They may also receive reports of concern from residents that have been witnessed on an estate.

If a member of staff suspects abuse or has received a report of abuse they will:

  • Report it to the safeguarding lead immediately. Staff will not carry out an investigation into the suspected abuse or neglect of a child. Safeguarding of children is a complex area which must be dealt with by the appropriate agencies and channels.
  • Refer any concerns over the abuse or neglect to the Children’s Single Point of Access (C-SPA) for the local authority concerned, or, in an emergency, dial 999.
  • Record any discussions and actions carried out following suspected or alleged abuse or neglect accurately, thoroughly and promptly using the Safeguarding Concerns form.
  • Fully co-operate with any agencies involved with cases of alleged abuse or neglect.
  • Work with other agencies to investigate any alleged breach of tenancy agreement and take action through policies and procedures where appropriate.

5.6 Staffing

We will follow rigorous procedures for the recruitment and selection of staff. DBS checks will be completed when recruiting staff to work in a ‘regulated’ activity. We do not currently undertake any regulated activity in relation to children.

We will meet our responsibilities towards the Local Authorities’ Safeguarding Children’s Board and any applicable Vetting and Barring schemes.

Where a person suspected of abuse or neglect is a member of staff, the member of staff will be suspended and a disciplinary investigation will be carried out immediately. Appropriate action will be taken in line with our Disciplinary Policy.

In order to protect themselves from allegations of abuse, or situations that could be misunderstood, staff members will maintain strong professional boundaries as detailed in the Code of Conduct.

All relevant staff will receive appropriate and timely training.

5.7 Whistle blowing

When raising a concern staff are encouraged to speak in the first instance with their line manager. If they feel this is inappropriate, or if the allegations regard their line manager, they should contact the Director of Operations.

Our Whistleblowing Policy for staff provides a confidential route for staff to raise serious concerns related to suspected wrongdoing or dangers within the organisation. If a staff member asks for their identity to be protected, anonymity will be maintained wherever possible.

We are committed to listening to any suspicion and acting. However, if a member of staff feels that Mount Green is not taking their safeguarding children concerns seriously, they have the right to explain their concerns to the Police or Social Services/Local Authorities.

6. Recording and Monitoring

We will record and monitor every safeguarding alert at our quarterly Health & Safety committee. We will review any outcomes and produce an annual report to the Board.

7. Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

7.1 Mount Green respects and values the differences of our customers, partners and staff. We will treat all residents fairly and with respect.

7.2 Everyone has the absolute right to be protected from abuse, regardless of age, gender, disability, pregnancy and maternity, class, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, location, marital status, criminal behaviour or immigration status.

7.3 We recognise that there may be additional communication barriers for adults or children who are disabled or for those whose first language is not English. We are committed to helping them overcome these barriers and will work jointly with external parties in these cases.

7.4 We will communicate with residents in the way that suits them wherever possible.

8. Consultation and Publicising the Policy

This policy will be publicised to residents through:

  • Our Residents’ Handbook
  • Leaflets
  • Our website