Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults


1.1Safeguarding is defined by the Children Act 1989 and Joint Chief Inspectors Report on Arrangements to Safeguard Children (2002 ) as meaning that:

‘Agencies [and organisations] working with children and young people take all reasonable measures to ensure that the risks of harm to the individual’s welfare are minimised; and

Where there are concerns about children and young people’s welfare, all agencies [and organisations] take all appropriate actions to address those concerns, working to agreed local policies and procedures, working in partnership with other local agencies’.


2.1 Safeguarding practices are most commonly applied to children and young people under the age of eighteen. Throughout various pieces of legislation and guidance, the two terms are sometimes differentiated, where ‘children’ refers to those under the age of eighteen who are still in full-time education, and ‘young people’ refers to those under the age of eighteen who have left full-time education. For the purposes of clarity, throughout this policy and related procedures documents, the University uses the term ‘child’.

2.2 Key aspects of legislation have recently been extended to include similar standards of protection to ‘vulnerable adults’. A vulnerable adult is defined as a person aged eighteen or over, who has either a dependency upon others in the performance of, or a requirement for assistance in the performance of basic functions; a severe impairment in the ability to communicate with others; or has a reduced ability to protect themselves from assault, abuse or neglect. This can be as a result of a learning or physical disability (not normally to include dyslexia); a physical or mental illness chronic or otherwise (including an addiction to alcohol or drugs); or a reduction in physical or mental capacity.

3. Why is safeguarding necessary in higher education?

3.1 Primary and secondary schools and Further Education colleges have a statutory duty to safeguard and protect young people in their care. Higher education institutions are not specifically named in their duty to safeguard and protect, but have a common law duty to take such steps that in the circumstances of an educational institution are reasonable to ensure that the child or vulnerable adult is safe and that reasonably foreseeable harm does not occur as a result of careless acts or omissions of the institution.

4. Statement of Policy

4.1 The University is committed to providing a safe and secure environment for all students, staff and individual visitors who access its facilities and services.

4.2 The University recognises its particular responsibility to safeguard the wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults engaged in the breadth of the University’s activities by ensuring that there are appropriate arrangements in place to enable it to discharge its duty to provide a safe and secure environment and to deal with issues concerned with suspected or reported abuse of children and vulnerable adults.

4.3 The University seeks to ensure that its policy and procedures comply with statutory duties, reflects guidance and good practice in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, and that safeguarding arrangements are proportionate and based upon common sense.

4.4 The University recognises that it has a duty to help staff and students recognise their responsibilities (through guidance, support and training), minimise risk and avoid situations (where possible) where abuse or neglect might be alleged. It is not intended that staff should be restricted from normal ways or working, but staff are advised to consider how an action may be misperceived.

5. Safeguarding structure and responsibilities

5.1 The University has in place an organisational structure for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. Key staff with designated safeguarding responsibilities (as set out in paragraphs 5.2 to 5.4 below) are members of the Safeguarding standing group, that meets regularly and on an as-needs basis in order to monitor, review and develop the work of the University in delivering its duty of care.

5.2 The University Lead Safeguarding Officer, who has overall accountability for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults at the University, is the Director of Student Services. The Lead Safeguarding Officer is a member of the Safeguarding standing group.

5.3 The Principal Safeguarding Officer, who carries out a leadership and co-ordination role, and chairs the University Safeguarding standing group, is the Head of Student Support/Assistant Director of Student Services. In the absence of the Head of Student Support, the Head of the Mentor Service acts as Principal Safeguarding Officer. The Principal Safeguarding Officer is supported in this role by the Student Wellbeing team within Student Support. The Principal Safeguarding Officer chairs the Safeguarding standing group.

5.4 In those areas where staff and students work with children and vulnerable adults as part of their roles, a manager is nominated to have special responsibility for safeguarding in their area of responsibility. This person will be the focal point for all safeguarding issues within that area. This nominated manager holds the title Nominated Safeguarding Officer (NSO). The role description for NSO can be found at appendix 1.

5.5 Staff and students working in direct contact with children and vulnerable adults on a day-to-day basis (i.e. staff involving in teaching and providing pastoral guidance to students) may come across signs of harm and/or abuse. Staff need to ensure that significant concerns for the wellbeing of a child or vulnerable adult are reported to the appropriate Nominated Safeguarding Officer, or the PSO (if NSO is not available) as quickly as possible (at most, within 24 hours). The NSO/PSO will invoke the appropriate procedures to protect the child or vulnerable adult, involving Social Services and or the Police as appropriate. Where staff members are unsure and need guidance about safeguarding issues, they are encouraged to seek support from the Student Wellbeing team.

5.6 The Student Wellbeing team within the Student Services Department provides support for children and vulnerable adults who disclose that they have been or are being abused or are the victim of other inappropriate behaviour.

5.7 Where an allegation of abuse or inappropriate behaviour is made against a member of staff and relates to their actions as a member of the University, in addition to actions set out in paragraph 5.5 above, Human Resources will advise and guide the line manager of the member of staff against whom allegations have been made in relation to employment issues.

5.8 Where an allegation of abuse or inappropriate behaviour is made against a student and relates to their actions as a member of the University, in addition to actions set out in paragraph 5.5 above, the Head of Student Accommodation and Information Service will advise and guide the School and /or Chair of the Committee of Discipline in relation to student discipline issues.

6. ‘Control measures’/procedures

6.1 Students

6.1.1 The University takes a risk management approach to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, in organising learning and teaching, and delivery of services to students and the public. Schools and Services carry out risk assessments, and make reasonable, proportionate adaptations to their activities. See appendix two, procedure: additional consideration when admitting a student who will be under eighteen.

6.1.2 The University reserves the right to refuse to admit a child or vulnerable adult to a programme of study, or other University-managed activities, if it judges that the adaptations necessary to safeguard that individual’s wellbeing go beyond what is reasonable and proportionate.

6.1.3 Where adaptations are reasonable and proportionate, the University then puts in place a number of ‘control measures’ (in the language of health and safety) in order to safeguard the wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults. These control measures are kept under review, and added to as necessary, by the Safeguarding standing group.

6.1.4 Except in relation to 6.1.5 below, the University has a limited power to ask about current criminal convictions on admission as a student and where in the course of exercising that power a conviction is disclosed which indicates that the individual poses a clear risk to children or vulnerable adults the University has the right to deny admission as a student.

6.1.5 As a condition of admission to certain programmes of study where they will come into close contact with children and vulnerable adults (typically in health and social care), students are required to undergo an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau check prior to the commencement of placement activity; the University is obliged to refuse admission if the CRB disclosure, on a reasonable assessment, disqualified the applicant from practising as the relevant health/social care professional. [source, University Admissions Policy].

6.1.6 The University does not consider it practicable to take steps other than those described in paragraphs 6.1.2 and 6.1.3 above, to vet the backgrounds of students who, during the course of learning and teaching activities and administrative activities, come into contact with other students who are children or vulnerable adults. The University takes a risk management approach to organising curriculum and service delivery; Schools and Services carry out a risk assessment, and make reasonable adaptations to the delivery of curriculum and/or services.

6.2 Staff

6.2.1 All University staff members, contractors and volunteers are advised to minimise physical contact with students, except for reasons of health and safety, or where physical contact may be a necessary part of learning (e.g. safe manual handling of patients, for health-related study).

6.2.2 The University has a responsibility for the safety of the learning community, and therefore reserves the right to deny employment to individuals where permitted criminal records checks suggest that they might pose a danger to that community. The University is creating new policies where necessary and reviewing all of its policies, processes and procedures in order to fully comply with the CRB Code of Practice.

6.2.3 The University reserves the right, in accordance with its employment procedures, to suspend and/or dismiss staff members from employment or from undertaking a specific role with respect to that employment (e.g. academic staff acting as personal tutor). This may be in circumstances where the individual acquires or extends a relevant criminal record, or where they have withheld information about their criminal record at the point of employment. Disciplinary action may also be taken against staff, in accordance with the University’s employment procedures, for a failure to comply with this policy.

6.2.4 Where an allegation of inappropriate behaviour, abuse or neglect is made against a member of staff (occurring in the course of their work), the University, in accordance with the University’s employment procedures, will carry out a full investigation in to the circumstances before any action is taken. It may be necessary to suspend the individual for their own protection until this is concluded.

6.2.5 The University recognises its responsibility for the wellbeing of the member of staff. Any staff member who considers that they themselves may be a vulnerable adult, can seek support from the University Occupational Health service and the University Counselling Service. In certain circumstances, it may also be appropriate to seek additional help and guidance from the individual’s trade union. These sources of support are available equally to a member of staff who faces allegations of inappropriate behaviour, abuse and/or neglect. Any staff member who considers that they have been subject to inappropriate behaviour or abuse will also have access to the University’s Harassment Policy.

6.2.6 All University staff, contractors and volunteers are reminded of the offence of abuse of positions of trust under sections 16 to 19 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003, which makes it an offence for a person aged 18 or over intentionally to behave in certain sexual ways in relation to a child aged under 18, where the person aged 18 or over is in a position of trust defined as looking after a child aged under 18 who is receiving education at an educational institution and the child aged under 18 is receiving, and person aged 18 or over is not receiving, education at that institution. A person “looks after” a child in this context if he/she is regularly involved in caring for, training, supervising or is in sole charge of a child or children.

6.2.7 The University obtains enhanced CRB disclosures for all staff and volunteers working in ‘regulated positions’ (as defined by the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 [1]). The University has procedures to evaluate information about an staff member’s or volunteer’s criminal record, and making sensible, fair and consistent judgements about whether the individual is safe to engage (or remain engaged) in the employment role, office or voluntary activity.

6.2.8 Many staff are engaged in roles that are not ‘regulated positions’ (see paragraph 6.2.7 above), yet are involved in activities that may also involve children or vulnerable adults. As outlined in paragraph 6.1.1 above, the University takes a risk management approach to delivery of learning and teaching, and University-managed activities involving the wider public.

6.3 Others groups

6.3.1 Where children of students, staff members or visitors are present on the University campuses, they remain the responsibility of their parent/guardian, unless they have been placed in the University’s Day Nursery, are enrolled as students, or are otherwise involved in a University-managed activity (see para 6.3.3 below).

6.3.2 The University’s Day Nursery works within the legislative framework for safeguarding children required of all childcare providers.

6.3.3 Safeguarding the wellbeing of children visiting the campus (without their parent/guardian) is the responsibility of the organiser of the activities in which the child is participating.

6.3.4 In organising residential courses and other activities, the University’s Outreach and Student Recruitment team works within the AimHigher AimSafer Framework for Safeguarding Children and Young People in Higher Education institutions.

7. Procedures to be invoked when harm/abuse is suspected

7.1 The procedures to be invoked when harm/abuse is suspected, can be found at appendix 3.

8. key contacts

For student-related issues

University Principal Safeguarding Officer

Head of Student Support/Assistant Director of Student Services

Kevin Partington, external tel +44 (0)23 8059 9022, internal tel 29022.

For staff-related issues

Client Partners in the Human Resources Department

External tel +44 (0)23 8059 2421

For University staff and students

University Safety Office,

External tel +44 (0)23 8059 2829, internal 22829

9. Related policies and procedures

Regulations covering student discipline

Procedures relating to handling applications (to study) where a criminal conviction is declared

University Admissions policy

Day Nursery Child Protection policy

University Child Protection Policy for Summer School and Taster Day Activities

Staff policies – please go to the HR web site at

[1]‘Regulated position’ has a complex, legal definition. For the University’s purposes, it can be summarised as ‘a position whose normal duties include caring for, training, supervising or being in sole charge of children’, where ‘normal’ is regarded as an explicit, substantive part of the role.

Appendix one: Role Description

Nominated Safeguarding Officer

Role Title:

Nominated Safeguarding Officer (NSO)

Main Purpose of Role:

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of young people and vulnerable adults.

Responsible to:

Principal Designated Safeguarding Officer (Assistant Director of Student Services and Head of Student Support).


Be a first point of contact for young people and vulnerable adults

To keep detailed, accurate and secure written records of referrals/concerns.

To identify areas and activities where risk exists for young people and vulnerable adults and work with Head of School/Head of Professional Service and local Health and Safety Officer over risk assessment.

Essential skills/knowledge required:

Recognition of potential signs of abuse in young people and vulnerable adults.

Understanding of Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy and of procedures to follow if abuse or harm is suspected.


Dealing with issues as and when they arise.

Attendance at bi-annual meetings

Attendance at quarterly meetings (Standing Group only).

Undertaking training

Benefits to Self:

Contribution to the maintenance of a safe environment for young people and vulnerable adults.

Enhanced CV by gaining experience and training in working with young people and vulnerable adults.

Other Information:

Must undertake an enhanced Criminal Records Bureau disclosure to the satisfaction of the Head of School/Professional Service (liaising with the Principal Safeguarding Officer as appropriate).

Appendix two: Procedure: additional considerations when admitting a student who will be under eighteen

[To take effect from October 2007]

Admissions procedure

Registry Services to flag all applications received from individuals who will be under eighteen at 1 October in the year of entry (akin to flagging applications received from individuals declaring a disability, and from individuals with criminal convictions, i.e. a brightly coloured cover sheet on the paper application form), with a reminder of additional considerations for admission, and cross-reference to policy documentation.

School to consider the following additional questions in relation not just to the applicant’s age, but in terms of the applicant’s intellectual and personal maturity as evidenced through the admissions process (e.g. personal statement, interview):

  • Is there any minimum age restriction associated with the programme of study arising from professional registration and regulatory body requirements?
  • Conduct a risk assessment (or revisit existing risk assessment) for all teaching and learning activities associated with the programme (lectures, seminars, tutorials, one-to-one academic/pastoral guidance, laboratory practicals, student groupwork, residential and non-residential fieldwork, placements, etc), seeking support from the University Safety Office.
  • Given that many programmes of study require or permit the student to take unit courses in other Schools, consider the impact on other academic Schools and liaise appropriately.
  • Consider whether the programme of study would expose the student to age-inappropriate materials (e.g. Film, 18 certificate material).
  • Where the programme includes external placement, consider the impact on the placement provider and liaise appropriately.
  • For residential fieldwork, consider control measures in parallel with practices being adopted to safeguard students in relation to accommodation, where students are younger than sixteen, the University will require parents/guardians to provide residential accommodation).
  • Where the School feels it is appropriate, interview the applicant to assess his/her personal, intellectual and emotional maturity.
  • Document the planned control measures within the new/revised risk assessment
  • The School to evaluate whether it is able to make sensible and proportionate adaptations to learning and teaching that would enable an under eighteen to participate safely.

    It is acknowledged that Schools will feel uncertain in making these judgements, especially in the first year of operation. To help overcome this, the network of Nominated Safeguarding Officers will be able to share practice and experience; the Area Safety Advisors will also be able to give guidance on risk assessments.
  • If the School wishes to go ahead and make an offer of admission, it would process the offer in the usual way, and in addition would provide the applicant with information to share with their parents/guardians/ carers (using a standard letter to be added to the admissions communication plan) which sets out the limits of the University’s responsibilities (i.e. we do not act in loco parentis, the University is an adult environment where the vast majority of staff and students are not CRB-checked, there should be no assumption that the individual will be permitted to engage in the full-range of extra-curricular activities, as further risk assessment will be required), providing a copy of the University’s Safeguarding policy and a copy of risk assessment documents that set out how we would adapt curriculum delivery to safeguard the child.

All staff implementing this procedure should be aware of age discrimination legislation which render unlawful less favourable treatment of an applicant on the ground of age, unless the treatment is capable of being objectively justified. Because applicants from the age of sixteen will possess many of the rights afforded to adults (with the exceptions noted later in this document), it may not be appropriate to restrict the extra-curricular activities in which this cohort is engaged, or to contact their parents about their admission. Staff may need to consider these issues on a case-by-case basis rather than make assumptions about maturity solely on the ground of age. In practice, there may be very little difference between a sixteen or seventeen year old applicant, and an applicant aged eighteen.

Registry Services provides management information to the University community about the numbers of under 18s applying to study, being offered a place, accepting a place and enrolling at the University.

Schools and Services are able to access information about applicants’ and students’ dates of birth through the Student Administration System.

Considerations for risk assessment to well-being, health and safety of under eighteens

Staff undertaking risk assessments relating to safeguarding under eighteens are reminded that making blanket assumptions about students according to their age may be regarded as age discrimination. For the most part, it is anticipated that Schools and Services will be able to accommodate students who are sixteen or seventeen, without significant changes to the student experience.

Under eighteen but over sixteen

Under sixteen

Individual legal status

Legally the individual is a ‘minor’, but is able to enter into contracts to secure education, and housing

Legally, the individual is a ‘minor’, and does not have legal capacity to enter into contracts. Enrolment procedures and accommodation contract procedures (if the University provides family accommodation) will need to be different and involve the parent/ guardian/carer.

Personal maturity

It is difficult to make assumptions regarding the maturity in relation to this age group. In many respects, this cohort is unlikely to be different from 18 year old applicants. In particular cases, however, there may be risks which are a consequence of their lack of experience and there may be a lack of awareness because they have not yet fully matured.

Is even more likely to lack full awareness of existing or potential risks to their safety and wellbeing

Health and safety

(based upon employment law, but we should take account in terms of curriculum delivery)

A student age sixteen or seventeen should be capable of coping with the demands of the ordinary timetable, subject to any adjustments reasonably required to accommodate a disability.

Students who are under sixteen and who have successfully completed their schooling are likely to be capable of coping with the demands of the University timetable, subject to any adjustments reasonably required to accommodate a disability. In the course of their studies, this cohort should not be exposed to:

· toxic/carcinogenic substances,

· substances which cause genetic damage or harm to unborn child

· radiation

Prohibition on work involving risk to health from exposure to

· extreme cold

· heat

· noise

· vibration

Risks to health and safety which are a consequence of lack of experience, of absence of awareness of existing or potential risks or the fact that young persons have not yet fully matured, should be taken into account in relation to the particular programmes pursued by the students.

Consent to medical treatment

Has right to consent/refuse to consent to medical treatment

Has limited right to consent/refuse to consent to medical treatment (only if have sufficient maturity and judgement to be able to fully understand what is proposed). Case law has only been applied to cases where contraceptive treatment has been provided to under sixteens and may not be a a general principle.

Consent to sex

Over the age of consent (same laws apply to heterosexual and homosexual activity inEngland and Wales) but note the offence ‘abuse of positions of trust’[1]

Under the age of consent

Consumption of alcohol

Legally cannot purchase alcohol, or have alcohol purchased for them to consume on licence premises (except when supervised by an adult, consuming beer, wine or cider with a meal)

Legally cannot purchase alcohol or have alcohol purchased for them to consume on licensed premises (no exceptions)

Data protection

The Information Commissioner regards children from the age of twelve as capable of giving consent with regard to the uses of their personal information if they have the intelligence to understand the consequences of their decision. Hence a child aged twelve or over who has fulfilled the academic criteria for entry to higher education is likely to be construed as possessing this intelligence.

[No further differentiation from the position set out to the left].

Age-appropriate material

Restrictions on viewing 18 certificate films in a cinema, renting or buying such films

Other considerations?

Restrictions on viewing 18 certificate films (and potentially other certificates) in a cinema, renting or buying such films

Other considerations?


Below compulsory school-leaving age [2], - the Education Act 1996 merely provides that the parent of every child of compulsory school age should ensure that the child receives efficient full-time education suitable: (a) to his/her age, ability and aptitude, and (b) to any special educational needs he/she may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise. This could encompass higher education, if that is appropriate to the needs of the child. Evidence that the student is receiving the education in question should be available if needed, e.g. enrolment details and some attendance evidence.

Status: draft

To be considered further through the Undergraduate Recruitment and Admissions Network


15 June 2007

Updated 18 June 2007

Updated 20 June 2007

Updated 22 June 2007

[1]‘Abuse of positions of trust’ under section 3 of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 2000, it is an offence for anyone working with young people (as teacher, student mentor, academic, etc) over the age of eighteen to have a sexual relationship with a person under the age of eighteen, even if the relationship is consensual and if the older person does not teach the younger person, but works in the same institution where the teaching activity takes place.

[2] According to the Education Act 1996 (Section 8), a person will no longer be of compulsory school age at the end of the leaving day if: they reach 16 after that day but before the start of the next school year, or they reach 16 on that day, or that day is the school leaving day after they reach 16.

Appendix 3: Procedure to be invoked when harm / abuse is suspected or reported:

Child, young person or vulnerable adult discloses to a member of university staff details of possible abuse

Member of staff reassures child, young person or vulnerable adult that they are safe and takes factual notes recording the detail of the conversation (verbatim is best, do not interpret). Child or young person must be informed that the details of the conversation must be passed on to authorities.

Member of staff contacts Nominated Safeguarding Officer (NSO) immediately and passes on all information gathered.

Note: duty is to report allegations, not to investigate.

NSO contacts Principal Safeguarding Officer (PSO) (Assistant Director of Student Services and Head of Student Support) or Acting Principle Safeguarding Officer with details