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Safeguarding young people

In the past few years public and political focus on safeguarding young people has increased. High-profile stories in the media drew attention to a number of incidents where young people were not safeguarded effectively. This led to the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, and the introduction of the Vetting and Barring Scheme (VBS), which was administered by the Independent Safeguarding Authority. The scheme was launched on 12 October 2009 and was due to be phased in over five years. The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government elected in 2010 has announced that it is reviewing the scheme and expects to complete this early in 2011. In the interim period, while new systems develop, Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks remain necessary for those working with young people (and vulnerable adults).

Safeguarding is about more than checking whether employees have previous convictions. Staff working with young people, and young people themselves, can be made safer by improving their judgement skills for dealing with problematic situations. Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards (LSCBs), established under the Children Act 2004, aim to coordinate and ensure the effectiveness of safeguarding young people in their local area. Safeguarding issues have also spread to social networking media and online communities due to the increased potential for grooming provided by anonymous digital interaction. Young people using online services also need to be aware of issues around protecting their online identity, privacy and trust.

What are the implications?

  • Safeguarding issues for young people are likely to remain important, as incidents of poor safeguarding continue to provoke media reaction.
  • VCOs will need to keep up-to-date and comply with safeguarding rules and regulations, or risk being seen as unsuitable for working with young people. VCOs will need to invest in safeguarding training for many of their volunteers and staff.
  • Both staff and volunteers may become less willing to take risks when working with young people.
  • Volunteers may be put off working with young people due to the amount of forms and checks they have to go through, and the concern that they could find themselves accused of improper conduct. They may also be concerned about the privacy and security of the data they have to provide.

Moving forward

  • Does your organisation have the necessary safeguarding policies and procedures in place and are you aware of the resources provided by organisations such as the National Council for Voluntary Youth Services?
  • Is your organisation aware of the uncertainty surrounding the Vetting and Barring Scheme and making arrangements to continue to monitor its implications?
  • Does your organisation have a robust system in place to protect the data of the young people you work with?
  • Will young people be able to play and have fun in a new safeguarding system?
  • Are you able to have your voice heard in local safeguarding arrangements – e.g. through Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards?
  • Will a focus on monitoring staff and volunteers who work with young people contribute to an erosion of trust in society?
  • Which skills around safeguarding are essential for staff working with young people?
  • Are you using your communication channels effectively to share information on developments around safeguarding?

Want to know more?

Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA)

Published by: ISA

Date: Ongoing

What is it? The website of the ISA.

How useful is it? The website is very useful for keeping up with developments around the implementation of the Vetting and Barring Scheme. It also offers downloadable resources, such as factsheets and FAQs.

Other comments: The Vetting and Barring Scheme is currently being reviewed. It is crucial that all voluntary and community youth sector organisations are aware of potential changes to safeguarding requirements and ensure their policies and procedures are up-to-date.

Staying Safe Action Plan

Published by: Department for Children, Schools and Families

Date: February 2008

What is it? Staying Safe was a major Labour Government 1997-2010 consultation on children and young people's safety. Following the consultation, the Government published the Staying Safe Action Plan. The Action Plan outlines the key commitments of the Government to improve children and young people's safety.

How useful is it? The Action Plan is useful to understand the Labour Government’s thinking on keeping young people safe and provides a timetable of implementation.

Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards: a review of progress

Published by: Department for Education and Skills

Date: May 2008

Format: PDF

What is it? A Government report on the progress of Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards.

How useful is it? The document is useful to get an understanding on what Local Safeguarding Children’s Board is, who is involved and how they are being delivered across the country. The report highlights that many Local Safeguarding Children’s Boards have no voluntary and community sector representation and often find engagement with the sector difficult.

Working together to safeguard children

Published by: HM Government

Date: March 2010

Format: PDF

What is it? Guidance from the Labour Government 1997-2010 on how individuals and organisations should work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.

How useful is it? The document is useful in setting out an overview of the basis of Government’s policy on safeguarding young people.

Keeping it Safe and Sound Systems

Published by: The National Council for Voluntary Youth Services

Date: Ongoing

What is it? Accreditation schemes for voluntary and community organisations to develop and use safeguarding policies and procedures when working with young people

How useful is it? These are useful resources for organisations to guide them in developing safeguarding policies and allowing them to provide evidence of that they have developed such policies.

Last updated at 16:47 Thu 03/Feb/11.

Recent comments

AuthorComment
Dom's picture

Dom

Third Sector Foresight

There have been frequent changes in safeguarding policy over the past couple of years, and 2011 seems set to continue that trend - Liz Morrison of Safeguarding Matters has helpfully summarised the latest developments.

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