What Should a Safeguarding Policy Include?

Safeguarding Policy

Any organisation that works with children or vulnerable adults has a duty to protect them from harm. A safeguarding policy is essential to do this. It sets out procedures for employees, volunteers and anyone affiliated with the organisation, allowing fast, effective and compliant responses to safeguarding concerns.

If your organisation lacks a comprehensive safeguarding policy, this guide explains what you must include and some general advice on writing your own.

What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding is protecting someone from harm. The term ‘harm’ is quite broad here, covering all forms of abuse as well as neglect.

Safeguarding duties apply for all children, as people under 18 rely on adults for their care and development to some degree. This dependency creates an inherent vulnerability, which can be made worse by a child’s circumstances.

Adults must only be safeguarded when they qualify as ‘vulnerable’ – a legal definition that applies in specific instances. An adult is considered vulnerable if they:

  • Live in a nursing home or receive similar care in their own home
  • Access social services
  • Have a physical or learning disability
  • Suffer a chronic mental or physical illness
  • Have a dependency on drugs or alcohol
  • Are unable to make decisions in their own best interests

Safeguarding Children

Although the overall aims are the same, there are understandable differences between safeguarding children and adults. Child safeguarding policy and procedure should be primarily based on the Children Act 1989, the primary legislation concerning child protection in England and Wales.

The Children Act 1989 outlines duties related to child protection and welfare, recognising that effective safeguarding is necessary for children to grow up and realise their full potential.

Safeguarding concerns all children, but some will need additional protections. Safeguarding guidance or policies sometimes refer to ‘vulnerable children’ as a distinct group that needs particular support. Unlike ‘vulnerable adult’, this term is not officially defined but typically refers to a young person with:

  • Additional needs (including special educational needs)
  • An unstable home life
  • Parents/carers experiencing chronic illness or substance dependency

Any child in care is also considered vulnerable.

Safeguarding Courses

Our Safeguarding courses provide trainees with the concepts and principles of safeguarding. The course is designed for people at any level of work with vulnerable adults or children so that the signs of abuse are spotted and documented correctly.

Safeguarding Adults

Adult safeguarding is mainly based on the Care Act 2014 (the Act). Like child safeguarding, the aim isn’t just to prevent harm but also to promote wellbeing. This is partly practical; through early intervention, outcomes can be improved and vulnerable adults won’t need to rely on the care system. Effective adult safeguarding must also recognise and respect the autonomy of anyone over 18 as much as possible.

What is the Safeguarding Policy?

Your safeguarding policy outlines how your organisation will comply with legislation and protect the children or vulnerable adults you work with. Your policy should also serve as a safeguarding ‘how-to’ guide for staff and volunteers, offering detailed instructions for reporting and responding to abuse concerns.

Clarity is essential, but so is compassion. It’s easy to see policy writing (and reading) as box-ticking. But it’s your opportunity to motivate your teams and champion the rights and well-being of the vulnerable. Be authentic and ambitious when outlining your policy aims.

Writing Your Safeguarding Policy

Safeguarding policy and procedure will differ slightly for adults and children, so not everything included here will be relevant to you. But there’s enough overlap to get a good sense of structure and detail to include.

Before You Write

Before you start writing, reviewing existing safeguarding practices and considering what’s working and areas for improvement is helpful. Discuss these points with other stakeholders because they’ll have different perspectives and suggestions. Your findings will help frame your policy and ground its ambitions and procedures.

Writing Your Safeguarding Policy

Purpose and Scope

Begin with the aims of your safeguarding policy. You might think this will be identical to other organisations, but there’s some space for interpretation. You can expand on the generally accepted goals of preventing harm and promoting welfare if you think it’ll enrich your document. Remember, authenticity and compassion will help make your policy more worthwhile.

Also, outline who the policy is intended to protect and which stakeholders must follow it.

Legal Framework

Your policy should reference the legal framework that informed it. Depending on the age range of vulnerable people you work with, this should be either the Child Protection Act 1989 or the Care Act 2014.

Adult safeguarding policies might need more in this section as the related legislation is denser, with multiple overlapping acts.

Safeguarding Procedures

Your policy must include procedures for handling safeguarding issues. This section is arguably the most important, as better initial responses make for better outcomes. Giving your staff detailed instructions to follow when raising concerns makes damaging mistakes or delays less likely.

So it’s helpful to write safeguarding procedures with your staff in mind. Ask yourself: What does someone need to know to resolve this issue? Once you’ve established this, write it out as clear, detailed instructions covering the following:

  • Steps to take (possibly presented as a flow chart to make the order of actions clear)
  • What information should be recorded and where
  • Contact details for designated safeguarding leads (DSLs)

It’s important to include contact details because staff usually need to escalate concerns to the DSL or other senior figures.

The procedures you write will depend on the nature of your organisation and the vulnerable people you work with. The NSPCC offer an excellent example of what should be included in a child safeguarding policy. But every version, adult or child, should prioritise:

  • Raising abuse or neglect concerns
  • Staff codes of conduct
  • Whistleblowing processes

Relevant Information

This doesn’t strictly need to be its own section. Any stakeholder should be able to look at your policy and understand their safeguarding duties and how to fulfil them. So relevant information should be available (or directed to) in your policy.

For example, most safeguarding policies include descriptions of different types of abuse. This information will help staff identify signs of harm that might have gone unnoticed. Adult safeguarding policies might include the six principles that underpin all adult protection efforts.

Again, it helps to write this with your staff in mind. Include anything that might help them better protect the vulnerable people they work with.

Safeguarding Training

Clear, comprehensive safeguarding policies and procedures are essential for organisations working with vulnerable people. But words on a page only get you so far. Staff might skate over sections or struggle to follow a really detailed policy. Training is also required for anyone working with children or at-risk adults.

Our online safeguarding courses help trainees identify, stop and prevent abuse. The courses are scaled for different stakeholders, from Level 1 awareness to Level 3 safeguarding lead training. You can give staff the necessary understanding to implement your policies or develop your knowledge, getting insights into reviewing and developing more effective safeguarding procedures.

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Jonathan Goby
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