Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy and Procedure

Where reference is made to GHTV staff in this policy (e.g. project manager, project support, project support officer), it should be noted that our staff are self-employed independent contractors (see our Employment Policy for further information).

This policy should be read in conjunction with our Data Protection and Confidentiality policies.

1. Introduction

GHTV is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults, engaged in the breadth of its activities. However, the vast majority of our contacts and workload are with vulnerable adults, but we may be in contact with minors on exceptional occasions.

The purpose of this policy is to outline the duty and responsibility of staff, volunteers and trustees working on behalf of GHTV in relation to the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults from abuse.

All children and adults have the right to be safe from harm and should be able to live free from fear of abuse, neglect and exploitation.

The key objectives of this policy are:

  • To explain the responsibilities GHTV and its staff, volunteers and trustees have in respect of child and vulnerable adult protection.
  • To provide staff with an overview of child and vulnerable adult protection
  • To provide a clear procedure that will be implemented where protection issues arise.

2. Context – Vulnerable adults

For the purposes of this document, ‘adult’ means a person aged 18 years or over.
Some adults are less able to protect themselves than others, and some have difficulty making their wishes and feelings known. This may make them vulnerable to abuse. The broad definition of a ‘vulnerable adult’ referred to in the 1997 Consultation Paper ‘Who decides?’ issued by the Lord Chancellor’s Department, is a person:

“Who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation”.

The first priority should always be to ensure the safety and protection of vulnerable adults and any child that the vulnerable adult has contact with and whose welfare needs to be considered.

To this end it is the responsibility of all staff to act on any suspicion or evidence of abuse or neglect (see the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998) and to pass on their concerns to the responsible person/agency.

For purposes of ensuring consistent and widely understood terminology, this policy and procedure will use the phrase ‘Vulnerable Adults’ to identify those eligible for interventions within the procedures.

3. Context – Children and young people

For the purposes of this document a child is defined as a person under the age of 18 [The Children’s Act 1989].

All children have the right to protection from all forms of abuse including exploitation, neglect, physical and emotional and sexual abuse regardless of their age, gender, disability, culture, language, racial origin, religious beliefs or sexual orientation.

The role of staff volunteers and trustees

All staff, volunteers and trustees working on behalf of GHTV have a duty to promote the welfare and safety of vulnerable adults and children.

Staff, volunteers and trustees may receive disclosures of abuse and observe vulnerable adults and children who are at risk. This policy will enable staff/volunteers to make informed and confident responses to specific protection issues.

What is abuse?

Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons.

Abuse may consist of a single act or repeated acts. It may be physical, verbal or psychological, it may be an act of neglect or an omission to act, or it may occur when a vulnerable person is persuaded to enter into a financial or sexual transaction to which he or she has not consented or cannot consent. Abuse can occur in any relationship, and it may result in significant harm to, or exploitation of, the person subjected to it.

Physical abuse– including hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint, or inappropriate sanctions. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or Carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces illness in a child.

Sexual abuse– including rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult or child has not consented or could not consent or was pressured into consenting. It may include non-contact activities involving children in looking at or being involved in sexual online images and or encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.

Psychological abuse– including emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.

Financial or material abuse– including theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Neglect and acts of omission– including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as Medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Discriminatory abuse– including racist, sexist, that based on a person’s disability, age or sexuality and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.

4. Procedure in the event of a disclosure

It is important that vulnerable adults and children are protected from abuse. All complaints, allegations or suspicions must be taken seriously.

This procedure must be followed whenever an allegation of abuse is made or when there is a suspicion of abuse.

Promises of confidentiality should not be given as this may conflict with the need to ensure the safety and welfare of the individual/child.

A full record shall be made as soon as possible of the nature of the allegation and any other relevant information.

This should include information in relation to the date, the time, the place where the alleged abuse happened, your name and the names of others present, the name of the complainant and, where different, the name of the adult who has allegedly been abused, the nature of the alleged abuse, a description of any injuries observed, the account which has been given of the allegation.

5. Responding to an allegation

Any suspicion, allegation or incident of abuse must be reported to the GHTV Project Manager (PM) on that working day where possible. A written record of the date and time of the report shall be made, and the report must include the name and position of the person to whom the matter is reported.

The GHTV PM will take the following actions depending on the nature of the disclosure:
If the disclosure comes from a volunteer or staff member concerned for the service users of a local voluntary organisation.

The GHTV Project Manager shall first telephone, and then email the trustees of the organisation asking them to investigate the disclosure and report back with their findings and any actions. The GHTV trustee responsible for Data Protection is Claire Cullen.

If the GHTV Project Manager becomes concerned that the organisation is not taking the issue seriously enough, the Project Manager shall telephone and report the matter to the appropriate local social services duty social worker

If the disclosure comes from a client concerned for themselves or someone they know (including a child)

The Project Manager [or Project Support] shall telephone and report the matter to the appropriate local social services duty social worker immediately. * See links below
If the disclosure raises concern about the behaviour of a GHTV staff member or volunteer towards a service user at GHTV or another organisation.

The concerns will be investigated in line with the GHTV Disciplinary Procedure. The member of staff or volunteer concerned will not be able to work for GHTV whilst an investigation is taking place.

6. Responding appropriately to an allegation of abuse

In the event of an incident or disclosure:


  • Make sure the individual/child is safe
  • Assess whether emergency services are required and if needed call them
  • Offer support and reassurance
  • Ascertain and establish the basic facts
  • Make careful notes and obtain agreement on them
  • Ensure notation of dates, time and persons present are correct and agreed
  • Take all necessary precautions to preserve forensic evidence
  • Follow correct procedure
  • Explain areas of confidentiality; immediately speak to your manager for support and guidance
  • Explain the procedure to the individual making the allegation if appropriate
  • Remember the need for ongoing support.


  • Confront the alleged abuser
  • Be judgmental or voice your own opinion
  • Be dismissive of the concern
  • Investigate or interview beyond that which is necessary to establish the basic facts
  • Disturb or destroy possible forensic evidence
  • Consult with persons not directly involved with the situation
  • Ask leading questions
  • Assume Information
  • Make promises
  • Ignore the allegation
  • Elaborate in your notes
  • Panic

It is important to remember that the person who first encounters a case of alleged abuse is not responsible for deciding whether abuse has occurred. This is a task for the professional adult protection agencies.

7. Procedure to be followed in a safeguarding emergency

Whenever an allegation of abuse is made or when there is suspicion of abuse,
all staff members, volunteers and trustees have a responsibility to protect vulnerable adults, children and young people and to take any allegations or suspicion of abuse seriously. The guidance below is provided for use in emergency situations during project sessions and aligns to the individual safeguarding policies of each of the partner organisations.

If a patient from the University Health Centre tells a staff member or volunteer that they are being abused or if a staff member/volunteer suspects abuse it is their responsibility to raise the issue with one of the Social Prescribers the same day or, if this is not possible, the next working day. If the staff member/volunteer is uncomfortable raising the issue directly with them, the staff member/volunteer should contact the relevant Trustee or Practice Partner of your organisation (details provided in this policy).


  • Listen carefully to what the person says and offer reassurance and support.
  • Try to ascertain the basic facts but do not attempt to investigate the allegations or make any assumptions.
  • Make a note of what the person said using their own words rather than paraphrasing.
  • Do not promise confidentiality and explain that you have a responsibility to make your concerns known at the next level, for the protection of the individual.
  • Make a note as soon as possible afterwards with details of the allegation or suspicion, quoting the words used. Your note should include all relevant information including the date, time and place where the alleged abuse happened, your name and the names of others present, the name of the complainant and, where different, the name of the person who has allegedly been abused, the nature of the alleged abuse and a description of any injuries observed.

Where the referral relates to a patient, the University Health Centre will take responsibility for raising the matter with the appropriate Local Authority Safeguarding Team (this will be the Local Authority in whose area the vulnerable adult or young person resides) on the same day or if this is not possible within 24 hours.

If emergency action is required for any crisis intervention that cannot wait until the next day, the Reading Emergency Duty Service (covering 6 Berkshire unitary authorities) can be contacted on 01344 786543

Staff should inform the Trustee of their organisation or the Practice Partner when a safeguarding matter is raised and detail what action has been taken. They do not need to be told the identity of the person about whom the concern has been raised.
General safeguarding principles

1. Concerns, conversations or observations about a child, young person or vulnerable adult that do not need to be reported to the Local Safeguarding Team should be recorded on an incident/concern form and kept securely with the client’s file.

2. Where possible consent should be obtained from the child, young person or adult before sharing information with third parties. However, it is recognised that this is not always possible or desirable, as the safety and welfare of the person must be the priority.

3. Where a concern is raised or an allegation made against a staff member or volunteer, the matter will be investigated by the organisation which the person reports to, in accordance with their Staff Disciplinary Policy or Volunteer Problem Solving Procedure.

The respective organisations are also responsible for ensuring that accurate notes are kept not only of any allegations or disclosures, but of all action taken subsequently. All written records must be held securely for a specific time as outlined in the organisation’s Data Protection Policy.

Disclosures or allegations of abuse must be treated confidentially and will only be shared with people who need to know; usually this will only be the Local Authority Safeguarding Team and staff and volunteers who have been involved with the initial allegation or disclosure.

Staff members may contact the Trustee of their organisation or the Practice Partner for support and guidance in safeguarding matters at any time

8. Whistleblowing statement

It is vital that staff notify the GHTV PM about their concerns. It is the responsibility of the PM or Deputy to take action, not the individual member of staff. If a member of staff is concerned that the PM is not taking sufficient action, the staff member should notify the GHTV Chair (or Treasurer Trustee). See GHTV Whistleblowing Policy for more information.

9. Confidentiality

Staff, volunteers and trustees have a professional responsibility to share relevant information about protection with other professionals, particularly investigative agencies and social services.

Clear boundaries of confidentiality will be communicated to all.

All personal information will be kept confidential. All written records will be kept in a secure area for a specific time as identified in data protection guidelines. Records will only record details required in the initial contact form.

If a child or adult confides in a member of staff and requests that the information is kept secret, it is important that the member of staff tells the child or adult sensitively that he or she has a responsibility to refer cases of alleged abuse to the appropriate agencies.

Within that context, the child or adult should, however, be assured that the matter will be disclosed only to people who need to know about it.

Where possible, consent should be obtained from the child or adult before sharing personal information with third parties. In some circumstances obtaining consent may be neither possible nor desirable as the safety and welfare of the child or adult is the priority.

Where a disclosure has been made, the staff member should let the adult or child know the position regarding their role and what action they will have to take as a result.

Staff should assure the adult that they will keep them informed of any action to be taken and why. The adult’s or child’s involvement in the process of sharing information should be fully considered and their wishes and feelings taken into account.

This policy needs to be read in conjunction with other policies for GHTV including:

  • Confidentiality
  • Disciplinary and Grievance
  • Data Protection
  • Volunteer Management
  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

10. Recruitment procedure

GHTV operates procedures that take account of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable adults and children, including arrangements for appropriate checks on new staff members volunteers and trustees where applicable. GHTV will ensure that staff members, trustees and volunteers (where relevant) have had the necessary training to ensure that the organisation can safeguard and promote the welfare of vulnerable adults and children.

Where permitted under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 GHTV will request DBS checks on new staff/volunteers or staff volunteers moving into a new role. (See Volunteer Management Policy)

GHTV will ensure that all members of staff and volunteers have a role description that outlines the work they do. Each role description will state whether a DBS check will be required, at what level and for which workforce. If the role will be supervised, and involves working with children, the supervision arrangements will be attached to the role description.

Eligibility requirements can be checked at: