National Safeguarding Unit (NSU) - Safe Activities For Everyone

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What is safeguarding and why does it matter to my organisation? 

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Every child should be kept safe 

Everyone has a responsibility for safeguarding children and young people. We can help you make sure no child in your care is harmed.

What is safeguarding?

It might be difficult to accept, but every child can be hurt, put at risk of harm or abused, regardless of their age, gender, religion or ethnicity. 

Safeguarding legislation and government guidance says that safeguarding means:

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


“the action we take to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm - is everyone’s responsibility. Everyone who comes into contact with children and families has a role to play.”
Working together to safeguard children (HM Government 2013)

“For children who need additional help, every day matters… The actions taken by professionals to meet the needs of these children as early as possible can be critical to their future”
Working together to safeguard children (HM Government 2013)

some of the facts 

  • Almost one in five children today has experienced serious physical abuse, sexual abuse or severe physical or emotional neglect at some point in their lifetime. 1
  • One in 10 children in the UK has been neglected. 1
  • There were a total of 21,493 sexual offences against children recorded by police in the UK in 2011/12. 7
  • One in 14 children in the UK has been physically abused. 1
  • Around one in five children in the UK has been exposed to domestic violence. 1
  • On average, every week in the UK, at least one child is killed at the hands of another person. 2
  • Over a third of serious case reviews involves a child under one. 3
  • For every child placed on a child protection plan or the child protection register, we estimate there are another eight children who are suffering from abuse and neglect and not getting the support they need. 5
  • There were 68,840 looked after children in England on 31 March 2014.
  • Deaf and disabled children are more than three times more likely to be abused or neglected than non-disabled children. 6 

Why should you have safeguards in place?

Making sure your organisation has policies and procedures in place for safeguarding and child protection:

  • protects children and young people from harm and abuse
  • enables staff and volunteers to know what to do if they are worried
  • shows that your group is responsible and has pride in its work.

You may also want to develop safeguards because you:

  • have been told that you need a child protection policy and procedures in order to get funding or public liability insurance
  • are applying for charitable status, and the Charity Commission has asked if you have a child protection policy
  • suspect, or have experienced, an incident of abuse, and want to make sure it doesn’t happen again
  • have read or seen news about a case of child abuse
  • simply want to ensure your group is as safe as possible for children.

Child protection awareness for staff and volunteers

Is there safeguarding legislation?

In England the law states that people who work with children have to keep them safe. This safeguarding legislation is set out in The Children Act (1989) and (2004).  It also features in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (to which the UK is a signatory) and sets out the rights of children to be free from abuse. The Government also provides guidance in their document Working Together to Safeguard Children 2013.

Jobs that involve caring for, supervising or being in sole charge of children or adults require an enhanced DBS check (previously called an enhanced CRB check). 

It’s against the law for employers to employ someone or allow them to volunteer for this kind of work if they know they’re on one of the barred lists.
This includes checking whether someone is included in the two DBS ‘barred lists’ (previously called ISA barred lists) of individuals who are unsuitable for working with children and adults.

End notes
1.Based on NSPCC research with 11-17 year olds - Radford et al (2011) Child abuse and neglect in the UK today.
2.Based on child homicide data from Home Office, Scottish Government and Police Service of Northern Ireland.
3.Brandon et al (2012) New learning from serious case reviews: a two year report for 2009-2011.
4.Based on data from Department for Education, StatsWales, Children’s Social Care Statistics (NI), and Scottish Government.
5.Harker et al (2013) How safe are our children?
6.Coleman. K. et al (2007) homicides, firearms offences and intimate violence 2005/2006: supplementary volume 1 to crime in   England and Wales 2005/2006. London: Home office.
7.UK total from published police recorded crime figures: 17,362 (England and Wales) + 3,047 (Scotland)  + 1,084 (Northern Ireland) =21,493. This does not include some offences committed against 16 and 17 year olds in England, Wales and Scotland due to the way data is published according to offence category.

Next Steps 

head shot of girl in red topFREE Safeguarding and child protection resources
FREE adaptable templates to help you improve your practices for safeguarding children.

Online safety
Guidance on helping keep children and young people safe online.

Safeguarding procedures and policies
The Safe Network provides a step by step guide to writing polices and procedures.

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