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This policy sets out the University’s approach to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults.

1. Introduction

Purpose and Aim
1.1 The University recognises its pastoral duty to safeguard children and vulnerable adults who may participate in any activity or research, organised or managed by the University, or come into contact with University staff or students on or off campus. This policy supports this; along with specific policies related to specialised areas, adhering to safeguarding legislation in their particular field. Examples of these include (but are not limited to) the Staffordshire University Nursery, School of Health and Social Care and School of Life Sciences and Education. It is also noted that the University’s Counselling Service works to a separate professional code of practice which aligns with this policy.

1.2 The University has a Prevent Policy which sets out the University duty to have ‘due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism.’ This is known as the Prevent Duty.

1.3 The University recognises that within the course of their activities, its staff and students may come into contact with children or vulnerable adults.  Additionally, staff and students supervising or undertaking professional placements in clinical settings, health care, teaching and social care will come into regular contact with children and vulnerable adults.

1.4 This policy sets out how the University will deal with concerns that are raised that an individual may be at risk of exploitation, harm or abuse (including radicalisation), and the type of action that the University may take to manage such matters and provide support. 

1.5 For the purposes of this Policy the term “the University” is deemed to include all of those participating in any University business and representing the University. It also includes the Students’ Union.  The University and the Students’ Union are committed to working together and sharing information in order to safeguard the interests and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults, e.g. in relation to individuals and activities with student societies and volunteering. 

1.6 The University wishes to ensure that it maintains the highest possible standards to meet its responsibilities to protect and safeguard the welfare of children and vulnerable adults. In order to ensure adherence to legal responsibilities the University is committed to practice that protects children and those adults identified as vulnerable; working in partnership with organisations as appropriate to facilitate this. We are committed to taking appropriate prompt action to protect individuals from harm and to respond to any allegations or suspicions.

Due Regard

1.7 This policy is developed in due regard to the following:

  • Children Act 1989 
  • Children Act 2004 
  • Adoption and Children Act 2002 
  • Education Act 2002 
  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Act 2006 
  • Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 
  • Sexual Offences Act 2003
  • Prevent Duty Guidance for England and Wales (2015)
  • Section 26 (1) of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015 
  • Mandatory Reporting of Female Genital Mutilation Oct 2015 
  • Controlling or Coercive Behaviour Statutory Guidance Framework Dec 2015 
  • Inspecting Safeguarding in Early Years, Education and Skills Settings August 2016
  • Children and Social Work Act 2017
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children July 2018
  • Keeping Children Safe in Education 2018 


1.8 This Policy is designed to assist the University to achieve the commitments set out above and to take reasonable steps to safeguard those who are vulnerable by ensuring there are clear guidelines and procedures for identifying risk, reporting concerns and taking action.

1.9 Examples of areas where the University may have contact with children and adults who may be vulnerable may include (this is not an exhaustive list):

  • Admission of , teaching, supervision and support of students who are under 18 years of age or who are vulnerable adults;
  • Summer schools, school visits, and other events such as work experience;
  • Apprenticeships;
  • On-site nursery (which has its own safeguarding policies in place);
  • Outreach or widening participation activities taking place on or off campus;
  • Student residences and the conference office for residential events;
  • Visits to the Staffordshire University Stanley Matthews Sports Centre
  • Placements in professional and clinical settings;
  • Field trips, excursions and other activities such as volunteering and other social activities;
  • The activities of student societies and networks.


1.9 Vulnerable adult
The University defines a vulnerable adult as a person aged 18 or over who is, or may be, in need of services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness (including an addiction to alcohol or drugs) or is living in a sheltered or residential care home and who is, or may be, unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm, abuse or exploitation, including being drawn into terrorism.

1.10 Child
The University defines a child as a person who is under the age of 18 (“Child”).   The fact that a Child has reached 16 years of age, is living independently or is in Further/Higher education does not change his or her status for the purpose of this Policy.

2. Identifying Safeguarding Concerns

Key Principles

2.1 The University will take all safeguarding concerns including suspicions and allegations of exploitation, harm or abuse (including radicalisation) seriously and will report concerns promptly, in accordance with paragraph 3 of the Policy.

2.2 The University will ensure that processes are in place to check the suitability of staff and students whose duties and responsibilities involve regular contact or supervision of children or adults who may be vulnerable. The University will ensure that appropriate suitability checks are carried out in relation to staff and students including criminal record checks and other checks where appropriate.  Details of these processes and checks can be found in the University’s Fitness to Practise Procedure Including Disclosure Screening for Applicants and the Recruitment and Employment of Ex-Offenders Policy.

2.3 Safeguarding referrals to the relevant statutory authority will be made on the basis of identified and considered risk.

2.4 University staff dealing with students or staff who are subject to safeguarding concerns will consider what support may be offered to them both from within the University (e.g. Right Management Workplace Wellness for staff and support from Student Services for students) and externally (e.g. signposting to local GPs, mental health services or Occupational Health (if they are a member of staff)).

2.5 Research which involves children or vulnerable adults must comply with the Staffordshire University Research Ethics Procedure. DBS checks will be conducted in relation to individuals involved in such research where permitted by law. Guidance on this may be sought from the relevant Chair of the School Research Ethics Committees.

It is not possible to guarantee confidentiality when a safeguarding concern is reported because the University owes a duty of care toward its staff, students or visitors and the University may need to take action on receipt of a report of a safeguarding concern that may result in the same being reported to an external third party. However, any reports will be dealt with sensitively and only disclosed to those people who need to be made aware of an incident or concern, whether internal or external to the University.

What is a Safeguarding Concern?

2.6 Examples of safeguarding concerns include, but are not limited to:

  • A child or adult raises an allegation of abuse, harm or other inappropriate behaviour.

2.7 A student or staff member discloses information involving themselves or others which gives rise to possible concerns that a potential perpetrator may be harming or abusing vulnerable individuals or children involved in University activities.

2.8 There are suspicions or indicators that a child or adult is being abused or harmed or is at risk of exploitation, harm or abuse (including radicalisation).  The indicators of abuse or harm or risk of abuse or harm or radicalisation can be very difficult to recognise and it is not a staff member’s responsibility to decide whether a child or adult has been abused or harmed or subjected to abuse or harm, but only to raise concerns that they may have.

2.9 There are observable changes in a child or adult’s appearance or behaviour that may be related to exploitation, harm or abuse (including radicalisation).

2.10 A concern is raised that an individual presents a risk of abuse or harm towards a child or adult in relation to, for example, his/her criminal convictions, or downloading, possession or distribution of inappropriate images or extremist material.

2.11 Concerns arise that a student or member of staff is vulnerable to radicalisation and there is an identifiable risk of being drawn into terrorism.

3. Reporting Safeguarding Concerns

Designated Safeguarding Officers

3.1 For any safeguarding concerns involving staff members, the appropriate people to report concerns to is either of the Senior HR Business Partners. For any safeguarding concerns involving students, the appropriate person to report concerns to is the Head of Student Services.

The Senior HR Business Partners and the Head of Student Services are the University’s Designated Safeguarding Officers. The Designated Safeguarding Officers may delegate responsibility under this Policy to an appropriate nominee.

In a placement or work based learning environment (such as a professional or clinical setting) a member of staff or student should normally report any safeguarding concern in the first instance to the relevant Council Safeguarding Team in accordance with the Health and Social Care Practice Learning Handbook.  Additionally, staff working in the Staffordshire University Nursery will be made aware of their own local safeguarding procedure.

If the Designated Safeguarding Officer is not available, or the safeguarding concern involves a concern against them, then the referral should be made to the Chief Operating Officer.

Responsibilities of the Designated Safeguarding Officers

3.2 It is the responsibility of the Designated Safeguarding Officers to:

3.3 Undertake relevant training in safeguarding procedures and ensure their knowledge is kept up to date;

3.4 Act as a point of contact for those who have safeguarding concerns, receiving information and recording those concerns;

3.5 Act upon concerns as appropriate in the circumstances, for example, by carrying out a risk assessment in accordance with this Policy and acting in accordance with the outcomes. This may range from taking no further action to making external referrals for example to Social Services or Police; and making referrals to Human Resources and Organisational Development or School to consider the appropriateness of a precautionary suspension.

3.6 Monitoring the implementation of this Policy and procedure.

3.7 In addition to the explicit responsibilities set out above, the established   management structures within each School and relevant service area have a responsibility to ensure staff and students are aware of the University’s safeguarding principles and procedures (including this Policy) and are able to refer concerns appropriately.  Furthermore, managers and staff in faculties and services will promote awareness of safeguarding to reduce the potential for abuse and to promote wellbeing.

Reporting Safeguarding Concerns

3.8 A safeguarding concern is reported by completing Section 1 of the Safeguarding Incident Referral Report Form (appended to this procedure). The form should be submitted by email to the appropriate Designated Safeguarding Officer as promptly as possible, but generally within 24 hours of the incident giving rise to the concern. In circumstances where a School or Service has a local Safeguarding Officer (such as in the School of Health and Social Care and in the Staffordshire University Nursery) the localised procedure should be followed. It is better to refer any safeguarding concern and enable a risk assessment to take place, than not to make one due to uncertainty. Staff may wish to discuss safeguarding concerns with the Designated Safeguarding Officer should they be in any doubt as to whether to make a report.

4. Taking Action

When completing the form, the Designated Safeguarding Officer will decide:

a) That no further action is required.
b) To refer the concerns to the School or Human Resources & Organisational Development Department, in order for them to decide whether a precautionary suspension is required.
c) To refer the matter to an alternative University policy or procedure, such as the Staff or Student Disciplinary Procedure or the Fitness to Study or Practise procedure.
d) To report the matter to the local Safeguarding Team.
e) To report the matter to the Police, Social Services or alternative appropriate external agency.

If a member of the University, staff or student, has any immediate safeguarding concerns (including outside normal University hours) they may refer directly to the Police or Social Services, but otherwise they should follow the internal referral process described in this Policy or their local policy. If a direct referral is made, the member of staff or student should inform the Designated Safeguarding Officer at the earliest opportunity.

4.3 The Designated Safeguarding Officer (or their nominee) will liaise with other partner agencies as appropriate in order to address the safeguarding concerns identified.

4.4 The University reserves the right to take action under its disciplinary procedures and/or its fitness to practise procedures and/or fitness to study procedures should it later receive information that suggests that its conduct standards may have been breached and/or that reported safeguarding concerns give rise to an allegation that a student is not fit to practise/study.  Staff or students who are dismissed from the University and/or found unfit to practise/study as a result of safeguarding concerns will be reported to the Disclosure and Barring Service and any relevant professional body.

4.5 Support from internal or external services, such as the local safeguarding authority, will be provided as appropriate for any individuals, staff or students, impacted by safeguarding issues

5. Retention of Information

5.1 The University complies with the principles of data protection law in the way that it retains and disposes of personal information.

5.2 Written records of any safeguarding concerns will be retained for as long as is necessary for the purpose for which it was obtained or as legally required or lawfully permitted.

5.3 Such written records will be held centrally and separately from a member of staff or student’s personal records.

6. Training

6.1 All staff and students whose roles and responsibilities include regular contact with children and potentially vulnerable individuals will receive training and guidance appropriate to their role.  All staff will be made aware of this Policy and procedure and related guidance.

7. Review of Policy and Procedure

7.1 The Academic Board will review this procedure on an annual basis and is responsible for overseeing and updating this policy and procedure particularly with respect to the legal obligations and other external requirements.

Equality issues have been taken into account during the development of this policy and all protected characteristics have been considered as part of the Equality Analysis undertaken.

Key Contacts

Ian Munton, Director of Library and Student Services (01782 294688)

Paula Dalziel, Head of Student Support and Wellbeing (07443 751502) 

Tim Hamlett, Student Wellbeing and Safeguarding Manager, 

Amanda Sherratt, Head of Childcare Services, (01782 294973) 

HR & OD Safeguarding Officers, (01782 292700) or

Ian Blachford Lead Prevent Officer Chief Operating Officer (01785 353299)

Safeguarding Referral Team (SRT) (01782 235100) or Emergency Duty Team (out of hours) 5.00pm-8.30am (01782 234234) If the concerns require immediate action to safeguard a child/young person then contact the SRT team

Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) 07881332762

Appendix 1 Safeguarding Risk Assessment

Section 1 to be completed by individual reporting the concern

Safeguarding policy form (PDF, file size: 43.9KB)