THE QUEEN’S COMMONWEALTH TRUST SAFEGUARDING POLICY
Should you wish to report a safeguarding concern please contact us via our online form.
QCT’s work is all about Safeguarding – in that it seeks to safeguard and secure opportunities for young people today and in the future. QCT will continually review and improve its policies, systems and procedures to ensure they work and that they reflect best practice.
QCT believes that Safeguarding is fundamental to its work and embraces the opportunities it presents to share learning from recognised agencies to those it works with around the world. It works with those that share its commitment to Safeguarding and reflect its approach and principles within their Safeguarding policies, procedures and practices.
This Safeguarding Policy and Procedures document (‘Safeguarding Policy’ or ‘Policy’) sets out the place Safeguarding holds within the organisation and the framework for responding to Safeguarding risks. In association with the Code of Conduct, it describes the appropriate measures QCT takes to prevent Safeguarding incidents occurring wherever possible and the steps QCT takes to monitor, investigate and report on Safeguarding concerns should they arise. This Policy is to support an improved safeguarded environment for those QCT works with or for, or who come into contact with QCT and the work of those it supports, and applies to all QCT staff members, Trustees, volunteers, consultants, contractors, partners and Grantees.
The process for reporting and recording a Safeguarding incident or concern are detailed in Annexures 1,2 and 3, with guidance for how QCT should deal with a Safeguarding incident of concern detailed in Annex 4, and guidance on reporting to the Charity Commission detailed in Annex 5. Additional guidance on confidentiality and information sharing is included in Annex 6.
1. PRINCIPLES AND COMMITMENTS
The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust (QCT) champions, funds and connects young leaders who are working hard to change the world. We share their stories, give them a platform to amplify their ideas, and inspire others to join in. We do this in part through funding exceptionally committed young people who are driving meaningful social impact in their communities and contribution to positive progress on the UN SDGs. We do this through direct funding of projects and programmes that are led by young people and funding through partner organisations.
QCT's approach to safeguarding is found at the heart of its vision, mission and values. QCT considers that it is always unacceptable for anyone, young or older, to experience any kind of abuse or exploitation and that safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults and protecting them from harm is everyone’s responsibility. It looks to all those it works with to share this commitment and alignment to these Safeguarding principles.
This Safeguarding Policy and Procedures document ('Safeguarding Policy' or ‘Policy’) sets out QCT's approach to preventing, reporting and responding to safeguarding incidents. Below we explain who this Policy covers and protects, what is abuse and the behaviour we expect, how we work with partners and Grantees, how to report an incident, as well as our approach to investigations and safe recruitment.
QCT fosters a culture of Safeguarding where everyone who works with or for or comes into contact with QCT and its supported work, feels comfortable to challenge behaviour that does not align with this or other QCT policies and to report concerns. QCT encourages the reporting of concerns and will look to Grantees to do likewise.
Safeguarding is the responsibility of all those working within and for QCT. The Safeguarding Lead is Christopher Kelly, the Chief Operating Officer to whom Safeguarding concerns should be reported. The Safeguarding Officer will deputise for the Safeguarding Lead. Safeguarding concerns can also be reported and discussed with the Trustees or raised through an anonymous channel. Information about how to report a safeguarding concern through any of these channels is set out in Annex 1.
The principles in this Policy have been drawn from key international and regional instruments such as the International Standards for Keeping Children Safe, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), and the Council of Europe Convention on Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse (Lanzarote Convention). QCT is a UK charity and is, as such, required to comply with the requirements of the UK Charity Commission whose guidance is also taken into account in this Policy. QCT supports young people in many countries and across a wide range of cultures. QCT’s commitment to avoid harm to those we intend to assist and the particular protection which should be offered to children, young people and vulnerable adults stands whatever the variation in cultural and legal frameworks and we expect those who receive grants to adopt the same commitment and principles.
The Board of Trustees has agreed this Policy and will review it regularly, and as required, to ensure it always remains fit for purpose. Trustees and staff are responsible to ensure QCT complies with this Policy and for making Safeguarding a priority.
QCT will publish its Safeguarding Policy, along with other related policies, on its website.
2. DEFINITIONS: WHO DOES THIS POLICY PROTECT, WHO IT APPLIES TO, WHAT IS ABUSE AND WHAT BEHAVIOUR DO WE EXPECT
2.1 Who is protected?
While everyone without exception has the right to protection from abuse regardless of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex or sexual orientation, the focus of this policy is to protect children, young people and vulnerable adults from harm. These categories are not mutually exclusive.
Children: QCT has adopted the definition provided by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child that a Child is anyone under 18 years of age, irrespective of the laws and customs in their country of residence.
Young people: QCT works with young people aged 14 - 35 years of age. Young people are considered by QCT to be any individuals who are within this age range.
Vulnerable adult: An adult is vulnerable if they require protection and is or may be in need of protection by reason of age, illness, mental or other disability, and/or who lives with economic dependence, a conflict environment or cultural constraints. Vulnerability can be a transient state, due to changes in environment, capacity or resources. A person who was not before may become vulnerable – and it is possible to be just a 1 temporary state. Other forms of vulnerability may be more permanent and pervasive*.
This policy and its principles apply to all persons who come into contact with QCT supported work.
2.2 Who does this Policy apply to?
The Policy applies to: • QCT Representatives: including staff, volunteers, Trustees, consultants and contractors; • QCT Visitors: those who visit QCT supported work with QCT’s knowledge and consent (including but not limited to donors, journalists or supporters); and • QCT Grantees: this policy will be cascaded to both partners and recipients of QCT funds (who for the purposes of this Policy will be referred to as “Grantees”) who will be expected to meet the standards set out in this Policy. Where the term Grantee Representative is used this refers to staff, volunteers, Trustees, consultants and contractors of the Grantee. See section 4 below for more in relation to Grantees.
QCT makes all groups included in scope aware of their responsibilities under this Policy on an on-going basis.
2.3 What is abuse? “Abuse”: can take many forms and may be perpetuated by adults or peers who know a child or young person well, by institutions, or by those in organisations that work to support the child or young person. Abuse includes: • physical abuse is the actual or likely physical injury, and neglect is the failure to prevent it; • emotional abuse is the actual or likely adverse effect of threatened abuse; • sexual abuse and exploitation including all forms of sexual activity, exchange of benefits (including food and money) for sexual favours; • physical or emotional intimidation; • neglect, where basic needs such as food, warmth and medical care are not met; • sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. The effect of sexual harassment is to violate the dignity of another person and to create an intimidating environment for them; • commercial exploitation, including child and people trafficking; • use of email, internet or social media to bully, harass or coerce others (including cyber bullying and grooming); and • an abuse of a position of trust by charity employees, Trustees, partners, those in receipt of support or volunteers.
*1 The term ‘Vulnerable Adult’ is used due to the global nature of QCT’s activities. In the context of the UK this term should be read as equivalent to ‘Adult at Risk’, as defined by the UK Care Act 2014.
3. EXPECTED BEHAVIOUR
QCT expects the highest standards of personal and professional behaviour from its staff, both during their time at work but also in their private lives. This is explained more fully in the QCT Code of Conduct. QCT will look to all QCT Representatives, Visitors and Grantees to observe the same high standards in their behaviour (as appropriate to their roles) including that they will:
• create and maintain an environment that prevents all forms of abuse including sexual abuse and exploitation. Managers at all levels have a particular responsibility to support and develop systems that maintain this environment; • treat everyone with respect, recognising others’ right to personal privacy, although this may not apply where there is information about a safeguarding concern which can be legitimately shared in order to protect the individual at risk; • plan and organise events in a manner which reduces risk; and • report any concern or suspicion regarding sexual exploitation or sexual abuse by a fellow worker, whether in the same organisation or not, without delay in accordance with this Policy.
And that they will not:
• engage in any type of sexual relationships with any person under the age of 18 regardless of the age of majority or age of consent locally. Mistaken belief in the age of a child is not a defence; • enter into a sexual relationship with any person benefiting from QCT support; • exchange money, employment, goods or services, including any exchange of assistance that is due to persons who benefit from QCT support for sex, including sexual favours or other forms of humiliating, degrading or exploitative behaviour; • use the organisation’s computers or other equipment to view, download, create or distribute inappropriate material, including but not limited to pornography or obscene or abusive images of children; • use email, the internet or social media to bully, abuse, harass or coerce others (including cyber bullying and grooming); • invite or respond to an invitation to become a friend on social media platforms, or share or ask for the personal contact details, including mobile phone numbers, social media handles or email addresses of children, young people or vulnerable adults; • take advantage of a position of power to enter into a relationship with those who benefit from QCT's support; • behave physically in a way which is inappropriate or sexually provocative; • engage in physical contact unless it relates to a pre-planned and necessary part of the work that is being done, or would constitute responding to an emergency; • develop inappropriate relationships or use behaviour which could in any way be deemed exploitative or abusive; • invite to a meeting outside the working environment or spend excessive time alone with children, young people or vulnerable adults, away from others, in a secluded area or behind closed doors, including on car journeys, unless it is absolutely necessary and with parental or guardian consent; and use language, gestures, make suggestions or offer advice which is discriminatory, inappropriate, offensive, or abusive.
4. WORKING WITH GRANTEES
QCT makes grants both through partner organisations, that use QCT funding to make onward grants, and directly to organisations led by young people. All QCT Representatives, Visitors and Grantees are expected to create a positive environment in which reporting of any safeguarding incidents is encouraged so that children, young people and vulnerable adults, in particular, are protected from harm. We want to ensure that Grantees work together with QCT to protect those who are at risk of abuse and exploitation because of their age and/or vulnerability.
All grants are governed by a Grant Agreement which requires Grantees to demonstrate a shared clear, evidenced commitment to Safeguarding. The Grant Agreement requires QCT to share this Safeguarding Policy as part of the grant requirements and requires Grantees to do the same where they are making onward grants.
QCT performs due diligence on prospective Grantees and will only enter into Grant Agreements with those that have, or demonstrate a willingness to adopt, a safeguarding culture that includes prompt reporting of any incidents or concerns. QCT encourages those it works with to be open and honest about incidents that occur. QCT is most concerned where issues arise but are not properly dealt with by recipients of QCT funds.
Through signing the Grant Agreement all Grantees are required to sign their compliance with the principles of this QCT Safeguarding Policy. Grantees are required to have their own safeguarding policy that in QCT's opinion, while being proportionate, is equally robust. Prior to QCT transferring any funds we will require all Grantees to:
a) share any existing safeguarding policies with QCT; b) agree and ensure that safeguarding considerations are, or will be, part of the programme design, risk assessment and resulting management; c) provide details on how they will create a positive reporting culture and how they will process safeguarding allegations; d) ensure there is a means of reporting both locally and to the QCT Safeguarding Lead for those who have concerns. This applies to both those people in the community with whom a Grantee engages, and those who are delivering this work; e) agree to report all Safeguarding incidents and concerns to QCT’s Safeguarding Lead immediately upon their coming to the attention of the Grantee, while recognising that this does not preclude the Grantee from addressing a safeguarding incident or concern through application of their own safeguarding policy; and f) agree to co-operate with Safeguarding investigations.
Where a Grantee does not have an existing safeguarding policy and reporting procedure, or in QCT's opinion those that they have in place are not sufficiently robust, proportionality not-withstanding, QCT will support them to adopt and implement locally the principles of this Policy.
The Grant Agreement includes the option for QCT to terminate or suspend its support for failure to comply with obligations stipulated in the Grant Agreement, which includes a requirement to comply with the principles of this Safeguarding policy.
QCT undertakes due diligence on all Grantees. This incorporates a review of a Grantee's safeguarding policy and how they manage safeguarding and their procedures for reporting and investigations. For all Grantees that QCT intends to have a deeper working relationship with, QCT will also undertake a safeguarding assessment to inform the provision of additional safeguarding support.
5. COMMUNICATIONS AND DIGITAL SAFEGUARDING
QCT works in the digital space and captures and communicates content online about young people and their projects. Social media and other digital platforms play an important role in QCT’s engagement with young people and wider stakeholders around the world. QCT is committed to respecting the rights of children, young people and vulnerable adults featured in its online communications, the correct handling of data, and enabling a safe online environment for all users. Please see summary below and refer to the Digital Safeguarding Policy for full details:
5.1 Informed Consent QCT will only publish stories and images, still or moving, where it is satisfied that informed written consent has been received, from the child if of an age and maturity to provide consent, or guardian or adult as appropriate. QCT will ensure individuals can see how content featuring them is being used and shared, disclose any potential risks, and ensure individuals are aware of their rights so that informed consent can be given. Third parties supplying content will be required to demonstrate that they have acquired consent from those featured.
5.2 Protection of users' and contributors' privacy and data QCT seeks out best practice to protect the privacy of others and adheres to data protection laws in relation to any personally identifiable information that is collected, stored, used, or shared. In situations where children or vulnerable adults may need extra protection, QCT seeks to protect identities and moderate content accordingly, with only first names and non-identifiable locations used. In extremely sensitive cases, a first name can be changed, or a pseudonym used, to protect an individual’s identity, and will be footnoted with the following: “Names have been changed in order to protect the identities of those involved.”
5.3 Responsible use of technology and content placement QCT will not use or align QCT with any organisations or websites that deploy the use of excessive tracking software, adware, malware or spyware. QCT will take steps to ensure that its social media content does not appear alongside undesirable advertising content (e.g. political extremism).
5.4 Trustworthy content and transparent user journeys QCT is committed to sharing content that does not mislead viewers, is factually accurate, and does not seek to control the conversation. Due diligence will be carried out to ensure that content shared is truthful and representative of reality. Social media content will not click through to unexpected destinations and will only link out to third parties that are trusted and relevant.
5.5 Platform moderation QCT will monitor and moderate its social media and network management platforms and report or remove comments which could be deemed harmful or offensive to other users. Such content may include, but is not limited to, abuse, bullying, harassment or impersonation of any kind. Reports will be made to the relevant social media channel and escalated to relevant authorities if appropriate. All users are expected to read the Digital Safeguarding Policy and the Code of Behaviour before being accepted into any online group or QCT networking platform.
5.6 Official communications channels When working with children and young people connected with QCT, official communication channels will be used. QCT staff should only use official email accounts, phones and social media. Personal email, social networking, mobile phones or other means of communication are an inappropriate communication method.
5.7 Guidelines on user conduct Guidelines for online conduct is provided to all QCT Representatives and users of QCT platforms. Please refer to Section 2 of the Digital Safeguarding Policy.
6. VISITING GRANTEES AND HOLDING EVENTS
When QCT Representatives and Visitors visit a QCT supported organisation or activity they should expect to be asked to see, sign and abide by the Safeguarding or Child Protection Policy of those responsible for the activities they are observing.
QCT will consider safeguarding risk when organising any event, including fundraising, profile raising, networking or other events for QCT or those that QCT engages with or supports. QCT will ensure appropriate safeguarding risk mitigations are in place which will include a safeguarding briefing to all event attendees.
7. RESPONDING TO A SAFEGUARDING INCIDENT (CONCERN OR ALLEGATION)
The guiding principle in responding to any concerns around safeguarding is that the protection and welfare of the child, young person or vulnerable adult should always come first. No child, young person or vulnerable adult should be put at more risk by any action that may be taken at any stage including during an investigation of a concern or allegation.
Safeguarding incidents include concerns or allegations about an individual child, young person or vulnerable adult or between beneficiaries and can be against QCT Representatives, Visitors, Grantees or beneficiaries of QCT supported work. Annex 2 includes guidance about what might constitute a safeguarding incident.
Annex 2 also includes guidance about what to do if in receipt of a disclosure, allegation, concern or suspicion of abuse of someone connected to QCT emphasises listening, reflecting back, avoiding making comments about the alleged perpetrator, not promising confidentiality and explaining the next steps. A Safeguarding Incident Report form (Annex 3) should be completed, or if not available then notes taken. The Safeguarding Incident Report form, notes, or an oral report should be provided or reported immediately wherever possible or otherwise within 24 hours of the incident to the QCT Safeguarding contacts (Annex 1).
Whoever is notified of a safeguarding concern or incident should always take it seriously. Those making reports of concerns or an allegation about a safeguarding incident DO NOT need to decide whether or not abuse has taken place. They DO need to pass on at the earliest to the QCT Safeguarding contacts any information about a safeguarding incident which they identify or which has been raised with them.
Unless in an emergency situation no individual should attempt to deal with a safeguarding incident alone.
7.1 In an emergency If a child, young person or vulnerable adult is at immediate risk of harm (e.g. assault) or has been seriously injured then act immediately in the best interests of the child, young person or vulnerable adult. Act in line with this principle and if uncertain about what to do and time permits then consult the Safeguarding Officer or Safeguarding Lead. They must always be informed once any emergency action has been undertaken anyway and the Safeguarding Incident Reporting Form (Annex 3) completed and sent to them.
Acting in the best interests of the child, young person or vulnerable adult will usually mean the need to contact the emergency services (police/hospital) but this will depend on the country and how safe it is to do so.
8. RESPONDING TO AND INVESTIGATING SAFEGUARDING INCIDENTS
Safeguarding Incident reports will always be acted upon and investigated swiftly, making the welfare of the child, young person or vulnerable adult paramount. QCT will adopt different procedures when dealing with a safeguarding incident report against a QCT Representative, QCT Grantee, partner organisation of QCT, or where it is external to the activity of QCT, Grantee or partner organisation, and these are listed at Annex 4.
8.1 Investigating Safeguarding Incidents All investigations will be conducted by an individual with the requisite experience. The process for initiating investigating safeguarding incident reports is outlined in Annex 4.
At the point at which the safeguarding incident is reported, QCT will report serious incidents to the Charity Commission with consideration for its obligations as a UK registered charity. QCT will take advice on reporting to other authorities and, if appropriate and safe for the individuals concerned, inform them of the concern or allegation.
QCT Representatives, Visitors and Grantees will be expected to work with any investigating authority and provide witness statements as required and cooperate with other requests during an investigation.
8.2 Outcomes of a safeguarding investigation The following definitions should be used when recording the outcome of a safeguarding allegation: • Substantiated: there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation; • False: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation; • Malicious: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation and that there has been a deliberate act to deceive; or • Unsubstantiated: there is insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation.
Cases in which an allegation was proven to be false, unsubstantiated or malicious should not be included in employer references.
QCT will not use a ‘settlement agreement’ or non-disclosure agreement with any person in respect of safeguarding incidents. This is where the individual subject to the allegation agrees to resign, the employer agrees not to pursue disciplinary action, and both parties agree a form of words to be used in future references.
9. SUPPORT AND TREATMENT OF THOSE INVOLVED
9.1 Support for victims of safeguarding incidents QCT will treat all safeguarding allegations seriously and treat as paramount the welfare of the child, younger person or vulnerable adult. Upon receipt of a safeguarding incident report QCT will put in place a process to ensure that the victim / survivor is removed from harms way, in as far as this is reasonably possible, and will ensure that no child, young person or vulnerable adult is put at more risk by any action that may be taken at any stage including during an investigation of a concern or allegation.
The Safeguarding Lead will ensure that the victim / survivor is kept up to date of the progress of any investigation and provided with feedback at the end of the investigations.
QCT may offer support to victims and survivors in relation to Safeguarding breaches in relation to work carried out by QCT Representatives.
9.2 Information for the accused person(s) The Safeguarding Lead is responsible for ensuring that the person who is the subject of the allegation is:
- informed of the allegation against them (once agreed by the local authority/police), notified of the processes that will follow and signposted to support should they require it;
- kept up to date about any progress in relation to their case;
- kept up to date about what is happening in the workplace in cases where the person is suspended or QCT has ceased to use their services, to enable reintegration should they return to work/ volunteering;
- sent correspondence confirming all of the above including the arrangements for support;
- and provided with feedback at the end of any investigation, clarifying the outcome and any implications for their employment or volunteering.
9.3 Protection of those raising a concern Any QCT staff member who raises concerns of serious malpractice is protected from victimisation or any other detrimental treatment, if concerns are raised in good faith.
10. CONFIDENTIALITY, INFORMATION SHARING AND RECORD KEEPING
10.1 Confidentiality and information sharing All parties must maintain confidentiality and therefore sharing of information, which could identify a child, young person or vulnerable adult or an alleged perpetrator should be purely on a ‘need to know’ basis. This includes QCT senior management who might otherwise be informed of other types of serious incidents.
Any information offered in confidence to QCT should be received on the basis that it will or may well need to be shared with relevant authorities, or may legitimately be shared to protect the child, young person or vulnerable adult, and this should be made clear.
There may be times when the individual concerned would not feel safe were the incident to be reported to the relevant authorities. If the individual concerned, being the subject(s) of a safeguarding concern, do(es) not want their case brought to the attention of the authorities, the concern must be noted and the reluctance for reporting must be communicated to the QCT Safeguarding Lead. The Safeguarding Lead will assess the related safeguarding risks in these circumstances before deciding on a course of action.
Further guidance on the information sharing is contained in Annex 6 (Confidentiality and Information Sharing Principles).
10.2 Record keeping and retention QCT will keep a safeguarding incident log in which all reports will be kept confidentially and securely. Safeguarding records, should distinguish between fact, opinion and hearsay.
The duration for which safeguarding records should be kept is detailed below. Where there is a discrepancy between duration for which records should be held, the longer duration should be adhered to. At the conclusion of the periods listed - and before any records are destroyed - UK legislation should be reviewed to ascertain whether there is a requirement to keep records for a longer period. For safeguarding records that relate to:
• an incident where the victim is a child, these will be kept for 15 years from the date that the safeguarding incident is reported. For incidents where the victim is a young person or vulnerable adult who is 18 years old or over, the safeguarding records will be kept for 7 years from the date that the safeguarding incident is reported; • a concern or incident involving a QCT staff member, the safeguarding records will be kept for 15 years from the date that the safeguarding concern or incident is reported; or • a concern or incident involves a QCT Representative who is not a staff member, a QCT Grantee or Visitor, the safeguarding records will be kept for 7 years from the date that the safeguarding concern or incident is reported.
11. MONITORING SAFEGUARDING INCIDENTS
Safeguarding is a key risk on the QCT risk register, along with oversight of the Code of Conduct. The risk register is reviewed and assessed every month by the QCT Senior Management Team and every six months by the QCT Board of Trustees. Safeguarding is a separate risk category on the risk register.
Statistics on safeguarding and Code of Conduct concerns are reviewed alongside the risk register so that trends in reporting can be captured and monitored, and learning incorporated back into policies, procedures and practice.
The Safeguarding Lead will advise the Safeguarding Trustee of safeguarding reports at the earliest opportunity. The Board of Trustees will receive reports on all investigations and the outcome within the confines of confidentiality.
QCT will report annually on their safeguarding approach, practices and experience.
12. RESPONSIBILITY OF QCT STAFF AND THE BOARD
All QCT staff have the responsibility to ensure that all QCT Representatives, Grantees and Visitors are made aware of this Safeguarding Policy. Regular due diligence, risk assessment and risk mitigation are incorporated into QCT’s systems and processes.
The Board of Trustees has ultimate accountability for safeguarding. The Board of Trustees must act at all times in the best interests of those who QCT’s work is intended to support and assist. All Trustees will receive training appropriate to their role. The Board of Trustees will appoint a Safeguarding Trustee.
13. SAFE RECRUITMENT OF STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS
13.1 Recruitment checks and references Safeguarding considerations should be considered at all stages of the recruitment process. QCT operates strict procedures to ensure it recruits only those staff, volunteers or other representatives who are suitable to work with children, young people and vulnerable adults. Where roles involve working directly with children, young people and vulnerable adults, or in some instances indirectly such as handling imagery and personal data of children, young people and vulnerable adults, QCT obtains a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check in the UK, or from the closest relevant authority elsewhere, as part of the recruitment process.
QCT always asks for and takes up references and will stipulate in a reference if someone has been disciplined in connection with a breach of this Safeguarding Policy. Reasons for leaving previous employment will be checked with the most recent employer.
13.2 Advertisement All adverts state that QCT is an equal opportunities employer and that its recruitment and selection procedures reflect our commitment to Safeguarding. DBS or other relevant checks will be required and will be clearly stated in the recruitment advertisement.
13.3 Interview For roles which involve working directly with children, young people and vulnerable adults, the interview will include a discussion of the individual’s previous work with children, young people and vulnerable adults, with questions designed to explore the person’s approach, attitude and experience. Interview questions will include questions on the understanding of and the suitability to work in an organisation which works with children, young people and vulnerable adults in diverse cultures and countries.
13.4 Induction All new QCT Representatives will have a mandatory induction on joining or commencing work for QCT that covers the Code of Conduct and this Safeguarding Policy.
13.5 Training All QCT Representatives will receive mandatory safeguarding training consistent with their job roles and responsibilities including as part of their induction, and subsequent refresher training. Grantees will be offered training as appropriate. Creating an ‘aware culture’ in which all QCT Representatives, Visitors and Grantees contribute to both the protection of children, young people and vulnerable adults and prevention of abuse and exploitation is crucial.
13.6 Disciplinary actions QCT will apply appropriate disciplinary measures to any staff found in breach of this and other relevant policies. During investigation, alleged perpetrators may have their duties changed or may be asked to take paid leave.
Safeguarding is a standing item at all Board meetings. QCT is committed to reviewing its policy and good practice on an annual basis, or sooner if there is a change in legislation or learning from an incident.
ANNEX 1: Contacts for reporting a Safeguarding Incident
• All Safeguarding incidents or concerns should be reported to the Safeguarding Lead via email@example.com or at +44 7444 243877 (text or call, voicemail will be active out of office hours) and to the Safeguarding Officer via firstname.lastname@example.org.
• If the incident or concern relates to the Safeguarding Officer then this should be reported to the Safeguarding Lead, and if the incident or concern relates to the Safeguarding Lead then contact the Chair and Safeguarding Trustee at SafeguardingTrustee@qct.org.uk.
• Having your details helps QCT to follow up but if you want to be anonymous you can submit information relating to a Safeguarding incident or concern via the following webform Safeguarding Concerns Webform.
• If you require urgent safeguarding advice and cannot reach the Safeguarding Lead, Safeguarding Officer or Safeguarding Trustee the NSPCC provides a 24 hour advisory service (https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-we-do/about- us/contact-us/), which includes a phone helpline from 8am – 10pm (GMT) during the week, and 9am – 6pm (GMT) at the weekend. While this is primarily to serve children in the UK, they would be able to provide some limited out of hours informed safeguarding advice in an emergency. In all situations, even if you have contacted the NSPCC, please notify the relevant QCT Safeguarding contact (Safeguarding Lead or Safeguarding Trustee) at the earliest opportunity subsequent to contacting the NSPCC.
ANNEX 2 - Steps to take when you receive or identify a safeguarding incident (concern or allegation)
Guidance for what do to do immediately when you receive a direct disclosure or receive allegations of a safeguarding incident
- Listen to the person, allow them to say what they feel they want to say, but don’t ask leading questions
- Ask who, when, where, what but not why;
- Reflect back to the person what you have heard them say, to ensure there is no misunderstanding;
- Avoid making comments about the alleged perpetrator, if there is one;
- Don’t promise to keep it a secret. As we are concerned about welfare it is likely that information will need to be passed on to the Safeguarding Lead and potentially the Safeguarding Officer and Safeguarding Trustee; and
- Explain what steps you will take next, and understand whether the discloser is happy to share their contact details as this helps QCT to follow-up including understanding more fully the nature of the concern or allegations which may be important for allowing QCT to act on the information provided.
Step 1 As soon as is possible, write down everything you can remember that the person said or that you observed, as well as where and when the conversation took place. Include:
• Name of person making the report • Name(s) of who has been harmed • Name(s) of alleged perpetrators(s) • Description of incident(s) • Date(s), time(s) and place(s) of incident(s) • Anything that upon receiving or observing the disclosure or allegation you have said or done already
Ensure your notes are factual and as accurate as possible. The above information is the key information that you will require when completing a Safeguarding Incident Report form, which you should complete if you have the form to hand otherwise make notes. Opinions and presumptions should be avoided but, where it is felt relevant or important to include these, they should be clearly indicated as such.
Step 2 Call or email the Safeguarding Lead and Safeguarding Officer who should be contacted as soon as possible after the concern was raised (and no later than 24 hours). Send the Safeguarding Incident Report Form or otherwise your notes (see contacts listed in Annex 1) to the Safeguarding Officer. Contact the Safeguarding Lead if the Safeguarding Officer is unavailable. All written notes or the Safeguarding Report Form must be kept securely in a locked place or password protected if online.
- If the alleged incident relates to the Safeguarding Officer you should contact the Safeguarding Lead; or
- If the alleged incident relates to the Safeguarding Lead then contact the Chair and Safeguarding Trustee at the confidential email address (details can be found in Annex 1).
Step 3 The Safeguarding Manager (or Lead) will then determine the response to the concern or allegation in conjunction with others in QCT who have specific safeguarding responsibilities. Concerns and allegations will be acted upon and investigated swiftly, making the welfare of the child or vulnerable adult paramount. Any delay must be avoided.
Step 4 If you have made a report and need support afterwards then you can seek this from the Safeguarding Officer or Safeguarding Lead. Identifying a concern or allegation can have an impact, so seeking advice or support during or afterwards is completely acceptable.
Step 5 Due to the sensitive nature of safeguarding Incidents, confidentiality must be maintained during all stages of the reporting process, and information shared on a limited 'need to know' basis only (see Annex 6 - Confidentiality and Information Sharing Principles). This includes QCT senior management who might otherwise be informed of other types of serious incidents.
Guidance about what might constitute a safeguarding incident:
Safeguarding incidents include concerns or allegations about an individual child, young person or vulnerable adult or between beneficiaries and can be against QCT Representatives, Visitors, Grantees or beneficiaries of QCT supported work. They could, for example, include the following situations:
• Abuse of a child, young person or vulnerable adult is observed or suspected; • A child, young person, vulnerable adult or another individual discloses that abuse – including online - has occurred; • The behaviour (including online abuse), of an adult towards a child, young person or vulnerable adult; • The behaviour, including bullying and cyberbullying, of those that a Grantee is supporting (child, young person or vulnerable adult) towards each other -; • Information about a QCT Representative, Visitor or Grantee provided by statutory agencies or another organisation, or identified through the press/media; • Allegations of abuse perpetrated by a QCT Representative, Visitor or Grantee; • Risks identified through QCT recruitment processes (e.g. criminal records information); • Allegations or concerns being identified that arise during a disciplinary or a complaint; • Concerns raised about harm to a child, young person or vulnerable adult occurring ‘outside’ of activities/projects provided by a QCT Representatives or Grantee (e.g. at home, school, another organisation or in the local community)
ANNEX 3: Safeguarding Incident Report Form
Form for completion by QCT staff member, volunteer or other representative, Grantee, partner organisation or those in receipt of QCT funds.
If the individual concerned is in immediate danger, or needs urgent medical treatment, call emergency services
ANNEX 4 - QCT Procedures upon receipt of a report of a safeguarding incident
Annex 4a - How to proceed with a safeguarding incident report if it concerns harm to a child, young person, or vulnerable adult which is external to the activity of QCT or a Grantee
Upon notification of a concern the Safeguarding Lead (or Officer) must:
Step 1 If the Safeguarding Officer has been informed they will immediately notify the Safeguarding Lead and agree if any further information is needed for clarification purposes. This must be done on the same working day or quicker considering the nature and risk of harm. The Safeguarding Lead and Safeguarding Officer should assess the information they have received and decide if any further information is needed for clarification, however it is not their role to start any investigative process. Complete the Safeguarding Incident Report form.
Step 2 If the concern is about a child, young person or vulnerable adult being subject to harm which is being perpetrated within their home, school, community then there is a need to consider how best to protect the child or adult. The options include:
• Taking no action as the concern raised does not constitute a safeguarding one; • Monitor the situation and review again; • Consult with an external agency (e.g. statutory agencies or NSPCC Helpline if in the UK) or the Safeguarding Lead; or • Make a formal referral to statutory services (children’s services and police, if a crime may have been committed) and only if it is safe and appropriate to do so depending on the country where the child or adult lives and the systems they have in place.
Step 3a In countries which have developed and trustworthy systems and legislation for protection, the Safeguarding Manager (or Lead) should make an immediate referral into children’s services (or equivalent) and the police (if a crime may have been committed) having first discussed this decision with the Safeguarding Trustee. When this course of action is taken there is a need to consider whether to get consent or notify the person or their parents/carers of the action being taken. See Annex x about information sharing and confidentiality to help guide decision making about this aspect of safeguarding.
Step 3b In countries which do not have developed and trustworthy systems and legislation for protection, the Safeguarding Lead (or Officer) needs to consider what alternative measures might help which are available in the local context for example health care if a person is injured, support from other NGOs that are family focused, or faith, community/rights based organisations etc.
Step 4 The Safeguarding Lead (or Officer) must record all actions taken, decisions and outcomes. They should follow up any referral made to statutory services/ police after three working days to check that action has been taken.
Step 5 The Safeguarding Lead (or Officer) should also consider if there is any additional support that QCT can provide for the child or vulnerable adult or signposting to other support services in the locality.
Annex 4a - flowchart
Annex 4b - How to proceed with a safeguarding incident report where it is against a QCT Representative(s)
In instances where there are allegations or observations that a QCT Representative has harmed or may have harmed a child, young person or vulnerable adult then the allegations management process which follows will apply. A QCT Representative refers to QCT staff, volunteers, Trustees, consultants and contractors but not QCT Grantees, their representatives or QCT Visitors.
Step 1 If the Safeguarding Officer has been informed they will immediately notify the Safeguarding Lead and agree if any further information is needed for clarification purposes. This must be done on the same working day or quicker considering the nature and risk of harm. The Safeguarding Lead and Safeguarding Officer should assess the information they have received and decide if any further information is needed for clarification, however it is not their role to start any investigative process. Complete the Safeguarding Incident Report form.
Step 2 If there is a child or vulnerable adult that has been harmed then the Safeguarding Lead (or Officer) will as a priority ensure that the protection of anyone who has been harmed first of all.
Step 3 The Safeguarding Lead will call a Safeguarding Strategy Group meeting to determine together the approach to manage the allegation. The members of the safeguarding strategy group as follows: Safeguarding Lead, Safeguarding Manager, Safeguarding Trustee, and CEO. The meeting may take place face to face or virtually.
Step 4 The Safeguarding Strategy Group will have several options to consider in managing any allegation. Firstly, they will need to assess, on the information they have, whether the allegation is about safeguarding as oppose to misconduct or poor working practices. The definition of a safeguarding allegation from the UK2* will be useful to apply here as the test.
Step 5 If, after the initial consideration, the Safeguarding Strategy Group do not consider the matter constitutes a safeguarding allegation then they must decide if an internal investigation is required to determine if the behaviour/incident was related to poor practice or misconduct and then follow the appropriate internal procedures to address this. All decisions and reasons for decisions, including there being no need to take safeguarding action, must be recorded and kept separate from an individual’s file but cross-referenced to it.
Step 6 If it is agreed that it is a safeguarding allegation, then the Safeguarding Strategy Group must make an initial plan which considers the following:
(a) the immediate safety of any relevant child/ren, young people or vulnerable adult involved, for example those that are the subject of the safeguarding allegation or other children, young people or vulnerable adults that the individual has contact with through work or family; (b) what information to share with the individual(s) who is the subject of the safeguarding allegation; (c) whether any immediate decision should be taken about suspension of the individual (either from paid work or volunteering) subject to the allegation, pending further enquiries and/or investigation. The act of suspension does not indicate a person’s guilt. An individual must not be suspended automatically when there has been an allegation without careful thought. Suspension should be considered in any case where: • there is cause to suspect a child/vulnerable adult is at risk of significant harm; • the allegation warrants investigation by the police; • there is so serious that it might be grounds for dismissal; or • there are concerns that the person about whom the allegations are made may put pressure on or interfere with potential witnesses. (d) if any records need to be secured or ‘locked down’, or any work equipment be removed from the individual who is the subject of the allegation (e.g. laptop, mobile phone, iPad) if the concerns relate to their online behaviour being abusive e.g. grooming a person with the intent to abuse or exploit them; (e) what other information is required; (f) identifying who else is aware of the safeguarding allegation and who has been spoken to; (g) whether advice should be sought from the local statutory authorities (i.e. children’s or adult services and police); (h) whether the allegation needs to be reported to the Charity Commission for England and Wales as per QCT’s Serious Incident Reporting process (Annex 5); (i) arrangements to support the person who is the subject of the safeguarding allegation, the person who raised the allegation and the alleged victim(s); (j) a plan around the management of information both internally and externally.
*2 A Safeguarding allegation is where a person (child or adult) has (NSPCC provided definition): a) Behaved in a way that has harmed a person, may have harmed a person or might lead to a person being harmed; b) Possibly committed or is planning to commit a criminal offence against a person or related to a person; or c) Behaved towards a person in a way that indicates s/he is or would be unsuitable to work with children, young people and/or adults.
Step 8 The Safeguarding Strategy Group will need to determine if the allegation needs to be reported to children’s or adult services (or the equivalent if they exist) and the police. This will depend on many factors such as the law in the country, whether it is safe to report to the police or the children’s or adult services (or equivalent if they exist) in the location where the abuse is alleged to have taken place. In the UK the expectation is that the statutory services will undertake the investigation of an allegation before any internal procedures of the organisation follow such as performance or disciplinary. This position will not necessarily be applicable in other countries where such formal systems either don’t operate or are inadequate or unsafe. In such circumstances, the Safeguarding Strategy Group may have to conduct the investigation themselves or appoint an independent body to do this.
Step 9 Full records of the allegation, decisions, actions and outcomes must be kept securely with restricted access to them.
Step 10 The Safeguarding Strategy Group will need to maintain oversight over any external or internal investigations and determine the necessary actions once the outcomes of any investigation is completed.
Annex 4b – Flowchart
Annex 4c – How to proceed with a safeguarding incident report in respect of a Grantee
Step 1 Grantees must alert the QCT Safeguarding Lead and Safeguarding Officer if they identify a safeguarding concern about a child, young person or vulnerable adult or if there is an allegation of abuse against a Grantee Representative. This must be done within one working day of the incident being identified or received (see Annex 1 for contacts). The Grantee must provide full written details of the concern (ideally on a Safeguarding Incident Report Form - Annex 3) and the protective action taken or proposed.
Step 2 On receiving this information the Safeguarding Officer will notify the Safeguarding Lead who will in turn call a Safeguarding Strategy Group meeting. The purpose will be to determine what action will be taken and by whom at QCT and the Grantee.
Step 3 Where the Grantee already has a robust safeguarding policy and procedures then they should be responding to the concern or allegation and reporting back regularly to the Safeguarding Officer (or Lead) on the steps they have taken and the outcome. They can seek support from the Safeguarding Officer (or Lead) as necessary and this could involve the provision of technical and financial assistance to any investigation as needed. Clearly much will depend on the legislation in country and where there are safe and trustworthy child or adult services and police in country. Where these do exist, the Grantee should work in conjunction with those statutory bodies to safeguard.
Step 4 The Safeguarding Strategy Group will have to decide whether to make a serious incident report to the Charity Commission.
Step 5 The Grantee will be required to report back the outcome of managing the safeguarding incident and any lessons learnt and future actions arising out of this to the Safeguarding Lead and Safeguarding Officer. The Safeguarding Strategy Group will need to be satisfied that the incident has been appropriately managed and all risks have been addressed. If this is not the case, then QCT will consider: changing, suspending or ending the relationship with the Grantee and/or providing the Grantee with more support to build safeguarding capability as well as identifying any lessons learnt for QCT.
Annex 4c - Flowchart
Annex 4d – How to proceed with a safeguarding incident in respect of organisations partnering with QCT
QCT partners organisations to provide onward grant funding and therefore it is the partner organisations who are responsible for the oversight and management of safeguarding incidents in those organisations. This is not to say that partner organisations cannot seek advice from QCT’s Safeguarding Officer or Safeguarding Lead. A process for monitoring and reporting on safeguarding incidents that occur in partner organisations, and those that they in turn provide onward grant funding to, should be agreed with the partner organisation and kept under review by the Safeguarding Lead. In the absence of an agreed process, the process which applies to Grantees should be adopted.
Annex 4e - Action relating to a QCT Representative following the conclusion of the investigative process
At the conclusion of any investigations:
Step 1 At the end of an investigation the following terms should be used when recording the outcome of a safeguarding allegation: • Substantiated: there is sufficient evidence to prove the allegation • False: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation • Malicious: there is sufficient evidence to disprove the allegation and that there has been a deliberate act to deceive • Unsubstantiated: there is insufficient evidence to either prove or disprove the allegation.
Cases in which an allegation was proven to be false, unsubstantiated or malicious should not be included in employer references.
Every effort should be made to reach a conclusion in all cases even if:
- the individual refuses to cooperate, although they should be given a full opportunity to answer the allegation and make representations;
- it is difficult to reach a conclusion;
- the individual has resigned or person withdraws their services; or
- the person is deceased.
Step 2 The Safeguarding Strategy Group will formally review the outcome and determine if any further action is required by QCT. The range of options open will depend on the circumstances of the case and will need to consider the result of any police investigation or trial, any investigations in respect of the child/young person/adult victim(s), as well as the different standard of proof required in disciplinary and criminal proceedings. Options include:
- reintegration of the QCT Representative;
- instigate the disciplinary process in respect of staff or the volunteer resolution process in respect of volunteers;
- alerting other known employers of the individual concerned which is normally the responsibility of the statutory authorities to do;
- making a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service (or equivalent body in the other UK nations(3*) or countries, if such a system exists) for consideration to bar the person from working with children or adults where they were involved in working with children, young people or vulnerable adults or in a position of trust. The referral process is outlined on the DBS website (England and Wales) and they can be contacted for advice. The Safeguarding Lead is responsible for making such a referral; and
- updating the Charity Commission as to the action taken and outcomes.
Step 3 If an allegation is determined to be false or malicious, the Safeguarding Lead must consider if any further action is required which includes:
- if the safeguarding allegation was deliberately invented or malicious then this should be discussed with the police and advice sought (depending on the country in which this occurred) to determine if it constituted a criminal offence
- deliberate false or malicious allegations, or the leaking or misuse of confidential information whether false or not, are serious disciplinary offences and will be investigated in accordance with QCT’s Disciplinary Policy.
Step 4 At the end of the process of managing an allegation, the Safeguarding Lead and Safeguarding Officer are responsible for the identification of any lessons learned. This learning may have implications for the safeguarding policy and procedures and/or training. This learning must be shared with the Lead Trustee for Safeguarding.
*3 DBS covers England and Wales. In Scotland refer to Disclosure Scotland. In Northern Ireland refer to AccessNI
ANNEX 5 - QCT’s Reporting of Serious Safeguarding Incidents to the Charity Commission for England and Wales
1.1 QCT’s Reporting of Serious Safeguarding Incidents is applicable to all QCT Representatives. Its purpose is to ensure that QCT Representatives can identify serious incidents, escalate them as appropriate and report them internally so that the Trustees can exercise adequate oversight and together with the Safeguarding Lead consider whether to make a serious incident report to the Charity Commission for England and Wales (‘the Commission’).
1.2 Safeguarding incidents fall within the category of a serious incident for the purposes of reporting to the Commission.
1.3 This Annex outlines the procedures to be followed in respect of reporting safeguarding incidents to the Commission.
2. The Commission’s role in relation to safeguarding incidents
2.1 The Commission’s role is to ensure that Trustees are handling the incident appropriately and, where necessary, that they are putting in place improved governance and internal controls, to prevent further harm.
2.2 The Commission is not responsible for dealing with incidents of actual abuse or mistreatment and it does not administer safeguarding legislation. It cannot prosecute or bring criminal proceedings although it may refer concerns on to ‘lead agencies’, such as police, local authorities and the Disclosure and Barring Service, as well as to specialist bodies responsible for designated areas, such as education or health and social care.
3. Reporting to the Commission
What is a serious incident in respect of safeguarding?
3.1 This means an adverse event, (whether actual or alleged) which results in or risks significant harm to a charity’s beneficiaries, staff, volunteers or others who come into contact with the charity through its work. In this context “significant” means significant in the context of the charity, taking account of its staff, operations, finances and/or reputation.
3.2 QCT is required to make a report to the Commission if a serious safeguarding risk materialises.
3.2.1 This will usually be if incidents of abuse or mistreatment (alleged or actual) of beneficiaries of the charity (adults or children) which have resulted in or risk significant harm to them and: • this happened while they were under the care of the charity; • other incidents of abuse or mistreatment (alleged or actual) of people who come into contact with the charity through its work, which have resulted in or risk significant harm to them and are connected to the charities activities; or • breaches of procedures or policies which has put people who come into contact with the charity at significant risk of harm, including failure to carry out relevant vetting checks which would have identified that a person is disqualified in law from holding their position within the charity. (This might be, for example, because they are disqualified in law, from working with children or adults4*).
The above may include incidents in the workplace that have resulted in or risk significant harm to Trustees, staff or volunteers. QCT is expected to make a judgment call about which incidents either individually, or as a collection, are serious in the context of the charity.
3.2.2 A report should always be made to the Commission where the level of harm to the victims and/or likely damage to the reputation of, or public trust in the charity, is particularly high.
3.2.3 A report should be made if the number and nature of staffing incidents indicate there are widespread or systematic issues connected to sexual harassment, abuse and/or other misconduct in the charity.
3.2.4 QCT may be alerted to alleged abuse of a beneficiary, staff member, volunteer or someone else who it meets through its work, which has occurred outside of the charity (e.g. in the family home or community) and where:
• The abuse was not connected to its activities in any way; and • The person responsible for the abuse was not a trustee, staff member or volunteer.
In such incidents, QCT is not expected to report to the Commission unless it’s found (or alleged) that the incident wasn’t handled appropriately by QCT and this resulted in harm to the person or persons concerned. In such circumstances a report should also be made to the police and local authority country context permitting.
The online guidance (How to report a serious incident in your charity, June 2019) provides some examples of the types of incidents that should be reported *5.
3.3 The process for reporting a safeguarding incident to the Commission
Step 1 Staff should report their safeguarding concerns or allegations by following the QCT safeguarding policy which applies to all QCT’s work.
Step 2 Once notified of the safeguarding concern/allegation, the Safeguarding Lead will complete the serious incident notification form (Appendix 1) and make a recommendation as to whether the concern/allegation warrants making a serious incident notification to the Commission.
Step 3 The Safeguarding Lead sends the serious incident notification form to the Safeguarding Trustee for consideration and a timely response. The urgency of reporting will depend on factors including the nature and seriousness of the incident, the potential impact on QCT and whether it is likely that there will be media coverage of the incident.
Step 4 The Safeguarding Trustee is ultimately responsible for the decision making but they will take into account any recommendation made by the Safeguarding Lead in reaching a decision.
Step 5 The Safeguarding Lead will then follow the recommendation of the Safeguarding Trustee.
4* The Commission’s guidance ‘Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and Trustees’ (25 October 2018) is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-duties-for-charity-Trustees 5* Examples table - deciding what to report: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/752170/RSI_guidance_what_to_do_if_something_goes_wrong_Examples_table_deciding_what_to_report.pdf
Step 6a If the decision is that no serious incident report is required, then the rational for this must be recorded on the serious incident notification form and filed within the relevant section of the safeguarding recording system, or
Step 6b If the decision is that the concern or allegation meets one or more of the criteria (see 3.2) then the safeguarding Lead will make that report to the Commission via its online portal.
Step 7 The Commission will reply with an incident report number and specify if it wants any further information or actions. The Safeguarding Lead is then responsible for all follow up and reporting back to the Commission as required by them and will log any further information on the Commission’s portal if required to do so e.g. if new information emerges or there is an outcome to an investigation.
3.4 What to report to the Commission
3.4.1 The Commission’s Serious Incident Reporting Guidance notes that it is important to provide enough detail in the report to give the Commission a clear picture of what happened and when, the extent of any loss or harm, how the charity is dealing with it and the planned/possible next steps. It is important to balance the fact-finding exercise with the need to report incidents promptly.
3.4.2 If QCT becomes aware of any material changes to the facts reported or significant developments, QCT must inform the Commission as soon as it becomes aware of them.
3.4.3 Information to be included in the report to the Commission:
Contact details, including: • your own contact details (these would usually be those of the COO as Safeguarding Lead); • the charity name and its registration number (The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust, Reg Charity No. 1172107); • reference numbers and contact details if you’ve reported it to other organisations, like the police; and • names and registration numbers of other charities involved in the incident, if relevant.
Details of the incident, including: • date of the incident; • what happened; • date the charity found out about the incident; • how the charity found out about the incident; • what impact the incident has had on the charity’s beneficiaries, finances, staff, operations or reputation; and • whether Trustees are aware of the incident.
Details of how your charity is handling the incident, including:
- which of the charity’s policies or procedures relate to the incident and whether they were followed; what steps the charity has taken to deal with the incident;
- what steps the charity has taken to prevent similar incidents; and
- where applicable, the charity’s media handling or press lines, including a link to a press release if available.
Note: it is not necessary to provide the names or any other personal details of any individuals involved in the incident in the initial report that QCT makes to the Commission. The Commission will request this information if they need it.
3.5 Additional considerations
3.5.1 QCT may need to prepare a communications plan covering what it will say to staff, volunteers, beneficiaries, members, supporters, patrons, the public and the media.
3.5.2 QCT will review what happened and identify and take steps to prevent it from happening again – this may include strengthening internal controls and procedures, and/or seeking appropriate help from professional advisers.
3.5.3 Consideration must also be given to whether a serious incident should be reported to QCT’s insurers in accordance with the relevant insurance policy.
In addition to making a serious incident report to the Commission, if the incident occurred in the UK, it may be necessary to inform or make reports to other relevant agencies. QCT should report: • crime, or suspected crime, to the police and obtain a crime reference number; • any incidents of harm or risk of harm to UK children or vulnerable adults (including any concerns, suspicions or allegations) to the relevant local authority and obtain a reference number;
3.6 Confidentiality and data protection
All serious incident reports should be marked as confidential (unless the information is already wholly available in the public domain, which is highly unlikely). In addition: • any personal data should be removed to the greatest extent possible and, if appropriate, the risk of identification of individuals (though unnamed) should be highlighted; • any particularly sensitive information in the report should be identified; • any specific exemptions from disclosure (such as an exemption under the Freedom of Information Act) should be specifically referred to and relied upon; and • the report should contain a request that it is not disclosed to third parties and that the Commission notifies the charity if it receives a request to disclose information to third parties (e.g. the media or individuals).
3.7 What happens next?
The Commission will typically acknowledge receipt of the report. It will assess the risk and look at how QCT is dealing with the incident, and may take steps to verify the details, for example and where relevant, by contacting the police. The Commission may also follow up if it: • needs more information about the incident: • considers QCT needs regulatory advice and guidance; • has to use its legal powers to protect the charity and/or the people who come into contact with the charity through its work; • decides to request updates on future development; • needs to monitor the charity’s progress in dealing with it.
In very serious cases the Commission may take steps to exercise its enforcement powers, for example, issuing a warning or opening a statutory inquiry into the charity, though it is rare that it would do so without some form of preliminary communication or dialogue.
4. Learning from serious incidents
4.1 It is important that QCT appropriately manages and responds to a serious incident. This includes learning from the incident and taking steps to prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
4.2 The Safeguarding Lead and Safeguarding Trustee should consider whether QCT has taken appropriate steps to respond to a serious incident and ensure that sufficient controls and procedures are put in place to mitigate and manage any future risks to QCT and its beneficiaries. This should be documented and shared with the Trustees.
5. Serious Incident Notification Form in respect to Safeguarding Incidents
6. Criteria for Serious Incident Notification
6* The Commission’s guidance ‘Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and Trustees’ (October 2019) is available here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-duties-for-charity-Trustees
ANNEX 6 - Confidentiality and Information Sharing Principles
The following principles should help inform whether you can share information. Note there are occasions in safeguarding when it will be necessary to share information if operating in the best interests of the victim, but careful consideration should be given to any information sharing. UK Govt Golden Rules of Information Sharing7*:
- Remember that the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Data Protection Act 2018 and human rights law are not barriers to justified information sharing, but provide a framework to ensure that personal information about living individuals is shared appropriately.
- Be open and honest with the individual (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how and with whom information will, or could be shared, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
- Seek advice from other practitioners, or your information governance lead, if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
- Where possible, share information with consent, and where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to having their information shared. Under the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 you may share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is a lawful basis to do so, such as where safety may be at risk. You will need to base your judgement on the facts of the case. When you are sharing or requesting personal information from someone, be clear of the basis upon which you are doing so. Where you do not have consent, be mindful that an individual might not expect information to be shared.
- Consider safety and well-being: base your information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and well-being of the individual and others who may be affected by their actions.
- Necessary, proportionate, relevant, adequate, accurate, timely and secure: ensure that the information you share is necessary for the purpose for which you are sharing it, is shared only with those individuals who need to have it, is accurate and up-to-date, is shared in a timely fashion, and is shared securely.
- Keep a record of your decision and the reasons for it – whether it is to share information or not. If you decide to share, then record what you have shared, with whom and for what purpose.
7* HM Government (2018) Information Sharing: Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents and carers