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Safeguarding Policy

Safeguarding Policy

Date of Policy: April 2017
Policy amended June 2018

A full copy of the policy which includes allegation management and incident reporting flowcharts can be found below.

Aston Villa Safeguarding Policy.

Aston Villa Football Club Ltd. And Aston Villa Foundation (together” Aston Villa Football Club” or “the Club”) acknowledges the duty of care to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and vulnerable adults.

Aston Villa Football Club has both a moral and legal obligation to ensure a duty of care for children and vulnerable adults across its services.  We are committed to ensuring that all children and vulnerable adults are protected and kept safe from harm whilst engaged in any services organised and provided by the Club. The Club is committed to ensuring safeguarding practice reflects statutory responsibilities, government guidance and complies with best practice and local authority requirements. 

The policy recognises that the welfare and interests of children and vulnerable adults are paramount in all circumstances. It aims to ensure that regardless of age, gender, religion or beliefs, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation or socio-economic background, all children and vulnerable adults have a positive and enjoyable experience of the activities delivered by the Club. We are committed to ensuring that these activities will be in a safe environment, where children and vulnerable adults are protected from abuse whilst under our care. 

Aston Villa Football Club acknowledges that some children (and adults), including those with a disability or those from ethnic minority communities, can be particularly vulnerable to abuse and we accept the responsibility to take reasonable and appropriate steps to ensure their welfare. 

As part of our safeguarding policy Aston Villa Football Club will:

  • Promote and prioritise the safety and wellbeing of children, young people and vulnerable adults
  • Ensure staff, volunteers and trustees understand their roles and responsibilities in respect of safeguarding and are provided with appropriate learning opportunities to recognise, identify and respond to signs of abuse, neglect and other safeguarding concerns relating to children, young people and vulnerable adults
  • Ensure appropriate action is taken in the event of incidents/concerns of abuse and support provided to the individual/s who raise or disclose the concern 
  • Ensure that confidential, detailed and accurate records of all safeguarding concerns are maintained and securely stored and retained in accordance with Data Protection Act legislation.
  • Ensure that Aston Villa Football Club (AVFC) and Aston Villa Foundation (AVF) have Safer recruitment procedures to secure the employment/deployment of suitable individuals.
  • Ensure robust safeguarding arrangements and procedures are in operation

This policy and the procedures will be widely promoted amongst staff and are mandatory for anyone whose role involves working with Children and Vulnerable Adults in Aston Villa Football Club. Failure to comply with the policy and procedures will be addressed without delay and may ultimately result in dismissal/exclusion from the Club.

Principles

This policy and supporting procedures are based on the following principles

  • The welfare of children and vulnerable adults is the primary concern.
  • All children and vulnerable adults irrespective of their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, socio-economic status, religious belief and/ or sexual orientation have the right to protection from abuse and harm.
  • It is everyone’s responsibility to report any concerns about abuse in order that prompt action be taken if required.
  • All incidents of alleged poor practice, misconduct and abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.
  • All personal data will be processed in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act May 2018. (GDPR) General Data Protection Regulation and any relevant privacy policy issued by the Club. All data will be kept in line with the Clubs Retention policy.

Monitoring 

The policy will be reviewed a year after development and then every year after, or in the following circumstances: 

  • Changes in legislation and/or government guidance 
  • As required by the Local Safeguarding Children Boards
  • As a result of any other significant change or event.
Recruitment, Induction, training and qualifications

All staff recruitment is conducted in an open and transparent manner to ensure that Aston Villa Football Club has the best staff. Refer to the Clubs Safer Recruitment policy.

Successful candidates are also subject to reference checks, which ask previous employers of their opinion as to whether the candidate is suitable to work with children and vulnerable adults, if the role requires it.

The employment of all Aston Villa Football Club staff, (where the role requires it) is subject to individuals having a relevant and up to date safeguarding qualification and enhanced DBS check. The standard recognised welfare qualification for Aston Villa Football Club is the FA Safeguarding Children and Welfare workshop. 

The qualification is valid for a period of three years from the date it is attained, and all staff are required to maintain their safeguarding qualification throughout their employment to ensure that it remains up to date and valid.

As part of the induction process for every member of staff (and volunteers), a copy of this Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy is provided and discussed. This allows all staff and volunteers to understand theirs, and the Clubs responsibilities in running our activities in a controlled and safe environment for all participants. The induction process also covers the procedures for making disclosures or referrals should the need arise.

Aston Villa Football Club will also undertake mandatory in-house training and development on safeguarding and welfare, to ensure that it remains continuously at the top of the agenda for all staff.

Disclosure and Barring Service Checks

All staff and volunteers who are working with young people and vulnerable adults, are subject to an enhanced DBS check, which will be undertaken through the criminal record bureau service, with the process further outlined in the Clubs Self declaration form and Criminal Records Policy. This will be led by the Head of Safeguarding and Welfare. 

The Club undertakes not to discriminate unfairly against any subject of a Criminal Records Check or self- disclosure based on a conviction or other information revealed.

Having a criminal record will not necessarily bar individuals from working or volunteering with the Club and any record will be considered as part of a risk assessment process as outlined in the Safer Recruitment policy and Volunteering policy. that ensures suitability for the post in question.

The decision on suitability will depend on the nature of the position and the circumstances and background of the offences, cautions and other criminal intelligence.

The CRB confirms that all CRC and criminal record data will be processed on behalf of Aston Villa Football Club in accordance with the provisions of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the DBS Code of Practice.

Trustees

Ultimately, responsibilities for safeguarding and welfare within the Aston Villa Foundation (the Foundation), lies with the trustees of the Foundation. As part of the induction process for trustees, they are provided with a copy of the Children England ‘Everybody’s Business, Safeguarding for Trustees’ guidance on their responsibilities for safeguarding.

The role of the trustees in the Foundation is not to oversee the day to day management of safeguarding and welfare controls, but to take leadership responsibility for the Foundation’s safeguarding arrangements. 

The day to day management for safeguarding controls is designated to the Directors of the Foundation. The subject of safeguarding and welfare is continuously managed and monitored by trustees at quarterly meetings through a standard ‘risk’ agenda item. Safeguarding and welfare is included within this risk analysis and is continuously monitored through the Foundation’ Risk Management Policy and subsequent risk register.

Head of Safeguarding and Welfare

Aston Villa Football Club has a designated Head of Safeguarding and Welfare. This officer of the Club will have undergone the relevant and necessary training. The role of the Head of Safeguarding and Welfare is:

  • To be clear about the Clubs responsibilities when running activities for children, young people and vulnerable adults.
  • To help the Club staff and volunteers understand what their duty of care towards children, young people and vulnerable adults means and entails on a day to day basis

The Head of Safeguarding and Welfare will lead the Club on safeguarding and the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults on a day to day basis, supported by an informed and trained workforce. This ensures that risks are managed as effectively as possible and all staff, players and volunteers, project participants and parents are aware of the processes and procedures for reporting concerns should the need arise.

Definitions

Child

In line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and NSPCC guidance for England, for the purpose of this policy a child is defined as anyone under the age of 18.

Vulnerable Adult

A vulnerable adult can be anyone who is 18 years old or over, who has a physical or sensory impairment, a learning disability, or a mental health problem and may be unable to protect themselves from harm or abuse.

This may include:

  • People with a learning disability
  • People who experience mental ill health
  • Those with a disability
  • Older people
  • People who are experiencing short or long -term illness

However, it is important to note that inclusion in one of the above groups does not necessarily mean that a person is implicitly vulnerable.

All the policies and procedures in this document refer to vulnerable adults as well as children.

Safeguarding

Safeguarding is the action that is taken to promote the welfare and human rights of individuals especially children, young people and vulnerable adults to live free from abuse, harm and neglect.
Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.

Position of Trust

A relationship of trust can be described as one in which one party has power and influence over another by virtue of their work or nature of the activity.

Types of Abuse

Abuse can happen on any occasion or in any place where children, young people or vulnerable adults are present.  Abuse is any form of physical, emotional or sexual mistreatment or lack of care that leads to injury or harm.  It commonly occurs within a relationship of trust or responsibility and represents an abuse of power or a breach of trust.  Abuse can happen to an individual regardless of their age, gender, race or ability.
 
Somebody may abuse or neglect an individual by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. People may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. People can be abused by adults either male or female, or children. 
 
Any allegations or suspicions of abuse, poor practice or bullying need to be responded to and reported in line with the club/the Club’s reporting procedures.
 
There are four main types of abuse: neglect, physical abuse, sexual abuse and emotional abuse. Children, young people and vulnerable adults can also be harmed through poor practice and bullying within an activity setting. Here we look in detail at the types of abuse and some signs to look out for if staff are concerned about abuse.

Neglect

This is when adults consistently or repeatedly fail to meet an individual’s basic physical and/or psychological needs which could result in the serious impairment of the individual’s health or development e.g. failure to provide adequate food, shelter and clothing; failing to protect someone from physical harm or danger; or the failure to ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include refusal to give love, affection and attention.

Neglect in sport or physical activity could include a coach or other member of staff repeatedly failing to ensure people are safe, exposing them to undue cold, heat or extreme weather conditions without ensuring adequate clothing or hydration; exposing them to unnecessary risk of injury e.g. by ignoring safe practice guidelines, failing to ensure the use of safety equipment, or by requiring young people to participate when injured or unwell.

Examples include  Signs include 
 Withholding help or support necessary to carry out daily living tasks. Constant hunger, sometimes stealing food from others.
 Ignoring medical and physical care needs.  Dirty or ‘smelly’.
 Failing to provide access to health, social or educational support. Loss of weight, or being constantly underweight.
 The withholding of medication, nutrition and heating. Inappropriate dress for the weather.
 Keeping someone in isolation. Complaining of being tired all the time.
 Failure to intervene in situations that are dangerous to the vulnerable person Inadequate supervision and guidance – leaving the child to cope alone, abandoning them or leaving them with inappropriate carers and failing to provide appropriate boundaries about behaviours such as under age sex or alcohol. Having few friends.
  Worsening of health conditions.
  Mentioning their being left alone or unsupervised. 
  Sore or extreme nappy rash.
  Skin infections.
  Lack of response to stimuli or contact.
  Poor skin condition(s).
  Anxiety.
  Distressed.
   Child moves away from parent under stress.
  Little or no distress when separated from primary carer.
  Inappropriate emotional responses.
   Language delay.

Physical Abuse

When someone physically hurts or injures another person by hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning, biting, scalding, suffocating, drowning or otherwise causing harm. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer feigns the symptoms of, or deliberately causes, ill health to someone they are looking after.

Physical abuse in sport or physical activity may be when the nature and intensity of training or competition exceeds the capacity of the child’s immature and growing body; where coaches encourage the use of drugs or harmful substances to enhance performance or delay puberty; if athletes are required to participate when injured; or when sanctions used by coaches imposed involve inflicting pain.

 Examples include Signs include
 Shaking.  Unexplained bruising, marks or injuries on any part of the body.
 Pinching.  Frequent visits to the GP or A&E.
 Slapping.  An injury inconsistent with the explanation offered.
 Force-feeding.  Fear of parents or carers being approached for an explanation.
 Biting.  Aggressive behaviour or severe temper outbursts.
 Burning or scalding.  Flinching when approached.
 Causing needless physical discomfort Inappropriate restraint.  Reluctance to get changed or wearing long sleeves in hot weather.
 Locking someone in a room.  Depression.
   Withdrawn behaviour or other behaviour change.
   Running away from home/ residential care.
   Distrust of adults, particularly those with whom a close relationship would normally be expected.

Sexual Abuse

This is where children, young people or vulnerable adults are abused by adults (both male and female) or other children who use them to meet their own sexual needs. This could include full sexual intercourse, masturbation, oral sex, anal intercourse, kissing and sexual fondling. Showing individuals pornographic material (books, videos, pictures) or taking pornographic images of them are also forms of sexual abuse.

In sport or physical activity, coaching techniques which involve physical contact with others can create situations where sexual abuse can be disguised and may therefore go unnoticed. The power and authority of, or dependence on, the coach if misused, may also lead to abusive situations developing. Contacts made within sport and pursued e.g. through texts, Facebook or Twitter have been used to groom children for abuse.

Examples include
 
Signs include
 
Rape and other sexual offences. Pain or itching in the genital/anal areas.
For vulnerable adults, sexual activity including sexual contact and non-sexual contact that the person does not want, to which they have not consented, could not consent, or were pressured into consenting to.. Bruising or bleeding near genital/anal areas.
Being encouraged or enticed to touch the abuser. Sexually transmitted disease.
Coercing the victim into watching or participating in pornographic videos, photographs, or internet images.  Vaginal discharge or infection. 
Any sexual relationship that develops where one is in a position of trust, power or authority. Stomach pains.
  Discomfort when walking or sitting down.
  Pregnancy.
  Sudden or unexplained changes in behaviour, e.g. becoming aggressive or withdrawn.
  Fear of being left with a specific person or group of people.
  Nightmares.
  Leaving home.
  Sexual knowledge which is beyond their age or development age.
  Sexual drawings or language.
  Bedwetting.
  Saying they have secrets they cannot tell anyone about. 
  Self- harm or mutilation, sometimes leading to suicide attempts.
   Eating problems such as overeating or anorexia.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional ill-treatment of an individual so as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the person’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to people that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.

It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on someone or even the over protection of an individual. It may involve causing people to feel frightened or in danger by being constantly shouted at, threatened or taunted which may make the person very nervous and withdrawn. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of ill-treatment of a child, young person or vulnerable adult.

Emotional abuse in sport or physical activity may occur if people are subjected to constant criticism, name-calling, sarcasm, bullying, racism or pressure to perform to unrealistically high expectations; or when their value or worth is dependent on sporting success or achievement.

Examples include Signs include
 Intimidation and/or threats. A failure to thrive or grow.
 Bullying. Sudden speech disorders.
 Rejection.  Developmental delay, either in terms of physical or emotional progress.
 Shouting.
Behaviour change. 
 Indifference and the withdrawal of approval. Being unable to play or socialise with others.
 Denial of choice. Fear of making mistakes.
 Deprivation of dignity or privacy. Self- harm. 
 The denial of human and civil rights. Fear of parent or carer being approached regarding their behaviour.
 Harassment. Confusion.
 Being made to fear for one’s well being.  

Additional Welfare Considerations

Poor Practice


Poor practice is behaviour of an individual in a position of responsibility which falls below the Club’s required standard. Poor practice may not be immediately dangerous or intentionally harmful to an individual, however is likely to set a poor example.

Poor practice is potentially damaging to the individual, the Club and to those who experience it. For example, leading a group with alcohol on the breath, smoking, swearing in front of others, or not paying due care and attention to participants all constitute poor practice.

Poor practice can sometimes lead to, or create, an environment conducive to more serious abuse. It may also lead to suspicions about the individual’s motivation, even where no harm is intended. For example, if a member of staff is giving one child too much attention, regularly transports children in their car, or encourages physical contact with children without obvious justification.

Bullying

Bullying by peers can occur whenever children and young people come together. Bullying can take many forms and is harmful to the victim. It may be physical e.g. hitting; online or cyber e.g. abusive messages, comments or images on social media; involve damage or theft of property; based on someone’s gender, ethnicity, sexuality or disability; or about their physical ability.

More detail on recognising and managing instances of bullying can be found in the Aston Villa Football Club Anti-Bullying Policy.

Increased Risk to Vulnerable Children

There are many issues that may contribute to child abuse, but some factors increase the risk to children and make them more vulnerable to abuse. They can be found in the background of parents, in the environmental situation and in attributes of the child themselves.

Parental factors:

  • Parent has a mental illness
  • Parent is abusing drugs or alcohol
  • Parent has already abused a child
  • Pregnancy was not wanted
  • Parent has a background of abuse when growing up
  • Young, unsupported mother often with low education
  • Parents have unrealistic expectations of the child and lack parenting knowledge
  • Parent is isolated and has little support
  • Parent has a learning difficulty

Environmental factors:

  • Overcrowding in the house
  • Poverty or lack of opportunity to improve the family’s resource
  • Domestic violence is present
  • A non-biological adult (i.e. unrelated) living in the house
  • Family is experiencing multiple stress

Additional Risks to Vulnerable Adults

With vulnerable adults being classed as 18+, there are additional risks relating to financial, legal and discriminatory matters.

Financial abuse

Examples include Signs include 
 Being over charged for services.  Lack of basic requirements e.g. food, clothes, shelter 
 Being tricked into receiving goods or services that they do not want or need.  Inability to pay bills.
Inappropriate use, exploitation, or misappropriation of property and/or utilities.   Unexplained withdrawals from accounts.
 Theft.  Inconsistency between standard of living and income.
 Deception.  Reluctance to take up assistance which is needed.
 Fraud.  Unusual interest by family and other people in the person’s assets.
   Recent changes in deeds.
   Power of Attorney obtained when person lacks capacity to make the decision.

Discriminatory

Examples include  Signs include 
 Use of inappropriate “nick names”.  Being treated unequally from other users in terms of the provision of care, treatment or services.
 Use derogatory language or terminology.  Being isolated.
 Enforcing rules or procedures which undermine the individual’s well being.   Derogatory language and attitude by carers.
 Denial to follow one’s religion.  Dismissive language by staff.
 Lack of appropriate food.  Hate campaigns by neighbours or others.
 Denial of opportunity to develop relationships.  Deteriorating health.
 Denial of health care.  Indicators of other forms of abuse.

Code of conduct for staff and volunteers

Aston Villa Football Club staff and volunteers involved have a great opportunity to be a positive role model and help build an individual’s confidence, whether a child, young person or vulnerable adult. 

Staff and volunteers are expected to:

  • Ensure the safety of all children, young people and vulnerable adults by providing effective supervision, proper pre-planning of sessions, using safe methods at all times
  • Consider the wellbeing and safety of participants before the development of performance 
  • Encourage and guide participants to accept responsibility for their own performance and behaviour
  • Treat all people fairly and ensure they feel valued. Have no favourites
  • Encourage all Children, young people and vulnerable adults not to discriminate on the grounds of religious beliefs, race, gender, social classes or lack of ability
  • Not allow any rough or dangerous play, bullying, or the use of bad language or inappropriate behaviou
  • Be positive, approachable and offer praise to promote the objectives of the  Club at all times 
  • Not let any allegations of abuse of any kind or poor practice to go unchallenged or unrecorded
  • Incidents and accidents to be recorded in the line with the Club’s procedures
  • Never use sanctions that humiliate or harm participants
  • Report accidents or incidents of alleged abuse or poor practice to the designated person
  • Administer minor first aid in the presence of others and where required 
  • Have access to telephone for immediate contact to emergency services if required 
  • Foster team work to ensure the safety of children, young people and vulnerable adults in their car
  • Ensure the rights and responsibilities of children, young people and vulnerable adults are enforced 
  • Establish and address the additional needs of disabled participants or other vulnerable groups
  • Not abuse members physically, emotionally or sexually
  • Not engage in a sexual relationship with a child, young person or vulnerable adult for whom they are responsible 
  • Maintain confidentiality about sensitive information 
  • Respect and listen to the opinions of children, young people and vulnerable adults
  • Develop an appropriate working relationship with participants, based on mutual trust and respect
  • Be a role model, displaying consistently high standard of behaviour and appearance (disciplined/committed/time keeping), remember people learn by example
  • Refrain from smoking and consumption of alcohol during activities or sessions
  • Never condone rule violations, rough play or the use of prohibited substances
  • Not spending excessive amounts of time alone with children, young people or vulnerable adults unless there are exceptional circumstances 
  • Never taking a child, young person or vulnerable adult to their home or travel alone with them
  • Not administering First Aid involving the removing of an individual’s clothing unless in the presence of others
  • Hold appropriate valid qualifications and insurance cover
  • Make activity fun
  • Adhere to the Clubs Player Announcement and Confidentiality Social Media policy at all times.

Staff and volunteers have the right to: 

  • Access on-going training and information on all aspects of leading/managing activities for young people and vulnerable adults, particularly on safeguarding
  • Support in the reporting of suspected abuse or poor practice 
  • Access to professional support services
  • Fair and equitable treatment by the  Club
  • Be protected from abuse by children, young people, other adults and parents
  • Not to be left vulnerable when working with children or vulnerable adults
Any minor misdemeanours and general misbehaviour will be dealt with immediately and reported verbally to the Head of Safeguarding and Welfare. Serious or persistent breach of the code will result in disciplinary action and could lead to dismissal from the the Club.

Refer to the Clubs Whistleblowing policy and Grievance and Disciplinary policies.

Emergency action and first aid 

All coaches, leaders and members should be prepared with an action plan in the event of an emergency and be aware of our First Aid Procedures. This will include:

  • Access to First Aid equipment 
  • Telephone contact if the participant is a minor 
  • Telephone contact to the Emergency Services

Management of safeguarding cases

The NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) assists sports the Clubs to achieve an agreed set of standards which provide frameworks for safeguarding the welfare of children and young people involved in sport. The same principles and standards will also be adopted by Aston Villa Football Club for safeguarding vulnerable adults.

A key requirement of the standards is for sports the Clubs to have procedures and systems in place to effectively manage complaints and concerns about the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults. These are collectively referred to as the case management process.

General principles of case management

1. Where, in a sport context, any issue arises in relation to child protection and safeguarding, the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults shall be the paramount consideration
2. Any investigation or inquiry is to proceed upon the basis that the primary consideration will be a determination of the risk posed to children, young people or vulnerable adults
3. Unless the determination finds no, or an insignificant, risk, effective steps must be taken to manage or reduce the risk
4. Individuals about whom there are concerns should be treated fairly and honestly and should be provided with support throughout the process

Investigation

5. Every investigation or inquiry must be sensitive to the welfare of the children, young people or vulnerable adult during its processes and, at all times, hold central the need to keep the interests of those directly involved as paramount
6. Where issues other than risk to children, young people or vulnerable adults are under consideration in any investigation or inquiry, such issues must remain subordinate to the requirement to determine the risk posed to children, young people or vulnerable adults

Risk assessment

7. The assessment of risk involves consideration of the actual or potential harm that an individual poses to a child, young person or vulnerable adult 
8. The assessment of risk does not involve making a finding based upon either the criminal or civil standards of proof (i.e. certainty or “the balance of probabilities”). The assessment requires a defensible decision that a risk does or does not exist and, where it does, a determination of the extent of such risk
9. Save in exceptional cases, the assessment will not require the production of a formal risk assessment report

Risk management

10. The steps taken to address any perceived risk to children, young people or vulnerable adult must have regard to the nature and extent of the risk as well as to any particular and relevant aspects of the activity in question and, in the light of this, must seek to ensure that such steps will be effective
11. In cases where the perceived risk is low, and no criminal or disciplinary charge could be made out, it may be nonetheless necessary to impose stringent restrictions on an individual or remove his/her ability to participate in the activity in question.

Responding to Disclosure

If a child, young person or vulnerable adult informs a member of staff directly or a member of staff identifies that they are concerned about someone’s behaviour towards them, this is known as disclosure. This disclosure may be relating to an incident or incidents either during the Aston Villa Football Club activity, or outside of the activity environment. The person receiving the disclosure should:

  • React calmly so as not to frighten the individual
  • Tell the individual that he or she is not to blame and that they were right to share their concerns
  • Take what the individual says seriously
  • If the individual needs immediate medical treatment, take them to hospital or telephone for an ambulance, inform doctors of concern and ensure they are aware that is a child protection issue (as outlined in the referral procedure diagram)
  • Ensure the immediate safety of the individual in question
  • Avoid leading the individual in questioning and keep any questions to the absolute minimum. Ask only what is necessary to ensure a clear understanding of what has been said
  • Re-assure the individual but do not make promises of confidentiality or outcome, which might not be feasible in the light of subsequent developments
  • In the event of suspicion of sexual abuse do not let the child bath or shower until given permission to do so. Washing can destroy evidence
  • Inform parents/carers immediately unless there is a specific reason not to e.g. the individual has named the parent/carer as the abuser. If this is the case then contact the Club’s welfare officer. If they are unavailable, staff should contact local Social Services or the Police for guidance
  • The judgment about whether an incident is one of abuse or poor practice may not be able to be made at the point of referral, but only after the collection of relevant information by someone appropriately trained and skilled
  • Make a full written record of what was said, seen and heard as soon as you can. (using the Club’s Child Protection Incident Report Form) 
In the event of a disclosure, staff should not:
  • Dismiss the concern
  • Panic
  • Allow your shock or distaste to show
  • Probe for more information than is offered
  • Speculate or make assumptions
  • Make negative comments about the alleged abuser
  • Make promises or agree to keep secrets
  • Ask  the child, young person, vulnerable adult or any witnesses to sign your written information as this may be significantly detrimental to any subsequent police investigation
Do not take photographs of any alleged injuries.  Any such recording must only be done by an approved medical or other practitioner, following referral.

Other Disclosures

There may be instances where a fellow member of staff, friend or carer of a child, young person or vulnerable adult may disclose a concern about the welfare of a young person.

In this instance the same protocol should be followed regarding reporting procedures, and it should be made clear on the referral form by whom the disclosure was made.

This Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Policy should be made available for all key stakeholders upon request, to ensure individuals and the Clubs are aware of the Aston Villa Football Club reporting procedure for safeguarding concerns.

Reporting Procedure

All allegations or suspicions and concerns are to be treated seriously. No abuse is acceptable. Some Safeguarding concerns may indicate the commission of a criminal offence and must be reported to the Police as soon as possible.

It is the responsibility of the individual employee or volunteer to take a lead on reporting all concerns to the Head of Safeguarding and Welfare to assist in any further action required on behalf of the Club. A copy of the referral process for staff and volunteers is available in Appendix 1 and 2.

Information should be shared with the Head of Safeguarding and Welfare, who must approve any actions to be taken and any documentation or correspondence being sent out.

Employees with concerns should discuss them with the Head of Safeguarding and Welfare immediately. If the Head of Safeguarding and Welfare is not available, then any concerns should be discussed with the Head of Foundation, who will then seek advice if necessary from other nominated welfare professionals (Birmingham City Council, Football League and the Football Association).
Volunteers with concerns should discuss these discreetly with their coordinator or the Head of Safeguarding and Welfare as soon as possible after the abuse or suspicions of abuse are observed. If unavailable then any concerns should be discussed with the Head of Foundation.

Concerns about colleagues should be addressed initially with Head of Safeguarding and Welfare, but if this is not possible or the concern is about the Head of Safeguarding and Welfare or other Senior member of staff, then any concerns should be discussed directly with Birmingham City Council, Birmingham County FA and the Football League.

Where there is evidence of immediate harm then the employee should phone 999 and report the incident to the Police.

Information Sharing

If there is a reasonable concern that a child may be at risk of significant harm this will always override a professional agency requirement to keep information confidential.

If Aston Villa Football Club are approached about sharing information, the following will be considered:

  • What information do they need?\
  • Why they need it
  • What they will do with the information?
  • Who else needs to be informed if concerns about the individual persist?
If we are asked to provide information we will never refuse solely on the grounds that all information is confidential. 

Aston Villa Football Club will consider:
  • What information the individual in question has given permission to use
  • Any perceived risk to the individual which would warrant breaching confidentiality 
  • Any relevant information on risk to the individual, which would allow another agency to offer appropriate help and services or take action to reduce risk to the child
  • Whether to ask advice from Birmingham City Council or Birmingham County FA or the Football League Welfare Officers

Aston Villa Football Club will record when, what, why, and with who information has been shared; or why sharing was refused. This is recorded as the Club may be required to justify reasons at a later date.

Staff should always seek advice if unsure and never refuse to provide information without considering the risks of not sharing. All decisions on information sharing will ultimately fall with the Aston Villa Head of Safeguarding and Welfare.

Birmingham Referrals

In Birmingham, the contact referral numbers are:

  • To refer any child in need, including child protection concerns, during normal office hours (8.30am – 5.30pm Monday to Friday) ring Birmingham (CASS Team) on 0121 303 1888 or email Secure.cass@birmingham.gcsx.gov.uk
  • Out of normal hours (5.30pm - 8.30am and weekends) ring the Emergency Duty Team on 0121 675 4806
  • If you have reason to believe that a child is at immediate risk of harm, contact the police on 999 or for the West Midlands Police Child Abuse Investigation Team contact 024 7653 9044. 
Warwickshire Referrals

In Warwickshire, we will adopt the processes and procedures as outlined in the Warwickshire Safeguarding Children Board (WSCB) Inter-agency Safeguarding procedures. These can be found at www.warwickshire.gov.uk/wscbresources

The process to follow when making a referral in Warwickshire is:

  • Make it clear you are making a Child Protection Referral and ask for the relevant local Children's Team. There is not currently the facility to receive referrals by email, therefore all referrals should be made to the Safeguarding Business Unit of the People Group of the County Council on 01926 410410
  • Out of hours, the Emergency Duty Team should be contacted on 01926 886922

Worcestershire Referrals Staffordshire Referrals

Worcestershire can be contacted via an online enquiry form at ylyc.worcestershire.gov.uk or by telephone on 01905 763763.

Staffordshire Referrals

Staffordshire first response team can be contacted on 0800 1313 126. Emergency out of hours number is 0345 604 2886. Staffordshire can be contacted by email on firstr@staffordshire.gov.uk
When making a referral regarding child protection concerns, it is important to have the following information wherever possible readily available for the duty social worker: 

  • Name, date of birth, ethnic origin, gender of the child, address and telephone numbers
  • The reasons for your concern
  • Injuries and/or other indicators observed
  • The child’s first language
  • Details of any specific needs of the child, e.g. disability, etc.
  • Details of family members, if known
  • Other agencies, professionals involved
  • Family doctor

Staff in children's teams will make enquiries with other agencies who may have information regarding the child (or vulnerable adult) and family.   On the basis of the information gathered, they will then make an initial assessment on what further action is necessary or appropriate.

Whenever children's teams receive information about a possible criminal offence against a child, they will share the information with the Police at the earliest opportunity and a decision will be made jointly on how to proceed with the enquiries.

Following the referral of a child, the referrer and the children's team must be clear about who will be taking what action.

Professionals who contact a children's team to make a referral must confirm the details of this in writing within 24 hours addressed to the children's team for that locality, using the Confirmation of Child Protection Referral form.

The team should acknowledge a written referral within one working day of receiving it, so if we have not heard within three working days, contact the children's team again.

The safeguarding and welfare officer for Aston Villa Football Club is:

Maggie Martin Head of Safeguarding and Welfare
Tel: 07827300798 

Other key contacts are:

Birmingham County FA Welfare Officer: Richard Watson. 0121 3574278
The English Football League Welfare Officer: Alex Richards, 01772325940

Useful Contacts/Support 

If you have concern that a child is being harmed as a result of abuse or neglect, you must not keep these concerns to yourself. Keeping children and vulnerable adults safe is everyone’s responsibility.

Staff must ensure that they speak to the appropriate the Clubs who can listen to and record the concerns, and then take appropriate action. 

Useful contacts 
• NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000 
• ChildLine 0800 1111 / www.childline.org.uk 
• Kidscape www.kidscape.org.uk 
• Anti-Bullying Alliance www.antibullyingalliance.org

Reviewed on: 11th April 2017
Next review date: 11th April 2018
Reviewed there after: 11th April 2019

A full copy of the policy which includes allegation management and incident reporting flowcharts can be found below.

Aston Villa Safeguarding Policy.

AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 1st January 0001