Policy document

Safeguarding Policy

Published 21 May 2021

Safeguarding children and young people

The Children Act 1989 states that every child has a right to protection from abuse, neglect and exploitation. Statutory guidance on making arrangements to safeguard and promote the welfare of children under the Children Act 2004 came into force on 1 October 2005.

Our duties under the Act are:

  1. To co-operate to improve children’s wellbeing: Section 10 of the Act requires as a relevant partner we will cooperate, so far as our statutory duties permit, to improving the child’s wellbeing, as envisaged by Section 10 of the Act
  2. To safeguard and promote the welfare of children: Section 11 requires a range of organisations (including district councils) to make arrangements for ensuring that their functions, and services provided on their behalf, are discharged with regard to the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children.
  3. Expectations include:
    • The commitment of the Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) to the importance of safeguarding and the promotion of wellbeing and clear accountability for work on safeguarding and promoting wellbeing.
    • A clear statement of responsibility to employees and elected Members (contained in this policy),
    • Take the voice of children and young people into account to help shape services.
    • Safe recruitment procedures for those who work with or come into contact with children and young people and vulnerable adults.
    • Provide appropriate training, learning and development for employees.
    • Ensure effective working relationships are in place, both within the authority and with other agencies to safeguard and promote wellbeing, and to share information effectively and appropriately.

Safeguarding adults at risk

The legal responsibilities for safeguarding adults at risk of abuse or neglect are set out in Part 1 of the Care Act 2014 with Care and Support Statutory Guidance issued in 2014 to support implementation.

Kent County Council is the lead agency which provides social care services. we are a key partner and have a duty to co-operate in order to protect adults from abuse or neglect. In exercising their duties Kent County Council must:

  • Make Safeguarding Enquiries: or request others to make them, if an adult is subject to or at risk of abuse or neglect.
  • Establish a Safeguarding Adults Board: which develops, shares and implements a joint safeguarding strategy
  • Carry out Safeguarding Adult Reviews (SARs): when an adult dies as a result of abuse or neglect, whether known or suspected, and there is concern that partner agencies could have worked more effectively to protect the adult. Or if an adult has not died, it is known or suspected that the adult has experienced serious abuse or neglect.
  • Arrange an independent advocate: to represent and support an adult who is subject to a Safeguarding Enquiry or Adult Review
  • Co-operate with its relevant partners: in order to protect adults experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect.

All sectors, including district councils are expected to apply the following six key principles in their adult safeguarding role:

  • Empowerment: people being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and be able to give informed consent.
  • Prevention: it is better and more cost effective to take action before harm occurs.
  • Proportionality: provide the least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
  • Protection: support and representation for those in greatest need
  • Partnership: local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse
  • Accountability: accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding

Safeguarding activity should be person-led and outcome-focused. It is about engaging the person in a conversation on how best to respond to their safeguarding situation in a way that enhances involvement, choice and control as well as improving quality of life, wellbeing and safety.

Roles and accountability

Whilst safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, there are several key roles that partner agencies and employees within MBC hold.

Kent County Council (KCC) is the lead authority for safeguarding children and adults at risk. The Specialist Children’s Services and Adult Care and Support Service are responsible for making enquiries in to allegations of abuse and neglect, determining whether it has or has not taken place and taking action to protect the child or vulnerable adult.

Kent Safeguarding Children Board sets out how different partner agencies should co-operate to safeguard children and has a role in making sure that arrangements work effectively for the purposes of safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.

Kent and Medway Safeguarding Adults Board makes sure that all member agencies are working together to help keep adults safe from harm and protect their rights.

Kent Police has a duty to investigate criminal offences and refer any suspicion, allegation or disclosure that a child or vulnerable adult is suffering and likely to suffer significant harm to Kent County Council.

Maidstone Borough Council’s Chief Executive Officer has ultimate accountability for safeguarding; this means ensuring that employees and elected Members comply with the principles contained in this policy and providing assurance that the Council complies with its statutory requirements. The CEO discharges these functions by appointing a Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) who is the Housing and Inclusion Manager.

MBC’s Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO) and Deputy Designated Safeguarding Officer (DDSO) are senior officers who lead on all safeguarding issues and acts as the child and adult protection professional on behalf of MBC. Their responsibilities include:

  • Supporting the CEO and Wider Leadership Team to provide strategic direction for the safeguarding agenda including the protection of children and adults at risk.
  • Champion the importance of safeguarding and promote the welfare of children and adults at risk throughout the Council including providing quarterly updates to the Internal Safeguarding Board.
  • Ensure compliance with legislation including that contained within section 11 of the Children Act 2004, Part 1 of the Care Act 2014 and Government guidance.
  • Ensure that there is an up to date policy and procedure in place relating to MBC’s roles and responsibilities for the safeguarding and protection of children and adults at risk.
  • Ensure that employee and Member training is both available, undertaken and refreshed as required.
  • Provide advice and support to staff to discuss concerns and ensure those concerns are responded appropriately.
  • Represent MBC at inter-agency meetings and liaise with other organisations as necessary.

MBC Safeguarding Champions work with the Designated Safeguarding Officer to provide advice and support to colleagues to ensure that concerns are responded to quickly and correctly. Each Champion agrees to undertake additional training to be able to perform this role. The Champions meet on a quarterly basis to share the best practices and awareness of current topics and issues.

MBC’s Internal Safeguarding Meeting: monitors this policy and any safeguarding referrals which are made by the Council. Chaired by a senior officer, this group meets quarterly to discuss any reports of abuse or neglect raised through the reporting system, whilst ensuring that MBC is taking its safeguarding responsibilities seriously and complying with legal requirements.

Human Resources: works to ensure that stringent recruitment procedures are in place for ensuring safe working practices and that safe recruitment practices are followed for job roles that may involve working with children and adults.

Line Managers: ensure that appropriate checks are made for all job roles that involve working with children and adults at risk. They also carry out the correct induction process for all new employees including booking the appropriate training and ensuring they are made aware of this policy and have the appropriate ongoing training. Line managers will also be responsible for ongoing discussions during day to day management of their teams.

All employees, contractors, volunteers and Members: ensure that the activities which they are involved in during their work are carried out in accordance with this policy and that they follow any guidance relating to it and to have undertaken basic safeguarding training, such as the ELMS training packages.

Safeguarding champions

Safeguarding Champions have been introduced across the authority to ensure that any safeguarding concerns are quickly and adequately responded to and to assist the DSO in ensuring the Council is compliant with its requirements.

Each Champion is required to be trained to a level which ensures they are competent and an understanding of Safeguarding with confidence. Their roles will include:

  • Promoting awareness of good safeguarding practices in their department;
  • Be a source of advice and support to assist colleagues in responding to any concerns;
  • Ensure that referrals are made to the right agencies;
  • Ensure that an internal safeguarding notification is completed via the Safeguarding Portal on the intranet and;
  • Attend the quarterly Safeguarding Champions meetings as and when they’re required.

The training covers professional curiosity, Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and good practices, such as keeping suitable case notes and the thresholds required for a referral to be made to children’s services, the practices being virtually identical for adults.

The log of current safeguarding champion’s can be found on the Intranet.

Children: Recognising abuse and neglect

Safeguarding children is defined in Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 as:

  • Protecting children from maltreatment
  • Preventing impairment of children's health or development
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care; and
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

A child is anyone under the age of 18 years. The fact that a child has reached 16 years of age, is living independently or is in further education, is a member of the armed forces, is in hospital or in custody in the secure estate, does not change his/her status or entitlements to services or protection.

If you are worried about a child or become aware of a child in need, then please contact Kent County Council on 03000 42 23 40 or via email MaidstoneEarlyHelp@kent.gov.uk

If you feel there is an urgent concern this should be addressed immediately please call the police on 999 or for non-emergencies 101.

Child sexual exploitation (CSE)

Sexual exploitation of children and young people involve exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities.

If you have any concerns in relation to CSE these should be discussed immediately with your Safeguarding Champion, Line Manager or the DSO within the Council. Appropriate follow up will then commence most probably with a report to the police or via the Kent Safeguarding Board. In Maidstone, the Community Safety Unit from the local police station sits within the Community Protection Team, so advice can be sought through this means too.

Missing children

Every situation is different and there are no set rules about when a child should be considered missing; however if you are concerned about a very young child you should contact the emergency services immediately via 999. For young people, if you have any doubts about whether to formally report them missing, for example, when a teenager fails to return after a time they have agreed, contact the police.

Adults: Recognising abuse and neglect

The Multi-Agency Safeguarding Adults Policy, Protocols and Practitioner Guidance for Kent & Medway, provides a guide to the various categories of abuse and details the indicators. The main categories of abuse include:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Psychological
  • Financial or material
  • Discriminatory
  • Exploitation
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Isolation or withdrawal from services or support networks
  • Neglect and acts of omission
  • Self-neglect and self-injurious behaviour
  • Modern Slavery
  • Human Trafficking
  • Domestic Abuse

Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person or persons. Abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, class or ethnicity. Abuse may be a single act or repeated over a period and affect one person or more. It may take one form or a multiple of forms or follow a pattern of abuse. The lack of appropriate action can also be a form of abuse.

Neglect is a failure to care for someone with whom you have a responsibility to care for or represent, for example, by failing to provide adequate food, clothing, medical aid or accommodation. It can be a form of abuse if it is intentional, however, not all incidents of neglect are intentional and may be because a care giver is finding it hard to cope or is not receiving sufficient help.

Self-neglect & hoarding

Self-neglect or self-injurious behaviour covers a wide range of behaviour where a person neglects to care for one’s own personal hygiene, health or surroundings, this can often have a negative effect on the wider community and sometimes exhibits as anti-social behaviour, while not exhaustive the list includes behaviours such as;

  • Obsessive hoarding;
  • Living in very unclean, sometimes verminous circumstances;
  • Neglecting household maintenance, thereby creating hazards within and surrounding the property;
  • Erratic or eccentric behaviour/lifestyles;
  • Declining or refusing prescribed medication and / or other community healthcare support;
  • Repeated episodes of anti-social behaviour – either as a victim or perpetrator.

An individual may be considered as self-neglecting and therefore maybe at risk of harm where they are:

  • Either unable, or unwilling to provide adequate care for themselves,
  • Not engaging with a network of support,
  • Unable to or unwilling to obtain necessary care to meet their needs,
  • Unable to make reasonable, informed or mentally capacitated decisions due to mental disorder (including hoarding behaviours), illness or an acquired brain injury,
  • Unable to protect themselves adequately against potential exploitation or abuse,
  • Refusing essential support without which their health and safety needs cannot be met, and the individual lacks the insight to recognise this.

If you identify someone who you believe is self-neglecting seek advice from a Safeguarding Champion or the DSO. A referral to Adult Social Services may be needed. Any concerns or referrals must be recorded on the Safeguarding Portal on the intranet.

Modern slavery

This encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. Traffickers and slave drivers coerce, deceive and force individuals against their will into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

From 1 November 2015, public authorities have a duty to notify the Secretary of State of any individual identified in England and Wales as a suspected victim of modern slavery. This duty includes district councils and applies to both children and adult victims. The information provided in a notification will be used to build a better picture of modern slavery in England and Wales, and to improve law enforcement response, by sharing the information with the National Crime Agency and other law enforcement agencies.

The Home Office Guidance: duty to notify the Home Office of potential victim of slavery, should be referred to and a notification made via email or call the Modern Slavery Helpline: 0800 0121 700.

This notification does not replace a safeguarding referral and should not be relied upon to safeguard an individual at risk. The existing safeguarding processes, as set out in this policy, should therefore still be followed in tandem with a notification.

Mental health and suicide

The term mental health can be defined in a number of ways, some centre on a person’s positive psychological wellbeing; others describe it as the absence of mental illness or mental health issues.

There are different types of mental illness, some of which are common, such as depression and anxiety disorders, and some which are not as common, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. However, mental illness, as with any health difficulty, cause disability, which is sometime severe. This is not always well understood by people who have never experienced a mental illness.

Suicide

Suicide is a major public health issue, each year people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds die as a result of taking their own life. Many more experience suicidal thoughts at one time or another.

Suicide is preventable. Most suicidal people do not want to die; they simply do not want to live with the pain they are experiencing any longer. We can learn to spot the warning signs so we can help identify and support anyone that experiences suicidal thoughts and sign post them to agencies and services who can help them.

The Council is committed to ensuring that all employees are fully supported with mental health therefore in partnership with Mental Health England the Council has trained some staff members in Mental Health First Aid (MHFA). The MHFA will also help them to deal with mental health situations with external customers/public, however this is not the primary purpose of the role. The first aid is given until appropriate professional help is received or the crisis resolves.

More information on MHFA can be found on the intranet or read the MHFA Policy.

A list of MHFA providers can be found in the kitchen area within Maidstone House or online. At this time with staff working predominately from home, due to Covid 19, colleagues should email or ring first aiders for support and guidance.

Suicide Prevention

It is important to act promptly if you think that a client or someone you are in communication with is suffering from mental health issues and who may be considering suicide. Tell the person your concerns about them however understand the person may not want to talk to you, in this situation offer to help find them someone else to talk to.

If you can do so without breaking communication with the person contact a MHFA, a Safeguarding Champion or the DSO for advice. However if you suspect the person is actively seeking to take their own life and is at imminent risk call 999.

Find more information on our Suicide Prevention Groups page.

Disclosure and GDPR

If anyone discloses abuse or neglect, tell the person that:

  • You will treat the information seriously;
  • Reassure them that they did the right thing to tell you;
  • You have to inform an appropriate person;
  • You/the service will take steps to protect and support them;
  • Pass on the information to those with a legitimate need to know, such as your Line Manager, a Safeguarding Champion or the DSO.

Information gathering

Any referrals made must be as comprehensive as possible, hence the necessity for making a detailed report at the time of the disclosure/concern. Information included should cover the following as a minimum:

  • The nature of the allegation and a thorough account of the risk concern raised
  • The child or adult at risk’s account, if it can be given, of what has happened and how any bruising or other injuries occurred,
  • Witnesses to the incident(s),
  • Any times, dates or other relevant information,
  • A clear distinction between what is fact, opinion or hearsay.

When recording the incident of abuse or neglect:

  • Note what was said,
  • Describe the circumstances in which the disclosure came about,
  • Note the setting and anyone else who was there at the time,
  • Be aware that your report may be part of a legal action or disciplinary procedure,

Consent

If you are making a referral to access Kent County Council’s Children’s Services then consent should be obtained from the parent or guardian, unless there is an immediate or urgent risk concern. Should a parent or guardian refuse to consent to a referral being made, consideration should be given to the impact this may have on the level of concern for the child’s welfare, and the parent’s or guardian’s ability to meet the child’s needs. If the child is likely to be placed at increased risk by the lack of a referral then one should be made despite the lack of consent.

If you are making a referral, immediate advice should be sought from either a Safeguarding Champion or the Designated Safeguarding Officer on whether to advise the parent or carer about the referral. If you remain unsure you should seek a consultation from the KCC Integrated Front Door service.

Remember that the safety of the child is of paramount importance and consider whether informing a parent or guardian may place the child at increased risk or may compromise evidence gathering.

Mental Capacity

Every adult has the right to make their own decisions and it is assumed they have mental capacity unless it is proved otherwise by a formal mental capacity assessment undertaken by a trained professional.

Mental capacity is the ability to understand and retain the information relevant to a specific decision, to use the relevant information as part of the process of making that specific decision, to weigh up potential consequences and to communicate the decision, at the time the decision needs to be made.  When in communication with someone you must establish, to the best of your ability, whether the person understands what you are telling them and the risks that may apply to them.

GDPR

Find more information on our Safeguarding privacy notice page.

Further guidance can be found on the HM Government and the Kent and Medway Information agreement (ISA).

Domestic violence

Find more information on our Domestic violence page.

Extremism and radicalisation

Find more information on our Crime advice and information page under Prevent.

Referrals

Children

The Kent County Council Integrated Front Door brings together the Central Duty Team and Early Help Triage Team into a single integrated team that has been established to seek to ensure that KCC sends service requests to the appropriate destination and get the service need right first time for the majority of families. Out of Hours services can be contacted on 03000 41 91 91.

If there are concerns that a child may be suffering significant harm, or where seeking consent for a referral from the parent or guarding and discussing the concerns may place the child at an increased risk of harm, the information must be telephoned directly through on 03000 41 11 11 or to Kent Police via 999.

Adults

The Kent and Medway Multi-agency Safeguarding Adults Policy, Protocols and Guidance document has been re-developed to meet and work within the safeguarding adult lawful requirements set out in the Care Act 2014.

To check whether an adult at risk is known to Social Care Health and Wellbeing, please call the Central Referral Unit for a consultation: 03000 41 61 61. They will be able to confirm whether the adult is already has a Case Manager or Care Coordinator.

It is expected that professionals who raise a concern will complete the KASAF Stage 1 as fully as possible using all of the prompts provided within the form, to support the timely evaluation of the risks. Failure to do so may impede the process.

The Kent Adult Safeguarding Alert Form (KASAF) can be found on the KCC website.

If the adult is already known to Kent County Council, they will send the referral directly to the relevant Case Management Team, either the Learning Disability, Mental Health or Older Persons and Physical Disability Team.

Reporting a concern should not be delayed by an attempt to obtain more information. A summary of any consultation with, or referral to, the Central Referral Unit will be issued to the referring officer. This needs to be held on file and included on the alert raised on the Safeguarding Portal. Speak to a Safeguarding Champion or the DSO if you have any questions about how to do this.

If your concerns require urgent attention outside of normal office hours (8.30am-5.00pm Monday-Friday, excluding bank holidays) and cannot wait until the next working day contact the Out of Hours Team on 03000 41 91 91.

If a response is not received within 72 hours of making a referral, the referring officer should follow up with the Central Referral Unit or the relevant case management team. If a case has been referred to the Police due to an immediate risk of harm or emergency, the Police crime report number should be noted and included in case notes and on the Safeguarding Portal.

Before making a referral consider speaking to a Safeguarding Champion or the DSO for advice (see section 5.4 above). Any referrals made need to be recorded on the Safeguarding Portal.

Escalating a referral

On rare occasions MBC employees may feel that the response to a referral does not represent, in their opinion, the best course of action in relation to the referred case. If so, then concerns should be raised with the DSO.

The DSO will make the final decision whether a case will be referred back to Kent County Council, expressing MBC’s continuing concerns in relation to the welfare of the individual(s) concerned and may bring the case in question to the attention of the Internal Safeguarding Board members.

Abuse involving staff

Any accusation made about an employee, volunteer or member being involved in abuse towards a child or adult should be reported to their Line Manager, a Head of Service, Corporate Leadership Team or the Designated Safeguarding Officer immediately. Alternatively concerns may also be reported according to MBC’s Whistleblowing Policy. At times Kent Police, Kent County Council or the regulatory authorities may be alerted regarding the suspected abuse.

Formal HR and investigative procedures will be followed if an allegation of abuse is made.  Irrespective of the findings of the Kent County Council or of Police inquiries, MBC will assess all individual cases under disciplinary procedures to decide whether an employee has breached MBC policy and will reach a decision based on the available information and decide on a balance of probability whether an allegation is founded. The welfare of the child or adult at risk will always remain paramount.

Complaints

Find more information on our Complaints Policy page.

Safe recruitment

All MBC employees will be appointed in accordance with its Recruitment and Selection Policy and Procedures and its policy on Disclosures Barring Service (DBS) checks on employees. These are designed to provide a rigorous and thorough selection process and to carry out all necessary checks, particularly on individuals seeking to work with children, young people and adults at risk.

There are three types of Disclosure Barring Service (DBS) checks: standard, enhanced and enhanced with a barred list check. MBC requires employees to have an enhanced DBS check if they have unsupervised contact with children, young people and adults at risk or fulfil a safeguarding role such as a Designated Safeguarding Officer.

Line Managers are responsible for deciding which of their employees require a DBS check and for ensuring that DBS checks are kept up to date, through liaising with Human Resources.

For contractors and agency staff, MBC has a policy of requiring all relevant contractors and agency staff who have access/contact with children, young people and adults at risk to undergo an enhanced DBS check. The contract must stipulate whether a current DBS disclosure is required.

Training

Employees must accept and be able to recognise their responsibilities with regard to their own good practice and the reporting of signs of suspected abuse or neglect to either the Police or Kent County Council and understand MBC’s statutory obligation to ensure confirmation is received from Kent County Council that any referrals made are being actively dealt with.

MBC provides training and development opportunities to all members of staff and Members. As a minimum level of training all staff are expected to complete the ELMS eLearning courses for Safeguarding Children, Safeguarding Adults and Prevent.  Managers are expected to ensure staff have completed the eLearning packages and that they themselves have completed the Safer Recruitment training.

More in-depth training is available which is provided through the Kent Safeguarding Children’s Board. This training is set over four levels as set out below;

  • Level 0 – No contact with children/young people, vulnerable adults and/or their parents or carers.
  • Level 1 - Limited contact with children/young people, vulnerable adults/and/or parents/carers ­with no unsupervised contact.
  • Level 2 - Regular contact with children/young people/vulnerable adults and/or parents/carers or any unsupervised contact
  • Level 3 - Professional advisers and designated leads for children’s and/or vulnerable adults safeguarding irrespective of the level of contact with children/young people/vulnerable adults and/or parents/carers.

Staff acting as Safeguarding Champions will be required to refresh their training every two years, and should be documented within their appraisals.

Equal opportunities

The Equality Act 2010 places a legal obligation on public authorities to have due regard to the need to eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation; to advance equality of opportunity; and to foster good relations, between persons with different protected characteristics.

The protected characteristics are age, disability, gender reassignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex, and sexual orientation.

We will have full and proper regard to the Equality Act 2010 when making safeguarding referrals under this policy, so to avoid any possible indirect discriminatory impact on particular groups.

Contact

You can contact the Chair of the MBC Internal Safeguarding board; John Littlemore, our Deputy Designated Safeguarding Officer (DDSO); Sarah Ward or our Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSO); Hannah Gaston at:

Maidstone Borough Council,
Maidstone House,
King Street,
ME156JQ

Phone:

Email:

Alternatively, visit the Kent County Council to report the abuse.