The University of Sussex Students’ Union values and encourages the involvement of students in all its services and activities. Occasionally these students, or the work of these students, may include children, young people or adults at risk, whose involvement and input to the Union is also encouraged and appreciated. Through its safeguarding policy the Students’ Union is committed to promoting the wellbeing and enjoyment of everyone involved, and protecting the health, safety and general welfare of all while in the company of Students’ Union staff, elected officers or representatives and volunteers.
The Students’ Union aims to treat all students fairly and with equality of opportunity, and as a student’s age or vulnerable status will not always be evident the Students’ Union extends the best practices for dealing with children, young people or adults at risk to all students whilst at the same time acknowledging their independence and autonomy.
Children, young people and adults at risk may be involved with Students’ Union staff, elected officers or representatives and/or volunteers through a variety of services or activities. In promoting this policy the Students’ Union is keen to take reasonable steps to:
Provide a friendly, secure and comfortable environment for the benefit and enjoyment of all students and visitors taking into consideration the needs of all concerned and our additional duty of care towards children, young people and adults at risk
Promote the safety of children, young people and adults at risk and any students in contact with the Students’ Union.
Promote the safety and support of staff, elected officers or representatives and volunteers who have contact with the above.
The Students’ Union’s safeguarding policy and procedure apply to all aspects of our activity, including USSU Trading Ltd. It will apply to all those involved in the Students’ Union, including members, staff, visitors, clients, contractors, consultants, partners, customers, and potential as well as existing employees.
A child: is anyone under 18 (or under 16 if in employment) (Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000)
A young person: is anyone between 16 and 18 (Churches’ Child Protection Advisory Service).
An adult at risk: is anyone over 18 who i) has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs); ii) is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and iii) as a result of those needs is unable to protect themselves against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it (Care Act 2014)
We do not assume that all children, young people or adults at risk are automatically unable to cope or at risk.
The general principles behind this policy are:
The fundamental principle, both in law and good practice, is that whenever the interests of a child, young person or adult at risk are involved, their welfare must always be paramount
The Students’ Union aims to foster an environment whereby anyone is able to raise any concerns about the safety or wellbeing of any individuals participating in or benefiting from its services and activities and that there will be adequate procedures in place to address these concerns
Overall responsibility for implementation of this policy lies with the Head of Campaigns and Representation
It is the responsibility of every Line Manager to implement the policy and ensure staff and volunteers in their area are aware of, and comply with this policy
The HR department is responsible for providing adequate provisions for recruitment, selection and ongoing supervision of staff and volunteers that comply with employment law, equality and diversity and selection guidance. Safeguarding and child protection training should be delivered as appropriate, and DBS checks will be required for those who have substantial contact with children, young people and adults at risk. DBS checks will not automatically be required for staff, elected officers or representatives or union volunteers coming into contact with young students or those at risk in the course of normal Union activity
The Director of Operations is responsible for all health and safety considerations, including that enhanced duty of care as required for children, young people and adults at risk is acknowledged and incorporated into policies and risk assessments for activities and departments
If you have any questions about the content or application of this policy, you should contact the Head of Campaigns and Representation to request training or further information
Procedure for raising a safeguarding concern
In line with the University of Sussex Students’ Union’s safeguarding policy, all union representatives have a duty to raise any safeguarding concerns with an appropriate contact.
This applies in all instances where you have any concern, suspicion or allegation that either a child, young person or adult at risk has been, is being, or is likely to be subjected to harm, abuse or neglect, or is at risk of harming themselves or others.
If you are concerned about the safety or wellbeing of someone (even if you are not sure whether or not there is actually a safeguarding concern), and where there is no imminent risk of danger or harm, then you should contact one of the Key Safeguarding Contacts as soon as possible. They will talk through the situation with you and decide whether or not it is a safeguarding concern and what action, if any, should be taken.
The Key Safeguarding Contacts in the Union are:
If a safeguarding concern arises outside of normal working hours then you should still contact a Key Safeguarding Contact using the mobile phone numbers listed on the ‘Who to contact with a safeguarding concern’ document on the drive. If you are unable to get through to one of the contacts then you should proceed to another until you are able to reach someone.
Where you are concerned that there is an imminent risk of danger or harm you should use the appropriate emergency contact from the list below, and then immediately contact a key Safeguarding Contact
If the person you are concerned about is on campus:
Campus Security 01273 (87)3333 or dial 3333 from an internal phone. There are also emergency phones located around campus which put you straight through to Security. The Security Office is located in York House.
If the person you are concerned about is off campus:
The Emergency Services 999
2. Procedure for handling reports
Upon receiving a report, a Key Safeguarding Contact should seek to gather information regarding the matter sufficient only to make a judgement as to whether there is a safeguarding concern, and if so, whether there may be a duty to report the matter to external services.
In all instances (including those which do not constitute a direct safeguarding concern), the Key Safeguarding Contact should seek to ascertain whether there may be assistance which could be offered to anyone associated with the situation, in accordance with the Union’s general duty of care to students and other users of Union services (for example, signposting to campus or external support services).
Key Safeguarding Contacts should ensure that a written record of all reports (including a brief summary of the issue and any advice given or action taken) is made using the appropriate reporting tool. Care should be taken to ensure that records are confidential and secure, in accordance with the agreed recording protocols and GDPR requirements.
Key Safeguarding Contacts should ensure their regular attendance at safeguarding meetings in order to discuss cases and ensure that a consistent approach to safeguarding issues is maintained across the Union.
The University of Sussex Students’ Union understands confidentiality to mean that no identifying sensitive personal information disclosed to a representative of the Union by any student engaging in Union activities, societies and events and/or using Union services shall be given directly or indirectly to any organisation or individual external to the Union, without that students' expressed consent to disclose such information.
We recognise that occasions may arise where representatives of the Union feel they need to breach confidentiality. An example of such an occasion would be if we felt there was a serious risk of harm, either to the student or to others, such as outlined in the safeguarding policy.
Where a representative of the Union feels that confidentiality should be breached the following steps must be taken:
If there is imminent risk
Where a representative of the Union feels that there is an immediate danger of harm, either to a student themself or to others, they should use the appropriate emergency contact (873333 if the person they are concerned about is on campus, 999 if the person they are concerned about is off campus), and then immediately contact a Key Safeguarding Contact. The Key Safeguarding Contact will follow the procedure in 2-4 below but will do so retrospectively
If there is no imminent risk
2. The representative should raise the matter immediately with a Key Safeguarding Contact and discuss with them why they feel confidentiality should be breached. The Key Safeguarding Contact should take written notes of this discussion
3. The Key Safeguarding Contact is responsible for making a decision on whether confidentiality should be breached in the circumstances and should take a written note of this decision
4. If the Key Safeguarding Contact decides that confidentiality is to be breached then they should take the following steps:
4.1 The Key Safeguarding Contact should contact either the Chief Executive of the Students’ Union or one of the heads of department and brief them on the full facts of the case and their decision to breach confidentiality. The Chief Executive or department head can override this decision if they do not feel that the circumstances of the case warrant breaching a student’s confidentiality. Both the key safeguarding contact and the Chief Executive or department head should take written notes of the discussion and decision
4.2 The Key Safeguarding Contact should take detailed notes accurately recording all conversations, decisions and actions taken in relation to the case. These notes should be stored securely and confidentially
A student is fully entitled to complain about a decision to breach their confidentiality using the Students’ Union’s complaints procedure
Some actions, no matter how well intentioned, may be misinterpreted and leave all parties at risk. The following is a quick reference guide to appropriate behaviour when working with children, young people and adults at risk.
Students’ Union representatives should:
Be alert to any potential harm or inappropriate behaviour
Always speak to a Key Safeguarding Contact if they have concerns about an individual's safety - If there is any imminent risk of harm, either to the person themself or to others, report the risk to the appropriate number (3333 if on campus, 999 if off-campus) first before informing a Key Safeguarding Contact as soon as possible
Allow time and space for individuals to raise any concerns, letting the person talk and listening carefully without questioning the truth of what the person is saying
Try to obtain all the information needed to understand the situation without making any assumptions or judgements about what has happened or starting to investigate
Respect individuals’ rights to privacy but never promise to keep something secret - there will be times when confidentiality must be breached in line with this procedure
Undertake a risk assessment prior to any project, activity or event involving children, young people or adults at risk
Avoid being alone for substantial periods of time with children, young people and adults at risk. Where one-to-one work is necessary they should inform another staff member where they are going, with whom and for how long
Be aware that physical contact with a child, young person or adult at risk, however well-intentioned, may be misinterpreted. If the touching is in a sporting situation, it should be in accordance with the guidelines provided by the appropriate National Governing Body
Carefully plan and consider sleeping arrangements before any residential activities. Whilst it is recommended that separate accommodation be provided for different genders, consideration must also be given to ensuring that an inclusive environment is provided for all and that the needs and preferences of any transgender and non-binary participants are met
Be aware that ‘abuse of a position of trust’ is a serious issue and ensure that they do not take advantage of any power imbalance arising from their position as a member of staff, elected officer or representative or union volunteer
Never show favouritism to, or become too closely associated with any individuals participating in or benefiting from the Union’s services and activities
Never permit abusive behaviour by others or engage in it themselves (e.g. ridiculing, bullying and hazing) or allow or engage in suggestive remarks, gestures or touching of a kind that could be misunderstood
Ensure that all contact with any individuals participating in or benefiting from the Union’s services and activities is conducted in an appropriate setting and only use official Union or individual work email or social media channels - never use personal accounts
Adhere to the safeguarding policies and procedures of any external organisations they are working with
For more specific guidance please see either the elected officer and trustee handbook, staff handbook or volunteer handbook as appropriate
Relevant Legislation and Resources
This policy is guided by the following legislation:
The Children’s Act 2004
The Care Act 2014
Freedom of Information Act 2000
Data Protection Act 1988
Care Standards Act 2000
Human Rights Act 1988
Education Act 2002
Children’s Act 1989
Criminal Justice Act 2003
Crime and Disorder Act 1998
Mental Capacity Act 2005
Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
National Health Service Act 2006
Local Government Act 2000
Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006
Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000
Protection of Freedoms Act 2012
GOV.UK: Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees
Sussex Child Protection and Safeguarding Procedures: Definitions of abuse
Sussex Safeguarding Adults Policy and Procedures: Definitions of abuse