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Port Vale Child Protection & Safeguarding Policy

Child Protection and Safeguarding Statement

Port Vale Football Club is committed to safeguarding children and young people and we expect everyone who works at the club to share this commitment. This policy sets out how we will deliver these responsibilities.

What to do in response to a concern, incident or allegation:


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Port Vale Safeguarding Network:


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Policy Statement:

  1. This policy is written in accordance with the requirements of Working Together 2018, Keeping Children Safe in Education 2019 and the Standards for Safeguarding and Protecting Children in Sport produced by the NSPCC and Sport England and the Protection of Freedom Act 2012.


  1. These procedures apply to all children/young people under the age of 18 years and adults at risk aged 18 years or over. They all have equal rights to protection regardless of age, gender, ability, culture, race, language, religion or sexual identity. All staff and volunteers will treat them with respect and dignity throughout their time at the club and will support their needs sensitively.


  1. Working Together to Safeguard Children (WT, 2018) sets out the legislative requirements and expectations on individual organisations to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and should be read in conjunction with this policy. A key principle of effective safeguarding arrangements is that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility.


  1. Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 states:

Everyone who works with children has a responsibility for keeping them safe…In order that organisations, agencies and practitioners collaborate effectively, it is vital that everyone working with children and families, including those who work with parents/carers, understands the role they should play and the role of other practitioners. They should be aware of, and comply with, the published arrangements set out by the local safeguarding partners (P, 11)”.  

  1. The Care Act 2014 sets out the legislative requirements and expectations for how local authorities should protect adults at risk of abuse. There are six key principles which underpin adult safeguarding:
  • Empowerment
  • Prevention
  • Proportionality
  • Protection
  • Partnership
  • Accountability
  1. Port Vale Football Club is committed to ensuring the welfare and safety of all children, young people and adults at risk involved in or visiting the club will be paramount. Any safeguarding concerns that may arise will be dealt with efficiently and effectively. Our approach will always be child centred and we will always do what is in the best interests of the child/ young person or adult at risk.


  1. All staff and volunteers at Port Vale Football Club must adhere to this policy.

Indicators of Abuse and Neglect

  1. WT 2018 defines abuse as, “a form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others. Abuse can take place wholly online, or technology may be used to facilitate offline abuse. Children may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children (P,103)”. It is important to acknowledge that some children and young people are more vulnerable to abuse. For example, children with disabilities and high performing/elite young athletes.


  1. There are varying types of abuse which can range from physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.


Physical Abuse – A form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.

Emotional Abuse – The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved.

Sexual Abuse – Involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. Sexual abuse can take place online, and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Neglect – The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur during pregnancy as a result of maternal substance misuse. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs (WT2018).


  1. Child Sexual Exploitation - commonly referred to as ‘CSE’ is a form of sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. CSE does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.


  1. Contextualised Safeguarding – as well as threats to the welfare of children from within their families, children may be vulnerable to abuse or exploitation from outside of their families. These extra-familial threats might arise at school and other educational establishments, from within peer groups, or more widely from within the wider community and/or online. These threats can take a variety of different forms and children can be vulnerable to multiple threats, including exploitation by criminal gangs and organised crime groups such as county lines; trafficking, on line abuse; sexual exploitation and the influences of extremism leading to radicalisation. The football club is aware of these threats which may appear within the local community and has a network of local organisations which it can refer to in case of being made aware of extra-familial threats.


  1. The child or young person may also be a young carer and local authorities also known as children’s social care have a statutory duty to identify and assess those children.


  1. The Care Act 2014 provides additional categories of abuse which include:


Psychological abuse – includes emotional abuse which has a harmful effect on the adult’s emotional health and wellbeing. It also includes threats of harm or abandonment; deprivation of contact; humiliation; blaming; controlling; intimidation; coercion; harassment; verbal abuse; isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.

Modern Slavery – and trafficking involves men, women and children being exploited through violence, control, coercion and forced work against their will. There are varying forms of exploitation which can include forced marriage, forced labour, domestic servitude.

Self-Neglect – is the inability to maintain a socially and culturally accepted standard of self-care with the potential for serious consequences for the wellbeing and health of the individual.

Domestic Abuse – an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence. It can also include financial or economic abuse, harassment and stalking and it can be online and digital.

Discriminatory Abuse – this includes discrimination based upon an individual’s age, gender, culture, sexual orientation, disability.

Institutional Abuse – the mistreatment, abuse or neglect of an adult at risk by a regime or agency within the setting the adult lives in or uses.


  1. The above list is not exhaustive in terms of risk posed to children, young people and adults at risk. Additional risks include bullying, being trafficked, being the victim of modern slavery, drug taking, alcohol abuse, missing from education and care, sexting (also known as youth produced visual imagery). Further information can be found in the appendix.


  1. It is important that all staff and volunteers must be aware of the indicators of abuse and neglect for children, young people and adults at risk to be able to identify those who may need help and protection. Staff and volunteers must seek the advice and support immediately from the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) if they have any concerns or uncertainties in this regard.


  1. It is also important to acknowledge that safeguarding concerns do not always arise from a disclosure from the child/young person or adult at risk. Concerns can emerge from worrying behaviours or changes in patterns of behaviour displayed by the child/young person or adult at risk. Or they can come directly from another individual (child or adult).

The Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL)


  1. The Designated Safeguarding Lead is responsible for:


  • Being the first point of contact for all staff and volunteers for advice and support if they are concerned about a child, young person or adult at risk
  • The DSL must have a higher level of safeguarding training and knowledge than the rest of the staff and attend regular updates organised by the Football League
  • They are responsible for all DBS checks for relevant staff in the club and all full and part-time staff in the Academy.
  • They are responsible for ensuring the safeguarding policy is kept up-to-date and reviewed on an annual basis.
  • The DSL will always provide advice and support to all staff and volunteers where concerns have arisen and will support the decision making about whether staff concerns are enough to notify children’s services/police or whether other courses of action are more appropriate. For example, by completing an Early Help Assessment (EHA).
  • The DSL will always ensure all concerns are logged and stored securely.
  • They are responsible for promoting a safe environment for children, young people and adults at risk throughout the stadium during the week and on matchdays.
  • They know the contact numbers of the various groups/organisations which are involved in keeping children/young people and adults at risk safe which might have to be contacted e.g. allegations against staff Local Authority Designated Officer LADO.
  • Ensure the safeguarding policy is available publicly, on the club’s website or by other means
  • The DSL creates and updates the Academy’s Register which includes boys who may need extra support from staff and coaches. The academy compiles and updates a support register which includes input from schools and parents/carers. Children appear on the register because of learning issues/challenging behaviour or are aged 16-18 are with host families away from their parents.
  • Coordinate concerns about children, young people and adults at risk
  • Ensure safeguards and support are in place for everyone
  • Where a referral is made to the Local Authority / Children’s Services the DSL will always ensure the chairman/chairwoman is notified immediately.
  • The DSL is responsible for contacting all referees for applicants who have applied for a role at the club if they are shortlisted and before they are interviewed.
  1. The contact details for the DSL are located in the appendix.

Responding to and Reporting Concerns


  1. Where safeguarding is concerned, staff and volunteers are advised to maintain an attitude that it could happen here and must not therefore, become complacent that a safeguarding concern may never occur at the club. WT 2018 states, “employers are responsible for ensuring that their staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children; creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role (p, 57)”.


  1. It is not the responsibility of staff and volunteers at Port Vale Football Club to decide if abuse has occurred; however, it is our responsibility to act on any concerns by reporting these to the Designated Safeguarding Lead immediately who will determine the course of action to be taken.


  1. All concerns must be recorded without delay and no later than 24 hours, of the issue being identified by the staff member or volunteer on the incident form in the appendix. All forms must be emailed to the DSL immediately following completion of the form and the DSL must be alerted to the issue via telephone on the day it was identified. If in exceptional circumstances, the DSL is not available, then this should not delay appropriate action being taken to safeguarding the welfare of the child/young person or adult at risk. The staff member or volunteer must contact the DSL or his/her deputy or seek advice from the Local Authority / Children’s Social Care. Any action taken must be shared with the DSL as soon as is practically possible.


  1. All issues, concerns, discussions that have taken place and the decisions that have been made must be recorded on the incident form. It is essential that the child/young person or adult at risk receives the right help at the right time. It is poor practice not to have robust recording systems in place when concerns/issues have been raised. Poor practice can potentially lead to:


  • The Club failing to act on and refer the early signs of abuse and neglect;
  • Not sharing information;
  • Sharing information too slowly


  1. Other examples of poor practice can include:


  • Failing to listen to the views of the child, young person or adult at risk
  • Failing to re-assess concerns when situations do not improve
  • Failing to challenge those who do not appear to be taking action
  • Taking an incident focused approach to concerns / issues that have arisen rather than looking back at the whole series of events


  1. Where concerns of poor practice are identified they will be addressed immediately with the individual staff member or volunteers and may lead to disciplinary proceedings being initiated by the academy manager/chief executive.


  1. It is the responsibility of the DSL to ensure that when safeguarding concerns are raised, sensitive issues are managed effectively, confidentiality is maintained, any potential statutory investigation is not compromised, and the child/young person or adult at risk’s voice is heard.


  1. Where a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer harm, it is important that a referral to the Local Authority/ Children’s Social Care, formally known as ‘Social Services’ (and if appropriate the police) is made immediately. Details of the referral to Children’s Social Care is in the appendix. Where a child/young person or vulnerable adult is at immediate risk of harm then the Police must be contacted by calling 999.


  1. Children’s Social Care, with the help of other organisations as appropriate, have a duty in law to make enquires under Section 47 of the Children Act 1989 if they have reasonable cause to suspect that a child is suffering, or is likely to suffer significant harm.


  1. The purpose of a section 47 enquiry is to decide whether and what type of action is required to safeguard and promote the welfare of a child who is suspected of, or likely to be, suffering significant harm. The enquiry is carried out by undertaking or continuing with an assessment in accordance with the requirements set out in WT 2018. Local Authority social workers have a statutory duty to lead assessments under section 47 of the Children Act 1989. The police, health practitioners, teachers and school staff and other relevant practitioners should help the local authority in undertaking its enquiries (P, 43, WT, 2018).


  1. Where a referral is made the Children’s Social Care, the DSL must inform the Co-Chair/Chief Executive without delay. All other issues that are raised with the DSL will be routinely shared with the Co-Chair/Chief Executive when appropriate.


  1. For adults at risk the Local Authority has a duty to assess the situation and ensure the safety and wellbeing of the person. Where the Football Club has concerns about the welfare of an adult at risk the DSL will make a Safeguarding Adult Referral to the Local Authority without delay. The referral will take into account a holistic assessment of the adult at risk’s current circumstances including their emotional, physical, social and psychological presentation.

Information Sharing and Safeguarding Concerns


  1. The NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit provide the following advice for sharing information:


“To keep these children safe, information needs to be shared appropriately so that decisions can be made to protect them. However, clear boundaries around information sharing are important to maintain confidentiality where appropriate and to ensure that only those who need the information are made aware of it.

What information to share


Whenever a sports organisation receives information that raises concerns about a child or children, decisions need to be made about information sharing.  This could include:

  • concerns about a child received within or outside the sport
  • concerns about a person in a position of trust, such as a coach – this   could include information on a Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) check
  • concerns about a member of a sports club
  • concerns about a sports environment, such as an event location or hosting arrangements


Key principles for deciding what to share


The Government guidance, Information sharing advice for safeguarding practitioners, describes the ‘7 Golden Rules’ of information sharing:


  1. Remember that the 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Seek advice from other practitioners if you are in any doubt about sharing the information concerned, without disclosing the identity of the individual where possible.
  4. Share with informed consent where appropriate and, where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to share confidential information. You may still share information without consent if, in your judgement, there is good reason to do so, such as where safety may be at risk.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.

Who to share information with

Part of the decision-making process will include consideration about who to share information with. This could include:

  • Statutory organisations – the Police and/or Children’s Services must be informed about safeguarding concerns; Designated Officers should be consulted where there are concerns about someone in a position of trust.
  • Disclosure & Barring Service– must be informed of any concerns about someone in regulated activity who is suspended or expelled from the organisation.
  • Other clubs and other sports organisations– informing other organisations need to be considered according to the principles below in order that they can safeguard children in their care who may be at risk of harm.
  • Individuals within the organisation– this will be decided on the basis of who needs to know what information in order to keep children safe according to the principles below”.


  1. Sensitive and confidential information/data is stored in a lockable cupboard in the academy office/chief executive’s office and all information electronically is password protected.


  1. All staff and volunteers must fully comply with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).


  1. The Chairwoman/ Chairman must be informed all safeguarding concerns identified by the DSL within 24 hours of the referral being made.

Safer Recruitment


  1. Port Vale Football Club is committed to ensuring that anyone appointed by the club either as a paid employee or volunteer is suitable to work with children/ young people and adults at risk.


  1. All applicants for either paid or volunteer roles must complete an application form. Any gaps in the applicant’s employment / background history must be addressed during the interview. The applicant must provide two references which must include the applicants last paid employer. One referee should also be from someone who can comment on the applicant’s ability to work with children, young people and adults at risk.


  1. References will be sought for all applicants who have been shortlisted for the post and the DSL(or in the case of the academy the academy manager who is the deputy DSL) will make direct contact with the referees before the applicant is interviewed. All information obtained from all sources will be shared by the DSL with those responsible for making a decision on the applicant’s suitability for the role. In the event concerns are raised following any information obtained from the referees then the DSL will complete a risk assessment and the applicant must not be appointed until a satisfactory resolution has been achieved and the applicant is deemed not to pose a safeguarding risk.


  1. It is the responsibility of the applicant to disclosure details in respect of relevant convictions and give their consent to criminal record checks being requested in respect of them. Failure to disclose such information either before being appointed to the role or afterwards may result in the individual being dismissed from the club. Further details of what posts require a DBS check can be found in the appendix; however, all posts requiring direct access to children, young people and adults at risk must require a DBS check before any work with children/adults at risk is undertaken.


  1. All applicants must be interviewed by at least 2 staff and their identification and qualifications must be thoroughly checked during interview. In the event the applicant is appointed copies of this documentation must be obtained and stored in a locked cabinet. All posts will be subject to a sixth month probationary period and after six months the individual’s performance will be reviewed against the requirements of the job description which will be discussed at interview.


  1. Boys in the academy are asked at the end of the season to comment on procedures and are invited to make suggestions relevant to improvements in how the academy operates. Parents have opportunities to comment on current procedures and make suggestions on improvements at the assessment evenings in December and May. Parents are requested to attend “the introduction to the new season” meeting in July when safeguarding policies and good practice are discussed. At the discretion of the academy manager there may be occasions when children are involved in the selection process of choosing new members of staff.


  1. All new staff and volunteers appointed will receive an induction. During this period all new recruits must meet with the DSL who will discuss the requirements of the safeguarding policy. Each term all academy staff are required to attend training and updates when safeguarding is included on the agendas. Safeguarding always appears on the agenda of the club’s operations meetings.


  1. The academy’s head of coaching meets all new recruits on a regular basis to check on progress and includes safeguarding items and updates on this training agenda. He/She will use 1:1 meetings as a process of helping new staff to settle in and review progress.


Code of conduct

  1. The clubs code of conduct is applicable to all employees of the club, volunteers, parents, guardians, children, young people and adults at risk and must be adhered to. Details can be found in the appendix.




  1. Whistleblowing occurs when a person raises a concern about dangerous or illegal activity, or any wrongdoing in their organisation. As a whistle-blower you are protected in law because you should not be treated unfairly or lose your job because you raise concerns. You can raise your concern at any time about an incident that happened in the past, is happening now, or you believe will happen in the near future. Whistleblowing law derives from the Employment Rights Act 1996 (as amended by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998). It provides the right for a worker to take a case to an employment tribunal if they have been victimised at work or they have lost their job because they had ‘blown the whistle’.


  1. Port Vale Football Club want to ensure there is a healthy and supportive culture across the organisation whereby people have the confidence to come forward to speak out or act if they are unhappy with anything. At the first instance it may be appropriate to speak to their line manager but if this opportunity is not available the chief executive or Co-Chair would be the most appropriate.


  1. In the first instance you may wish to report any concerns directly with your line manager or with the DSL at the club; however, you may wish to contact the F.A for advice by contacting the FA Case Management Team on 0844 980 8200 Ext 4787. Alternatively, you can contact the NSPCC Whistleblowing Advice Line on 0800 028 0285 or via email: or contact the Police or Children’s Social Care.


  1. The FA will treat your disclosure in confidence and will only reveal your identity if absolutely necessary. For example, in connection with legal action unions and professional associations can also support and assist their members.


  1. If in the event you make a disclosure to the club, the F.A or partner agencies such as the Police and Children’s Social Care and they are found to be malicious or made for personal gain then disciplinary action will be taken against you.


  1. Anyone found to be harassing or victimising an individual who makes a protected disclosure will be subject to disciplinary action.


Compliments & Complaints

  1. Port Vale Football Club welcome all compliments and complaints and consider they are an opportunity to continually reflect and learn from. The football club has a supporter’s liaison officer and a disability support officer who address any concerns fans have and the chief executive will respond to additional complaints. The academy has similar opportunities for parents/boys to raise concerns and has a process for dealing with them. Further opportunities to engage with the club’s community are being discussed and fan’s forums are held on a regular basis. The club will respond to any concerns and ideas as soon as it is possible to do so and certainly within 7 days.

Links to other procedures


  • Equality statement on the club website
  • Health and Safety policy
  • Code of conduct for staff and boys attending academy and college activities
  • Adults at risk policy
  • Photo and video policy
  • Complaints policy
  • Mental health and well-being policy
  • Leaning support register including working with boys who suffer from ADHD
  • Disciplinary procedures
  • Statement on Prevent strategy

There is also a 2019 Stadium Risk Assessment for children/adults at risk attending the stadium during the week.

This policy will be reviewed on an annual basis by the Designated Safeguarding Lead to ensure it reflects current legislation and statutory guidance. Next review date 1st August 2020. For a full copy of our Safeguarding Policy, contact

This document was reviewed: Feb 2020