These twelve questions refer to things that every worthwhile group or organised activity for children should be addressing.
- Can the group/organisation provide you with a copy of its safeguarding policy and procedures? Is it up to date? Check when it was last reviewed.
- Does the group/club/activity have set procedures for the recruitment (e.g. vetting arrangements such as Criminal Record checks), training and management of workers/volunteers including training on protecting children and personnel? Leaders should have a clear understanding of the group/club/activity's criteria for recruiting and selecting staff and guidance on planning work to minimise opportunities for abuse.
- Is the youth group/club affiliated to a local safeguarding scheme such as the Avon and Somerset Police Child-Safe initiative? Not all groups will be - it should be sufficient to be satisfied in relation to either questions 1 or 2.
- Is the group/club subject to regulation and inspection by any outside body? The majority of groups will probably not fall within this category. However, some groups such as after school clubs may be.
- Is it established practice that parental consent is sought for any visits, unusual activities, etc.?
- Are there adequate numbers of leaders/adult helpers (volunteers/paid staff) and is there a clear policy that there should be a minimum of two adult leaders/helpers for an activity/meeting to operate safely? Safe practice requires that there should always be at least two adults present to ensure that no adults find themselves working alone with children. It is desirable that there are adults present of the same sex as the young people involved in the club.
- Are there clear procedures and guidance for staff and volunteers in respect of behaviour towards children? This could be in the form of a written Code of Conduct for staff and volunteers so that parents know what standards of behaviour to expect - this might cover things such as the appropriateness of physical contact with children, comforting children and accompanying children to toilets.
- Are parents encouraged and welcomed to visit the club, to meet those in charge and to view activities? If not, you as a parent, should consider whether this gives cause for concern.
- Does the group have a health and safety policy, a First Aid kit, a First Aider and adequate procedures for recording and notifying of accidents?
- Is the group or organisation insured?
- Does the organisation have established procedures to handle complaints? There should be a named person within the organisation who can be contacted. Parents should encourage their children to tell them if there are any occurrences about which they are unhappy or uncomfortable.
- Have you asked other parents about the group/club and the leaders? Any concerns about the group/club will often be picked up by talking to other parents with first-hand knowledge.
If you are not satisfied that the group has addressed these issues sufficiently, or does not have the necessary procedures in place, you could contact the group's management committee or the named individual who is responsible for dealing with complaints.
If no complaints procedure exists, or if you fail to receive satisfaction, you should pass your concerns to the Local Safeguarding Children Board