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Safeguarding Children and At Risk Adults in Orienteering


A child is defined as anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. The fact that a child has reached 16 years of age, is living independently or is in further education does not alter his/her status under this definition.
The term ‘at-risk adults’ refers to those adults with mental illness, physical or learning disabilities, or other special needs.

Derwent Valley Orienteers is committed to ensuring that everyone, including children and at-risk adults, who participate in orienteering have a positive and enjoyable experience in what can be a challenging environment. Events are organised to maximise safety and minimise all types of risk.

The British Orienteering O-Safe policy describes good practice regarding the safeguarding and welfare of children and at-risk adults within orienteering and orienteering-related activities. All members, clubs and associations have, by joining or affiliating to British Orienteering, agreed to abide by the O-Safe policy.

A summary of the National Guidelines can be read on the British Orienteering website. The Committee asks that everyone in DVO knows about the summary page, and that those with designated roles in the Club familiarise themselves with the relevant sections of the comprehensive O-safe policy document applicable to their role(s) in the Club. Listed below are the key sections in the document. Some affect everyone, while others cover specific areas such as coaching, transporting children, and taking photographs. This policy is designed both to protect children and vulnerable adults from unwanted or inappropriate behaviour by adults, and to protect adults in positions of responsibility from mendacious accusations.

Effective safeguarding should be underpinned by two key principles:

  • safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility: for safeguarding to be effective each club and member of British Orienteering should play their full part; and
  • a child-centred approach: for children to be supported effectively there should be a clear understanding of the needs and views of children

Key topics covered in document
Working with children and coaching ratio – there must always be two or more adults to supervise and work with any group.

Finding volunteers responsible for positions of trust that involve caring for children – This section gives advice on how to find and appoint coaches or volunteers responsible for caring for children including their training, transport and the supervision of overnight accommodation. It describes when a criminal record check is required.

Using Social Media – if you need to use social media to contact or work with anyone under 18, gain permission from parents/carers, and always copy another colleague, welfare officer or moderator into the message/communication.

Transporting children – Clubs and coaches should encourage parents to make private arrangements to transport their children. A solitary adult is strongly discouraged from transporting a single unrelated child in a vehicle. However common sense plays a role here and leaving a child alone at a drop-off point, for instance after a bus journey, carries alternate hazards.

Photography – please follow the current DVO photographic policy, as outlined in the Members’ Section of the website.

Changing – always change clothing discreetly, especially when parked in urban areas, car parks or other areas frequented by the general public.

Reporting concerns – DVO’s welfare officer Sue Russell – her contact details are given on the inside front cover of Newstrack; please contact her or the club Chair if you have a safeguarding concern.

Formal Policy – In accordance with British Orienteering requirements, a formal club policy on safeguarding is given on the next page.

Responding to a disclosure
If a child informs you directly that (s)he, or another child, is concerned about someone’s behaviour towards them (this is termed disclosure), you should:
Be calm – do not panic and do not allow your shock or distaste to show

  • Tell the child that (s)he is not to blame and that (s)he was right to tell
  • Take what the person says seriously, recognising the difficulties inherent in interpreting what is said by a child who has a speech impairment and/or differences in language
  • Only ask questions to clarify and confirm your concern and to have sufficient information to act – do not ‘investigate’ any further
  • Reassure the child but do not make promises of confidentiality which might not be feasible in light of subsequent developments – make no promises and do not agree to keep secrets
  • Follow the procedures to report the concern – do not approach the alleged abuser
  • Time is of the essence, DO NOT wait, act as a matter of urgency
  • Reporting the matter to the Police or Children’s Social Care department should not be delayed by attempts to obtain more information. Wherever possible, referrals telephoned to the Children’s Social Care department must be confirmed in writing within 24 hours. A record must be made of the name and designation of the Children’s Social Care member of staff or Police Officer to whom the concerns were passed, together with the time and date of the call, in case any follow-up is needed. A copy of this information should be sent direct to the British Orienteering Lead Safeguarding Officer.
  • Data Protection legislation covers the recording and transfer of all information associated with safeguarding matters. Information passed to Children’s Social Care or the Police must be as helpful as possible, hence the necessity for making a detailed record at the time of the disclosure/concern.

Making an Incident Report
If the incident or allegation is serious you should report it immediately to the police or social care. Ideally the subsequent report should be made utilising the British Orienteering Incident Report Form and should include:

  • Details of the child i.e. age/date of birth, address, race, gender and ethnic origin
  • Details of the facts of the allegations or any observations
  • A description of any visible bruising or other injuries
  • The child’s account, if it can be given, of what 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
  • A signature, time and date on the report
  • Remember you must not investigate the allegation.

If an allegation is made against you
Any concerns involving the inappropriate behaviour of an adult or child towards a child will be taken seriously and investigated. If you are the person who is the centre of an allegation, the situation will be explained to you and you may be required to cease working with children in orienteering, you will be informed as soon as possible based on advice from the Statutory Agencies. This may result in suspension from activity within orienteering whilst an investigation is being carried out. This is to protect all parties involved and is a normal, non-judgemental, action.

A representative of British Orienteering will follow good practice and tightly defined procedures to ensure that confidentiality is maintained in all circumstances within the small group of people dealing with the allegation.

British Orienteering will assess, on a case-by-case basis, any support needed for the person against whom an allegation has been made. A British Orienteering representative will be available to provide support to an individual where an allegation has been made against them. You will also be directed towards sources of emotional support.