Safeguarding Policy Children and Vulnerable Adults
The Morpeth Pantomime Society recognizes its duty of care under the Children and Young Persons Act 1963, the Child (Performances) Regulations 1968, the Protection of Children Act 1999 and the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000 (in Scotland change to Protection of Children (Scotland) Act 2003). The society recognizes that abuse can take many forms, whether it be physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. The society is committed to practice which protects children from harm. All members of the society accept and recognize their responsibilities to develop awareness of the issues which cause children harm. The society believes that: • The welfare of the child is paramount. • All children, whatever their age, culture, disability, gender, language, racial origin, religious beliefs and/or sexual identity have the right to protection from abuse. • All suspicions and allegations of abuse should be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately. • All members of the society should be clear on how to respond appropriately. The society will ensure that: • All children will be treated equally and with respect and dignity. • The duty of care to children will always be put first. • A balanced relationship based on mutual trust will be built which empowers the children to share in the decision making process. • Enthusiastic and constructive feedback will be best practice rather than negative criticism. • Bullying will not be accepted or condoned. • All adult members of the society provide a positive role model for dealing with other people. • Action will be taken to stop any inappropriate verbal or physical behaviour. • It will keep up-to-date with health & safety legislation. • It will keep informed of changes in legislation and policies for the protection of children. • It will undertake relevant development and training. • It will hold a register of every child involved with the society and will retain a contact name and number close at hand in case of emergencies. The society has child protection procedures which accompany this policy. This policy should also be read in conjunction with the society’s Equal Opportunities Policy and Health & Safety Policy. The society has two dedicated Child Protection Officers, who are in charge of ensuring that the child protection policy and procedures are adhered to. Their names are Alan Bullock and Helen Fox and they can always be found at rehearsal or can be contacted on This policy will be regularly monitored by the Executive Committee of the society and will be subject to annual review.
MODEL CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES
Responsibilities of the Society
At the outset of any production involving children the society will: • Undertake a risk assessment and monitor risk throughout the production process. • Identify at the outset the person with designated responsibility for child protection. • Engage in effective recruitment of chaperones and other individuals with responsibility for children, including appropriate vetting (if necessary in consultation with the local education authority). • Ensure that children are supervised at all times. • Know how to get in touch with the local authority social services, in case it needs to report a concern. Parents • The society believes it to be important that there is a partnership between parents and the society. Parents are encouraged to be involved in the activities of the society and to share responsibility for the care of children. All parents will be given a copy the society’s Child Protection Policy and procedures. • All parents have the responsibility to collect (or arrange collection of) their children after rehearsals or performances. It is NOT the responsibility of the society to take children home. Unsupervised Contact • The society will attempt to ensure that no adult has unsupervised contact with children. • If possible there will always be two adults in the room when working with children. • If unsupervised contact is unavoidable, steps will be taken to minimize risk. For example, work will be carried out in a public area, or in a designated room with a door open. • If it is predicted that an individual is likely to require unsupervised contact with children, he or she may be required to obtain a criminal record disclosure. Physical Contact • All adults will maintain a safe and appropriate distance from children. • Adults will only touch children when it is absolutely necessary in relation to the particular activity. • Adults will seek the consent of the child prior to any physical contact and the purpose of the contact shall be made clear. Managing sensitive information • The society has a policy and procedures for the taking, using and storage of photographs or images of children. • Permission will be sought from the parents for use of photographic material featuring children for promotional or other purposes. • The society’s web-based materials and activities will be carefully monitored for inappropriate use. • The society will ensure confidentiality in order to protect the rights of its members, including the safe handling, storage and disposal of any sensitive information such as criminal record disclosures. Suspicion of abuse • If you see or suspect abuse of a child while in the care of the society, please make this known to the person with responsibility for child protection. If you suspect that the person with responsibility for child protection is the source of the problem, you should make your concerns known to the Chairperson or in their absence the Vice Chairperson. • Please make a note for your own records of what you witnessed as well as your response, in case there is follow-up in which you are involved. • If a serious allegation is made against any member of the society, chaperone, venue staff etc., that individual will be suspended immediately until the investigation is concluded. The individual will be excluded from the theatre, rehearsal rooms etc. and will not have any unsupervised contact with any other children in the production. Disclosure of abuse If a child confides in you that abuse has taken place: • Remain calm and in control but do not delay taking action. • Listen carefully to what has been said. Allow the child to tell you at their own pace and ask questions only for clarification. Don’t ask questions that suggest a particular answer. • Don’t promise to keep it a secret. Use the first opportunity you have to share the information with the person with responsibility for child protection. Make it clear to the child that you will need to share this information with others. Make it clear that you will only tell the people who need to know and who should be able to help. • Reassure the child that ‘they did the right thing’ in telling someone. • Tell the child what you are going to do next. • Speak immediately to the person with responsibility for child protection. It is that person’s responsibility to liaise with the relevant authorities, usually social services or the police. • As soon as possible after the disclosing conversation, make a note of what was said, using the child’s own words. Note the date, time, any names that were involved or mentioned, and who you gave the information to. Make sure you sign and date your record. Recording • In all situations, including those in which the cause of concern arises from a disclosure made in confidence, the details of an allegation or reported incident will be recorded, regardless of whether or not the concerns have been shared with a statutory child protection agency. • An accurate note shall be made of the date and time of the incident or disclosure, the parties involved, what was said or done and by whom, any action taken to investigate the matter, any further action taken eg. suspension of an individual, where relevant the reasons why the matter was not referred to a statutory agency, and the name of the persons reporting and to whom it was reported. • The record will be stored securely and shared only with those who need to know about the incident or allegation. Rights & Confidentiality • If a complaint is made against a member of the society, he or she will be made aware of his rights under the society’s disciplinary procedures. • No matter how you may feel about the accusation, both the alleged abuser and the child who is thought to have been abused have the right to confidentiality under the Data Protection Act 1998. Remember also that any possible criminal investigation could be compromised through inappropriate information being released. • In criminal law the Crown, or other prosecuting authority, has to prove guilt and the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Accidents • To avoid accidents, chaperones and children will be advised of “house rules” regarding health and safety and will be notified of areas that are out of bounds. Children will be advised of the clothing and footwear appropriate to the work that will be undertaken. • If a child is injured while in the care of the society, a designated first-aider will administer first aid and the injury will be recorded in the society’s accident book. This record will be countersigned by the person with responsibility for child protection. • If a child joins the production with an obvious physical injury a record of this will be made in the accident book. This record will be countersigned by the person with responsibility for child protection. This record can be useful if a formal allegation is made later and will also be a record that the child did not sustain the injury while participating in the production. Criminal Record Disclosures • If the society believes it is in its best interests to obtain criminal record disclosures for chaperones or other personnel, it will inform the individual of the necessary procedures and the level of disclosure required. A Standard disclosure will apply for anyone with supervised access to children. An Enhanced disclosure will be required for anyone with unsupervised access. • The society will have a written code of practice for the handling of disclosure information. • The society will ensure that information contained in the disclosure is not misused.
Equal Opportunities Policy
The aim of this policy is to communicate the commitment of the Committee and members to the promotion of equality of opportunity in Morpeth Pantomime Society (known as MPS, and formerly known as Morpeth Theatre Group). It is our policy to provide equality of membership to all, irrespective of: • gender, including gender reassignment • marital or civil partnership status • having or not having dependents • religious belief or political opinion • race (including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins) • disability • sexual orientation We are opposed to all forms of unlawful and unfair discrimination. All members of the organisation will be treated fairly and will not be discriminated against on any of the above grounds. Decisions on membership, selection for office, parts in productions, training or any other benefit will be made objectively, without unlawful discrimination. We recognise that the provision of equal opportunities in all our activities will benefit the organisation. Our equal opportunities policy will help members to develop their full potential and the talents and resources of the members will be utilised fully to maximize the effectiveness of the organisation. MPS recognises that there is a statutory duty under the Equality Act 2010, to implement an equal opportunities policy. This policy applies to applicants for employment, volunteers and members of the group alike. MPS is committed to the principles and practice of Equality. We are committed to: • promoting equality of opportunity for all persons • promoting a good and harmonious learning environment in which all men and women are treated with respect and dignity and in which no form of intimidation or harassment is tolerated • preventing occurrences of unlawful direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, harassment and victimisation • fulfilling all our legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 and associated codes of practice • complying with our own equal opportunities policy and associated policies • taking lawful affirmative or positive action, where appropriate • breaches of our equal opportunities policy will be regarded as misconduct and could lead to termination of membership.
Monitoring and review We will establish appropriate information and monitoring systems to assist the effective implementation of our equal opportunities policy. The effectiveness of the equal opportunities policy will be reviewed regularly (at least annually) and action taken as necessary. This policy is fully supported by the Chair and the Committee and was reviewed and adopted on 20th October 2023.
Implementation The Chair and Committee have specific responsibility for the effective implementation of this policy. We expect all members to abide by the policy and help to create an equal environment which is its objective.