This document enables the Committee to address issues where there are safeguarding concerns. Safeguarding includes incidents between members, concerns regarding abuse or neglect that a u3a member may be experiencing outside of the u3a, health related issues or previous or pending criminal convictions.
Duty of care
D&D u3a committee has a duty of care to its members but does not hold any statutory authority. Matters of concern will be reported to the relevant safeguarding agencies and charity regulatory authorities, as appropriate.
D&D u3a recognises that some people are potentially at risk of abuse and neglect. Where abuse or neglect is suspected D&D u3a will aim to respond in a prompt and efficient manner to any situation where there is a risk of or perceived risk of harm. D&D u3a recognises that there are various forms of abuse which can be perpetrated by volunteers, members, relatives, friends and neighbours. D&D u3a will neither condone nor tolerate any form of abuse or neglect and believes that all people should be able and, where necessary, enabled to live in an environment which is safe and free from harm.
It is not appropriate for D&D u3a to take the lead role in any Safeguarding Enquiry under Section 42 of the Care Act 2014. Where there are serious concerns regarding abuse or neglect D&D u3a committee will seek advice and support from the Trust, where possible, and will contact the relevant statutory authorities, as needed. D&D u3a will monitor the implementation of this policy and procedure annually through its committee.
In following the safeguarding procedure D&D u3a will strive to uphold the principles that those involved in incidents are entitled to:
- expect privacy;
- be treated with dignity and respect;
- lead an independent life and to be enabled to do so;
- choose how they live their lives;
- be protected by the law;
- have their human and civil rights upheld regardless of ethnic origin, gender, sexuality, impairment or disability, age, religious or cultural background.
D&D u3a will also follow the principles enshrined within the Care Act 2014:
- Empowerment – whereby the approach is focused on the individual making their own decision and gaining informed consent, where possible.
- Prevention – seeking to take steps to prevent issues from arising or escalating.
- Proportionality – responding in a proportionate way to the issue/s being presented.
- Protection – seeking to keep the membership and those deemed to be at risk safe and protected.
- Partnership – incidents to be reported to the relevant statutory bodies and liaising with the Trust.
- Accountability – incidents should be recorded accurately and incidents reported, as required, to the Trust and relevant regulatory authorities.
D&D u3a has a responsibility to ensure that its committee members and group leaders understand their safeguarding responsibilities. Depending on the nature of the allegation and the identified risk, D&D u3a will support the alleged victims and the alleged perpetrators of any abuse as well as any volunteer who becomes aware of an allegation in so far as this does not compromise any safeguarding enquiry or investigation into the allegation or place other adults at risk.
D&D u3a will endeavour to respect the confidentiality of any information that is disclosed under this policy and procedure. However due to the seriousness of allegations confidentiality is not absolute. Information will be recorded and stored securely in accordance with Data Protection Act 2018 but information may have to be shared, on a ‘need-to-know’ basis only, to prevent:
- danger to a person’s life or health;
- danger to others or to the community;
- obstruction to the investigation of a serious crime.
Courses of action
D&D u3a’s approach to safeguarding will include members who exhibit health concerns that could put themselves or others at risk, convictions (previous or pending) that include offences of a sexual or violent nature, inappropriate behaviour exhibited by a member including sexual advances, bullying, aggression or violent behaviour, harassment and/or discrimination. This can include behaviour exhibited face to face as well as electronic communications or via social media platforms.
Where the committee becomes aware of a safeguarding concern steps will be taken, as needed, to ensure the safety of adult/s at risk is secured as a first priority. The steps to take to address this will be discussed and agreed between the Executive Officers of the Committee in the first instance. No Committee member will act in isolation when dealing with a safeguarding concern.
Where D&D u3a Committee becomes aware of a safeguarding concern, the first step will be to gather as much information as possible to assist with the decision as to the next steps. A risk assessment will be developed and recorded as soon as possible after the concern comes to the attention of the committee. Where it is deemed that the risk is high and immediate action needs to be taken, the Committee will contact the relevant local authorities and – where possible – the Trust for advice and support.
As far as possible, the adult at risk’s wishes will be respected as to whether or not to refer any concerns to the local authority as a Safeguarding Enquiry under Section 42 of the Care Act 2014. However, it may be necessary to override their wishes in the best interests of other adults at risk.
In developing the risk assessment, the Committee will consider the level of risk and the action that needs to be taken accordingly. Assessment of risk will include:
- risk to the individual member;
- risk to other members within the u3a;
- reputational risk for the individual u3a and the u3a movement as a whole.
Where risk is not deemed to be high but support is needed, D&D u3a will contact the Trust to discuss concerns and seek additional assistance in developing the risk assessment and before moving to exclude any member from the u3a on the basis of a safeguarding risk assessment.
Course of action
Once the risk assessment is completed, the Committee will decide as to the most appropriate course of action. This could include excluding members from certain groups (ie, groups held in people’s homes) or requesting that a member attends the u3a with a carer.
Depending on the nature of the allegation it may be necessary to pursue the incident following D&D u3a’s complaints, disciplinary or grievance procedure. Where it is decided that this is the best course of action the matter will not be investigated by any party that was privy to the initial reporting of the incident.
All actions taken will be recorded. Any records will remain confidential to the committee unless a prior decision has been taken to share the record with the relevant statutory bodies.