THE OXTED PLAYERS
Child Protection Policy

 

THE OXTED PLAYERS recognises its duty of care under the Children and Young Persons Acts 1933 and 1963, the Children’s Act 1989, the Protection of Children Act 1999, the Criminal Justice Court Services Act 2000 and Children (Performances and Activities) (England) Regulations 2014 For the purposes of the Child Protection Procedures contained within this policy and pursuant to the performance regulations, the definition of “a child” is a young person under the age of 17 who remains of compulsory school age until the last Friday in June of the academic year in which they are 16, the academic year running from 1 September to 31 August inclusive. However, the Society also recognises the need to provide appropriate and proportionate protection to any person who has not reached adulthood (i.e. 18) and will endeavour to ensure that those falling outside the scope of performance legislation by reason of age or status are also suitably and appropriately protected in accordance with the Policy.

The Society is committed to providing a safe environment where children are able to participate in any theatre activity or youth workshop without fear of abuse or harm, giving youngsters the ability to express their views on any issues or decisions that affect them. The Society recognises that abuse can take many forms, whether it be physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse or neglect. The Society is committed to taking positive steps to prevent such abuse of children involved in theatre activities. It is the responsibility of all members of the Society to be aware of and adhere to the child protection policies and procedures currently in force.

The Society will appoint a Child Protection Officer or Officers whose responsibilities are outlined later in this document.

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 and employees 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;
• The welfare of each child will always be put first;
• A balanced relationship based on mutual trust will be built;
• 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 and 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;
• It will apply to the appropriate Licensing Authority for performing licences where appropriate

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 and Safety Policy.

The Society will appoint a Child Protection Officer who is in charge of ensuring that the child protection policy and procedures are adhered to.

This policy will be regularly monitored by the Committee of the Society and will be subject to annual review.

 

CHILD PROTECTION PROCEDURES

Responsibilities of the Society

At the outset of any production or workshop 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.
• 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 of the 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 minimise 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
• 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 the 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 a
person with responsibility for child protection. If you suspect that person with responsibility for child
protection is the source of the problem, you should make your concerns known to the Chairman
• Please make a note for your own records of what you witnessed as well as your response in case there
is a 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, e.g. 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 and 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 l998. 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, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that first aid is administered at the earliest opportunity and the injury will be recorded in the Theatre or premises accident book and 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 Society’s 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 DBS disclosures for their chaperones and personnel (licensed chaperones would already hold current enhanced DBS disclosures) 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.

Chaperones
• Chaperones will be appointed by the Society for the care of the children during the production process. By law the chaperone is acting in loco parentis and should exercise the care which a good parent might be reasonably expected to give to a child. The maximum number of children in the chaperone’s care shall not exceed 12.
• Potential chaperones will ideally be approved and registered by the Licensing Authority and provide proof of their current registration. Chaperones will always be present to supervise children during dress rehearsals and performances. Any other person likely to assist in chaperoning during rehearsals who might potentially have unsupervised access to children in their care will be required to hold current Enhanced DBS disclosure and produce proof of the same together with other identification unless already well known to the Society.
• Chaperones will be made aware of the Society’s Child Protection Policy and Procedures.
• Where chaperones are not satisfied with the conditions for the children, they should bring this to the attention of the director and/or the Society. If changes cannot be made satisfactorily, the chaperone should consider not allowing the child to continue.
• If a chaperone considers that a child is unwell or too tired to continue, the chaperone must inform the director and not allow the child to continue.
• Under the Dangerous Performances Act, no child of compulsory school age is permitted to do anything which may endanger life or limb. This could include working on wires or heavy lifting. Chaperones should tell the director to cease using children in this way and should report the matter to the Committee.
• During performances, registered Chaperones will be responsible for meeting children at the stage door and signing them into the building.
• Children will be kept together at all times except when using separate dressing rooms.
• Chaperones will be aware of where the children are at all times.
• School age children are not to leave the Theatre unsupervised by Chaperones unless in the company of their parents, guardians or appointed representatives.
• Children will be adequately supervised while going to and from the toilets.
• Children will not be allowed to enter the adult dressing rooms unless accompanied by a Chaperone and for the purpose of accessing the stage.
• Chaperones should be aware of the safety arrangements and first aid procedures in the venue, and will ensure that children in their care do not place themselves and others in danger.
• Chaperones should ensure that any accidents are reported to and recorded by the Society.
• Chaperones should keep a record of any accidents which occur and should use their discretion as to whether any child who has sustained an accident should continue and if in doubt call for medically qualified opinion.
• Chaperones should ensure that they have written arrangements for children after and between performances.
• Children should be signed out when leaving and a record made of the person collecting them.
If a child has not been collected, it is the duty of the chaperone to stay with that child until satisfactory arrangements are made to take them home.