Volunteers at school sports events should be subject to rigorous vetting procedures including face-to-face interviews and background checks to root out potential child abusers, according to guidance from the NSPCC. This is from the Telegraph…
Schools and sports clubs should go to extra lengths to “deter some inappropriate individuals” from attempting to work with children, it is claimed.
The 112-page document – drawn up by the Child Protection in Sport Unit run by Sport England and the NSPCC – says that organisations should set out a clear recruitment process including an interviews or face-to-face meetings prior to the event for all volunteers and paid staff.
Organisers should consider carrying out criminal record checks and asking people to submit their employment history, technical qualifications and personal and professional references before allowing them to take part, it emerged.
The comments were made as part of exhaustive new guidelines designed to make sporting events and competitions safe for children.
It also covers the drafting of a “code of conduct” for pupils to make sure they stick to fair play rules during games and ensuring that all parents give their written consent before events.
The document also urges organisers to carry out risk assessments – even for the smallest competitions – to cover rules on the taking of photographs and the supervision of children’s changing rooms.
It follows controversy over the imposition of rules by a handful of schools insisting that all parents clear a CRB check simply to watch their own children to part in sport.
The rules were seized upon by the Manifesto Club, a civil liberties group, which warned that the document risked “turning the whole thing into a tedious chore”.
Josie Appleton, the group’s director, said it was a huge over-reaction simply to ask someone to “hold the finishing tape or serve the orange juice at half time”.
“What is striking from this extensive document is just how much ‘safeguarding’ is regulation for regulation’s sake,” she said.
“From pre-event risk assessments, to consent forms covering every aspect of the event, to ‘recruitment procedures’ for volunteers; there appears to be a faith in the power of paper to make people safe.”
But an NSPCC spokesman insisted the guidance was “straightforward and proportionate”…
The Child Protection in Sport Unit is a partnership between the NSPCC and the quangos Sport England, Sport Wales and Sport Northern Ireland.
Its latest guidance – “Safe sport events, activities and competitions” – covers all levels of events, from one-off school sports days up to regional, national and international events.
Schools and sports clubs are urged to draw up a code of conduct – overarching behaviour principles that all children, staff members and volunteers should sign.
It says that children should be made aware of the importance of having fun, adding: “You have a right to enjoy your participation in the event”.
The code also tells children to “stick to the rules for the event and your sport”, demonstrate fair play, get to events punctually and “take time to thank those who help you take part”.
It says that organisers should gain written consent from parents to enable their children to take part in sporting events.
The document insists that a pre-event risk assessment is “absolutely essential” for any event “large or small”, suggesting that it covers photography, health and safety rules and the supervision of changing rooms.
It also sets out a six-point checklist when recruiting staff and volunteers. This includes writing a clear job description, conducting an interview or face-to-face meeting, considering their employment history, checking appropriate technical qualifications, completing a criminal records check, obtaining and checking up on both professional and personal references.
“Promoting safe recruitment practices for your event will deter some inappropriate individuals from applying for a post with you,” says the document.
Is it practical to take all the steps suggested in this report or do the Manifesto Club have a point – are some of the guidelines going to result in such a burden that sports events just don’t happen because they require too much effort? Do we end up eliminating risk only by stopping the very activities we want to encourage? Please share your thoughts on this in the comments below, on Twitter or by using this form