Up until now Safeguarding has been covered within the WFA by a number of different Constitutional and Policy documents however it has been decided to produce a specific Safeguarding Policy for the Western Front Association in order to ensure we fully meet the requirements of the Charity Commission.
All charities are required to have a Safeguarding Policy together with a Procedure for its implementation.
It is also necessary for charities to carry out and record a Risk Assessment based on the activities of the individual charity.
The Executive Committee has adopted this Policy, Procedure and Risk Assessment and in addition to being published here in Bulletin they are available on the WFA website. These documents will be reviewed and if necessary updated on an annual basis.
It is obviously an unfortunate necessity for the WFA to address this issue but equally there can be no doubt that, notwithstanding, the legal obligations, the reputational risk to a charity is enormous if an incident occurs.
The Executive Committee wish to make clear that this Policy is not being published as a result of any known incidents within the WFA. It is being published in this form merely to bring together existing practice and to ensure compliance with the requirements of the Charity Commission.
In addition to the publication of the National Safeguarding Policy documents the Executive Committee strongly recommend that all Branch Committees adopt their own Safeguarding Policy Procedure and Risk Assessment.
Safeguarding for Branch Committees
To assist Branch Committees a suggested ‘Branch Safeguarding Policy, Procedure and Risk Assessment’ will be issued to Branches.
The adoption by Branches of the suggested Safeguarding Policy and Procedures will help to protect Branch Committees and individual members from the worst effects of malicious claims as well as fulfilling our obligations of protection for those who come into contact with this charity.
A downloadable document Safeguarding and protecting people for charities and trustees is available from Gov.UK. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/safeguarding-duties-for-charity-trustees and it is recommended that Branch Committees familiarise themselves with it. Safeguarding does not only apply to the protection of children from sexual harassment but has wider implications.
The particular nature of the WFA and its semi-autonomous branch network at home and overseas (including Ireland) present a particular challenge to the organisation with regard to compliance with HM Governments requirements. These notes relate to England and Wales but Branches overseas, Scotland and Ireland should check their local regulations.
In some cases individual branches have more contact with children, than the operation of the Executive Committee nationally. There is an increasing emphasis on contact with schools and the recruitment of younger members but it should be recognised that there is a concomitant increase in risk for the WFA, the Branch and individual members if robust safeguarding measures are not in place.
It seems likely that for the purpose of safeguarding compliance Branch Committees would be considered as volunteers to the WFA charity.
Normal common sense precautions such as never being alone with children or vulnerable adults not only protects the child but also the branch member from unsubstantiated allegations which would be embarrassing to both the member and the WFA as a whole.
Photography of children can be particularly sensitive. Branches which hold events and wish to photograph children for example wearing tin hats or equipment should protect themselves by obtaining consent to take a child’s photograph, particularly if it is intended to publish the photograph externally or even in the WFA publications.
The following notes on Policy and Risk Assessment are intended to assist Branch Committees but are suggested as the minimum requirement.
It is intended that Safeguarding Policies for Branches will be included on the agenda of the 2020 Branch Chairs Conference.
If Branches have any questions relating to the subject of Safeguarding they can be directed to the Education Trustee.