Safeguarding in Ringing

This document describes BTO’s approach to safeguarding specifically within the context of training children to become ringers. It should be read alongside BTO’s Safeguarding Children policy. 

Safeguarding in Ringing: Quick Links

Contact BTO's Safeguarding Leads

Our Safeguarding Leads are: 

  • Andrew Scott (01842 750050 andrew.scott [at] bto.org),
  • Sian Knott (01842 750050 sian.knott [at] bto.org).

Report a Safeguarding concern

You can report a safeguarding concern via our .

You can also contact our Safeguarding Leads directly:

  • Andrew Scott (01842 750050 andrew.scott [at] bto.org),
  • Sian Knott (01842 750050 sian.knott [at] bto.org).

Read our organisation-wide Safeguarding Policy

Our organisation-wide Safeguarding Policy outlines BTO's approach to safeguarding children (under the age of 18) and vulnerable adults who engage with the BTO for a variety of reasons.

Safeguarding Policy

Safeguarding Resources for Ringing Groups

Thinking about Safeguarding in Ringing

Download resource: thinking about safeguarding in ringing

As mentioned, one of the key strategies to reducing the risk of abuse is to cultivate a culture where these issues can be discussed openly and confidently. As a result, why not consider regular sessions where you discuss safeguarding with members of your group or other ringers. Many ringers might initially find discussing these matters challenging. Always remember, the biggest problems in child abuse are secrecy and poor communication.

Perhaps you might think about how you or your group would react to differing scenarios. Here are a few to consider:

  1. A 17-year-old trainee drives himself to a training session, but you notice he smells strongly of alcohol.
  2. A parent drops a child with you for a CES session, but you then get a call saying your other colleagues can’t make it.
  3. A ringer is named in the local paper in connection with a sex offence.
  4. A child comes back from a net round in tears and doesn’t want to talk about it in front of the other ringers.
  5. Your ringing site has no mobile phone coverage. What are the implications for safeguarding?

Safeguarding Checklist for Ringing and Ringing Trainers  

Download the Safeguarding Checklist

The primary legal responsibility you have is to not work with children or young people if you are barred from doing so.

For all ringers, including ringing trainers and those that are not named trainers but may meet the criteria for regulated activity:
  • Read and be familiar with BTO’s Safeguarding Children Policy and Safeguarding Children in Ringing Procedures (above) to ensure you are informed about the subject and are aware of your responsibilities.
  • Comply with BTO’s request to complete a criminal record check within the given timeframe
  • If you are a trainer, ensure your permit references your Young Persons’ Training Endorsement (YPTE)
  • In England and Wales, once you have completed the DBS application, join the update service. 
  • Respond to any requests made by BTO to renew checks within the given timeframe.
  • Notify the Ringing Team if anything changes, including if you move countries, and you plan to continue training someone who is under 18.
Prior to agreeing and beginning to be the named trainer for a child 
  • In addition to the above;
  • Involve the Ringing Team in any direct requests made to you for training by someone under the age of 18 (including when you are contacted by the parent).
  • Obtain a signed consent form from the parent/ guardian of the young person.
  • If you are the named trainer of a child you must notify the BTO if another person plans to regularly be involved in their training and therefore meets the definition of a volunteer and will undertake regulated activity, i.e. attending sessions with a young person once a week or more, or on 4 or more days in 30, or overnight. Notify the ringing team who will assess the role and carry out the necessary checks.
Safe practice 
  • Notify BTO if you have any concerns about someone’s suitability for working with children, including if you believe someone is barred from working with children or young people.
  • Ensure there is always more than one adult present (within sight or hearing) during activities with children or young people. (This includes driving children).
  • Where this cannot be arranged, ask the child/ young person’s parent or guardian to be present. 
  • Uphold high standards, including when children are present; for example, using appropriate language.
  • Refer to the section on ‘key things to consider and plan for’ (see above).
  • Notify the BTO Safeguarding Leads if you have safeguarding concerns, and/ or other agencies as appropriate (social services, police).
  • If you are concerned about training a young person, contact the BTO Safeguarding lead and/or ask for the parent/ guardian to always be present 

Overview

This policy is for anyone that is involved in Ringing, including ringing trainers, ringers, ringing groups, BTO Staff. It is also important for any child, young person, or adult at risk and their parents and carers to understand the systems and processes that are in place.

If you have feedback on this document please send it to sian.knott [at] bto.org (Safeguarding Lead).

EDI Statement

BTO is committed to creating an inclusive environment. Our activities and events are open to anyone interested in our work, regardless of age, nationality, gender, ethnicity, disability, sexuality and socio-economic status. Read our full inclusivity statement and code of conduct.

Principles

  • Inspiring and developing people is a priority for BTO and critical for the future health of the Ringing Scheme
  • The more informed our ringing network is, the less likely there is to be a problem. Abuse thrives on secrecy, and abusers are known to seek opportunities where their activities will go unnoticed or unchallenged.
  • All ringers, whether professionals or amateurs, and whether directly involved in training young people or not, should have an understanding of safeguarding, the measures that are in place, and the role all can play in keeping people that come into contact with BTO safe from harm and abuse.

Definitions

‘Young people’ or ‘children’ are used in this policy; both refer to those under the age of 18 for which there are clear rules, systems and expectations in place if your work will involve contact with them.

*There may be different considerations for younger children (under 13) compared to older children (13+). However, this may be affected by individual needs and so you are encouraged to think about this on a case-by-case basis.

‘Adults’ refers to those that are 18 and over.

‘Volunteer’, for the purposes of this policy and according to DBS, is defined as “any person engaged in an activity which involves spending time, unpaid (except for travel and other approved out-of-pocket expenses), doing something which aims to benefit some third party and not a close relative.”

‘Regulated activity’ is activity which occurs once a week or more, or on 4 or more days in 30, or overnight

‘The ringer in charge’ refers to the ringer in charge of the ringing session, which may or may not be the trainer. It also might vary from session to session

Safeguarding in Ringing

The legal duty placed on all individual ringers is not to undertake any activity with children or adults at risk if you are barred from doing so.

Safeguarding Children

Working with children requires additional care to ensure that they are kept safe. In addition to thinking carefully about health-and-safety issues, we must also follow procedures to keep children and young people safe from those who would wish them harm. We recognise that many ringers would like to help develop the skills of young people. With effective systems in place, the benefits associated with ringing can be enjoyed safely by young people.

Read BTO’s Safeguarding Children Policy (to follow).

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults

This policy mainly covers issues relating to the safeguarding of children. However, adults at risk may be members of the ringing community, including trainers, trainees, attendees at events, and members of the public. As such you should be aware of how adults may be at risk of harm or abuse and how they may require additional care or steps in the course of activities or interactions. Adults may be at risk of harm or abuse if they:

  • have an illness affecting their mental or physical health
  • have a learning disability
  • suffer from drug or alcohol problems
  • are frail.

Read BTO’s Safeguarding Adults at Risk Policy (to follow).

The FOUR expectations concerning safeguarding children in ringing

  1. To act as the named trainer of a child you require a Young Persons’ Training Endorsement (YPTE) in advance of signing the young person up as a trainee. This requires an enhanced criminal record check and barred list check as the work has been assessed as meeting the criteria for ‘regulated activity.’ The specific check required will depend upon the rules in place in the country where the activity is taking place – you can find out more about this in our Vetting Procedures Policy (below).
  2. You must ensure that there is more than one adult present (within sight or hearing) during all activities with a child, this is part of BTO’s approach to safe practice. This point applies whether or not you hold a YPTE or have completed vetting procedures. From this, it follows that training of a child by a single adult trainer, or any adult in isolation, should not take place. If there is no suitable group for the training to take place within, then it is recommended that the young person’s parent/carer be asked to attend the training sessions also. This point applies equally to driving a young person to/from a ringing session.
  3. All ringers (not just ringing trainers) must not work regularly with children (defined as once a week or more, or on 4 or more days in 30 or overnight) without completing the vetting procedures required by law in the country of work.
  4. If you are the named trainer of someone under the age of 18 then you should ensure that other ringers regularly working with that young person are aware of and are following the requirements set out here. You must notify the BTO if another person will regularly be involved in their training and therefore meets the definition of a volunteer and will undertake regulated activity, i.e. attending sessions with a young person once a week or more, or on 4 or more days in 30, or overnight. Notify the ringing team who will assess the role and carry out the necessary checks.

Note that none of the above rules applies when the child is a close relative (e.g. child, sibling, grandchild etc)

Vetting procedures for safeguarding children in Ringing

BTO has a responsibility to ensure that ringers who work regularly with children and young people have carried out the required vetting procedure before allowing regulated activity to take place. A full list of checks and our policy on carrying our criminal record checks is to follow.

Matching a child with a trainer

The automated BTO ‘Find a Trainer’ system asks if someone is under 18. If they answer ‘yes’ they are asked to contact ringing.licensing [at] bto.org to arrange training.

Upon receipt of a request from a child or young person (or their parent/ carer) to find a trainer, BTO will contact ringers in the area to identify a suitable trainer. Once a suitable trainer has been identified, we will seek permission from the parent or carer to pass contact details to this ringer. Prior to this, all enquiries will be made without revealing contact details or identities to the ringers:

  • If the request has come from the parent or carer we will pass this information on.
  • If the request is from a child under the age of 13 we ask that the parent/ carer is the main contact
  • If the request is from a child who is 13 or over they can be the main contact, but in all cases, it is advised that parents/ carers are copied into communications about ringing training, irrespective of age. This follows the same principle as 1 or more adults in sight or hearing.

If you, as a ringer, are contacted directly by a young person with respect to training (either online or in person) and you do not hold a YTPE you must pass the request to BTO staff (ringing.licensing [at] bto.org). If you are willing to consider the request to train the young person we will help you through the steps.  

In the event that there is an agreement to train a young person without BTO’s involvement, upon receipt of a T-permit (training permit) application form from a young person, ringing staff will be alerted to the need to carry out necessary checks. 

Trainers agreeing to take on trainees under the age of 18 will be passed through the relevant checks in advance and issued an YPTE. We are not able to pass Trainers through the checking process in a speculative manner as this contravenes the checking rules; checks will only occur when trainers have agreed to take on a named trainee.

Training cannot commence until the necessary checks are completed and the YTPE is issued.  The exception to this is if you are carrying out a taster session; then a parent/ carer must be present for this.

Parental Consent

Once a trainer has agreed to train a young person, and after a successful taster session but before starting to train the young person, the trainer must obtain a signed consent form from the parent/carer.

Criminal Record Checks and Barred List Checks

  • You can find out about the different checks and processes in different countries in our vetting procedures policy (to follow).
  • Following a satisfactory check being undertaken, named trainers of children will be given a YPTE on their ringing permit. The possession of a YPTE simply means that everyone can be clear that the check has been carried out. It does not allow a trainer to disregard other safeguarding provisions.
  • For ringers who are not named trainers of young people, but for whom a check has been carried out (due to reaching the “working regularly” threshold),  BTO will simply inform the ringer when the check has been concluded and will keep the date of the check on file for reference, should it be required. No YPTE will be issued in this situation.

If a check is returned with convictions (spent or unspent)

We encourage you to make us aware of any convictions that may be returned from these checks so that we can talk to you about this. It does not automatically mean that you won’t be issued with a YPTE; any decision about suitability will be made on a case-by-case basis, based upon a balanced judgement where the welfare of the child or young person is the priority. You can read more about our approach and your rights, in our recruiting ex-offenders policy (to follow).

Renewals

Your YPTE will expire after 3 years. If you are still the named trainer for a young person at that time you will need a new check, or a review of your existing check, before it can be renewed. You cannot continue to train a child or young person if the YPTE expires.

If you are in England and Wales you should join the DBS update service.BTO can carry out a review of your check every 3 years (if you are still a named trainer or a ringer meeting the criteria for regulated activity) without the need to reapply.

In all other countries, you will be asked to reapply if you are still a named trainer or you are still regularly working with a young person.

Key things to consider and plan for when training a young person or child

  • In line with our commitment to inclusion, and to safeguarding children, you should be aware of any needs or considerations there may be relating to a protected characteristic (age, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, sex and gender, gender reassignment, race, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership); you can get advice and support relating to this from the young person, their parent/carer, and/or BTO.
  • All ringers and members of a ringing group must uphold the highest standards at all times when children and young people are present, including the use of appropriate language. BTO has a zero-tolerance policy on bullying and harassment.
  • If you have knowledge that any individuals have failed a check, or are deemed unsafe around children or young people for any reason, then you should stop the session and notify the Safeguarding Leads for BTO.
  • Be aware that misunderstandings over innocent behaviour are possible. Ensure another adult is within sight or hearing, or make arrangements for a parent/ carer to be present.
  • Be aware of physical contact that could be misconstrued, for example: first aid, net extractions, cramped vehicles, sheltering under umbrellas. If physical contact is unavoidable, explain it.
  • Think about arrangements for personal hygiene.
  • Be aware of other key times to plan for, such as arrivals and departures, to ensure you don’t end up on your own with a young person.
  • If you are alone with a young person due to circumstances beyond your control, contact the parent/carer to let them know and ask them to collect the child or attend the session, or let them know how long this situation is likely to be and what you are doing to resolve it.
  • It is advisable to apply the “more than one adult present” rule to contact outside of an actual ringing session; if using email, copy in the parent/ carer of the child or young person and instead of direct messaging (Facebook, Twitter, etc) engage in more visible conversations, e.g. on group forums.

What to do if a safeguarding incident arises

  • If you have concerns about another ringer, or if anyone else accuses you of inappropriate conduct, you must act.
  • Nothing in this policy should stand in the way of you contacting the police or social services if necessary.
  • Any person accused of inappropriate conduct should be removed from the situation and not have further contact with any young people until the matter has been investigated and resolved.
  • Where possible keep other young people away from any incident.
  • Make sure the ringer in charge is made aware.
  • If the emergency services or any other agency are involved, make sure you know what follow-up is expected, if any.
For any safeguarding concern and incident, make a written record of it; you can use our

reporting form

reporting form (DOCX, 18.00 KB)
here.

Any breaches of this policy must be reported to BTO’s Safeguarding Leads:

  • Andrew Scott (01842 750050 andrew.scott [at] bto.org),
  • Sian Knott (01842 750050 sian.knott [at] bto.org).

All allegations have to be investigated by BTO and potentially also by the police and other agencies.  It should be remembered that allegations can cause extreme stress for the individuals involved. Discretion is paramount except for those with a need to know.

If a child discloses a safeguarding issue to you

Training to ring can result in healthy relationships between generations. One result of this is that a young person may disclose a safeguarding incident from another part of their life to you as a trusted adult. 

If a young person wants to talk and discloses something of concern, never promise to keep a secret and always report it to an appropriate professional. Any such disclosures should not become salacious gossip and the individual should be treated with dignity. 

Investigating a safeguarding significant concern is not your responsibility. The NSPCC offers a free advice line at 0808 800 5000 for adults in this situation.

You should always feel enabled to go directly to the police or social services with any concerns you have.

Volunteers and staff must report all concerns or allegations of abuse to the BTO’s Safeguarding Leads:

  • Andrew Scott (01842 750050 andrew.scott [at] bto.org),
  • Sian Knott (01842 750050 sian.knott [at] bto.org).

If you are a young person, child, parent, or guardian and have a concern

If you are a young person yourself,  or a parent or a carer, and have concerns about the actions of adults, you need to know that it is fine to bypass your ringing trainer or group; you can contact BTO and speak to the Safeguarding Lead, other trusted member of staff, the police or NSPCC (0800 800 5000). You can report a safeguarding concern via our , or contact our safeguarding leads directly:
  • Andrew Scott (01842 750050 andrew.scott [at] bto.org),
  • Sian Knott (01842 750050 sian.knott [at] bto.org).

If you have a complaint about the behaviour of any BTO volunteer or staff member you have come into contact with, you can raise a complaint via our Compliments, Comments and Complaints policy.

Related BTO Resources

Safeguarding Children Policy (to follow)

Safeguarding Adults at Risk Policy (to follow) 

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Statement and Zero Tolerance Policy

BTO’s Code of Conduct – under review

Health and Safety Policy

Complaints, Comments and Compliments Policy

Acknowledgements 

These guidance notes have been compiled from a number of contributions from both staff and volunteer ringers, whose help and interest in this sometimes difficult area are greatly appreciated. Further contributions, including suggestions for changes or notification of omissions, would also be very welcome. 

Thanks to: Ian Bainbridge, Jez Blackburn, Mark Boyd, James Cracknell, Dave Leech, Andy Musgrove, Rob Robinson, Andrew Scott, Ruth Walker, and the Merseyside Ringing Group.



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