Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults Help! Sheet

It is important for groups working with children, young people or vulnerable adults to ensure that they are aware of the responsibilities placed on them, both by specific legislation and the common law duty of care.

The Management Committee is ultimately responsible for ensuring that these obligations are met. By so doing, they will help to protect, not only these vulnerable groups, but also the organisation, its staff and its volunteers.

The obligations placed on organisations are designed to ensure that they:

a) recruit suitable people to care for vulnerable persons; and

b) operate on the basis of good practice policies and procedures in order to minimise the risk of harm to those in their care.

Working with children

The following guidance affects voluntary and community groups working with children and young people up to the age of 18 years.

Guidance is provided below for those groups who provide day care services, those who have staff in regulated activity and issues which impact on all those who work with children and young people.

Provision of day care services

Groups that provide ‘day care services' (e.g. pre-school playgroups, crèches, after school clubs etc) have legal obligations under The Children (NI) Order 1995.

The Children (NI) Order 1995 obliges all ‘day care service' providers to register with their local Health and Social Care Trust. They are required to operate according to registration criteria and are regularly inspected.

Note - Organisations and groups who provide ‘supervised activities' (e.g. youth clubs, uniformed organisations, sports groups, dance clubs etc) are exempt from the requirements of the Children (NI) Order.

Further information:

Appendix 2 - The Children (NI) Order 1995
A simple downloadable guide to the Children (NI) Order. (Part of the Our Duty to Care guide to good practice in child protection from Volunteer Now).

Local Health and Social Care Trusts
To register as a day care service provider, speak to the Registration and Inspection Unit in your local Health and Social Care Trust.

Employees or volunteers in ‘regulated activity' (Please note that this section is currently UNDER REVIEW)

There are five strands to regulated activity, although an individual need only meet the criteria of one of the following to be considered engaged in regulated activity:

  • Undertaking activity which is of a specified nature, which includes teaching, training, instructing, caring for, supervising, providing advice or guidance, providing treatment or therapy, transport, moderating a chat room;
  • Regulated activity is activity which takes place in a specified place, and there is the opportunity for contact with a vulnerable person; 
  • Certain defined positions of responsibility for example a school governor, director of social services, trustees of certain charities; 
  • Fostering, childminding and day care provision; 
  • Manager/supervisor of worker in regulated activity.

In addition to the five strands above, the activity must also take place on a frequent (once per week or more) or intensive (four or more days in any 30 day period or overnight) basis.

Groups who have employees or volunteers who are appointed to a ‘regulated activity' have legal obligations under The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (NI) Order (2007).

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups (NI) Order (2007) came into force in October 2009. In order to comply with this legislation Management Committees should ensure that they are registered to use the Access NI service. They should also ensure that procedures are in place to ensure that all staff and volunteers appointed to regulated activity positions after registration are checked through the Access NI Service.

Access NI aims to help organisations working with children to check prospective employees and volunteers. It informs you whether or not the applicant is listed on a barred list and provides you with criminal history information.

Further information:

Access NI Guide [13] - (also available from the Volunteer Now website) - POCVA FAQ - Protection of Children - VDA.

Working with children or young people

All voluntary and community groups working with children and young people have obligations under the common law ‘duty of care'.

Essentially this means that organisations must ensure that the standard of care provided meets reasonable expectations, bearing in mind generally accepted good practice standards.

In practice, this places an obligation on the Management Committee of the group or organisation to ensure that they have in place good child protection policies and procedures. They will also be expected to have measures in place to ensure that these are routinely followed, for example through mandatory staff training.

Implementing good practice helps to minimise the risk of harm to children or young people in their care and also helps to protect the organisation, its staff and its volunteers.

Further information:

Common Law Duty of Care Help! Sheet
A simple guide to understanding the ‘duty of care' and how it relates to Management Committee responsibilities.

Getting it Right
Volunteer Now guide to standards of good practice in child protection.

Our Duty to Care
Volunteer Now guide outlining principles of child protection good practice and including practical resources such as sample forms.

Volunteer Now
Support, advice and training in issues relating to child protection.

Working with vulnerable adults (Please note that this section is currently UNDER REVIEW)

Groups and organisations working with vulnerable adults must ensure that they meet their obligations under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Order (NI) Order 2007 and under the common law duty of care.

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults(NI) Order 2007

This legislation defines a vulnerable adult as an individual who is over 18 years and:

  • is in residential accommodation;
  • receives domiciliary care;
  • receives any form of health care;
  • is detained in lawful custody;
  • is under the supervision of a probation officer;
  • receives a prescribed welfare service;
  • receives service/takes part in activity provided to specified persons with any form of disability, age-specific needs, prescribed physical or mental health problem;
  • is a Direct Payments recipient;
  • requires assistance in the conduct of his own affairs.

The legislation obliges all groups who have positions in 'regulated activity' to ensure that all employees or volunteers in regulated activity are checked through the AccessNI service prior to employment.

Further information:

 

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults: A Shared Responsibility
Standards and guidance for good practice in safeguarding vulnerable adults

 

Common Law Duty of Care

As for organisations working with children, all voluntary and community groups working with vulnerable adults have obligations under the common law ‘duty of care'.

Essentially this means that organisations must ensure that the standard of care provided meets reasonable expectations, bearing in mind generally accepted good practice standards.

In practice, this places an obligation on the Management Committee of the group or organisation to ensure that they have in place good policies and procedures to ensure that practices within the organisation do not form a threat of harm to a vulnerable person unable to protect themselves.

Further information:

Common Law Duty of Care Help! Sheet [16]
A simple guide to understanding the ‘duty of care' and how it relates to Management Committee responsibilities.