Safeguarding Policy

WARRINGTON YOUTH ZONE SAFEGUARDING POLICY                                    


1.0 Purpose
1.1 Guiding Principles
1.2 Scope
1.3 Terms of Reference and Legal Framework
1.4 Listening to children and young people:  Capturing the Child’s Voice
1.5 Accountability and Designated Persons                                       

2.0 Recognising Abuse
2.1 Physical Abuse
2.2 Emotional Abuse
2.3 Neglect
2.4 Sexual Abuse
2.5 Typical vulnerabilities in children prior to abuse and recognising abuse

3.0 Other types of abuse and safeguarding issues
3.1 Child Sexual Exploitation
3.2 Grooming
3.3 Child Trafficking
3.4 Domestic Violence
3.5 Fabricated or Induced Illness
3.6 Faith Abuse
3.7 Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)
3.8 Forced Marriage
3.9 Child Criminal Exploitation / County Lines
3.10 Radicalism and Involvement in Terrorism
3.11 Serious Violence and Gang Related Behaviour
3.12 Self Injury and Self Harm
3.13 Sexting
3.14 Harmful Sexual Behaviour
3.15 Sexual Harassment
3.16 Private Fostering
3.17 Child to Parent Violence (CPV)
3.18 Children Missing from Home
3.19 Children & Young People with a Disability or Additional Health Needs

4.0 Adults at Risk
4.1 Physical Abuse
4.2 Domestic Violence or Abuse
4.3 Sexual Abuse
4.4 Psychological or Emotional Abuse
4.5 Financial or Material Abuse
4.6 Modern Slavery
4.7 Discriminatory Abuse
4.8 Organisational or Institutional Abuse
4.9 Neglect, Self- Neglect and/or Acts of Omission

5.0 Procedure
5.1 What to do if you have concerns about a child/young person or suspect abuse
5.2 What to do if a young person tells you about abuse
5.3 Recording Information
5.4 Making a referral into Social Care
5.5 What to do if an allegation of abuse is made involving staff or a volunteer
5.51 What to do if you witness abuse by an employee, trustee, or volunteer
5.52 Power and Positions of Trust
5.6 What to do if you suspect radicalisation
5.7 Informing parents

6.0 Confidentiality, information sharing and storing
6.1 Seven Golden Rules for Information Sharing
6.2 Storing Information

7.0 Supporting those involved
7.1 Supporting staff who receive disclosures
7.2 Staff rights and sources of support when facing an allegation

8.0 Induction and Training
8.1 Safer Recruitment and DBS

Appendix 1
Warrington Youth Zone Cause for Concern Form

Appendix 2
Warrington Youth Zone Body Map

Appendix 3
Confidentiality Policy

Appendix 4
Fraser Guidelines and Gillick Competency

Appendix 5
Safeguarding Flow Charts

Appendix 6
Quick Reference Emergency Contact Sheet

Appendix 7
Warrington Safeguarding Partnership Guidance And Referral Forms

Appendix 8
Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018

Appendix 9
What To Do If You Are Worried That a Child Is Being Abused March 2015



Warrington Youth Zone, which is part of the On Side Network of Youth Zones, exists to provide a safe, attractive, accessible, affordable facility where young people 7-19 (up to 25 with a disability) of all backgrounds and abilities can meet to play and participate in a wide range of sports, arts, music, media and developmental activities, seven days a week, where they will find positive people who listen, support, and encourage them to explore opportunities, develop their strengths and talents, and have fun!

Warrington Youth Zone’s offer to young people is structured in the following Zones or session:

  • Senior Zone, for young people aged 13-19 (up to 25 for young people identifying as with additional needs or disability)
  • Junior Zone, for young people aged 7-12
  • Aspire, session aimed at young people aged 6-17 with additional needs or disability.
  • Holiday Zone, during school holidays for young people aged 7-12 during school holidays.

All children, young people and vulnerable adults have the right to be protected. At Warrington Youth Zone, we need to ensure that all members are safeguarded and protected from harm, whatever their specific needs and circumstances. The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all staff, volunteers, trustees, and external agencies, including partners delivering on behalf of Warrington Youth Zone, are aware of their legal and personal responsibilities to ensure the safeguarding and welfare of children and young people. Warrington Youth Zone is committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people, and vulnerable adults at risk by implementing:

  • Safeguarding procedures including additional safeguards to protect children with disabilities or additional needs.
  • Safer recruitment and vetting of staff and volunteer’s policy.
  • A code of conduct
  • Support for staff and volunteers
  • Supervision
  • Training
  • Safeguarding expectations for external agencies and partners delivering on behalf of Warrington Youth Zone.

In this policy, a child is defined as: 

Anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. The fact that a child has reached 16 years of age, is living independently or is in further education, is a member of the armed forces, is in hospital or in custody in the secure estate, does not change their status or entitlements to services or protection’ (Working Together to Safeguard Children, 2018). 

  • Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children is defined for the purposes of this policy as: 
  • Protecting children from maltreatment.
  • Preventing impairment of children’s mental and physical health or development.
  • Ensuring that children grow up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.
  • Taking action to enable all children to have the best outcomes.

In this policy, a vulnerable adult is defined as someone who is aged 18 years or over who ‘is or may be in need of community care services by reasons of mental health or other disability, age or illness’ and ‘is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation’ (The Police Act 1997 (Enhanced Criminal Record Certificates) Protection of Vulnerable Adults Regulations 2002)

Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of adults is defined for the purposes of this policy as: 

  • Ensuring they can live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.
  • Empowering them by encouraging them to make their own decisions and provide informed consent.
  • Preventing the risk of abuse or neglect and stopping it from occurring.
  • Promoting their well-being and taking their views, wishes, feelings, and beliefs into account.

Warrington Youth Zone recognises that we all have a legal responsibility to take all reasonable steps to ensure that the risk of harm to children’s and vulnerable adult’s welfare is minimised and a duty of care is always exercised towards them. The document ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children (July 2018)‘ sets out clear guidelines on what organisations and agencies must and should do to keep children safe. In doing so, it seeks to emphasise that effective safeguarding is achieved by putting children at the centre of the system and by every individual and agency playing their full part.

The Care Act 2014 sets out a clear legal framework for how Local Authorities and other parts of the system should protect adults at risk of abuse or neglect.

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that all staff and volunteers are aware of their legal and personal responsibilities to ensure the safeguarding and welfare of children, young people, and vulnerable adults at Warrington Youth Zone and to ensure that staff know what to do should if they have a concern. Warrington Youth Zone strives to create a culture in which children and young people are valued, heard and that their right to be safe is upheld; this policy aims to support Warrington Youth Zone staff in achieving this.

This policy outlines how to recognise the signs and symptoms of possible abuse to ensure that all staff and volunteers recognise the significance of what they are observing, and the procedures that they need to follow if they have a concern. Staff and volunteers are trained to support their development, this ensures that we have a knowledgeable staff team able to respond appropriately in safeguarding and child protection situations.


Warrington Youth Zone subscribes to the principles as set out in “What to do if you’re worried a child is being abused (2015)and recognises that:

  • safeguarding a child is everyone’s responsibility.
  • all children have a right to be safe and should be protected from all forms of abuse and neglect.
  • that it is better to help children as early as possible.
  • children are best supported and protected when there is a co-ordinated response from all relevant agencies.

Everyone who works with children has a responsibility for keeping them safe. No single practitioner can have a full picture of a child’s needs and circumstances and, if children and families are to receive the right help at the right time, everyone who encounters them has a role to play in identifying concerns, sharing information, and taking prompt action. For organisations, agencies, and practitioners to collaborate effectively, it is vital that everyone working with children and families, including those who work with parents/carers, understands the role they should play and the role of other practitioners. They should be aware of, and comply with, the published arrangements set out by the local safeguarding partners.

All roles within Warrington Youth Zone are likely to encounter children and young people during their normal working activities.  As such, staff and volunteers will be in a unique position to be able to observe signs of abuse or neglect, or changes in a child’s behaviour which may indicate a child may be being abused or neglected.

Warrington Youth Zone requires all team members, staff, and volunteers to be alert to the signs of abuse and neglect and be willing to question the behaviour of children, young people, and parents/carers.  Staff and volunteers are expected to be diligent and not to make assumptions, rely on, or accept information without further verification.

All staff are expected to make themselves aware of who the Designated Safeguarding Leads are – details of whom can be found in Section 1.5 and Appendix 6.  As a key part of the Safeguarding process, staff must share safeguarding concerns with the Designated Safeguarding Lead and follow their advice.  A referral must always be made to Social Care or the Police if you suspect that a child is a risk of harm or is in immediate danger.

The welfare and safety of children and young people is paramount and should take priority over other work and all other considerations.


This policy applies to the Board of Directors, all staff (full time, part time, temporary, and freelance) and volunteers working on behalf of Warrington Youth Zone. Put simply, safeguarding children is everyone’s responsibility and priority.

This policy concerns all children and young people under the age of 18 (as defined by the Children Act 1989) and vulnerable adults aged 18 over and who are accessing Warrington Youth Zone or who Warrington Youth Zone staff and volunteers encounter as a result of their activity with young people. 

As well as physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect, safeguarding can involve a range of potential issues such as:

  • Bullying, including cyberbullying (by text message, on social networking sites, etc.) and prejudice-based bullying.
  • Hate crimes
  • Radicalisation
  • Child Criminal Exploitation
  • Child Sexual Exploitation
  • Female Genital Mutilation
  • Domestic violence
  • Sexting
  • Substance misuse
  • Self-Harm and Self-injury
  • Fabricated illness
  • Child Trafficking
  • Grooming


The Children Act 1989 and 2004 make it clear that people who work with children have the responsibility to keep them safe. This is supported by the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (to which the UK is a signatory) which sets out the rights of children to be free from abuse. The Government provides guidance on how organisations and individuals should protect children and young people in ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ (July 2018), where abuse is described as:

‘Any form of maltreatment of a child. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child by inflicting harm, or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting by those known to them or, more rarely, by others (e.g. via the internet). They may be abused by an adult or adults, or another child or children’.

Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) also advices that professionals should be alert to the potential need for early help for a child who:

  • is disabled and has specific additional needs.
  • has special educational needs (whether they have a statutory Education, Health and Care Plan or not).
  • is a young carer.
  • is showing signs of being drawn into anti-social or criminal behaviour, including gang involvement and association with organised crime groups.
  • is frequently missing/goes missing from care or from home.
  • is at risk of modern slavery, trafficking, or exploitation.
  • is at risk of being radicalised or exploited.
  • is a privately fostered child.
  • is in a family circumstance presenting challenges for the child, such as substance abuse, adult mental health issues and domestic violence.
  • is misusing drugs or alcohol themselves.
  • has returned home to their family from care.

Adult protection is part of safeguarding and refers to

“An adult at risk of abuse or neglect is defined as someone who has needs for care and support, who is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect and as a result of their care needs – is unable to protect themselves” (Care Act 2014).

To protect vulnerable adults from mistreatment and improve their quality of life, we must follow the six principles of the Care Act 2014 that underpin safeguarding of adults.

The six principles of adult safeguarding: 

  • Empowerment – People being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent.

“I am asked what I want as the outcomes from the safeguarding process, and these directly inform what happens.”

  • Prevention – It is better to act before harm occurs.

“I receive clear and simple information about what abuse is, how to recognise the signs and what I can do to seek help.”

  • Proportionality – The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.

“I am sure that the professionals will work in my interest, as I see them, and they will only get involved as much as needed.”

  • Protection – Support and representation for those in greatest need.

“I get help and support to report abuse and neglect. I get help so that I can take part in the safeguarding process to the extent to which I want.”

  • Partnership – Local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting, and reporting neglect and abuse.

“I know that staff treat any personal and sensitive information in confidence, only sharing what is helpful and necessary. I am confident that professionals will work together and with me to get the best result for me.”

  • Accountability – Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.

“I understand the role of everyone involved in my life and so do they.”

Making Safeguarding personal 

“Making safeguarding personal” means that adult safeguarding should be person led and outcome focussed. It engages the person in a conversation about how best to respond to their safeguarding situation in a way that enhances involvement, choice, and control. As well as improving quality of life, well-being, and safety. 

The responsibility for ensuring that the guidance is put into practice is given to the Safeguarding Partnership Warrington Safeguarding Adults Board which has to ensure that it is “Working together to achieve effective practice that makes a meaningful difference to the lives of adults at risk”

The Data Protection Act 1998 places a duty on organisations and individuals to process personal information fairly and lawfully, however it is not a barrier to sharing information where failure to do so would result in a child or vulnerable adult being placed at risk of harm.  Future advice can be found in the document “Information sharing: Advice for practitioners providing safeguarding services to children, young people, parents, and carers)

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 for England and Wales provides a framework to empower and protect people who may lack capacity to make some decisions for themselves. It includes key provisions to protect vulnerable people and the Mental Capacity Bill introduced a new criminal offence of ill treatment or neglect of a person who lacks capacity.  A person found guilty of such an offence may be liable to imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years. 

The following polices are referred to within this policy and should be read alongside:

  • Whistleblowing Policy
  • Supporting Young People Policy
  • Employing Staff and Volunteers with Convictions
  • Acceptable use of Social Media sites and Technology Policy
  • Photography and Videoing of Young People Policy
  • Staff Conduct and Working with Young People Policy


Effective safeguarding systems are child centred. Failings in safeguarding systems are too often the result of losing sight of the needs and views of the children within them or placing the interests of adults (potentially the child’s parents) ahead of the needs of children. Children want to be respected, their views to be heard, to have stable relationships with professionals built on trust, and for consistent support to be provided for their individual needs. This should guide the behaviour of professionals. Anyone working with children should see and speak to the child, listen to what they say, take their views seriously, and work with them collaboratively when deciding how to support their needs. A child-centred approach is supported by: 

  • The Children Act (1989) (as amended by section 53 of the Children Act 2004). 
  • The Equality Act (2010)
  • The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (1991) 
  • Working Together to Safeguard Children (2018) 

In line with Equality Act 2010, Warrington Youth Zone is committed promoting equality of opportunity for all and ensuring that no child or group of children/young people be treated any less favourably than others in being able to access effective services which meet their needs, which includes Child Protection action and the offer of ‘Early Help’.

It is against the law to discriminate against someone because of the following protected characteristics: 


Final accountability for ensuring Warrington Youth Zone fulfils its child protection and safeguarding children responsibilities falls to the Chief Executive, however responsibility is delegated to the Designated Safeguarding Lead.

The designated person(s) responsible for managing safeguarding concerns at Warrington Youth Zone are:

Safeguarding Lead & Designated Person – Tom Jowett, Head of Youth Work

Tel: 01925 977277     


Deputy Safeguarding Lead – Antony Marshall, Wellbeing Lead

Tel: 01925 977277    


Deputy Safeguarding Lead – Dave McNicholl, Chief Executive 

Tel: 01925 977277    


The Designated Person(s) is key to ensuring that proper safeguarding procedures and policies are in place and are followed and is the primary person to whom members of staff and volunteers report concerns, through the Line Management systems of the Youth Zone.

In line with ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children‘, the Designated Person(s) are required by law to have undertaken the recognised course, ‘Lead Designated Person for Safeguarding Children’, and that this is kept up to date with appropriate refreshers every two years.  All Designated Leads and Deputies must have completed the appropriate training provided by Warrington Safeguarding Partnership.  More information about the roles and responsibilities of Designated Persons has been provided by NSPCC: 

If the Designated Person is not present for any reason, responsibility will be delegated to the other named Deputies listed above, depending on availability.

Responsibilities of the Designated Person:

  • Manage Referrals – the Designated Person should respond to all suspected concerns of abuse, and contact:
  • Local authority children’s/adult social care – If there are concerns relating to a child.
  • Police – Where a crime may have been committed.
  • Local Authority Designated Officer (details are listed in this document) If there are child/adult protection concerns surrounding staff members or volunteers.
  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) – Where a person has been dismissed due to risk/harm to a child.
  • The CEO and designated trustees – To inform of issues relating to section 47 of the Children Act 1989
  • Undertake Training – the Designated Person should receive appropriate refresher training every 2 years in order to:
  • Understand the assessment process for providing early help and intervention.
  • Encourage a culture of listening to children and young people and adopting a child centred approach ensuring their thoughts and feelings are considered before taking any action.
  • Ensure all members of staff and volunteers understand the organisation’s safeguarding policies and procedures and other relevant policies, particularly new and part time staff, to support vulnerable young people.
  • To provide appropriate induction and annual refresher training for all staff to ensure that they have knowledge, skills and expertise that improve over time.
  • To ensure that staff are competent to carry out their responsibilities for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and creating an environment where staff feel able to raise concerns and feel supported in their safeguarding role.
  • Keep detailed, accurate and secure records relating to concerns and referrals for young people.
  • Have a working knowledge of how Local Authorities should conduct themselves when investigating cases of child abuse.
  • Understand how to report and contribute to child protection case conferences and child protection review conferences and to be able to attend and contribute effectively. 
  • Share any relevant information, in our possession, regarding young people with the appropriate agencies, so long as this does not impact ongoing investigations.
  • Obtain access to any relevant resources and attend any training that may be beneficial to their role.
  • Develop Policies and Raise Awareness – the Designated Person should ensure the Youth Zone’s policies and procedures are known and used appropriately and:
  • Ensure the organisation’s safeguarding policy is reviewed annually (or as required) and any necessary amendments are made and disseminated to the staff team.
  • Ensure the Safeguarding Policy is available publicly and parents/carers are made aware that Warrington Youth Zone has a responsibility to report and refer any suspected cases of child abuse and Warrington Youth Zone’s role in this.
  • Liaise with the Warrington Safeguarding Partnership Board (WSPB) to make sure the organisation is receiving relevant updates on policies and implementation.

The Board Member with responsibility for safeguarding is Paula Worthington, who can be contacted via Warrington Youth Zone on Tel: 01925 977277.

Any allegation or concern involving the Designated Person and/or named Board Member must be referred to the Local Authority Designated Officer for which details can be found in Section 5.5, “What to do if an allegation of abuse involves staff or volunteers”.


The signs of abuse might not always be obvious, and a child/vulnerable adult might not tell anyone what is happening to them. You should therefore question behaviours if something seems unusual and try to speak to the young person, alone, if appropriate, to seek further information.

Be Alert, Question Behaviours, Ask for Help, Refer

Indicators of abuse and neglect

Knowing what to look for is vital to the early identification of abuse and neglect. All staff and volunteers need to be aware of indicators of abuse and neglect so that they can identify cases of children and vulnerable adults who may need help or protection. If staff/volunteers are unsure, they should always speak to the Designated Safeguarding Lead (or Session Lead). All staff/volunteers should be aware that abuse, neglect, and safeguarding issues are rarely stand-alone events that can be covered by one definition or label. In most cases, multiple issues will overlap with one another.  

In relation to child protection there are 4 types of abuse defined in “Working Together”, they are:


May involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating, or otherwise causing physical harm to a child. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness in a child. Physical abuse can also occur outside of the family environment.

Indicators of this are:

  • Unexplained recurrent injuries or burns.
  • Improbable explanations or refusal to explain injuries.
  • Wearing clothes to cover injuries, even in hot weather.
  • Absconding
  • Fear of medical help or examination.
  • Self-destructive tendencies
  • Aggression towards others
  • Fear of physical contact – shrinking back/ flinching if touched.
  • Admitting that they are punished, but the punishment is excessive (such as a child being beaten every night to ‘make him study’).
  • Fear of suspected abuser being contacted.
  • Bruises seen on parts of the body not normally harmed through play, such as                 in or around the mouth.
  • Bruises that appear as a small ‘grasp’ or finger marks to a child’s arms or legs.
  • Injuries that look like they have been caused by improvised weapons such as a belt or a stick, etc.
  • Bruises that appear to be of different ages (colour) in the same area.
  • Injuries that appear the same on both sides of the body, legs, head, or arms.
  • Injuries that appear as bite marks, especially when the marks appear to be of an adult or an older child (more than 3cm across).

It is a concern when a child is not taken for treatment if they are suffering pain, swelling or discolouration over a bone or joint. Although it may not always be possible to know whether a child has a fractured bone, it is difficult for a parent / carer to be unaware that the child has been hurt. It can be difficult to distinguish between a burn and scald that has been caused accidentally or non-accidentally. As with fractures, all burns and scalds should receive medical attention.


The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child such as to cause severe and adverse effects on the child’s emotional development. It may involve conveying to a child that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person. It may also include parents or carers who withdraw their attention from their child or who blame their problems on their child. It may include not giving the child opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them, or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate. It may feature age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on children. These may include interactions that are beyond a child’s developmental capability as well as overprotection and limitation of exploration and learning or preventing the child participating in normal social interaction. It may involve seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another. It may involve serious bullying (including cyberbullying), causing children to frequently feel frightened or in danger, or the exploitation or corruption of children. Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a child, although it may occur on its own. 

Indicators of this are:

  • Very low self-esteem, often with an inability to accept praise or trust in adults.
  • Excessive clinging and attention seeking behaviour.
  • Overanxious – being excessively ‘watchful’ (hyper vigilant), constantly checking or being overanxious to please.
  • Withdrawn / socially isolated.
  • Physical, mental, and emotional development lags.
  • Sudden speech disorders.
  • Continual self-depreciation (‘I’m stupid, ugly, worthless, etc.’).
  • Overreaction to mistakes.
  • Extreme fear of any new situation.
  • Inappropriate response to pain (‘I deserve this’).
  • Neurotic behaviour (rocking, hair twisting, self-mutilation).
  • Extremes of passivity or aggression.


The persistent failure to meet a child’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the child’s health or development. Neglect may occur if a parent becomes physically or mentally unable to care for a child. A parent may also have an addiction to alcohol or drugs, which could impair their ability to keep a child safe or result in them prioritising buying drugs, or alcohol, over food, clothing, or warmth for the child. Neglect may occur during pregnancy because of maternal substance abuse or not accessing appropriate antenatal care. Once a child is born, neglect may involve a parent or carer failing to: provide adequate food, clothing, and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment); protect a child from physical and emotional harm or danger; ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate caregivers); or ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment. It may also include neglect of, or unresponsiveness to, a child’s basic emotional needs. 

Indicators of this are:

  • Constant hunger and complaints of tiredness.
  • Poor personal hygiene.
  • Poor state of clothing.
  • Untreated medical problems.
  • No social relationships.
  • Compulsive scavenging.
  • Destructive tendencies.
  • Below average weight / height.
  • Reluctant to go home, particularly at weekends / holiday.


Sexual abuse is any sexual activity with a child. Many children and young people who are victims of sexual abuse do not recognise themselves as such. A child may not understand what is happening and may not even understand that it is wrong. Sexual abuse can have a long-term impact on mental health. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing, and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet). Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.

Indicators of this are:

  • Being overly affectionate or knowledgeable in a sexual way inappropriate to their age or acting out precocious sexual behaviour with others.
  • Medical problems such as chronic itching, pain in the genitals, venereal diseases.
  • Other extreme reactions, such as depression, self-harm, suicide attempts, running away, overdoses, anorexia.
  • Personality changes such as becoming insecure or clinging.
  • Regressing to younger behaviour patterns such as thumb sucking or bringing out discarded cuddly toys.
  • Sudden loss of appetite or compulsive eating.
  • Being isolated or withdrawn.
  • Inability to concentrate.
  • Lack of trust or fear of someone they know well, such as not wanting to be alone with a specific person.
  • Starting to wet again, day or night/nightmares.
  • Become worried about clothing being removed.
  • Suddenly drawing sexually explicit pictures.
  • Trying to be ‘ultra-good’ or perfect; oversensitive or overreacting to criticism.
  • Reluctant to go home.


There is no definitive list of vulnerabilities:

  • Living in a chaotic or dysfunctional household (including parental substance use, domestic violence, parental mental health issues, parental criminality).
  • History of abuse (including familial child sexual abuse, risk of forced marriage, risk of ‘honour’-based violence, physical and emotional abuse and neglect).
  • Recent bereavement or loss.
  • Gang association either through relatives, peers, or intimate relationships
  • Attending school with young people who are sexually exploited.
  • Learning disabilities.
  • Unsure about their sexual orientation or unable to disclose sexual orientation to their families.
  • Friends with other young people who are sexually exploited.
  • Homelessness.
  • Lacking friends from the same age group.
  • Living in a gang neighbourhood.
  • Living in residential care.
  • Living in a hostel, bed and breakfast accommodation, or a foyer.
  • Low self-esteem or self-confidence.
  • Young carer.
  • Isolated, with little or no friendships or peer groups.

This is not an exhaustive list.

A child may be subjected to a combination of different kinds of abuse. It is also possible that a child may show no outward signs of abuse and hide what is happening from everyone. Many learn to ‘manage’ their problems, making it hard for others to help. We may observe behaviours/physical presentations that cause concern; however, it is important to remember that the causes of these may not be abuse, but due to other issues such as bereavement, homesickness etc. Information related to events of this nature should be logged onto a Cause for Concern form. As a result, staff should be cautious before assuming abuse is the cause. Staff should ensure that they discuss their concerns with the Designated Person for advice.


Contextual safeguarding is an approach to understanding, and responding to, young people’s experiences of significant harm beyond their families. It recognises that the different relationships that young people form in their neighbourhoods, schools and online can feature violence and abuse. Parents and carers have little influence over these contexts, and young people’s experiences of extra-familial abuse can undermine parent-child relationships.


On February 16th, 2017, the government launched the revised definition of Child Sexual Exploitation. The revised definition is detailed below: 

“Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual.  Consent cannot be given, even where a child may believe they are voluntarily engaging in sexual activity with the person who is exploiting them. Child sexual exploitation doesn’t always involve physical contact and can happen online. A significant number of children who are victims of sexual exploitation go missing from home, care and education at some point.”

There are warning signs which can be an indication that a child might be being exploited:

  • Staying out all night or being regularly missing from home or school.
  • Change in behaviour, becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdrawn.
  • Unexplained gifts or new possessions, such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones, or money that can’t be accounted for.
  • Increased or secretive use of mobile phone.
  • A significantly older boyfriend/girlfriend, friend or, perhaps, lots of new friends.
  • Spending excessive amounts of time online or on their mobile
  • Becoming increasingly secretive.
  • Sudden involvement in crime or sudden increase in criminal offending.
  • Sexual health problems.
  • Change in physical appearance.

When making a referral in relation to CSE the Safeguarding Lead will complete the Multi Agency Request for Services form: Appendix 7

Further information can be found at:


Grooming is when someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a child or young person so they can manipulate, exploit, and abuse them. Children and young people who are groomed can be sexually abused, exploited or trafficked.

Anybody can be a groomer, no matter their age, gender, or race. Grooming can take place over a short or long period of time – from weeks to years. Groomers may also build a relationship with the young person’s family or friends to make them seem trustworthy or authoritative.

The relationship a groomer builds can take different forms. This could be a romantic relationship, as a mentor, an authority figure, or a dominant and persistent figure.

A groomer can use the same sites, games and apps as young people, spending time learning about a young person’s interests and use this to build a relationship with them. Whether online or in person, groomers can use tactics like pretending to be younger, giving advice or showing understanding, buying gifts, giving attention, or taking young people on trips, outings or holidays.

More information can be found at:


Child trafficking is a very serious issue which can have a devastating and lasting impact on its victims. Children can be trafficked into, within, and out of the UK. Trafficking of persons means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.

Further information can be found at:


The cross-government definition of domestic violence and abuse is any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence, or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. The abuse can encompass, but is not limited to:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Emotional

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence, resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour. Coercive behaviour is an act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim. If staff have concerns they can also contact the Warrington Domestic Abuse Partnership on 01925 443124 or view the Warrington Domestic Abuse Partnership Strategy, found in Appendix 7.

The Hideout, created by Women’s Aid is a space to help children and young people understand abuse. It also helps them learn how to take positive action.

Women’s Aid have published an update to their Expect Respect Healthy Relationships Toolkit. The toolkit, to be used with children and young people aged 4 to 18, is designed for work in schools and communities around holding conversations on violence and gender-based violence. It includes information on themes such as: assumptions about gender, power and equality, digital footprints, understanding consent online and offline and resolving conflict.

Expect-Respect-Healthy-Relationships-Toolkit.pdf (

More information can be found at:


The fabrication or induction of illness in children is a relatively rare form of child abuse. Where concerns exist about fabricated or induced illness, it requires professionals to work together, evaluating all the available evidence, to reach an understanding of the reasons for the child’s signs and symptoms of illness. 

More information can be found at:,of%20illness%20in%20the%20child.


Faith abuse includes belief in concepts of witchcraft and spirit possession, demons or the devil acting through children or ‘leading them astray’ (traditionally seen in some Christian beliefs), the evil eye or djinns (traditionally known in some Islamic faith contexts) and dakini (in the Hindu context); ritual or muti murders where the killing of children is believed to bring supernatural benefits or the use of their body parts is believed to produce potent magical remedies; and use of belief in magic or witchcraft to create fear in children to make them more compliant when they are being trafficked for domestic slavery or sexual exploitation. This is not an exhaustive list and there will be other examples where children have been harmed when adults think that their actions have brought bad fortune, such as telephoning a wrong number which is believed by some to allow malevolent spirits to enter the home. 

Staff should refer to Child abuse linked to faith or belief. 

More information can be found at:


Comprises all procedures involving the partial or total removal of the female external genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. FGM is also sometimes known as ‘female genital cutting’ or ‘female circumcision’, however, circumcision is not an appropriate term. Communities tend to use local names for referring to this practice including ‘sunna’. FGM is considered child abuse in the UK and a grave violation of the human rights of girls and women. In all circumstances where FGM is practised on a child it is a violation of the child’s right to life, their right to their bodily integrity, as well as their right to health. The UK Government has signed several international human rights laws against FGM, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child. If you have concerns relating to young people possibly affected by FGM, this should be referred using the Child Protection procedures.

More information can be found at:


Forced Marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used. The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence, and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse can also be a factor. 

Staff can also refer to:


Crime Exploitation/Organised Crime is becoming a prevalent issue amongst many young people. Individuals, normally working with others, with the capacity to commit serious crime on a continuing basis, which includes elements of planning, control and coordination and benefits those involved will look to exploit young people who display common indicators of vulnerability, to participate in organised crime. Child Criminal Exploitation is where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into any criminal activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or (c) through violence or the threat of violence. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. 

The 2018 Home Office Serious Crime Strategy states the NPCC (National Police Chiefs’ Council) definition of a County Line is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas (within the UK), using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move (and store) the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.

More information can be found at:


At the time of writing/reviewing this policy, the UK Government website states that the current threat from terrorism, in mainland UK (England, Scotland, and Wales) is considered to be “substantial” which means that an attack is still likely. Terrorism can involve the exploitation of young people and vulnerable adults.

Terrorism is defined by the Terrorism Act 2000 as:

“An action that endangers or causes serious violence to a person/people; causes serious damage to property; or seriously interferes or disrupts an electronic system.  The use or threat must be deigned to influence the government or to intimidate the public and is made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious, or ideological cause.”

Extremism is defined in the national Counter-Terrorism Strategy (CONTEST) as: 

“A vocal or active opposition to fundamental British values, including democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty and mutual respect and tolerance of different faiths and beliefs.  It also includes calls for the death of members of our armed forces, whether in this country or overseas.” 

Radicalisation is defined in the CONTEST Strategy as:

“The process by which a person comes to support terrorism and forms of extremism leading to terrorism.”

The following are examples of recognised offences in relation to terrorism, extremism, and radicalisation:

  • Murder or soliciting murder.
  • Committing, preparing, or instigating acts of terrorism.
  • Incitement to commit acts of terrorism overseas.
  • Encouragement of terrorism.
  • Inciting racial or religious hatred or hatred because of sexual orientation.  
  • Inviting support for a proscribed organisation. 
  • Terrorist financing offences. 
  • Dissemination of terrorist publications. 
  • Offences of encouragement and dissemination using the internet. 

The CONTEST strategy focuses on 4 strands: Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare, it is the Prevent strategy that is of relevance in safeguarding young people and vulnerable adults. The Prevent strategy has three key objectives:

  • Ideology – Challenging the ideology that supports terrorism and those who promote it.
  • Individuals – Protect vulnerable people from being drawn into terrorism and ensure they are given appropriate advice and support.
  • Institutions – Supporting sectors and institutions where there are risks of radicalisation.

Challenging the ideology includes being proactive in promoting values such as democracy, the rule of law, equality of opportunity, freedom of speech, and the universal right to freedom from persecution. There is a need for local communities and organisation to support this by focusing on those most susceptible to terrorist propaganda; it should not be assumed that Muslims are any more vulnerable to radicalisation than other faith or ethnic groups.

In terms of protecting individuals, key points made are: 

  • Radicalisation is a process not an event, and it is possible to intervene in this to prevent vulnerable people being radicalised. 
  • There is a need to ensure that activities are proportionate and focused upon people at risk.
  • Activity needs to address all forms of terrorism.  It is not just the responsibility of the police, but also local authorities and other partners.
  • Programmes relating to this are comparatively new, and evidence of impact limited.  The Government is committed to research and evaluation to demonstrate what works and inform the development of best practice.

Channel is a multi-agency process that evaluates referrals of individuals at risk of radicalisation and decides on the most appropriate action.  It involves assessing the nature and the extent of the potential risk and, where necessary, providing an appropriate support package tailored to the individual’s needs. Supporting those most at risk of being radicalised is about diverting people away from potential risk at an early stage which prevents them from being drawn into criminal activity linked to terrorism not about prosecution.  At Warrington Youth Zone we have a clear role in providing diversionary activities as well as targeted support services.


All staff/volunteers should be aware of indicators, which may signal that children/young people are at risk from, or are involved with serious violent crime, gang related behaviour, or associations. It’s not illegal for a young person to be in a gang as there are different types of “gangs” and not all “gangs” are dangerous. However, some children and young people that are involved with gangs may need help and support as the gang membership can be linked to illegal activity, particularly organised criminal gangs that are involved in trafficking, drug dealing and serious violence. Young people might be victims of violence or pressured into doing things like stealing or carrying drugs or weapons. 

Indicators may include a change in friendships or relationships with older individuals or groups, signs of self-harm or a significant change in wellbeing, or signs of assault or unexplained injuries. Unexplained gifts or new possessions could also indicate that children have been approached by, or are involved with, individuals associated with criminal networks or gangs. 

How are young people recruited? 

A child or young person might be recruited into a gang because of where they live or because of who their family is. They might join because they don’t see another option or because they feel like they need protection. Children and young people may become involved in gangs for many reasons, including:

  • Peer pressure and wanting to fit in with their friends. 
  • They feel respected and important. 
  • They feel protected from other gangs or bullies. 
  • They want to make money and are promised rewards. 
  • They want to gain status and feel powerful.
  • They have been excluded from school and feel they don’t have a future or any other option.
  • To support their family. 

Organised criminal gangs groom children and young people because they are less suspicious and are given lighter sentences than adults. 

Studies show that a child/young person is more at risk of being recruited if:

  • They have been excluded from school.
  • They have special education needs. 
  • There are problems at home like neglect, domestic abuse, or sexual abuse. 
  • They have problems with their mental health. 
  • They live in existing gang territory. 

All staff/volunteers must be aware of the associated risks and report any concerns to the Designated Safeguarding Lead. 


Self-injury can take many different forms but in general terms is the act of deliberately causing harm to oneself either by causing a physical injury or by putting oneself in dangerous situations and/or self-neglect. Self-injury or self-harm is most often described as “a way to express or cope with emotional distress”. There are many possible causes of emotional distress. It’s often a build-up of many smaller things that leads people to think about self-harm. Although there can be many reasons why a person chooses to self-injure, it is important that staff consider the possibility of a link between self-injury and trauma/abuse.  It can be hard to recognise the signs of self-harm in children and teenagers, but as a staff member it is important to trust your instincts if you are worried something is wrong. Signs to look out for can include:  

  • Covering up, for example by wearing long sleeves a lot of the time, especially in summer.
  • Unexplained bruises, cuts, burns or bite-marks on their body.
  • Blood stains on clothing or finding tissues with blood in their room.
  • Becoming withdrawn and spending a lot of time alone in their room.
  • Avoiding friends and family and spending a significant amount of time isolated.
  • Feeling down, low self-esteem or blaming themselves for things.

When dealing with self-injury and self-harm staff should:

  • Show that they care about the person behind the self-injury.
  • Show concern for the injuries themselves and ensure any needed first aid is provided.
  • Make it clear it is OK to talk about it and it is not a “taboo” subject.
  • Acknowledge how scary the thought of not self-harming may be.
  • Explore their support networks.
  • Report to Designated Safeguarding Leads and seek further advice.

Staff can also refer to:


Sexting is when people share sexual messages and/or a naked or semi-naked image, video or text message with another person. It’s also known as youth produced sexual imagery. Children and young people may consent to sending a nude image of themselves; they can also be forced or coerced into sharing images by their peers or adults online. If a child or young person originally shares the image consensually, they have no control over how other people might use it. If the image is shared around peer groups it may lead to bullying and isolation. Perpetrators of abuse may circulate a nude image more widely and use this to blackmail a child and/or groom them for further sexual abuse. 

When children engage in sexting they’re creating an indecent image of a person under the age of 18 which, even if they take it themselves, is against the law. Distributing an indecent image of a child – e.g. sending it via text – is also illegal. Although advice is that all incidents of sexting should be recorded as a crime, in January 2016 the Home Office launched Outcome 21, which allows police in England and Wales to record that a crime has happened but that it was not considered to be in the public interest to take formal criminal justice action. Crimes recorded under this code are unlikely to be disclosed on a vetting check in the future although this cannot be guaranteed. 

Sometimes a child might tell you directly that they have been involved in sexting or they might mention something which gives you cause for concern. Other times, you might notice that a child is behaving differently or being bullied, and the sexting might come to light when you try to find out what’s going on. You might overhear a conversation between children or see something that makes you worried. Never wait for a child to tell you directly that they have been involved in sexting. You must follow Warrington Youth Zone’s policy and procedures and ensure that the Designated Safeguarding Lead is aware of the situation as soon as possible. If you’re talking to a young person who has been involved in sexting, it’s important to remain calm, reassuring, and non-judgemental.  Give them time to talk and check that you understand what they have said. Try to find out:

  • How the young person is feeling.
  • If it’s an image, video, or message.
  • Who sent it.
  • Who is featured in it.
  • If there were any adults involved.
  • If it’s on an organisational or personal device.

Never view any sexting images. If the image is on a device belonging to your organisation, you need to isolate it so that nobody else can see it. This may involve blocking the network to all users. You should never copy, print, or share sexual images of a child or young person (Childnet, 2016; UKCCIS, 2017a and 2017b). You should only search devices if the child is at immediate risk of harm. 

In England and Wales, the Protection of Children Act 1978 makes it an offence to take, make, show, distribute, possess (with a view to distribute) or publish an advertisement with an indecent photograph or pseudo-photograph of a child. Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 1988 makes it an offence to possess indecent images of children (whether or not you intend to distribute them). Across the UK, section 33 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 makes it an offence to share private sexual photographs or films with the intent to cause distress.

More information can be found at:


Harmful sexual behaviour (HSB) is developmentally inappropriate sexual behaviour which is displayed by children and young people, and which may be harmful or abusive (derived from Hackett, 2014).  Harmful Sexual Behaviour encompasses a range of behaviour, which can be displayed towards younger children, peers, older children, or adults. It is harmful to the children and young people who display it, as well as the people it is directed towards. Technology assisted HSB (TA-HSB) is sexualised behaviour which children or young people engage in using the internet or technology such as mobile phones. This might include viewing pornography (including extreme pornography or viewing indecent images of children) and sexting. Children and young people demonstrate a range of sexual behaviours as they grow up, and this is not always harmful.

Sexualised behaviour sits on a continuum with five stages:

  • Appropriate – the type of sexual behaviour that is considered ‘appropriate’ for a particular child depends on their age and level of development.
  • Inappropriate – this may be displayed in isolated incidents but is generally consensual and acceptable within a peer group.
  • Problematic – this may be socially unexpected, developmentally unusual, and impulsive, but have no element of victimisation.
  • Abusive – this often involves manipulation, coercion, or lack of consent.
  • Violent – this is very intrusive and may have an element of sadism.

Staff can also refer to:


When referring to sexual harassment we mean ‘unwanted conduct of a sexual nature’ that can occur online and offline. When we reference sexual harassment, we do so in the context of child-on-child sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is likely to violate a child’s dignity, and/or make them feel intimidated, degraded or humiliated and/or create a hostile, offensive or sexualised environment. 

Whilst not intended to be an exhaustive list, sexual harassment can include: 

  • Sexual comments, such as telling sexual stories, making lewd comments, making sexual remarks about clothes and appearance, and calling someone sexualised names.  
  • Sexual “jokes” or taunting.  
  • Physical behaviour, such as deliberately brushing against someone, interfering with someone’s clothes (schools and colleges should be considering when any of this crosses a line into sexual violence – it is important to talk to and consider the experience of the victim) and displaying pictures, photos, or drawings of a sexual nature.  
  • Online sexual harassment.

This may be standalone, or part of a wider pattern of sexual harassment and/or sexual violence. 

It may include: 

  • Non-consensual sharing of sexual images and videos. 
  • Sexualised online bullying.
  • Unwanted sexual comments and messages, including, on social media.                                          
  • Sexual exploitation; coercion and threats.
  • Upskirting.
  • Pulling down shorts or pants as a joke.  


Private fostering occurs when a child under the age of 16 (under 18, if disabled) is provided with care and accommodation by a person who is not a parent or a person with parental responsibility for them or a close relative in their own home. 

Under certain conditions, a child might be cared for, as part of a private arrangement, by someone who is not their parent or a ‘close relative’. This constitutes as private fostering when the following conditions are met:

  • A child is under 16 years of age – 18 if they have a disability.
  • The arrangement is for 28 days or longer. 
  • The child’s new carer does not have parental responsibility for the child and is not a close relative. Close relatives are defined as stepparents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles or aunts (whether of full blood, half blood or marriage/affinity).

Common situations for private fostering 

Common situations in which children are privately fostered include:

  • Children with parents or families overseas.
  • Children with parents working or studying in the UK.
  • Asylum seekers and refugees.
  • Trafficked children.
  • Local children living apart from their families.
  • Adolescents and teenagers.
  • Children attending language schools.
  • Children at independent boarding schools, who do not return home for holidays.
  • Children brought in from abroad with a view to adoption.
  • When a young person’s relationship with their parents/carer has broken down and they have gone to live with friends. 

By law parents and carers must notify the local authority of private fostering arrangements to safeguard and protect the child’s welfare as well as ensuring the child, carer, and parent are receiving appropriate support and help. 

Warrington Youth Zone’s policy is that if we do become aware that a child or young person is being privately fostered, we will inform the carer/parent of their legal duty to notify Warrington Safeguarding Partnership or equivalent (details and guidance will be found on Warrington Safeguarding Board’s website); we will follow this up by contacting Children’s Social Care to notify them of the arrangement. We will email  with details about the arrangement or call 01925 443400.

Local Central Advice and Duty Team or equivalent, details and guidance will be found on Warrington Safeguarding Partnership website:


Child on Parent Violence (CPV) or Adolescent to Parent Violence and Abuse (APVA) is any behaviour used by a young person to control, dominate, or coerce parents.  It is intended to threaten and intimidate and puts family safety at risk. Whilst it is normal for adolescents to demonstrate healthy anger, conflict, and frustration throughout their transition from childhood to adulthood, anger should not be confused with violence.  Violence is a range of behaviours including non-physical acts aimed at achieving ongoing control over another person by instilling fear.


Children who go missing from home are vulnerable to abuse and violence and need to be safeguarded. Children go missing for several reasons, but in general, the factors preceding missing episodes are:

  • Arguments and conflicts. 
  • Poor family relationships.
  • Abuse and neglect.
  • Boundaries and control.

Immediate risks:

  • Lack of family support.
  • Lack of legitimate income leading to high-risk activities.
  • Becoming a victim of abuse.
  • Missing out on schooling and education.
  • Increased vulnerability.


Children and young people with a disability or additional health needs are a particularly vulnerable group as signs of abuse and neglect may be masked or misinterpreted as being underlying impairments. Disabled young people are much more likely, than those without a disability, to experience abuse as: 

  • They have fewer outside contacts than other young people.
  • May receive personal care, possibly from several carers.
  • Have limited capacity to resist or avoid abuse.
  • Have communication difficulties that may make it difficult to tell others what is happening. 
  • Be apprehensive about complaining because of a fear of losing services.
  • Be especially vulnerable to bullying and intimidation and /or, abuse by their peers.


The Care Act 2014 makes it clear that specific adult safeguarding duties apply to any adult who:

  • Has care and support needs.
  • Is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect.
  • Is unable to protect themselves because of their care and support needs.

An adult with care and support needs may be:

  • An older person.
  • A person with a physical disability, a learning difficulty, or a sensory impairment.
  • Someone with mental health needs, including dementia or a personality disorder.
  • A person with a long-term health condition.
  • Someone who misuses substances or alcohol to the extent that it affects their ability to manage day-to-day living.

This is not an exhaustive list.

Types of abuse for adults at risk:


Including assault, hitting, slapping, pushing, restraint, inappropriate physical sanctions, or misuse of medication.


This is an incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence, or abuse by someone who is, or has been, an intimate partner or family member.


Any form of sexual activity that the adult has not consented to, including:

  • A sexual relationship instigated by those in a position of trust.
  • Rape
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual harassment
  • Inappropriate looking or touching
  • Sexual teasing or innuendo
  • Sexual photography
  • Subjection to pornography or witnessing sexual acts.
  • Indecent exposure and sexual assault
  • Sexual acts to which the adult has not consented or was pressured into consenting. 


This abuse may involve the use of:

  • Intimidation
  • Hostility
  • Rejection
  • Threats of harm or abandonment
  • Humiliation
  • Verbal abuse such as shouting, swearing, or the use of discriminatory and/or oppressive language.
  • A deprivation of contact
  • Blaming, controlling, coercion
  • Harassment
  • Cyber bullying
  • Isolation


  • Theft
  • Fraud
  • Internet scamming
  • Coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection with wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions, or benefits. 


Modern slavery encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive, and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude, and inhumane treatment.


Abuse can be experienced as harassment, insults, or similar actions due to race, religion, gender, gender identity, age, disability, or sexual orientation. 


Including neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting such as a residential care home, for example, or in relation to care provided in one’s own home. This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice because of the structure, policies, processes, and practices within an organisation.  

This may include: 

  • Ignoring medical, emotional, or physical care needs.
  • Failure to provide access to appropriate health, care, and support or educational services.
  • The withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication and adequate nutrition.
  • Wilful failure to intervene or failing to consider the implications of non-intervention in behaviours which are dangerous to them or others.
  • Failure to use agreed risk management procedures.


Including ignoring medical, emotional, or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, care and support or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

This covers a wide range of behaviour:

  • Neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings resulting in a risk that impacts on the adult’s wellbeing.
  • Hoarding

Abuse can take place in a person’s own home, in a residential home or a day centre or hospital. Unfortunately, those being abused are often the least likely to bring the situation to anyone’s attention.

If you are concerned that an Adult is experiencing or is at risk of harm, abuse or neglect please report it to (Adult Social Care First Response Team) 01925 443322 or outside of office hours ring on 01925 444400.

If you believe the adult is at immediate risk of harm, call 999.


“Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility and everyone who comes into contact with children and their families has a role to play in safeguarding children.  Child protection should take priority over all other work”.


If a staff member has a concern about a child/young person or suspects abuse, they should notify the DSL, or in the case of a sessional youth worker, notify the Session Lead. In the absence of the DSL or Session Lead you must contact the deputy DSL. It is not the duty of staff and volunteers to investigate the issue themselves, however, it is their responsibility to gather as much information as possible. This information must be recorded on a Cause for Concern safeguarding form APPENDIX 1 and submitted to the Safeguarding Team using the ‘share a concern’ link via the Warrington Youth Zone website, within 24 hours of initial concern. The form will capture all the relevant information about the concerns which will support the DSL in assessing what action needs to be taken. Where you suspect a child or vulnerable adult is being abused or there is potential for harm, you should discuss your concerns with the designated safeguarding lead or deputies immediately so that appropriate action can be taken as quickly as possible.

If the concern requires escalating, the Safeguarding Lead or deputies will contact Children’s Services and/or the Police. The Safeguarding Team may need your support in carrying out actions in relation to the concern, however this will be discussed and agreed by you. The Safeguarding Team will require your support in recording accurate information about the young person(s), the concern, and all those involved.

If you’re not sure or have any concerns, speak to the Safeguarding Lead, deputies, or Session Leads.  Remember that they are there to support you with any concerns and to offer advice and support.


If a young person/vulnerable adult makes a disclosure about abuse or you suspect they may be about to, it is imperative that they understand that you cannot keep this ‘secret’ but that you have a duty to report it to other professionals who will help keep them safe.  Be honest and open about who you will speak to and why. 

If the concern requires a one-to-one conversation with a young person, you must first notify the Safeguarding Lead or Session Lead (during session) of the concern so that they can provide you with support. For sessional youth workers working on session, it is heavily advised that you do not find yourself alone, behind closed doors with a young person as this allows the organisation to better safeguard you. The Safeguarding Lead/Session Lead will assist or allocate a colleague to assist you.  In the rare case when you are one-to-one with a young person, and colleagues cannot assist, it is advised that you choose a room with an internal window and/or leave the door open so that colleagues can provide support, should you need it. Always notify the Session Lead/Safeguarding Lead before working alone with a young person.

If the situation is an emergency and neither the Safeguarding Lead or Deputies are available you should telephone Children’s Social Care on 01925 443322 or, if out of hours, the Emergency Duty Social Work Team on 01925 444400, or Police Child Protection Team. The NSPCC also have a helpline for advice on Tel: 0800 800 500.  

Staff and volunteers must:

  • Listen, but do not press for information. If you are shocked by what is being said, try not to show it.
  • Stay calm and be reassuring.
  • Believe what you are being told.
  • It is acceptable to observe injuries such as bruises, but not to ask a child to remove or adjust their clothing to observe them; (injuries must be recorded on a Warrington Youth Zone Body Map, Appendix 2)
  • Do not question the child in a way that will introduce new words, phrases, or concepts into their minds (leading questions).
  • Do not challenge, confront, or criticise their information, even if it seems unlikely or if there are obvious errors. They may be unable to give accurate timescales or dates. 
  • If a disclosure is made, the pace of the conversation should be dictated by the child without them being pressed for detail by being asked such questions as ‘what did they do next?’ or ‘where were you when this happened?’ The staff or volunteer’s role is to listen not to investigate.
  • Use open questions.
  • Acknowledge how hard it was for them to tell you this.
  • Do not criticise the perpetrator, this may be someone they love.
  • Do not promise confidentiality, reassure the young person that they have done the right thing, explain whom you will have to tell and why. It is important that you don’t make promises that you cannot keep (please see the Confidentiality Policy, Appendix 3 for more details).

Remember, is it a huge step for a young person to make a disclosure. 

Non-recent historic abuse

Non-recent child abuse, sometimes called historical abuse, is when an adult was abused as a child or young person under the age of 18. Non-recent historic abuse refers to one of 3 situations:

  1. An adult making an allegation of abuse when they were under 18 years of age, that occurred at least 1 year before it was reported.
  2. A child making an allegation of abuse that occurred at least 1 year before it was reported.
  3. Someone reporting an allegation, on behalf of someone else, relating to an offence committed over a year ago. NSPCC (2018).

Such disclosures can occur after long periods of time as the complainant may now feel comfortable that they are no longer at risk, have the confidence to make an allegation or disclosure that will be believed, they’ve become aware that there have been other reports, or feel they need closure to move on. Whatever the motive, and however long ago the allegation or disclosure, action must be taken because:

  • The alleged may not have been an isolated incident.
  • It may be part of a wider abuse situation.
  • The person(s) may still be abusing individuals and/or working with children.
  • There may be ongoing legal action.

Should an allegation or disclosure be made, it is important to record and report such information as you would if it were a current situation. This includes allegations about staff or volunteers that no longer work/volunteer at Warrington Youth Zone and incidents that involved young people that no longer attend Warrington Youth Zone. 


Make notes immediately afterwards (being aware that note taking during a disclosure may inhibit that disclosure making it harder for the young person to be open and honest); record the date, time, place and context of the disclosure or concern, recording facts and not assumptions or interpretations.  Any notes must be added to a completed Cause for Concern form and uploaded via the allocated QR code or share a concern link on the Warrington Youth Zone website. Note any non‐verbal behaviour and ensure that that the language used by the young person (do not translate into correct terminology) is recorded.


Any member of staff can also make a referral into Social Care. If you are concerned that a child or young person may be vulnerable or is at risk of harm, you should report it straight away so that the appropriate services can take the appropriate actions to prevent harm. You can do this by completing a Multi-Agency Request for Services (MARS) form. When completing the MARS, you will need to consider which level of support is the most appropriate in relation to Warrington’s Threshold of Need Framework. 

The Threshold of Need is a model which provides a guide to support professional judgements in determining the next course of action to meet those needs. There are four levels that consider the different stages of need and types of intervention which are available to children and their families. Level one represents universal support. These are children who make good overall progress through appropriate universal services. No additional, unmet needs or there is a single need identified which can be/has been met by a universal service. Level two represents the Early Help and additional needs level of support which is children whose needs cannot be met through universal services who require additional support. This includes children whose needs are currently unclear. Early help assessment is needed and a lead professional to coordinate support. Level three represents Early Help complex needs. Increasing level of complex and/or multiple unmet needs where coordinated support is required to prevent concerns escalating. A multi-agency team around the family will identify a lead professional and develop robust multi agency early help plan to prevent escalation of concerns. Early help assessment is needed. Level four represents safeguarding/acute and specialist needs. These are children who have experienced significant harm, who are at risk of significant harm (Section 47) and includes children where there are significant welfare concerns (Section 17). A combined assessment and/or more immediate response, coordinated by a social worker, is required to determine the level of support/intervention. 

The referrer should provide information about their concerns and any information they may have gathered in an assessment that may have taken place prior to making the referral. The referrer will be asked for information about some of the following:

  • Full names (including aliases and spelling variations), date of birth and gender of all child/ren in the household.
  • Family address and (where relevant) school / nursery attended. 
  • Identity of those with parental responsibility and any other significant adults who may be involved in caring for the child such as grandparents.
  • Names and date of birth of all household members, if available.
  • Where available, the child’s NHS number and education UPN number.
  • Ethnicity, first language and religion of children and parents.
  • Any special needs of children or parents.
  • Any significant/important recent or historical events/incidents in a child or family members life.
  • Cause for concern including details of any allegations, their sources, timing and location. 
  • Child’s current location and emotional and physical condition.
  • Whether the child needs immediate protection.
  • Details of alleged perpetrator, if relevant.
  • Referrer’s relationship and knowledge of child and parents.
  • Known involvement of other agencies / professionals (e.g. GP). 
  • Information regarding parental knowledge of, and agreement to, the referral.
  • The child’s views and wishes, if known.

Other information may be relevant, and some information may not be available at the time of making the referral. However, there should not be a delay to collect information if the delay may place the child at risk of significant harm. Referrals should be made to Children’s Social Care for the area where the child is living or is found (MASH Team in Warrington).

MASH Contact details: 01925 443322 or 444400

Email a completed MARS to

Children’s Social Care should respond within one working day of receiving the referral and decide the type of response that will be required to meet the needs of the child. If this does not occur within three working days, the referrer should contact these services again and, if necessary, ask to speak to DSL to establish progress.


If an allegation of abuse is made against a staff member or volunteer, you should report this immediately to their line manager (or Volunteer Co-ordinator) and the Safeguarding Lead. If the volunteer or member of staff which the allegation is made against is onsite and you cannot contact the Safeguarding Lead, speak immediately to the manager in charge.

If the allegation is made against a member of staff from another organisation report it directly to the Safeguarding Lead. 

You should assure the person who made the allegation, that this is a serious matter, and you will follow it up with the Safeguarding Lead. Update the person of what action has been taken. 

The Safeguarding Lead will make a referral directly to the Local Authority Designated Officer who will advise on the most appropriate course of action. This referral will usually be made immediately but must be made within 24 hours.

Local Area LADO (Local Authority Designated Officer): 

Phone Number: 01925 442079, email: 

Warrington Youth Zone has a Whistleblowing Policy that outlines the course of action that staff or volunteers can take if there are major concerns over apparent wrongdoing by Warrington Youth Zone without fear of detrimental treatment.


Abuse is defined as when a person has:

  • Intentionally brought harm to a child or young person.
  • Behaved in a way that has harmed a child or young person; in some cases, this can be unintentional.
  • Made decisions or engaged in activities that have put a child or a young person at risk of harm.
  • Possibly committed or is planning to commit a criminal offence against a child/young person or related to a child/young person.
  • Behaved in a way that indicates they would be unsuitable to work with children/young people.


As a result of their knowledge, position and/or the authority vested in their role, all adults working with children and young people are in positions of trust in relation to the young people in their care. ‘Position of trust’ is a legal term that refers to certain roles and settings where an adult has regular and direct contact with children. Broadly speaking, a relationship of trust can be described as one in which one party is in a position of power or influence over the other by virtue of their work or the nature of their activity. It is vital for all those in positions of trust to understand the power this can give them over those they care for and the responsibility they must exercise because of this relationship.   

A relationship between an adult and a child or young person cannot be a relationship between equals. There is potential for exploitation and harm of vulnerable young people. Adults have a responsibility to ensure that an unequal balance of power is not used for personal advantage or gratification. 

Adults should always maintain appropriate professional boundaries and avoid behaviour which might be misinterpreted by others. They should report and record any incident with this potential. 

Where a person aged 18 or over is in a specified position of trust (Sexual Offences Act 2003) with a child under 18, it is an offence for that person to engage in sexual activity with or in the presence of that child, or to cause or incite that child to engage in or watch sexual activity.

This means that adults should not: 

  • Use their position to gain access to information for their own or others’ advantage.   
  • Use their position to intimidate, bully, humiliate, threaten, coerce, or undermine children or young people. 
  • Use their status to form or promote relationships which are of a sexual nature.


If you have concerns that a young person or vulnerable adult is at risk of radicalisation or involvement in terrorism, speak to the Safeguarding Lead who will help you decide whether it is appropriate to make a referral to the Prevent Lead and complete all necessary paperwork. 

Prevent is one of the four elements of CONTEST, which is the government’s counter-terrorism strategy. It aims to stop people becoming terrorists or supporting terrorism and provide practical help to prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism and give appropriate advice and support.

Prevent referrals should be directed to Prevent Police and Warrington Social Care Services, highlighting any concerns:

Prevent Police – 

Child Social Care Services – 

Adult Social Care Services (18+) – 

Prevent Referral Form

Warrington Prevent Referral Pathway

Cheshire Police Prevent Team can be contacted for advice on:

Telephone: 01606 362121


The Safeguarding Lead will inform the young person’s family/carer that an incident has taken place and/or a referral is being made unless:

  • That would place the young person at greater risk.
  • Place staff or public at risk.
  • Impede the investigation.
  • If sexual abuse or fabricated illness is suspected or multiple abuse is suspected.

In these cases, Social Care or the Police will decide whether to inform the parents. An inability to inform parents should not delay or prevent a referral being made.


Warrington Youth Zone is committed to providing a safe environment for young people. We recognise that trust is essential for good youth work and is the foundation for all relationships within Warrington Youth Zone. After all, children and vulnerable adults attend Warrington Youth Zone voluntarily. Maintaining confidence is an integral part of building trust between young people, staff and volunteers and will always be respected, apart from where it conflicts with reporting child/adult protection and safeguarding concerns.

Information sharing is essential for effective safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and adults. The decisions about how much information to share, with whom and when, can have a profound impact on individuals’ lives. Information sharing helps to ensure that an individual receives the right services at the right time and prevents a need from becoming more acute and difficult to meet.

Staff and volunteers have a professional responsibility to share relevant information about the protection of children/vulnerable adults with other professionals, particularly investigating agencies. Fears about sharing information cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the need to safeguard and promote the welfare of children/vulnerable adults at risk of abuse or neglect. All staff/volunteers must take responsibility for sharing the information they hold and cannot assume that someone else will pass on information, which may be critical to keeping a child/vulnerable adult safe. 

If a young person confides in a member of staff and requests that the information is kept secret, it is important that the member of staff tells the young person sensitively that he/she has a responsibility to refer the matter for their own sake. At the same time, the young person should be reassured that the matter will only be disclosed to the relevant person/s who will then decide on an appropriate course of action. Staff and volunteers who receive information about children and families in the course of their work should have the information only within a professional context. Personal information about all young people and their families is regarded by those who work in this building as confidential. All records relating to child protection incidents will be maintained by the Safeguarding Officer and only shared as is consistent with the protection of children. If staff are unsure whether to share information, support can be sought from the Safeguarding Lead or Chief Executive.


Remember it is not the duty of staff and volunteers to investigate the concern, but it is their responsibilities to gather as much information as possible.

The ’7 Golden Rules’ for information sharing are listed as good practice for how Warrington Youth Zone will manage issues relating to confidentiality.

  1. 1. Remember that the Data Protection Act is not a barrier to sharing information but provides a framework to ensure that personal information about living persons is shared appropriately.
  2. 2. Be open and honest with the person (and/or their family where appropriate) from the outset about why, what, how, and with whom information will, or could be shared with, and seek their agreement, unless it is unsafe or inappropriate to do so.
  3. 3. Seek advice if there is any doubt, without disclosing the identity of the person where possible.
  4. 4. Share with consent where appropriate and, where possible, respect the wishes of those who do not consent to share confidential information. Professionals may still share information without consent if, in their judgement, that lack of consent can be overridden in the public interest. Judgement will need to be made on the facts of the case.
  5. 5. Consider safety and wellbeing; base information sharing decisions on considerations of the safety and wellbeing of the person and others who may be affected by their actions.
  6. 6. Necessary, proportionate, relevant, accurate, timely and secure; ensure that the information shared is necessary for the purpose for which it is being shared, that it is shared only with those people who need to have it, that it is accurate and up to date, that it is shared in a timely fashion, and that it is shared effectively.
  7. 7. Keep a record of the decision and the reasons for it; whether it is to share information or not. If it is decided to share, then record what has been shared, with whom and for what purpose.

GDPR and Information Sharing

The lawful bases for processing are set out in Article 6 of the Data Protection Act 2018 – GDPR. At least one of these must apply whenever you share information for the purpose of safeguarding children and young people; the most relevant are “legal obligation”, “vital interests” and “public task.”  The lawful bases are summarised below:

  1. Consent: the individual has given clear consent for you to process their personal data for a specific purpose.
  2. Contract: the processing is necessary for a contract you have with the individual, or because they have asked you to take specific steps before entering a contract.
  3. Legal obligation: the processing is necessary for you to comply with the law (not including contractual obligations).
  4. Vital interests: the processing is necessary to protect someone’s life.
  5. Public task: the processing is necessary for you to perform a task in the public interest or for your official functions, and the task or function has a clear basis in law.
  6. Legitimate interests: the processing is necessary for your legitimate interests or the legitimate interests of a third party unless there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides those legitimate interests. (This cannot apply if you are a public authority processing data to perform your official tasks.)

More information can be found:

WSAB Information Sharing 7 minute brief.pdf


Once information has been passed to the relevant staff it is then forwarded to the Safeguarding Lead or Deputy who has been dealing with the incident; they are then responsible for adding key details to the Cause for Concern form on Salesforce (a secure online database). Only the Safeguarding Lead and Deputies will have access to the safeguarding information stored on Salesforce.

Information relating to child protection/welfare is required to be kept for a minimum 15 years, according to NSPCC guidance.

Warrington Youth Zone will keep a clear and comprehensive summary of:

  • Any allegations made.
  • Details of how the allegations were followed up and resolved. 
  • Any action taken.
  • Decisions reached.

Staff and Volunteers

All staff and volunteers at Warrington Youth Zone are expected to uphold the organisations commitment to confidentiality. It is expected that all those in a position of being responsible for information and data take necessary care of it; this means that staff/volunteers are expected to: 

  • Keep records, files and documents stored in a safe and secure manner.
  • Not discuss any information given by a young person in confidence, unless they have a child/adult protection concern, or the young person gives their permission.
  • Tell a young person when information cannot be kept confidential (i.e. a child/adult protection concern)
  • Encourage a young person to talk to other people (e.g. parents or guardians) or professionals where they feel it would be in the young person’s interest.


Support should be provided for the parents/carer and child as well as the person who is the subject of the allegation. 

Parents/carers should be kept constantly apprised of the situation and of any developments. They should also be informed of the outcome (if there is not a criminal investigation), including the result of any disciplinary procedures.


Receiving a disclosure or observing signs of abuse can be distressing and staff are encouraged to discuss their feelings with their line manager or with another colleague who can advocate for them. 

Safeguarding children and young people can entail making difficult professional judgements and decisions. All staff and volunteers have access to advice and support through formal and informal supervision from their peers and managers. Incidents of a child protection nature can affect staff not directly involved and staff affected can access support as above. Members of staff may be asked to attend a Strategy Meeting or Child Protection Case Conference.  Staff should seek guidance and advice from the Designated Safeguarding Lead on these meetings and further advice can be provided by Warrington Safeguarding Partnership Board.


The member of staff who is the subject of the allegations will be kept informed of the progress of the case and will receive appropriate support whilst the case is ongoing. Sources of support and advice for staff going through the Disciplinary Procedure include:

  • Line manager or CEO if more appropriate
  • Trade Union (of own choice)
  • Citizens Advice Bureau
  • ACAS – This provides help and support for employers and employees, they have a helpline adviser available 8am-6pm, Monday – Friday.

Every effort will be made to maintain confidentiality and guard against publicity whilst the allegation is being investigated and considered.


Warrington Youth Zone recognises that for staff and volunteers to fulfil their duties in line with ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children (July 2018)’, they require an induction and regular training updates to ensure they develop and maintain the necessary skills, judgement, and confidence in their work in Safeguarding and protecting young people. Warrington Youth Zone will ensure that all staff undertake appropriate training in Safeguarding to equip them to carry out their responsibilities effectively.

All staff are required to attend in house safeguarding training delivered by the Safeguarding Lead or Deputy Safeguarding Lead on induction and refreshed annually.

Safeguarding is an agenda item for supervisions, team meetings, and board meetings.

It is a requirement that all staff read this Policy, and sign that they have read and understood this. Staff and volunteers will be asked to re-visit the policy each time it is reviewed and updated. Staff and volunteers will have different training needs which are dependent on their degree of contact with children and young people, their responsibilities and the level of decision making. Warrington Youth Zone holds a central record of training (including safeguarding) completed by all staff and volunteers. 


To minimise risk and ensure that young people are protected whilst accessing the Youth Zone, we will ensure that our staff are carefully selected, screened, trained, and supervised. Warrington Youth Zone’s recruitment processes entails:

  • Standardised recruitment procedures to ensure consistency. 
  • The requirement for at least 2 references from a person’s current or most recent employer and will cover the last three years. 
  • Requirement for Disclosure and Barring Service Checks.
  • Scrutiny of employment history for unexplained gaps.


Please speak to your Designated Safeguarding Lead or Session Lead as soon possible following the incident/concern and then complete the Cause for Concern form online. The link can be accessed by the Warrington Youth Zone website’s ‘share a concern’ link or via the allocated QR code. If it is an emergency, ensure you share the information for immediate action.

Please complete all sections of the Cause for Concern form.

Warrington Youth Zone QR code- Cause4Concern Form

Below, you will find help and tips for completing a Cause for Concern form.

Description of Concern

Please provide a factual overview of the incident/concern.

  • Please give a full, but to the point, description of what happened or what you are concerned/worried about. 
  • Please only include facts, not opinions. 
  • Recording should be impartial, so write down what you see, what you heard and not what you feel. 
  • Use bullet points – Use clear and straight forward language – make your report factually accurate, i.e. not opinion (any interpretation or assumptions should be clearly recorded as such).
  • Remember to record in chronological order (times and dates)

Once you have submitted the form you will receive an email with a reference number confirming that your form has been successfully submitted. If you do not receive an email, please inform your Designated Safeguarding Lead that you have submitted a Cause for Concern form but have not received an email notification. 


The Warrington Youth Zone Body Map (taken from the Mary Rose Academy) is to be used to record the location, size and number of injuries which may have been caused because of abuse or inappropriate care. Where used, the completed Body Map should be submitted with the Warrington Youth Zone Cause for Concern form. The body map should also be submitted with the MARS form where necessary. Please draw and write on the body map to indicate the locations and the approximate size of the injuries and then provide brief details e.g., type of injury, colour of bruise, etc.


Warrington Youth Zone is committed to providing a safe environment for young people and volunteers and recognises that trust is essential for good youth work and is the foundation for all relationships. Maintaining confidences is an integral part of building trust between young people, volunteers, and the organisation and will be always respected, apart from where it conflicts with reporting child protection and safeguarding concerns. 

Young People

  • Warrington Youth Zone is committed to ensuring that young people can share information with youth workers in a confidential manner. 
  • Young people can expect that any information they give to a worker is treated as sensitive and confidential and will not be shared UNLESS:
    • The youth worker believes that the young person, or another young person or member of the community, is in danger or is at risk of being harmed. In this case the young person will be told that the information must be shared with the appropriate agencies and will be helped to understand why this is important.
    • The young person discloses that they are involved, or plan to become involved in acts of terrorism.  

Youth Workers

In any circumstance that constitutes a child protection issue (i.e. where there is a suspicion or information that a young person is suffering significant harm or at risk of significant harm) all staff and volunteers must be clear that they have a duty to refer the concern to the Social Services or the Police. Whilst staff and volunteers have a responsibility to respect and maintain the confidentiality of an individual young person, their primary responsibility is to ensure the safety of the young person. Therefore, in a child protection situation they cannot maintain confidentiality and must make this boundary clear to the young person. 

We understand that perceptions of risk will vary between individuals and as such will affect how people respond to situations. 

As a general principle, where ‘risky’ behaviour is observed of any nature (e.g. involving alcohol, drugs, inappropriate sexual relations, or criminal activity), a worker must tackle this directly with the young person concerned, or at the first appropriate opportunity.  If a worker feels that the behaviour is likely to cause immediate harm to the young person or others, it may be reported to an appropriate body such as the Police, even if this breaches their confidentiality. It should be noted however that risky behaviour does not automatically mean there is risk of significant/immediate harm; for example, drug use would become an area of concern if it involved unsafe injecting, sexual exploitation, or debt with dealers. Such situations will involve an element of discretion as to what constitutes immediate harm. To ensure consistency and appropriateness of approach by all staff and volunteers, different scenarios will be reviewed through case work, project, and team meetings.  

All staff and volunteers will maintain confidentiality around contraception advice and disclosure of sexual conduct acknowledging the Fraser guidelines and Gillick competency principle. Please see Healthy and Unhealthy Relationships and Fraser guidelines and Gillick competency, Appendix 4

It is not appropriate for staff or volunteers to discuss sensitive issues about young people or other staff or volunteers in the presence of other young people.   

All staff and volunteers

All workers at Warrington Youth Zone are expected to uphold the organisations commitment to confidentiality. This means that all staff are expected to:

  • Keep records, files and documents stored in a safe and secure manner.
  • Not discuss any information given by a young person in confidence, unless it is a child protection concern, or the young person gives their permission.
  • Tell a young person when information cannot be kept confidential (i.e. a child protection concern)
  • Encourage a young person to talk to other people (e.g. parents or guardians) or professionals where they feel it would be in the young person’s interest.



Young people form bonds with others at all stages of their development. Forming healthy, positive relationships help young people feel safe and supported as they grow up whilst unhealthy relationships can negatively affect a young person’s wellbeing. They may feel anxious and nervous or not feel free to make their own decisions. They may suffer from low self-esteem and depression, experience headaches or have other ongoing physical health symptoms (Women’s Aid, 2015).

It’s important that anyone who works or volunteers with young people can recognise if something is wrong in a young person’s relationship and is able to take appropriate action to keep them safe.

Recognising the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships

Young people may not always understand that a relationship they are in is unhealthy. If they have been groomed for example, they may believe they are in a healthy relationship. If they are in an unhealthy or abusive family relationship, they may never have known any different. This means children and young people may not always speak out about unhealthy relationships. So, it’s important that the adults around them can spot the warning signs.

4.1 Signs of healthy relationships

A healthy relationship is one where a young person is respected and feels valued for who they are. It’s where they can openly share their thoughts and feelings and feel supported and encouraged. Healthy relationships include:

  • Good communication
  • Mutual respect
  • Trust
  • Honesty
  • Equality
  • Being yourself

In a healthy relationship a person is free to make choices about their own behaviour and is not controlled or coerced into doing anything.

4.2 Signs of unhealthy relationships

An unhealthy relationship is one where a young person is not being treated with respect. They may be forced or coerced into doing things they aren’t comfortable with, be made to behave in a certain way, or be made to feel they aren’t good enough. Because young people may not always realise when they are in an unhealthy relationship, it is important that adults are able to recognise the signs. A young person may: 

  • Lack close relationships other than with one person.
  • Be isolated from friends and family.
  • Be prevented from working or going to school/college/university.
  • Have their money taken away or controlled.
  • Have access to food, drinks and day-to-day items restricted.
  • Have their time controlled or heavily monitored.
  • Have their social media accounts controlled or heavily monitored.
  • Be told what to wear.
  • Feel pressured to do things they are not comfortable with.
  • Be put down or criticised.
  • Experience threats of violence if they don’t behave a certain way.
  • Experience threats to loved ones or pets.
  • Be threatened with damage to their personal property (Women’s Aid, 2015).

Displaying unhealthy behaviours

Sometimes children and young people may display unhealthy behaviours towards someone else. If a child is becoming possessive, controlling, or violent towards another person, or displaying bullying or harmful sexual behaviour, this may be an indicator that something else in their life is causing them distress. It’s vital that you respond quickly to ensure the child gets the support they need, and their behaviour does not cause harm.

4.3 What to do if you’re worried about a young person.

If you think a young person is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, it’s important to respond appropriately.

Start a conversation.

Think carefully about how to talk to young people if you think they are in an unhealthy relationship. You may decide to have a conversation with the young person, where you voice your concerns about a relationship, they are in. However, this may not always be appropriate. It may make them feel they are being criticised and they may become defensive. It might be more appropriate to have a group discussion about relationships in general, making it clear that you’re available to talk if anyone has a concern.

Instead of having a long conversation about the topic, you might find it easier to have regular short chats over a period of time. This gives young people a chance to process the issues you’ve discussed.

Remember to listen carefully to what the young person is saying. Show them that you value their point of view and don’t talk over them. Remain calm and non-judgemental.

Do not promise confidentiality, reassure the young person that they have done the right thing, explain who you will have to tell and why; it is important that you do not make promises that you cannot keep (please refer to the Information Sharing and Confidentiality Policy section of the safeguarding toolkit for more details).

4.4 Reporting your concerns.

Report your concerns on a Cause for Concern form, recording the conversations you have had with the young person and report to the Designated Safeguarding Lead/Session Lead. If the situation is an emergency and neither the Designated Safeguarding Lead nor Session Lead are available, you can ring the OnSide Safeguarding Manager (Cath Taylor 07704 005036) for advice or telephone your local Safeguarding Partnership directly on 01925 443322. The NSPCC also have a helpline for advice on Tel: 0800 800 500. If out of hours, call the Emergency Duty Social Work team on 01925 444400 or Police Child Protection Team; call 999 if you believe the child or young person to be at immediate risk of harm, or 101 if you believe a crime has been committed. 

4.5 Healthy sexual development in young people

Every young person is different and may become interested in relationships, sex, and sexuality at slightly different ages. But as children and young people get older, the way they express their sexual feelings changes. It’s natural for teenagers to show interest in sex and relationships, or for children to be curious about the changes that happen during puberty. 

It is important to understand what healthy sexual development looks like as young people grow. Young people’s sexual development is shaped by their environment, experiences, and what they see. Young people now are more likely to see or come across sexual images and videos at a younger age as they can be accessed through television and films, music videos, apps, or online websites. 

Many sexual behaviours that children and young people show as they grow up are normal and healthy, so long as they are not causing harm to others or to themselves. 

  • Recognising harmful sexual behaviour.

Signs and indicators

Children and young people demonstrate a range of sexual behaviours as they grow up, and this is not always harmful. Sexualised behaviour sits on a continuum with five stages:

  • Appropriate – the type of sexual behaviour that is considered ‘appropriate’ for a particular child depends on their age and level of development.
  • Inappropriate – this may be displayed in isolated incidents but is generally consensual and acceptable within a peer group.
  • Problematic – this may be socially unexpected, developmentally unusual, and impulsive, but have no element of victimisation.
  • Abusive – this often involves manipulation, coercion, or lack of consent.
  • Violent – this is very intrusive and may have an element of sadism (Hackett, 2010).

A young person’s behaviour can change depending on the circumstances they are in, and sexual behaviour can move in either direction along the continuum. So, it’s important not to label all a child’s behaviour as belonging to one category.

Deciding if behaviours are healthy or age appropriate.

It’s not always easy to distinguish whether a behaviour is healthy or age appropriate. 

Step one: gathering information.

First, you need to gather as much information as possible so that you can work out whether a young person is displaying healthy, problematic, or harmful sexual behaviour. Remember that for many young people this is a sensitive topic. Listen non-judgementally to what they are telling you. You should consider: 

  • The age of the young person who has displayed Harmful Sexual Behaviour. As young people grow up they develop sexually; what is ‘normal’ sexual behaviour for a 15-year-old may be problematic or harmful for an eight-year-old. Consider the child’s developmental ability as well as their chronological age.
  • The age of the other children or young people involved. If the young people involved are the same age or are considered to have the same developmental ability the behaviour may be considered ‘normal’, but if the children/young people are of different ages/developmental abilities, the behaviour might be problematic or harmful.

Indicators that behaviour is problematic or harmful.

You should try to find out as much as possible about the behaviour that is being displayed. You should also consider:

  • Is the behaviour usual for that young person? Young people naturally explore and experiment with their sexuality as they grow up. If the behaviour seems to go beyond curiosity, for example if it is obsessive, this might indicate it is harmful. If a young person’s behaviour is out of character, it’s important to take time to consider why the young person is behaving unusually.
  • Have all the young people involved freely given consent? If the behaviour involves coercion, intimidation, or forcing others to take part, it should be considered harmful.
  • Are the other young people distressed? If the behaviour is upsetting others, this indicates it is problematic.
  • Is there an imbalance of power? If the young person displaying the behaviour is in a more powerful position than the other young people involved, this indicates it is problematic. This might happen if there are significant differences in age, size, power, or developmental ability.
  • Is the behaviour excessive, degrading or threatening? Excessive behaviour means behaviour that is obsessive, persistent, compulsive or has been going on for a long time. Any behaviour that involves force, coercion, bribery, or threats is harmful.
  • Is the behaviour occurring in a public or private space? If the behaviour is particularly secretive or is being carried out in private after intervention from adults, this may be cause for concern.

Risks and vulnerability factors

Experience of abuse and neglect

Many children and young people who display HSB (Highly Sexualised Behaviour) have experienced abuse or trauma (Hackett et al, 2013). Children who have been sexually abused may not know that what has happened to them is wrong. This can lead to them displaying harmful sexual behaviours towards others (Ringrose et al, 2012).

Complex needs

Children and young people who display HSB may have complex needs and may display other behavioural problems alongside their HSB (Hollis, 2017). For example, children who display harmful sexual behaviour may:

  • Have poor self-regulation and coping skills.
  • Experience social anxiety and a sense of social inadequacy.
  • Have poorly internalised rules for social behaviour.
  • Have a poorly developed sense of morality.
  • Lack secure and confident attachments to others.
  • Have limited self-control and act out emotional experiences through negative or otherwise inappropriate behaviour.
  • Have little insight into the feelings and needs of others or their own mental states.
  • Place their own needs and feelings ahead of the needs and feelings of others.
  • Show a poorly defined sense of personal boundaries.
  • Have developed strong and not easily corrected cognitive distortions about others, themselves, and the world they share.
  • Have deficits in social skills and in social competence overall (Rich, 2011).

Step two: assessing the behaviour.

Sexualised behaviour should be seen as a continuum, ranging from ‘normal’ to ‘inappropriate’ and ‘abusive’ (Hackett, 2010). Using the information, you’ve gathered, consider where the child or young person’s behaviour sits on the continuum:

Normal behaviour 

  • Developmentally expected and socially acceptable behaviour.
  • Consensual, mutual, and reciprocal.
  • Decision-making is shared.

Inappropriate behaviour

  • Single instances of developmentally inappropriate sexual behaviour.
  • Behaviour that is socially acceptable within a peer group.
  • Generally consensual and reciprocal.
  • May involve an inappropriate context for behaviour that would otherwise be considered normal.

Problematic and concerning behaviour.

  • Developmentally unusual and socially unexpected behaviour.
  • May be compulsive.
  • Consent may be unclear, and the behaviour may not be reciprocal.
  • May involve an imbalance of power.
  • Doesn’t have an overt element of victimisation.

Abusive behaviour

  • Intrusive behaviour.
  • May involve a misuse of power.
  • May have an element of victimisation.
  • May use coercion and force.
  • May include elements of expressive violence.
  • Informed consent has not been given (or the victim was not able to consent freely).

Violent behaviour

  • Physically violent sexual abuse.
  • Highly intrusive.
  • May involve instrumental violence which is physiologically and/or sexually arousing to the perpetrator.
  • May involve sadism.

Traffic Light Tool

The Brook Sexual Behaviours Traffic Light Tool can also help you work out whether a child’s sexualised behaviour is appropriate.  The tool gives you information about which behaviours are considered ‘green, amber or red’ for the key developmental stages (ages 0-5, 5-9, 9-13 and 13-17).  It is best practice to cross reference between the Continuum and traffic lights tool to make sure your assessment of a child’s behaviour is correct.

Brook is the UK’s leading provider of sexual health services and advice for young people under 25. The charity has 45 years’ experience of working with young people and provides free and confidential sexual health information, contraception, pregnancy testing, advice, counselling, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and outreach and education work, reaching more than 290,000 young people every year.  Help and advice can be found at

Step three: Taking action.

Your response to a young person displaying sexualised behaviours should vary depending on the young person’s age, stage of development, and the type of behaviours being displayed. Consider where the young person’s behaviour sits on the HSB continuum:

Your approach should always focus on the needs of the young person.

Normal (“green”) behaviours

It’s healthy for young people to be curious about their own and other people’s bodies. The process of experimentation and exploration mean that children and young people will get it wrong from time to time but this may not indicate a serious concern.

How to respond

  • Listen to what children and young people have to say and respond calmly and non-judgementally.
  • Make sure young people know how to behave responsibly and safely. For example: two 15-year-olds having consensual sex might benefit from a conversation about contraception and consent.
  • Remind children and young people they can contact Childline 0800 1111 if they need confidential help and advice.

Inappropriate, problematic, or concerning (“amber”) behaviours 

Although these behaviours are not abusive or violent, they should not be ignored. The child or young person will need support to help them change their behaviour and stop the behaviour escalating.

How to respond

  • Listen to what children and young people have to say and respond calmly and non-judgementally.
  • Follow Warrington Youth Zone’s child protection procedures in the safeguarding policy and report to the Designated Safeguarding Lead.
  • Consider whether the child or young person needs therapeutic support and make referrals as appropriate.

Abusive and violent (“red”) behaviours 

Abusive and/or violent behaviours need immediate intervention and action. You should consider whether the child or young person displaying the behaviour is at risk and take the necessary action to protect them. You also need to take action to mitigate the risk their behaviour may pose to others.

How to respond

If a child is in immediate danger, call the police on 999.

If a child is not in immediate danger:

  • Follow Warrington Youth Zone’s child protection procedures in the safeguarding policy and report to the Designated Safeguarding Lead. 
  • Refer the child or young person for therapeutic support. 

4.7 Keeping records.

It is important to record detailed information on a Cause for Concern form about any sexualised behaviour you witness or are told. This will make it easier to identify any changes or patterns in a young person’s behaviour that might cause concern; it also helps to ensure the young people get the correct support. Make sure your record includes:

  • The young person’s stage of development.
  • Any specific vulnerabilities they have, for example, if they have a disability or are in care. 
  • Any other behaviour concerns. 
  • Any other incidents that you have been informed about which may be linked.
  • The young person’s view in their own words. 
  • Information about any other factors which might be contributing to the behaviour. Was there any coercion, force or secrecy involved? What was happening before the incident took place?
  • Did the behaviour appear spontaneous or premediated?
  • How did any other young people involved react?
  • What actions have been taken. 

Gillick competency and Fraser guidelines provide guidance for professionals working with children who need to consider how to balance children’s rights and wishes with their responsibility to keep children safe from harm. They refer to a legal case which looked specifically at whether doctors should be able to give contraceptive advice or treatment to under 16-year-olds without parental consent. But since then, they have been more widely used to help assess whether a child has the maturity to make their own decisions and to understand the implications of those decisions.

In 1982 Mrs Victoria Gillick took her local health authority (West Norfolk and Wisbech Area Health Authority) and the Department of Health and Social Security to court to stop doctors from giving contraceptive advice or treatment to under 16-year-olds without parental consent.

The case went to the High Court in 1984 where Mr Justice Woolf dismissed Mrs Gillick’s claims. The Court of Appeal reversed this decision, but in 1985 it went to the House of Lords and the Law Lords (Lord Scarman, Lord Fraser, and Lord Bridge) ruled in favour of the original judgement delivered by Mr Justice Woolf:

“…whether or not a child is capable of giving the necessary consent will depend on the child’s maturity and understanding and the nature of the consent required. The child must be capable of making a reasonable assessment of the advantages and disadvantages of the treatment proposed, so the consent, if given, can be properly and fairly described as true consent.” (Gillick v West Norfolk, 1984)

How are the Fraser Guidelines applied?

The Fraser guidelines refer to the guidelines set out by Lord Fraser in his judgement of the Gillick case in the House of Lords (1985), which apply specifically to contraceptive advice. Lord Fraser stated that a doctor could proceed to give advice and treatment provided he is satisfied in the following criteria:

  1. 1. That the girl (although under the age of 16 years of age) will understand his advice.
  2. 2. That he cannot persuade her to inform her parents or to allow him to inform the parents that she is seeking contraceptive advice.
  3. 3. That she is very likely to continue having sexual intercourse with or without contraceptive treatment.
  4. 4. That unless she receives contraceptive advice or treatment her physical or mental health or both are likely to suffer.
  5. 5. That her best interests require him to give her contraceptive advice, treatment or both without the parental consent.” (Gillick v West Norfolk, 1985)

How is Gillick competency assessed?

There is no set of defined questions to assess Gillick competency. Professionals need to consider several things when assessing a child’s capacity to consent, including:

  • The child’s age, maturity, and mental capacity.
  • Their understanding of the issue and what it involves – including advantages, disadvantages, and potential long-term impact.
  • Their understanding of the risks, implications and consequences that may arise from their decision.
  • How well they understand any advice or information they have been given.
  • Their understanding of any alternative options, if available.
  • Their ability to explain a rationale around their reasoning and decision making.

Remember that consent is not valid if a young person is being pressured or influenced by someone else.

A child’s capacity to consent may be affected by different factors, for example stress, mental health conditions and the complexities of the decision they are making. The same child may be considered Gillick competent to make one decision but not competent to make a different decision.

If you don’t think a child is Gillick competent or there are inconsistencies in their understanding, you should seek consent from their parents or carers before proceeding.

In complex medical cases, such as those involving disagreements about treatment, you may wish to seek the opinion of a colleague about a child’s capacity to consent (Care Quality Commission, 2019).

Young people also have the right to seek a second opinion from another medical professional (General Medical Council, 2020).

What are the implications for child protection?

The child’s safety and wellbeing are paramount.

Registered C Card trained staff working with children in any context need to consider how to balance children’s rights and wishes with their responsibility to keep children safe from harm. Key issues to bear in mind include: 

  • The child’s safety is paramount. Child protection concerns must always be shared with the relevant agencies, even if this goes against the child’s wishes. 
  • Underage sexual activity is a possible indicator of child sexual exploitation and children who have been groomed may not realise they are being abused. 
  • Sexual activity with a child under 13 is a criminal offence and should always result in a child protection referral.

Under 13

There is no lower age limit for Gillick competence or Fraser guidelines to be applied. That said, it would rarely be appropriate or safe for a child less than 13 years of age to consent to treatment without a parent’s involvement. When it comes to sexual health, those under 13 are not legally able to consent to any sexual activity, and therefore any information that such a person was sexually active would need to be acted on and a child protection referral made, regardless of the results of the Gillick test.

Taken from:


What to do if you suspect abuse

What to do if a young person tells you about abuse

What to do if an allegation of abuse involves staff or volunteers


Designated Safeguarding Lead- Tom Jowett (Head of Youth Work) 01925 977 277, 

Deputy Safeguarding Lead- Dave McNicholl (Chief Executive), 01925 977 277, 

Deputy Safeguarding Lead- Antony Marshall (Wellbeing Lead), 01925 977 277,

Warrington Children’s Safeguarding/Social Work Team

Telephone – 01925 443322 

Phone lines are open from 8.30am to 5pm Monday to Friday and charged at local rate.  Outside office hours – 01925 444400

In an emergency always call the police on 999. If you think there has been a crime but it is not an emergency call 101.

By post: 

Warrington Safeguarding Partnerships

East Annexe,
Town Hall,

Sankey Street,

The Warrington Safeguarding Children Board ceased to exist as of 31st March 2019. It was replaced on the 1st April 2019 by the new Warrington Safeguarding Partnership, led by the three key partners;

  • Cheshire Constabulary,
  • Warrington Borough Council 
  • Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group.

The new partnership will develop arrangements on how those agencies who work with children across Warrington will work together to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in the area and to identify and respond to their needs.


Telephone: 01925 443126

For any incident where a young person has required hospital treatment or an emergency call has been made to the police for any reason, you must, regardless of the time of day, inform the Head of Youth Work, who will decide if the CEO needs to be immediately informed.


Warrington Safeguarding Partnership |

Neglect Strategy (

early_help_strategy.pdf (

Early help |

Threshold of need and response guidance 2020 (

Report abuse of children and young people |

Children and Families Request for Support – My Warrington

(Please note- You will be required to register on this site before completing the MARS referral form)

Early help assessment form (

guidance_notes_for_early_help_assesment.pdf (




DATE: 15th January 2023


REVIEW DATE: 20TH May 2024

NEXT REVIEW DATE:   31st April 2025

About WYZ

Warrington Youth Zone believes in ‘Inspiring young people to achieve’. We exist to support young people’s development, offering opportunities to gain, increase and develop skills, knowledge, self awareness and confidence, and enabling them to make positive and healthy life choices through our wide range of programmes aimed at different age groups.