The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) (UNCRC) requires Member States to protect all children from abuse, and the Scottish Government have set a clear vision and ambition to help children and young people experience their human rights by committing to incorporate the articles of the UNCRC fully and directly into Scots law and embed children’s rights in all aspects of society.
The key reference for this document is the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland, Scottish Government, 2021. In line with The Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014, this policy is underpinned by ‘Getting it Right for Every Child’ (GIRFEC) Scotland’s national approach that puts the rights and wellbeing of children and young people at the heart of services that support them. All organisations working with children and young people are expected to have I place child protection procedures.
Duty of Care
Universities have a common law duty to take reasonable and necessary steps to ensure that children and young people are safe, and that preventable harm does not occur because of careless acts, deliberate acts, or omissions of the institution. These measures are in addition to those required under general Health and Safety requirements.
Safe recruitment of staff and volunteers is central to our safeguarding commitment. We comply with the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (Scotland) Act 2007. The PVG Scheme is managed by Disclosure Scotland. Any persons carrying out a regulated role whether through paid or unpaid work on behalf of the University of Strathclyde must comply with the University’s checks and training as required.
Age of Sexual Consent
In the UK, a person can legally consent to sexual activity if they are 16 years old or over. However, it is illegal under the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009 for an adult in a position of trust to engage in sexual activity with a person under the age of 18. Everyone working and volunteering for the University, or acting on the University’s behalf is in a position of trust when working with Children and Young People. This protects young people aged 16 and 17 who, even though they are over the age of consent for sexual activity, could be considered vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation. No adult should ever have sexual intercourse or participate in any form of sexual activity, including paying for sex, with any person under 18 years old or under the local age of sexual consent (where higher). This applies to all representatives regardless of the age of consent locally. Mistaken belief in the age of the child is not a defence. The University’s Staff Personal Relationships Policy (pdf) outlines the university’s position on relationships between members of staff and students. Mutual trust is the basis for staff-student relationships.
The Prevent Duty
This policy also supports and interacts with the university’s approach to the Prevent Duty safeguarding individuals or groups who may be at risk of being drawn into terrorism (Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015). Radicalisation is the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups. The Prevent Duty is a government directive about protecting children from the risk of radicalisation and general safeguarding principles apply.
The progress and actions that Ministers intend to achieve in relation to the rights of the child are summarised here: Progressing the human rights of children in Scotland: 2018-2021 action plan.
- Abuse of Trust - Section 42 ; A person commits the offence of sexual abuse of trust if he or she is aged 18 years or older and intentionally engage in a sexual activity with, or directed at, a person who is under 18 and in respect of whom the perpetrator is in a position of trust.
- Positions of trust - Section 43; Subsection (5, 127) provides that a position of trust is constituted where B is receiving education at a school and A looks after persons under the age of 18 in that school or where B is receiving education in a further or higher education institution and A looks after B in that institution.