Safe360°™ Safeguarding Policy Section 4: Reporting procedure

4.1 How to report a safeguarding concern

This section gives guidance on what to do if you have a concern a person is at risk. It may be:

  • a disclosure of harm
  • an allegation of abuse
  • you have a concern that a person is at risk, see or suspect abuse (no disclosure)

We use the term Reporter to describe a person who reports an incident, a disclosure or a concern.

We use the term Reported to describe a person who is accused of causing harm or is considered a cause for concern.  Where a person at risk discloses or discusses potential abuse or harm, the staff member or volunteer should be able to:

Call 999, if there is an emergency and a person is in immediate harm

If you are not able to complete the Report and Support online form at the time, record the disclosure, observed incident or concern clearly and factually as soon as possible and upload to the Report and Support system as soon as possible, and within 24 hours.

How to respond sensitively

If you are the person who is trusted with a disclosure, make yourself available for them to speak freely. Please refer to Helping Students in Distress: A guide for Staff.

If not in immediate danger, is there a threat for the person?

  • Do they feel safe right now? Ensure the immediate safety of the person(s)
  • What do they need from you at this moment?
  • Do they require immediate medical assistance?
  • What form of harm are they experiencing / have they experienced?
  • When did the incident take place?
  • Is there a threat or danger for the person? It may be immediate or anticipated later, perhaps when they return home, or on the route home?
  • Are vulnerable adults or children involved (includes pregnancy to 18 years old)

In relation to children, consider the Wellbeing Indicators (safe, healthy, achieving, nurtured, active, respected, responsible, and included) consider:

  • What is getting in the way of this child or young person’s wellbeing?
  • Do I have all the information I need to help this child or young person?
  • What can I do to help this child or young person?
  • What can the University / expert agency do to help this child or young person?
  • What additional help may be required from others?

Stay calm, listen, and show that you understand and believe the Reporter.

  • Do not react strongly, show shock or disapproval
  • Do not ask leading questions. You may wish to repeat back what you have heard
  • Do not make promises you cannot keep
  • Do not judge or investigate
  • Do not jump to conclusions, criticise, confront or contact the alleged perpetrator
  • Be aware that your own feelings may differ from the reporter

Clarify with the Reporter that information shared with you will be treated with discretion, but you cannot promise absolute confidentiality. You cannot be bound to secrecy. Details giving rise to concerns or suspicions of abuse will only be shared with the Report and Support Response Team in order to make decisions about next steps and identify the right support for the individual. See Section 4.4: Confidentiality and Information Sharing.

There may be reluctance to disclose because the Reporter:

  • May be unsure that what they are experiencing is abuse
  • May be fearful that they will not be believed
  • Be bound to secrecy by the abuser
  • Dependent on the abuser (e.g. financial, emotional or housing)
  • Worried about what will happen next
  • Feel guilt, loyalty, pain, embarrassment, shame, compliance
  • Perceive that others are too busy or do not see them as important
  • Be anxious in case anyone else finds out
  • Peer on peer abuse may be a factor. A child or young person may have harmed by another child or is at risk. They may have committed an offence against or be involved in an offence against a child or young person. Equally a student/staff member may have harmed another student/staff member or is at risk of doing so or has committed an offence against or related to a student/staff member.

Maintain discretion

Never disclose or discuss any safeguarding incident or case that you are involved in, except with the Lead assigned by the Report and Support Response Team. It is not our job to investigate or to judge, and staff must uphold the privacy rights and respect for all parties involved. Never gossip or share.

Take care of yourself

If you are supporting, or have witnessed a safeguarding incident. Or if you are responding to a safeguarding concern, including supporting a person who chooses to disclose to a safeguarding issue, these can raise difficult, traumatic or triggering feelings for you. The University can provide supervision for staff through Human Resources or support for students through Student Experience should wish you to discuss your feelings and response at a later stage. Confidentiality applies as per Section 4.4 Confidentiality and Information Sharing.

4.2 Safeguarding reporting procedure

What happens after an incident is reported?

When an incident is reported through the Report and Support Response Team, the operational group looking at all reported ‘Report and Support’ incidents, makes a judgement as to whether a reported incident(s) hit a trigger. For example, that may be the case in instances of serious assault where there are several incidents within a short time window or same place on campus, and may be escalated to the University Incident Response Team.

Hitting the trigger

  • If there is something that hits a trigger, the Director of Student Experience and Director of HR are alerted, alongside the University Compliance Officer as the lead of the Incident Management Team, and the Risk and Resilience Team.
  • At this stage, an Incident Response Team (the level below Incident Management Team) would be convened to assess the situation, impact on University business, reputation, wider support of the student and staff community, and to liaise with person/their family, outside agencies, communications etc.
  • The membership of the Incident Response Team is diverse and tailored to respond to the anticipated types of incidents.

This is set out in the Incident Response Plan Flowchart and may be further escalated to the Incident Management Team, as necessary. The University's Emergency Response and Business Continuity Management Policy (pdf) is supported by specific strategic plans for known emergency situations.

Emergency information is located on the University Safety, Health and Wellbeing pages.

All staff and students should be familiar with the Security Guidance for Staff and Students which is provided to raise awareness of predictable security threats and information about how to minimise the associated risks whilst at the University.

Please see safeguarding reporting procedure diagram description on the page.

4.3 Relevant University procedures pursued

The following outlines the procedure that will apply depending on whether the Reporter or Reported party is a student, a member of University Staff or a Service Provider. Police will be called in any incident involving members of the public.

The University will use discretion to identify the most appropriate route for dealing with the concern, based on the circumstances of the situation, or if there are overlapping procedures in relation to a similar matter. For example, if a student and staff member are the subject of the same complaint, it may be appropriate to deal with the matter under a number of procedures, or to deal with the matter under one single procedure, or a hybrid of procedures.

Where a service provider or third party raises a complaint against a staff member or a student, a fact find may take place to establish whether the matter should proceed under the student disciplinary procedure or the staff disciplinary procedure or any other procedure/policy as appropriate.

Persons raising complaints should be aware that the details of any staff or student disciplinary procedures are confidential. It may therefore not be possible to fully advise on the outcome of any investigation to the complaint.

Please see student and staff reporting diagram description on page.

4.4 Confidentiality & information sharing

Disclosures of Safeguarding concerns or personal information provided to Report and Support are shared with the Report and Support Response Team. This is a very limited group of university staff who assess how best the University can respond to, and take any necessary actions, to investigate incidents and/or provide appropriate support, including the role of external agencies in line with adult and child protection legislation.

Information reported is securely stored and accessible only to the Report and Support Response Team who will assess and support next steps. On a case-by-case basis, a member of staff will usually contact the Reporter/Reported to discuss what can be done. Consent will be sought before sharing information, making referrals, or contacting anyone on a Reporter/Reported person’s behalf. However, where there is risk of significant harm, risk to life or if there are serious safety and wellbeing concerns, or concerns about the professional conduct of a member of staff raised by a report, we may need to take urgent action without asking for consent first. This may include contacting emergency contacts or external agencies for assistance. We will not treat a report as a complaint until we have contacted the Reporter to discuss the information submitted.

We will not share a student’s report with their department without their agreement, unless there are serious safety concerns.

The Report and Support Privacy Notice can be accessed here and via the Report and Support page.

When we process personal data about identifiable individuals we must do so in compliance with data protection legislation. Under the legislation individuals have a number of rights regarding their personal data.

4.5 Record keeping

Report and Support records or supporting information relating to a report, which may include sensitive information about individuals, are kept electronically and stored safely within the Report & Support system for six years.

The Report and Support Response Team review safeguarding incident reports submitted to the Accident, Incident and Reporting System (including Report and Support), looking at the number and pattern of reports, their source, and the outcomes from each.

Anonymised data collected from safeguarding reports is collated to enable a consolidated Board ‘Dashboard’ Report presenting real-time graphical data outputs from Student Experience, Security and Safety reports. This is a key way in which we monitor activity, look for patterns to learn from case management evaluation and improve our approach to safeguarding. This allows for evaluation and provides data for Executive Team to support decision making, and resource allocation.