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Safeguarding policy

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  • Summary of policy

  • What this document covers

  • What this document does not cover

  • Legislation and guidance informing this document

  • Introduction

  • Policy principles

  • What to do if you are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child or vulnerable adult

  • Allegations against staff

  • Students under the age of 18

  • Data protection

  • Implementation and enforcement of procedure

  • Non-compliance

  • Glossary of terms/Definitions

  • Appendix A How to report a safeguarding concern

  • Appendix B Privacy Notice - Safeguarding

Effective from: 1st December 2018, Date for review: 12th May 2019

Summary of policy

This policy describes how The Open University Psychological Society (OUPS) meets its statutory safeguarding obligations to protect the safety and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults. Safeguarding concerns may emerge about the safety and wellbeing of children and vulnerable adults associated with students, staff, volunteers or other business activities during the course of OUPS business. This policy outlines the procedure to follow if you have a safeguarding concern and how decisions are made.

Note: Terminology in this document takes into account legislation of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and refers to 'children' as those under 18 years of age and 'vulnerable' adults or groups as those also recognised as 'protected' or 'at risk of harm'.

Note: Those attending OUPS events and/or are members of OUPS have to declare they are a minimum age of 18. Therefore, any reference to persons under the age of 18 within this document will be those associated with students, staff, volunteers or other business activities during the course of OUPS business.


What this document covers​

This policy and its related procedures apply to:

  • Vulnerable adults registered as attendees and/or members.

  • Staff and volunteers in the course of their duties.

What this document does not cover

  • Members, attendees, volunteers or staff experiencing mental health difficulties who may pose a risk to themselves or others but are not vulnerable adults and do not pose a safeguarding risk. Those in this position can access support at events by contacting OUPS directly either in advance of an event or whilst attending.

Legislation and guidance informing this document

  • Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016 (PDF, 830KB)

  • Counter-Terrorism and Security Act 2015

  • Modern Slavery Act 2015

  • Special educational needs and disability (SEND) code of practice: 0-25 years - Statutory guidance 2014

  • England:
    Working together to safeguard children A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children, March 2018

  • The Care Act 2014

  • Scotland: National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014

  • Northern Ireland:
    Co-operating to Safeguarding Children and Young People in Northern Ireland

  • Wales:
    Safeguarding Children - Working Together Under the Children Act 2004 Social Services and Wellbeing Act 2014

  • Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

The Open University Student Charter Principles

This policy aligns with the following Open University principles:

Principle 1: We treat each other with dignity and respect. Full details of this principle are available at:


OUPS respects that all individuals regardless of race, gender, disability, religion, sexual orientation, family status, age or social background have a right to equal protection from all types of harm or abuse.

Protecting people's health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, exploitation, victimisation, abuse, neglect, sexual misconduct and violence is fundamental to creating a safe learning environment. In turn, these experiences impact on the working and learning experiences of those directly, or indirectly, affected by such behaviours.

Abusive behaviours can take many forms, including, but not limited to

  • Physical abuse

  • Emotional or psychological abuse

  • Sexual abuse

  • Neglect

  • Domestic abuse

  • Financial abuse

  • Discriminatory abuse

  • Modern slavery

The SSO is the Designated Safeguarding Officer for OUPS. They have overall responsibility for the safety of vulnerable groups in accordance with relevant and current legislation in each of the countries of the UK and are accountable for The OUPS's practice.

1. Policy principles

  1. Safeguarding is everyone's responsibility; we are committed to creating and sustaining a culture of vigilance among our staff, volunteers, attendees and members to recognise, respond, record and report safeguarding concerns and provide a proportionate response.

  2. It is not our responsibility to make judgements about safeguarding concerns reported, but to ensure they are processed and referred on, as appropriate.

  3. Information and data received as part of safeguarding concerns are handled in confidence and on a need-to-know basis, and in accordance with the privacy notice described in Appendix B.

  4. Wherever possible or appropriate, we seek the consent of the subject of a safeguarding concern in order to share their information with an external agency, for example, a social services department.

  5. This safeguarding policy is updated in line with changes to relevant legislation and best practice across the sector, in addition to the annual policy review cycle.

2. What to do if you are concerned about the safety or welfare of a child or vulnerable adult

Someone may disclose something which triggers your concern in a variety of settings, such as in a conversation, in a written assignment or a posting on a forum.

  • Listen to what they are saying to you calmly so as not to make them more anxious.

  • Respect the person's right to privacy but do not promise confidentiality - say that you may have to pass on information if a child or vulnerable person is at significant risk of harm.

  • Reassure the person that they have done the right thing in telling you this information.

  • Make notes as soon as you can, using the exact words that you can remember.

  • If you are concerned that a child/young person/vulnerable adult is in possible IMMEDIATE danger please take action to ensure their safety by contacting the Emergency Services by telephoning 999.

  • OUPS staff and volunteers
    You should report details of your concern to the SSO, if possible, at the earliest opportunity and then email basic information and your contact details to:
    Student Support Officer:
    Please use reference: Safeguarding Concern and location of the concern (e.g. Warwick, May Event).

  • OUPS attendees, members or other associates:
    If you are concerned about the risk to a child/young person/vulnerable adult and do not think they are in immediate danger, email basic information and your contact details to:
    Student Support Officer:
    Please use reference: Safeguarding Concern and location of the concern (e.g. Warwick, May Event).

  • You may also wish to discuss your concerns with the Open University Students Association (

  • The SSO will respond within 24 hours during office hours. They may require further information from the person who has made the initial referral.

  • The SSO will seek advice regarding further action required. Following advice they will refer, if necessary, to the relevant Child Protection Agency, Adult Protection Team or the Police.

  • The SSO will report back to you on action taken, as appropriate.

Roles and relationships

The OUPS Chairperson oversees the safeguarding policy; the SSO and several OUPS committee members trained in safeguarding principles to process reports of concerns raised and make referrals to external agencies, where appropriate. Up to date safeguarding awareness training is made available to all staff and volunteers involved in OUPS's business.

OUPS has safeguarding protocols in place which are coordinated and implemented consistently through the SSO.

The SSO records all queries received and verifies details where appropriate, in order to refer concerns to external agencies, such as social services.


The SSO makes available information, advice, guidance and training on what to do in the event of a safeguarding concern arising, and this is quality-assured on a regular basis. All OUPS committee members are made aware of the charity's commitment to the safety of vulnerable/protected groups, and, are directed to guidance about what to do if a concern arises via this policy.

All relevant partner organisations and individuals associated with Open University business are made aware of OUPS's statutory safeguarding duty and the safeguarding referral process.

OUPS works in partnership with the Open University Students Association to promote the safety of children and vulnerable adults.

Safeguarding best practice is reviewed regularly to ensure a consistency of approach, procedures and actions to lead to a safe culture within OUPS events.


OUPS has a statutory duty regarding the need to prevent people being drawn into terrorism. If there is reason to believe that an attendee, member, staff and/or volunteer may be at risk of being drawn into terrorism, any action taken under this policy will be taken in consultation with the appropriate external agencies.

OUPS makes all reasonable efforts, through its recruitment procedures, to ensure that all members of staff whose role involves specific activity with children and/or vulnerable adults have no known history of harmful behaviour and are suitable for the position in line with policy and legislation requirements.


The SSO administers Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks on all members of staff involved in safeguarding referrals, as appropriate.

3. Allegations against staff

  1. Any allegations of abuse involving a member of staff or volunteer will be taken seriously by OUPS. An attendee or member can report an allegation about a member of staff to the OU Students Association ( or the SSO which will then be referred to the Chairperson and external agencies, as appropriate.

  2. Any member of staff or volunteer who has a concern about abuse by another member of staff or volunteer should report their concern to the Chairperson, who will follow the OUPS safeguarding and disciplinary procedures.

4. Members and Attendees under the age of 18

OUPS events and OUPS membership are not open to those under the age of 18.

5. Data protection

Under OUPS's Statutory Safeguarding duty, OUPS staff and volunteers must report any safeguarding concerns to the SSO. Whilst measures will be taken to protect individuals' privacy on a need-to-know basis, confidentiality levels will be managed as outlined in Appendix B, because of the requirement to report safeguarding concerns to the committee and to then investigate any reported concerns.

The SSO keep electronic records of referrals/concerns securely and confidentially on a restricted server, in accordance with data protection guidelines. Data held is retained for a specified period and is shared on a need-to-know basis according to the Safeguarding Privacy Notice - see Appendix B.

6. Implementation and enforcement of procedure

Safeguarding is a statutory duty of OUPS's business, and, as such, there is no flexibility or exemption to this policy. A failure to comply with the safeguarding policy and procedures will be investigated and may result in dismissal or exclusion from OUPS.

7. Non-compliance

Breaches of codes of conduct may lead to disciplinary action according to the following policies or codes:

Glossary of terms/Definitions


A child is a person who is under the age of 18 (or under 16 in Scotland). The fact that a child has reached 16 years of age, is living independently or is in Further/Higher education does not change their status for the purpose of this Policy.

Vulnerable Adult

A vulnerable adult is a person aged 18 or over (or aged 16 or over in Scotland) who is, or may be, in need of services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness, and who is, or may be, unable to take care of themselves, or unable to protect themselves against significant harm, abuse or exploitation, including being drawn into terrorism.

Definitions of abuse

These are not exhaustive and it is worth noting that all the forms of abuse listed below are rarely found in isolation.


A form of maltreatment. Somebody may abuse or neglect a child/vulnerable adult by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. Children/vulnerable adults 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).


Physical abuse

A form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm to a child.

Emotional abuse

The persistent emotional maltreatment of a child/vulnerable adult such as to cause severe and adverse effects on the victim's emotional health.


Sexual abuse​

Involves forcing or enticing a child or vulnerable adult to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the victim is aware of what is happening.


The persistent failure to meet a child or vulnerable adult's basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of the victim's health or development.

Domestic abuse

An incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening, degrading and violent behaviour, including sexual violence, in the majority of cases by a partner or ex-partner, but also by a family member or carer.

Financial abuse

The use or misuse of money by a perpetrator which limits or controls their victim's current or future actions and their freedom of choice.


Discriminatory abuse

A misuse of power that denies opportunity to a group or individual, usually motivated by the victim's age, gender, sexuality, disability, religion, class culture, language, race or ethnic origin.

Modern Slavery

Trafficking or modern slavery is defined by the

United Nations Palermo Protocol (UN 2003) in three phases:

  • recruitment or acquisition of a man, woman or child

  • means, i.e. through the use of force, deception, or coercion

  • purpose, i.e. for the purpose of exploitation or forced labour.


Further clarification

If you have any queries around the content provided within this document with regard to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults, please contact:

Student Support Officer:
Please use reference: Safeguarding Concern and location of the concern (e.g. Warwick, May Event).

Appendix A How to reporting a safeguarding concern

If you have a concern about a child or young person under the age of 18 or a vulnerable adult:

Send an email detailing your concern by addressing the questions below and your contact details to: Student Support Officer:
Please use reference: Safeguarding Concern and location of the concern (e.g. Warwick, May Event).

  • Your name

  • Your position (if appropriate)

  • Contact details (email, mobile, telephone)

  • Person's name connected with the concern

  • How this person is known to OUPS

  • Date and time the disclosure/ concern arose

  • Context in which disclosure/concern was raised

Please describe the context in which the disclosure/concern was raised. Record as accurately as you can with actual words used, and, if possible, any questions you asked at the time.

Appendix B Privacy Notice - Safeguarding

1. Scope

This document sets out what we do with your personal data when safeguarding concerns are reported to us.

This document applies to you if you report a safeguarding concern, if a safeguarding concern is reported about you, or a safeguarding concern is reported where you are at risk.

2. Who we are

OUPS is the data controller in relation to the processing activities described below. This means that the Open University decides why and how your personal information is processed.

Where this policy refers to "we", "our" or "us" below, unless it mentions otherwise, it's referring to OUPS.

3. What information do we collect about you, and how do we collect it?

If information is brought to the attention of a member of OUPS staff or volunteers about a potential safeguarding risk, that member of staff is obliged to notify the SSO. This could include the name of the person identifying the issue, the names of the individuals potentially at risk, and the name of the person they are at risk from, as well as details of personal circumstances which relate to the safeguarding concern.

This information may include "special category" data, for example, about health or disability, sexual life or sexual orientation.

4. How do we use your personal information?

We use this information to assess whether there is a safeguarding risk, and if there is any action that we need to take to keep individuals safe. This is a statutory and legal obligation informed by legislation including Keeping Children Safe in Education 2016 and The Care Act 2014 and equivalent legislation for the non-English UK nations.

The condition for processing special category data for this purpose would be that it is in the substantial public interest, for the purposes of protecting an individual from harm (see Safeguarding amendment to Data Protection Bill).

We also keep statistical information about the number of safeguarding concerns that have been raised, and how they were resolved. This is in our legitimate interest to plan our services.

5. Who do we share your information with?

We will share information with police forces, and government agencies, where we deem it necessary to protect an individual. This is a legal and moral obligation.

We use third party suppliers and service providers for the provision of, for example, specialist safeguarding advice.

When we use third party service providers, we only disclose to them any personal information that is necessary for them to provide their service. We have a contract in place that requires them to keep your information secure and not to use it other than in accordance with our specific instructions.

7. How long do we keep your personal information for?

The SSO keeps safeguarding concerns for three years from the date of case closed, if we decide they are not necessary to act on, and for 25 years if we do act on them.

8. Your rights

You have a number of rights in relation to your personal information, which apply in certain circumstances under the General Data Protection Regulations. To exercise any of these rights, please contact us using the details in Section 9, below.

You have the right:

  • To access your personal information that we process

  • To rectify inaccuracies in the personal information that we hold about you In some circumstances, you also have the right:

  • To have your details removed from systems that we use to process your personal data

  • To restrict the processing of your personal data in certain ways

  • To obtain a copy of your personal data in a structured electronic data file

  • To object to certain processing of your personal data by us

  • To request that we stop sending you direct marketing communications.

9. Contact us

If you have any queries about safeguarding at OUPS, please contact the SSO at:

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