St.Helens R.F.C. recognises the importance of safeguarding and is committed to making sure that everyone knows the standards that we follow.

St.Helens R.F.C. has adopted The RFL Safeguarding policy and use this in conjunction with the Working Together to safeguard Children policy document.

1 Policy Statement.

Safeguarding ‘Adults at Risk’ An Adult at Risk is a person aged 18 or over who is in need of care and support (regardless of whether they are receiving that care or support) and because of those needs is unable to protect themselves against abuse or neglect. The Rugby Football League (RFL) is the National Governing Body for Rugby League in England. This Policy relates to all people or organisations who participate in Rugby League under the auspices of the RFL. The RFL believes it is important to raise awareness of individuals in Rugby League who may be at risk.

The RFL will not tolerate abuse of such individuals and is committed to providing a welcoming environment, activity and interest to all members of the community who wish to take part. The RFL’s Equality and Diversity Strategy expresses the game’s commitment to inclusion and to the celebration of diversity in our game. Rugby League can play an important part in the lives of adults, including adults who are considered ‘at risk’. This Policy: – seeks to ensure that all can recognise an adult who may be at risk and know how to ensure a safe and welcoming environment for all such individuals. – provide a framework for taking action when abuse against an Adult at Risk may be taking place.

The RFL will encourage and support all involved in the game, including clubs, match officials’ societies, workers and volunteers and club Foundations, to adopt and demonstrate their commitment to this Safeguarding Adults at Risk Policy.

2 Definitions & Assumptions.

To assist working through and understanding this Policy a number of key definitions need to be explained:

2.1 Adult at Risk

For the purposes of this Policy an “adult at risk” is one who: – Has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority or other organisation is meeting any of those needs) and; – Is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect; and; – As a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of, abuse or neglect.

For the avoidance of doubt, this is a very different test to whether an individual has a disability. If you want further advice on whether someone is an “adult at risk” please contact the RFL Safeguarding Manager ([email protected]). Whether someone is ‘adult at risk’ may evolve over time such that someone who is not considered an ‘adult at risk’ at one particular time, may be so at another point.

2.1 Who Has Responsibility In Safeguarding In Saints Community Development Foundation Ltd?

The Foundation and all individuals, partners, groups, societies, associations and other agencies involved in the Foundation will: – Accept the moral and legal responsibility to implement safeguarding procedures and to provide a duty of care for children, safeguard their wellbeing and protect them from abuse and poor practice – Listen to children and respect and promote their rights, wishes and feelings – Recruit, train and supervise its employees and volunteers to adopt best practice to safeguard and protect children from abuse – Require all staff and volunteers to adopt and abide by this Safeguarding Policy, the RESPECT Code of Conduct and the Rugby League Coach’s Code of Conduct – Respond to any allegations appropriately – Report all concerns, allegations or disclosures to the RFL (as set out below) – Recognise that it is the responsibility of the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group, experts and agencies to determine whether abuse has taken place but it is everyone’s responsibility to report any concerns – Recognise that working in partnership with children, their parents and other agencies is essential for the protection of children – Co-operate fully and promptly with the statutory bodies and/or the RFL in any investigation – Recognise the statutory responsibility of the Designated Officers (also known as Local Authority Designated Officer) to ensure the welfare of children and work with them to comply with procedures.

2.2 Abuse is a violation of an individual’s rights by another person or persons.

2.3 Adult is anyone aged 18 or over.

2.4 Adult safeguarding

Is protecting a person’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.

2.5 Capacity.

Refers to the ability to make a decision at a particular time, for example when under considerable stress. The starting assumption must always be that a person has the capacity to make a decision unless it can be established that they lack capacity (MCA 2005).

2.6 Are people with disabilities ‘at risk’?

No, the fact that an individual has a disability does not mean they are an ‘adult at risk’. However, some adults with disabilities will have additional vulnerabilities which means that they are also an ‘adult at risk’.

3 RFL Commitment

The RFL is committed to: – welcoming people into the sport and providing a positive experience that is genuinely inclusive; – making reasonable adaptations and adjustments in a flexible manner to allow people of different ability, disability and/or impairment to have positive experiences of Rugby League; – taking action to protect adults involved in Rugby League that may be at risk; – seeking ways to improve the safety and well-being of all ‘adults at risk’ who take part in Rugby League; – emphasising that everyone in Rugby League has a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all ‘adults at risk’ who take part; – recognising that ability and disability can change over time, such that some adults may be additionally vulnerable to abuse, for example those who have a dependency on others or have different communication needs; – recognising that a disabled adult may or may not be identified as an ‘adult at risk’; – improving outcomes for ‘adults at risk’ by adhering to current legislation that supports the safeguarding of adults; and – providing support and advice to everyone involved in Rugby League at all levels.

As part of this commitment the RFL will: – Manage its services in a way which minimises the risk of abuse occurring; – Support ‘adults at risk’ who are experiencing or have experienced abuse within the Game; – Work with ‘adults at risk’ and other agencies to tackle any abuse that may occur within the Game; – Seek ways to improve the safety and well-being of all ‘adults at risk’ who take part in Rugby League. In achieving these aims the organisation will: – Ensure that relevant staff and volunteers have access to and are familiar with this Safeguarding Adults at Risk policy and procedures and their responsibilities within it; – Ensure concerns or allegations of abuse are always taken seriously; – Ensure that referrals are made to the appropriate authorities in a timely manner; – Ensure appropriate guidance and training in relation to safeguarding adults is made available to staff and volunteers; – Ensure that participants in Rugby League, their relatives and/or informal carers have access to information about how to report concerns or allegations of abuse; – Ensure that the RFL Safeguarding Team provide support and advice; – Ensure there is a named lead person to promote safeguarding awareness and practice within the organisation.

The RFL Safeguarding Manager: contact [email protected] 0113 237 5046 or 07595520610 4 General Principles This Policy is based on the Definitions and Legal Framework set out in sections 8 and 9 below and the guidance and procedures are based on the following six principles of Adult Safeguarding:

4.1 Empowerment.

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

4.2 Prevention.

It is better to take action before harm occurs.

4.3 Proportionality.

The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.

4.4 Protection.

Support and representation for those in greatest need.

4.5 Partnership.

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

4.6 Accountability.

Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.

5 Overview.

The Safeguarding Adults at Risk policy has been developed to ensure that procedures are in place to protect adults, including those at risk, to seek to ensure that they are safe from harm and have an enjoyable Rugby League experience. It confirms that abuse will not be tolerated in Rugby League, and where possible abuse involves an ‘adult at risk’, this policy and procedures provide the framework for action.

6 Responsibility.

This policy states that it is everyone’s responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants so that they can enjoy Rugby League. In addition, each club or organisation should decide based on its own circumstances and involvement in different programmes whether it should have a dedicated Adult Welfare Officer or whether the current Club Welfare Officer has the time and knowledge to cover the dual role. In either case the relevant Officer should be clearly identified in club literature and should receive relevant training. For Saints Community Development Foundation Ltd the Safeguarding Manager Steve Leonard covers both Adults at Risk and Safeguarding children and young people and can be contacted in the case of any concerns or for advice at [email protected] or by telephone 01744 455 084 or 07889 365 977.

7 Best Safeguarding Adults at Risk Practice

Everyone in Rugby League has the responsibility to be open and welcoming, and to reach out to all in the communities where our clubs are based. Good practice in welcoming people includes making sure the club, team or squad explicitly states that new people are welcome, and that everyone is welcome. There are already some examples of great practice where Rugby League has welcomed and embraced different communities – the rise in women, girls and disability Rugby League is testimony to this. We want to ensure that this welcome is extended to all communities, whatever their background.

7.1 Policies and Procedures

7.1.1 Safer Recruitment.

Legally, anyone undertaking a role that involves contact with, or responsibility for, children or other vulnerable groups should be taken through a safer recruitment process. Adults at risk would be classed under the term ‘vulnerable group’. Some individuals may not be suitable to work with adults at risk due to gaps in their understanding, skills or knowledge or due to previous concerns about conduct. Rugby League clubs and organisations are only as good as the people who work and volunteer there. They should create a setting that makes everyone feel welcomed and safe. This can only be undertaken by ensuring that people are recruited as safely as possible. It is therefore essential that all clubs and organisations have effective recruitment and selection procedures for both paid staff and volunteers. These will help to screen out and discourage those who are not suitable from joining your club/organisation.

7.1.2 DBS Applications

Anyone who is working with Adults at Risk should have a DBS through the RFL which includes checking against the Barred from working with Adults list. It is important to distinguish between roles involving working with Adults at Risk and Children roles as the risk assessment criteria is different and includes for instance assessing for risk of fraudulent activity. Failure to do so is a breach of this Policy.

7.1.3 Other Checks.

The DBS disclosure and checking against the barred list, if appropriate to the role, is only one part of a safe recruitment process. In all cases regarding the vetting of paid and voluntary staff working in sport, standard best practice dictates that: – a thorough checking of a person’s qualifications and training attended; – detailed application forms; – robust interviews that include the opportunity for self-disclose and check safeguarding, equality and diversity knowledge and skills; – checking references; – thorough induction processes; – verification of qualifications and experience; and – risk assessment of concerning information, all form the basis of safe recruitment and best practice when recruiting individuals to work with adults at risk. Then when people are in post there should be a probationary period and review and regular safeguarding training that includes safeguarding adults at risk.

7.2 Good practice Everyone should:

Aim to make the experience of participating in Rugby League fun and enjoyable.

– Promote fairness and playing by the rules. – Not tolerate the use of prohibited or illegal substances. – Treat all adults equally and preserve their dignity; this includes giving more and less talented members of a group similar attention, time and respect. The RFL expects that that coaches of adult players in environments in which there are or are likely to be Adults at Risk to: – Adopt and endorse the RFL Coach Codes of Conduct; – Abide by the RESPECT policy; – Respect the developmental stage of each player and not risk sacrificing their welfare in a desire for team or personal achievement. – Ensure that the training intensity is appropriate to the physical, social and emotional stage of the development of the player.

– Work with adults at risk, medical advisers and their carers (where appropriate) to develop realistic training and competition schedules which are suited to the needs and lifestyle of the player, not the ambitions of others such as coaches, team members, parents or carers. – Build relationships based on mutual trust and respect, encouraging adults at risk to take responsibility for their own development and decision-making. – Always be publicly open when working with adults at risk. – Avoid coaching sessions or meetings where a coach and an individual player are completely unobserved. – Avoid unnecessary physical contact with people. Physical contact (touching) can be appropriate so long as: – It is neither intrusive nor disturbing. – The player’s permission has been openly given. – It is delivered in an open environment. – It is needed to demonstrate during a coaching session. – Maintain a safe and appropriate relationship with players and avoid forming intimate relationships with players as this may threaten the position of trust and respect present between player and coach. – Be an excellent role model by maintaining appropriate standards of behaviour. – Gain the adult at risk’s consent and, where appropriate, the consent of relevant carers, in writing, to administer emergency first aid or other medical treatment if the need arises.

– Be aware of medical conditions, disabilities, existing injuries and medicines being taken and keep written records of any injury or accident that occurs, together with details of treatments provided. – Gain written consent from the correct people and fill out relevant checklists and information forms for travel arrangements and trips. This must be the adult themselves if they have capacity to do so. Some Adults at Risk will be able to participate in Rugby League, in the way that they wish, with the minimum of support and adaptations required. Others will require a different approach that takes particular account of their needs and makes specific provision for these. A simple example of good practice is where a player with a learning disability has a playing ‘buddy’, a person who they can turn to for support, or if they have any questions about the session or game.

8 Recognising Abuse and Poor Practice

8.1 Poor practice.

The following are regarded as poor practice and must be avoided:

– Unnecessarily spending excessive amounts of time alone with an individual adult.

– Engaging in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay.

– Allowing or engaging in inappropriate touching of any form.

– Using language that might be regarded as inappropriate by the adult and which may be hurtful or disrespectful.

– Making sexually suggestive comments, even in jest.

– Reducing an adult to tears as a form of control.

– Letting allegations made by an adult go un-investigated, unrecorded, or not acted upon.

– Taking an adult at risk alone in a car on journeys, however short.

– Inviting or taking an adult at risk to your home or office where they will be alone with you.

– Sharing a room with an adult at risk.

– Doing things of a personal nature that adults at risk can do for themselves. In some cases poor practice particularly when deliberate or persistent will be considered to be Abuse.

Note: At times it may be acceptable to do some of the above, which can be justified in exceptional circumstances, such as taking an adult at risk alone in a car journey. In these cases, to protect both the adult at risk and yourself, seek written consent from the adult at risk and, where appropriate, their carers and ensure that the Lead Adult/Club Welfare Officer of your organisation is aware of the situation and gives their approval. If, during your care, an adult at risk suffers any injury, seems distressed in any manner, appears to be sexually aroused by your actions, or misunderstands/misinterprets something you have done, report these incidents as soon as possible to another adult in the organisation and make a brief written note of it. Do not repeat the action that caused this reaction.

8.2 Abuse In Rugby League.

The following examples may cause concern that an adult may be ‘at risk’: – A member of a learning disability squad being financially exploited by another member of the squad. – A young woman confiding in her coach about a forthcoming holiday where she fears she will be married against her will. – A coach who regularly neglects the individual needs of disabled participants when training. – A player being ‘groomed’ for sexual abuse by his or her coach. – A player who frequently has unexplained bruises and injuries, and who will not change with their team-mates.

8.3 Reporting

Occasionally an individual may need protecting. If an ‘adult at risk’ may require the protection of either the Police or Social Care Safeguarding Services, either because of something happening inside or outside of Rugby League, in an emergency this should be reported to the appropriate Service immediately and the RFL Safeguarding Team should be informed. An example of good practice in passing concerns to the RFL Safeguarding Team would be where an ‘adult at risk’ has informed somebody that they are receiving text messages from another player that are sexually explicit and unwelcome. If it is unclear whether or not the individual would meet the definition of ‘at risk’, the information should be shared with the RFL Safeguarding Team, who will help make the decision.

Where an adult does not meet the definition of ‘at risk’, either because they do not have a health or social care need, or it does not prevent them protecting themselves, then the matter can be dealt with as a complaint, but with appropriate levels of support provided depending on the adult’s particular needs. The RFL Safeguarding Team can advise on what sort of support may be appropriate. Where a potential offence has been committed (as in the texting example above), the complainant should always be advised of their right to contact the police in the first instance, and advice sought from the RFL Safeguarding Team. In any case and in all situations, if it is thought that a crime may be currently being committed, or in an Emergency situation, dial 999 and inform the police. Any individual becoming aware that an adult may be suffering abuse, whether or not they meet the definition of ‘adult at risk’ has a responsibility to raise their concern with somebody: a relevant officer at the club / team / squad, , with the Police or with local Social Services.

8.4 Recognising the Different Types of Abuse of Adults at Risk

The majority of adults, including ‘adults at risk’ live a life free from harm and abuse; however, some do suffer abuse. This is usually carried out by a family member, close family friend or person in a position of trust. Everyone involved in Rugby League is encouraged to be vigilant to such abuse. Any or all of the different types of abuse may be perpetrated as the result of deliberate intent, negligence or ignorance. It can be difficult to distinguish poor practice from abuse, whether intentional or accidental. It is not the responsibility of any individual involved in a Club to make judgements regarding whether or not abuse is taking place, however, all involved in Rugby League personnel have the responsibility to recognise and identify poor practice and potential abuse within a Rugby League setting, and act on this if they have concerns.

Physical abuse This may include hitting, slapping, shaking, throwing, pushing, kicking, biting, or otherwise causing physical harm to an individual. Physical harm may also be caused by the misuse of medication, inappropriate restraint, or inappropriate sanctions; Rugby League: examples would be incidents of violence such as the shoving and jostling of opponents, or where the nature and intensity of training or matches does not take account of an individual’s needs, circumstances or health, to the point where they experience harm or distress. Emotional abuse This may include bullying, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks; Rugby League: emotional abuse may occur if people are subjected to undue or repeated criticism, name-calling, bullying, humiliation, threats, blame, sarcasm, or any discriminatory abuse, or because of unrealistic pressure to perform to expectations that are beyond their potential. Sexual abuse This may involve forcing or enticing an individual to take part in sexual activities (directly or indirectly) to which the individual has not consented or could not consent or was pressured into consenting. This can include compelling ‘adults at risk’ to listen to or take part in talk of a sexual nature. Sexual abuse can occur through social media activity. Rugby League: examples would range from the sharing of inappropriate jokes to the discomfort of individuals, through to activities of a criminal nature. Financial abuse includes theft, fraud, exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Rugby League: an example in Rugby League would be an individual with a learning disability who is always expected to buy drinks for his ‘mates’, (see Mate Crime below) or exploited by being expected to host after match gettogethers at his/her house at his/her expense. ‘Mate Crime’ ‘Mate Crime’ is the phenomenon of people with disabilities being groomed by those who pretend to be their friends before being exploited by them financially, physically or sexually. Rugby League: an ‘adult at risk’ might be exploited by his or her peer group by being asked always to pay for after match drinks or always asked to do things on behalf of the group – which others are not e.g. pack the kit bags of other players after a game Social media, electronic communication and online abuse Abuse can occur through social media; this may be difficult to detect. It is important to remember that the type of abuse that can occur through social media always includes emotional and psychological abuse and can include sexual and financial abuse. Some examples of abuse that can occur through social media include: – Unwanted sexual text messages (sexual abuse); – Unwanted communication (emotional abuse); – Inappropriate messaging; (emotional and sexual abuse); – Requests for money (financial abuse); – Harassment (emotional abuse); – Intimidation (emotional abuse); – Sexual coercion (sexual abuse); – Stalking (emotional abuse); and – Cyber-bullying (emotional abuse) Neglect and acts of omission includes ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of necessities such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating. Rugby League: neglect may be either intentional or unintentional. It could include situations such as officials not giving players appropriate breaks on hot days or coaches not taking a player’s injury seriously and asking them to continue playing. Discriminatory abuse includes abuse or ill-treatment based on a person’s ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010. Rugby League: In Rugby League this type of abuse is often difficult to detect and it may not always be clear as to who is the perpetrator. Discrimination can be based on age, disability, ethnicity, gender, gender reassignment, HIV status, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy or maternity, religion or sexual orientation, all of which are ‘protected characteristics’ under the Equality Act 2010. – ‘Adults at risk’ may also be seen to discriminate against each other, for example, using their disability as a joke with other disabled players. It is important to remember that the emotional impact of this type of joking or ‘banter’ on the other player is not always evident and may constitute emotional abuse.

It also sets a level of expectation amongst others who may hear or see this behaviour, as being an acceptable way to address someone with a disability. This is not acceptable in Rugby League and needs to be addressed straight away. In all of the above circumstances the RFL Compliance Manager may issue or direct anyone else to issue a formal charge for a breach of the RFL Operational Rules Institutional abuse This mainly refers to neglect and poor professional practice. This may take the form of isolated incidents of poor or unsatisfactory professional practice, through to pervasive ill treatment or gross misconduct. Repeated instances of poor care may be an indication of more serious problems. Rugby League: Institutional abuse could occur due to poor management or practice causing harm. Within Rugby League an example might be where management put the success of a team before, and without due care and attention for, the health and wellbeing of individual players. Other issues outside Rugby Other issues outside Rugby League may be relevant. These may include: League – Self-neglect or self-harm – Hate crime – Harassment and Intimidation – Domestic abuse (including …forced marriage and honour-based crime) – Human trafficking – Abuse by another ‘adult at risk’ – Abuse by children – Exploitation by people who promote violence

8.5 Frequently Asked Questions

8.5.1 Why don’t ‘adults at risk’ always report abuse?

Often adults feel disempowered and unable to speak about abuse that may be occurring to them. This is often due to fear about what people will say or being upset at not being able to resolve the situation for themselves.

8.5.2 What are my responsibilities? When should I report a risk?

You are not required to make assessments of whether someone is at immediate risk of harm or is likely to suffer harm. This is something for statutory agencies such as Police and Social Care to assess. Your responsibility is to report any concerns you may have and to report anything you may have witnessed. In an emergency you should report to statutory agencies immediately alternatively you can ask the Foundations Safeguarding Manager to report on your behalf where this will not cause unacceptable delay. If you fail to respond and report a concern, an ‘adult at risk’ may continue to suffer harm.

8.5.3 What should I do if I am worried about an adult who may be an ‘adult at risk’?

You should share your concerns with someone suitable. If your club, team or squad has a designated Adult Welfare Officer, share your worries with them and agree a course of action. If there is nobody at the club you feel comfortable sharing your worries with, please contact the Safeguarding manager [email protected] Or by telephoning 01744 455 084/07889 365 977 Somebody needs to talk to the person concerned, to let them know you are worried and ask them if they would like to talk to you or to someone else. (They have the right to say ‘no’)

8.5.4 What should I do if I am worried about the safety of an adult who may be an ‘adult at risk’?

Someone needs to speak with the adult you are worried about and let them know that you are worried and want to get some support for them. If you need advice about how to do this, contact the Foundations Safeguarding manager. If you think anyone may be in danger, or that a crime may have been committed, do not hesitate to tell the police. If your team, club or squad has an identified Adult Welfare Officer, share your concerns with them or the Club Welfare Officer where appropriate. If they do not, please contact the RFL’s lead officer for Safeguarding: email safeguarding email address for an initial discussion When reporting any information, it is important to do so with sensitivity for the people involved and the person who may have raised the concern.

8.5.5 What should I do if they don’t want me to tell anyone else or I don’t have consent to report a problem?

Please consider the following: – Is the adult placing themselves at further risk of harm? – Is someone else likely to get hurt? – Has a criminal offence occurred? This includes: theft or burglary of items, physical abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse or harassment. – Is there suspicion that a crime has occurred? If the answer to any of the questions above is ‘yes’ – then you can share without consent and need to share the information with the Foundations Safeguarding manager /RFL Safeguarding Team and Police or Social Care. If in doubt you should always share the information with the Foundations Safeguarding manager who will make the decision about whether it is appropriate to share the information with statutory services. If you do not think they are at immediate risk of harm, you need to respect their right, as an adult, not to seek or accept help, unless you think they may not have the mental capacity to make this decision (see below). Please remember: If somebody is in a position where they may be at risk of immediate harm, always contact the Police or Social Care.

8.5.6 What should I do if I have a concern about the well-being of an adult who may be an ‘adult at risk’?

Somebody needs to talk to them. Difficulties can often be easily resolved at this level. If you do not feel confident to do this, please contact the Adult Welfare Officer, Steve Leonard on [email protected] 01744 455 084 / 07889 365 977 who will be able to offer advice.

8.5.7 What if I do not think they are able to make sensible decisions about receiving help?

If you think the adult may not have the mental capacity to make appropriate decisions about their situation you should seek the advice of local Social Care services or discuss the matter with the RFL Safeguarding Team, or where appointed, the Adult Welfare Officer Steve Leonard on [email protected] 01744 455 084 / 07889 365 977

8.5.8 What about adults who are not deemed ‘at risk’?

Where an adult does not meet the definition of ‘at risk’, either because they do not have a health or social care need, or it does not prevent them protecting themselves, then the matter should be dealt with as a complaint, but with appropriate levels of support provided depending on the adult’s particular needs. The Foundations Safeguarding manager can advise on what sort of support may be appropriate.

8.5.9 Are all disabled people ‘adults at risk’?

No. Many disabled people live independently and do not need the help of others, nor do they need Community Care services. Just because an adult has a disability does not necessarily mean they are ‘at risk.’

8.5.10 What should I write down?

Make a written record of relevant information as it happens. This should include the date, venue, your concerns, the date and times of any conversations, who was involved, and what was said. Record actions taken.

8.6 Self-reporting of concerns

If you are an Adult at Risk involved in Rugby League and you feel that you may have been abused, may still be being abused, or are otherwise unhappy about your treatment, it is important that you try to speak to someone. If the club, team or squad has an Adult Welfare Officer, please talk to them. If not, please talk to someone you trust, or the local Social Care Department, or the Police. Make a written record of relevant information as it happens. This should include the date, venue, your concerns, the date and times of any conversations, who was involved, and what was said. Record actions taken. You may contact the RFL Safeguarding Team by emailing [email protected]

8.7 RFL Case Management System

The RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group deals with cases involving Adults at Risk under the processes set out in the RFL Operational Rules Sections D1 and D4.

9 Guidance and Legislation

The practices and procedures within this policy are based on the principles contained within the UK and legislation and Government Guidance and have been developed to complement the Safeguarding Adults Boards policy and procedures, and take the following into consideration: – The Care Act 2014 – The Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 – Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims (Amendment) Act 2012 – The Equality Act 2010 – The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 –

Mental Capacity Act 2005 – Sexual Offences Act 2003 – The Human Rights Act 1998 – The Data Protection Act 1994 and 1998 – The General Data Protection Regulations 201


Every effort has been made by the RFL to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time of publication. This Policy is binding and forms part of the RFL Operational Rules. For guidance the reader is advised to contact the RFL Safeguarding team or take further advice if necessary. Where a synopsis of the Operational Rules is given the full Operational Rules as published by the RFL from time to time take precedence. Acknowledgements The RFL would like to thank the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) for their support and guidance. Special thanks also to the other sports whose work in this field has been a valuable source of information and inspiration. Issued by the RFL January 2019.


1 SAFEGUARDING POLICY 1.1 Incorporation & Rules 1.2 RFL Safeguarding Policy Statement 1.3 Key Principles of the Safeguarding Policy 1.4 Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Rules 1.5 Definitions & Assumptions 1.6 Legal Framework

2 RESPONSIBILITIES FOR SAFEGUARDING IN Saints Community Development Foundation 2.1 Who Has Responsibility for Safeguarding in the Foundation 2.2 RFL Safeguarding Manager 2.3 League Welfare Officer 2.4 Club Welfare Officer 2.5 Match Officials Society Welfare Officer

3 BEST SAFEGUARDING PRACTICE IN 3.1 Duty of Care 3.2 Mandatory Safeguarding Requirements 3.3 Recruitment, Employment and Deployment of Staff and Volunteers 3.4 General Principles of Good Practice 3.5 Equality & Diversity 3.6 Education 3.7 Managing Challenging Behaviour

4 RECOGNISING ABUSE &/OR POOR PRACTICE 4.1 Recognising Abuse &/or Poor Practice 4.2 Defining Abuse 4.3 Indicators of Abuse 4.4 Awareness of Increased Vulnerability to Abuse 4.5 Reducing the Potential for Vulnerability 4.6 Positions of Trust 4.7 Grooming SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy

5 REPORTING & RESPONDING TO POOR PRACTICE & ABUSE 5.1 Background 5.2 Whistle Blowing 5.3 What to Report 5.4 Action to take to report concerns, a disclosure or an allegation 5.5 Advice on action to be taken if a child discloses to you 5.6 Confidentiality 5.7 Recording the Incident or Allegation 5.8 The Role of the Statutory Agencies 5.9 The RFL Safeguarding Case Management System 5.10 Support to Deal with the Aftermath 5.11 Support for Alleged Perpetrator 6 POLICIES, PROCEDURES & TEMPLATES (see RFL Website CONTACT DETAILS RFL SAFEGUARDING TEAM 0844 477 7113 Option 4 [email protected] RFL Safeguarding Manager – [email protected] 07595 520610 CPSU 0116 366 5590 0116 366 5495 [email protected] NSPCC Child Protection Helpline – 0808 800 5000

INTRODUCTION Sport can and does have a very powerful and positive influence on people – especially children. Not only can it provide opportunities for enjoyment and achievement; it can also develop valuable qualities such as self-esteem, leadership and teamwork. These positive effects can only take place if sport is in the right hands – in the hands of those who place the welfare of all children first and adopt practices that support, protect and empower them. The reality is that abuse, not only sexual abuse but physical and emotional abuse, as well as bullying, does take place in sport; and in some cases, coaches and other trusted adults in sport including Rugby League have been convicted of such offences through the courts or found guilty of Misconduct by the RFL. The RFL is committed to working in partnership with all agencies to ensure that information and training opportunities are available to ensure and promote best practice when working with children. Adopting best practice will help to safeguard these participants from potential abuse as well as preventing any unfounded allegations of abuse being made against coaches and other adults in positions of responsibility. The RFL Safeguarding Policy allows children to excel in a safe environment and transmit a reassuring signal to parents that positively impacts on participation. This document is binding for the game as a whole to everyone in Rugby League, whether involved in either a professional or voluntary capacity or as a parent, spectator or participant. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy Everyone in Rugby League has a duty of care towards children and other vulnerable players and officials and must help to protect them from abuse.



The RFL Safeguarding Policy and associated policies and procedures have been adopted by the whole game. All individuals involved in Rugby League in England and those from outside England that participate in a Competition that fall under the jurisdiction of the RFL at every level, including but not limited to players, match officials, coaches, administrators, club officials, parents, agents and spectators and all are bound to abide by this Policy, by the RESPECT Code of Conduct, by the Tackle It Policy, by the Rugby League Coach’s Code of Conduct and by any other applicable Code of Conduct published by the RFL. All such individuals by participating or being involved in Rugby League are deemed to have assented to and as such recognise and adhere to the principles and responsibilities embodied in this Policy & the Codes.


The RFL recognises and embraces its responsibility to safeguard children and sets out this commitment below:

1.2.1 The RFL mandates that it is the responsibility of every adult involved in rugby league to ensure that every child who plays or otherwise participates in Rugby League should be able to take part in an enjoyable and safe environment and be protected from abuse.

1.2.2 The RFL recognises its responsibility to safeguard the welfare of all children involved in the game by protecting them from physical, emotional or sexual harm and from neglect or bullying in as far as is possible.

1.2.3 The RFL is committed to working to provide a safe environment for all children to participate in the sport to the best of their abilities for as long as they choose to do so.

1.2.4 The RFL recognises that all children have a right to be protected from abuse irrespective of their age, gender, culture, disability, race, faith, religious belief, sexual orientation, all other protected characteristics and any other physical or other characteristic.

1.2.5 The RFL believes that the child’s welfare is paramount and will be put before other considerations such as winning matches or the success and achievement of adults or clubs or representative teams.

1.2.6 The RFL recognises that abuse and poor practice does take place in sport and that raising awareness and understanding of the main forms of abuse and poor practice and requiring reporting if abuse or poor practice is suspected, will further safeguard children participating in Rugby League.


All those bound by this Policy should be conversant with the entirety of this Safeguarding Policy but for easy reference the key principles of the Policy are set out below. A breach of any of the following is a breach of the Safeguarding Policy and therefore Misconduct under Operational Rules Section D4.

1.3.1 Every adult has a moral and statutory duty for the care, custody and safety of any child under the age of 18 under their supervision

1.3.2 The child’s welfare is paramount and will be put before any other considerations such as winning matches or other competitive success. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy

1.3.3 All children, irrespective of age, disability, faith, gender, race or sexual orientation have the right to be protected from abuse (including but not limited to sexual abuse, grooming, breach of position of trust, physical abuse, neglect, bullying or undue pressure from any source) or poor practice.

1.3.4 Children must not be subjected to discrimination and/or abuse from any person, including spectators, based on their age, disability, faith, gender, race or sexual orientation and/or references to ability, height, weight or any other characteristics

1.3.5 All participants have a duty to report incidents, allegations or suspicions of poor practice or abuse or other breaches of the Safeguarding Policy and failure to do so is a breach of the Policy.

1.3.6 All participants have a duty to co-operate with and tell the truth to any RFL or Statutory Body’s safeguarding investigation.

1.3.7 All incidents, allegations or suspicions of poor practice or abuse must be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately in confidence where possible

1.3.8 All children have a right to play or otherwise participate in the game of Rugby League in a safe and enjoyable environment.

1.3.9 All children must be allowed access to the game in a way that is appropriate for their age and ability and must be coached and trained by appropriately qualified coaches who abide by the Coaches’ Code of Conduct and set a good example of behaviour, both on and off the pitch.

1.3.10 Children must not be required to play in so many games, or to attend training sessions, as to become a threat to their physical or emotional well-being and must not be allowed or encouraged to play when injured and/or concussed or potentially concussed.

1.3.11 Children must be allowed and encouraged to participate for fun and enjoyment rather than results on the pitch and must be given a fair share of playing time.

1.3.12 Children should be encouraged to achieve their potential and allowed to compete at the level at which they feel comfortable. This may not always be the highest level at which they could play.

1.3.13 Children will be provided with appropriate management, support, personal and social development with regard to their involvement in the game of Rugby League, whether they are playing, volunteering or officiating in the community or professional game.

1.3.14 All will comply with the Mandatory Safeguarding Requirements.

1.3.15 All those involved in Rugby League will ensure that they are adequately trained and understand the appropriate policies to ensure they are able to implement this policy. Where specialist training sessions are planned then the coach taking the session and in overall responsibility of the session must be qualified in the type of activity being undertaken. NB All children in the context of this Policy includes, but is not limited to, players, officials & volunteers, match officials, ball crews, cheerleaders and dancers, pre-match entertainment participants, spectators and/or visitors. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy


The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Rules have been adopted by the RFL, its Members and any other relevant body in England and participation, officiating, spectating or any other involvement in the game in England is dependent on acceptance of the Rules and this Policy. To ensure clarity and consistency in the matter of issues relating to Safeguarding, all Members of the RFL have delegated responsibility to the RFL.


This Policy is based on the following principles: – Child – This policy recognises and builds on the legal and statutory definitions of a child, the distinction between ages of consent, civil and criminal liability are recognised but in the pursuit of good practice in the delivery and management of Safeguarding in Rugby League, a child is recognised as being under the age of 18 years (Children’s Act 2004 definition). – Adult at Risk – “any person aged 18 years and over who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental health issues, learning or physical disability, sensory impairment, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of him/herself or unable to protection him/herself against significant harm or serious exploitation”. The RFL has an Adults at Risk Policy. – Confidentiality should be upheld in line with the General Data Protection Regulations 2018and the Human Rights Act 2000 with the rider that the welfare of the child is paramount. – The term “parents” used throughout this document as a generic term to represent parents, carers and guardians. – The term “club” is used throughout this document as a generic term to represent any Rugby League agency in charge of players under the age of 18 years and includes, but is not limited to, Leagues, schools, festivals, tournaments, representative sides and Match Officials Societies. – “Members” shall mean those organisations which are members of the RFL from time to time.


The RFL’s approach to Safeguarding is based on the principles recognised within UK and international legislation and Government guidance. The following has been taken into consideration: – The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 – Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 – Working Together to Safeguard Children (DOH) 2015 – The Children Act 1989 – The Children Act 2004 – The Human Rights Act 1998 – The Sexual Offences (Amendments) Act 2000 – The Sexual Offences Act 2003 – The Police Act 1997 – The Protection of Children Act 1999 – The Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 – The General Data Protection Regulations 2018 – The Equalities Act 2010 SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy – Information Sharing Advice for Safeguarding Practitioners 2015 – Children and Social Work Act 2017 2 RESPONSIBILITY FOR SAFEGUARDING IN RUGBY LEAGUE

2.1 WHO HAS RESPONSIBILITY FOR SAFEGUARDING IN Saints Community Development Foundation Ltd?

The Foundation and all individuals, partners, groups, societies, associations and other agencies involved in the Foundation will: – Accept the moral and legal responsibility to implement safeguarding procedures and to provide a duty of care for children, safeguard their wellbeing and protect them from abuse and poor practice – Listen to children and respect and promote their rights, wishes and feelings – Recruit, train and supervise its employees and volunteers to adopt best practice to safeguard and protect children from abuse – Require all staff and volunteers to adopt and abide by this Safeguarding Policy, the RESPECT Code of Conduct and the Rugby League Coach’s Code of Conduct – Respond to any allegations appropriately – Report all concerns, allegations or disclosures to the RFL (as set out below) – Recognise that it is the responsibility of the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group, experts and agencies to determine whether abuse has taken place but it is everyone’s responsibility to report any concerns – Recognise that working in partnership with children, their parents and other agencies is essential for the protection of children – Co-operate fully and promptly with the statutory bodies and/or the RFL in any investigation – Recognise the statutory responsibility of the Designated Officers (also known as Local Authority Designated Officer) to ensure the welfare of children and work with them to comply with procedures.


The role of Steve Leonard the CWO Safeguarding Manager is to: – Take the lead role in the development and establishment of the Foundations approach to safeguarding children, including reporting to the RFL Board and producing the RFL’s Safeguarding Policy – Manage cases of poor practice and/or abuse reported to the RFL and keep suitable records in accordance with General Data Protection Regulation – Manage referrals to Designated Officers and/or Children’s Social Care and/or Police and/or other agencies as appropriate – Be a central point of contact for internal and external agencies – Represent the RFL at external meetings related to Safeguarding – Co-ordinate dissemination of policy, procedures and resources throughout the organisation – Provide advice and support to the League and Club and Match Officials’ Society Welfare Officers – Advise on the RFL’s Safeguarding training needs and develop a training strategy SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy – Maintain confidentiality in cases except where to do so would put a child at risk – Maintain, roll out & review the RFL Safeguarding Plan – Ensure adherence to CPSU standards – Attend CPSU National Lead Officers’ meetings and training.

2.3 Partners / Premises users WELFARE OFFICER.

Each partner / user of SCDF Ltd facilities should appoint a Welfare Officer who has been DBS checked at an enhanced level and attended appropriate training. The Welfare officer will ensure that all partners / users have met the Mandatory Safeguarding Requirements as set out from time to time – Encourage and promote best practice – Promote the RFL’s education opportunities – Act as an initial point of contact should a member of a club have a concern or query – Refer all concerns or queries to the RFL in line with the reporting procedures below – Act as a link between the RFL and the League – Receive confidential information from the RFL SCMG about cases on a need to know basis


All Partners / Facility users must identify a designated person to take the role of Club Welfare Officer (CWO) who will lead on Safeguarding within the club. Before this person takes up their role they must be registered, a process which includes undertaking an enhanced DBS check and attending such training as is required from time to time. Once clearance has been received from the partner / user, SCDF Ltd will record to validate the appointment. The CWO must have a formal role on the club’s management committee and be supported by the management committee. The CWO will require support from the club, and designated training and support will be provided by the RFL. Clubs running a number of teams may need to appoint more than one CWO to ensure sufficient cover. The role of the Club Welfare Officer is to:

– Ensure that the RFL Safeguarding Policy is adhered to within the Club

– Ensure all roles are assessed for eligibility for DBS check and ensure checks carried out

– Ensure safe recruitment procedures are followed – Attend ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ course and ‘Time to Listen’ course and keep the qualifications up to date

– Attend the RFL Safeguarding Conference at least every two years

– Ensure that Coaches have attended the ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ course

– Act as first point of contact for coaches, parents or children who may have concerns (contact details must be included on the club website and noticeboard)

– Report any concerns to the RFL

– Ensure that information from the RFL is disseminated to relevant club personnel SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy

The CWO should also be:

– Appointed and supported by Committee

– Able to identify poor practice and abuse – behaviour that is harmful to children.

– Aware of the RFL’s role and responsibilities to safeguard the welfare of children

– Aware of the boundaries of the CWO role, e.g. it is not the CWO’s role to investigate allegations; it is the duty of the CWO to report concerns in line with the RFL reporting procedures.

– Able to Comply with confidentiality requirements

– Working within the RFL Safeguarding policy and procedures

– Aware of Equality and Diversity issues and additional Safeguarding vulnerability. All the above can be obtained through attending Safeguarding & Protecting Children training, RFL ‘Time to Listen’ training and via the regular RFL updates and conference.


All Match Officials Societies must identify at least one designated person to take the role of Match Officials Society Welfare Officer (MOSWO) to handle Safeguarding issues. Before this person takes up their role they must be registered with the RFL, a process which includes undertaking an enhanced level DBS check and attending such training as required from time to time. Once clearance has been received from the RFL, a pdf ID card will be issued to validate the appointment. The MOSWO must have a formal role on the Match Officials Society Committee and be supported by the Committee. The MOSWO will require support from all members of the Society, designated training and support will be provided by the RFL. The MOSWO has the same role and requires the same knowledge as a

CWO as set out above. Throughout this Policy where the term CWO is used the same applies to a MOSWO where applicable.



Every person, club, partner or facility hirer has a legal duty of care to ensure the safety and welfare of any child involved in activities, to safeguard them and protect them from foreseeable forms of harm. Safeguarding involves all to acknowledging that this duty of care exists and putting practical measures in place throughout the foundation to minimise the likelihood of foreseeable harm arising.


It is essential that every club complies with the Mandatory Safeguarding Requirements set out below. Having these policies and procedures in place is essential. The following is a list of the fundamental duties of every Club to demonstrate this duty of care. Other organisations such as Leagues, schools, festivals, tournaments, representative teams and Match Officials Societies must take the appropriate and relevant steps for their circumstances – the RFL is available to offer advice as required. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy All clubs must:

– Recruit, appoint, register and arrange for the training of a CWO who is the designated contact for Safeguarding issues

– Display their Club’s own Safeguarding Policy Statement prominently at the club house where possible and in all cases on the website

– Ensure that all coaches and other volunteers who are engaged in Regulated Activity hold a current RFL DBS

– Follow the RFL reporting procedures by reporting all concerns, allegations and disclosures to the Safeguarding Case Management Group (SCMG)

– Comply with Do Not Deploy, Temporary or Permanent Suspension Orders and inform the SCMG if they believe a person is breaching such an Order

– Work within Safeguarding Principles including a commitment to RESPECT and Anti-Bullying

– Listen to children to ensure they feel empowered and ensure there is an open and listening environment

– Display CWO contact details around the club and on the website

– Have a Safeguarding policy which everybody at the club understands and puts into practice on a daily basis.

– Ensure that the following policies & procedures exist within the Club: Policies – Safeguarding Policy – Selection & Recruitment Policy – Whistle Blowing Policy – First Aid Standards – Dressing Room Policy – Anti-Bullying Policy – Equality Policy – RESPECT – 100% ME Anti-Doping Policy – Confidentiality and Data Protection – Managing Challenging Behaviour & the Use of Force – Photography Policy – Travel Policy – Social Media Policy Procedures

– Procedures for reporting concerns of abuse or poor practice

– Complaints & disciplinary procedures

– System for collecting player information and parental consent

– A Listening Club forum for children to express their views

SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy – Information for parents and children – Transport & away game/tour procedures – Safer Recruitment and Selection procedures These policies and procedures are available on the RFL website or on request from the RFL either as completed documents or as templates for clubs to adapt to their own circumstances.


Anyone may have the potential to abuse children and some sex offenders use sport as a means to access and groom children in preparation for abuse, therefore all reasonable steps must be taken to ensure that people who are potential perpetrators of abuse or are otherwise unsuitable to work with children and young people due to their sexual or other behaviours are prevented from doing so. It is also important to ensure that individuals who have a record of violence or an inability to control their temper or a record of domestic or animal abuse or abuse of drugs are appropriately risk assessed and where appropriate do not have access to children. However, having a criminal record does not necessarily prohibit an individual from working with children. The RFL are obligated to conduct thorough risk assessments on any DBS disclosures that include relevant information. All staff involved in the risk assessment process are trained and carry out risk assessments in line with their training and the provisions of the RFL Policy on the Rehabilitation of Offenders. It is essential that the same procedures are used consistently for all posts whether staff or volunteers are full time or part-time.

Under this Policy all individuals working on behalf of, or otherwise representing, an organisation are treated as employees whether working in a paid or voluntary capacity. All Clubs at all levels must use the recruitment procedures set out in detail on the RFL website and these must be followed for all relevant recruitment whether staff or volunteers. Clubs should remember that these procedures should be applied to people who are already involved in the club and subsequently take on a role which gives them greater access to children. Clubs should ensure that those staff and volunteers already involved in the game undergo the appropriate parts of the recruitment procedures in particular DBS checks, although these are only part of a safe and effective recruitment and selection procedure. In particular, pre-appointment checks should be made including carrying out Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks through the RFL and taking up references. DBS checks must be completed every three years for existing staff or more frequently if instructed to do so by the SCMG.

Coaching staff must have their qualifications checked and their coaching licence must be inspected and the number recorded. Coaches must also be reminded that they have agreed to abide by the Coaches Code Conduct and the RESPECT Code of Conduct. Coaches (and other volunteers where relevant) should be given copies of these documents In addition clubs should be clear about their club’s aims and philosophy and whether a coach or volunteer is a good match for that club. Carrying carry out interviews, taking up references and criminal record checks are an important part of safe recruitment but also help to check that individuals meet the club ethos. Once volunteers and staff are in place it is essential that they go through an induction process and that their behaviour and performance is monitored and feedback given. Club Management should be vigilant and look out for any concerns about poor practice or abuse and act on them at an early stage following the guidelines in this document. The Club management should also offer appropriate support, through liaison with the RFL Safeguarding Manager to those who report concerns/complaints and those accused. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy


The following is a non-exhaustive list of the general principles of good practice with children:

– Treating all children equally, and with respect and dignity

– Promoting a culture which ensures children are listened to and those views acted on (see RFL Listening Club Initiative)

– Respecting all children as individuals

– Always putting the welfare of each child first, before winning matches or achieving goals or supporting coaches

– Making rugby league fun, enjoyable and promoting fair play

– Ensuring that all disciplinary sanctions are fair, proportionate to the issue and the child’s age, and do not involve violent or physical punishment or humiliation

– Communicating with parents to promote positive outcomes for children

– Physical exertion, e.g. running around the pitch should not be used as a method of punishment

– Always working in an open environment (e.g. not having private or unobserved situations and encouraging an open environment (e.g. no secrets)

– Maintaining a safe and appropriate distance, both physical and emotional, with children

– Building balanced relationships based on mutual trust which empowers children to share in the decision-making process

– Not having sexual relationships with children at the club including 16 or 17 year olds – this includes all coaches and other staff or volunteers at a club

– Being an excellent role model – this includes not smoking or drinking alcohol in the company of children whilst undertaking any role within an RFL setting, promoting a healthy diet and condemning the use of illegal and performance enhancing substances Policies covering best practice guidelines for working with children can be found on the RFL website


Equality protects people from being discriminated against on the grounds of group membership i.e. gender, race, age, disability, religious beliefs, faith and sexual orientation. It is based on the legal obligation to comply with anti-discrimination legislation. For more information on relevant Equality legislation please contact the RFL. Diversity is recognising, valuing and respecting the diversity of everyone. Diversity encompasses visible and non-visible differences which may include, but are not limited to, differences protected by the Equalities Act 2010.

All employees and volunteers should guard against making assumptions about an individual’s identity based on stereotypes. As well as being inappropriate it can be very misleading making it less likely that a worker will be able to identify any problems or concerns or gain the trust and respect of the individuals that they are working with. Why is a commitment to Equality and Diversity essential? 1 It is morally the right thing to do – both in terms of everyone’s wellbeing and the wider reputation of the club as a safe and welcoming environment SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy 2 It makes good business sense – if a club is seen to be inclusive, to challenge inequality and discrimination and to ensure the safety and well-being of all participants – there will be increased participation particularly among underrepresented groups and a greater likelihood that participants will stay involved 3 Legal responsibility – if a child experiences discrimination, victimisation or harassment based on their gender, race, disability, religious beliefs, faith, age or sexual orientation the club could face legal proceedings which are costly in terms of possible fines as well as a damaging loss of reputation 4 Certain groups can be more vulnerable to abuse


It is essential that a sufficient number of individuals within the club have a basic level of Safeguarding training to ensure that this Policy is adhered to throughout the club. The current course which gives this knowledge is ‘Safeguarding and Protecting Children’ (SPC.) This course is a UK Coaching course which is required for the RFL L2 Coaching Licence and is strongly recommended for all those working with children. For those who have previously attended this course a refresher is available online. CWOs need more knowledge than other volunteers in order for them to be as effective as possible in fulfilling their role and responsibilities. This knowledge is imparted through the ‘Time To Listen’ (TTL) course. This course was designed by the NSPCC Child Protection in Sport Unit (CPSU) and has been amended by the RFL (with CPSU approval) to reflect practices within the game. Although this course is primarily aimed at CWOs, other volunteers are more than welcome to attend in order to increase their knowledge. The Rugby League Learning website contains details of education opportunities.


Coaches & other volunteers may have to deal with challenging behaviour from the children or young people in their care. It is important that those involved in youth and junior Rugby League are aware of the RFL’s Policy for Managing Challenging Behaviour which can be found on the RFL website

This Policy aims to encourage good practice, suggest some strategies and sanctions which can be used and identify unacceptable sanctions or interventions which must never be used. The Policy is based on the following principles: – The welfare of the child is paramount – All those involved in the sport including children, coaches & volunteers should have clear guidelines about the standard of behaviour which is expected and the processes for dealing with behaviour which is unacceptable – Children must never be subject to any form of treatment that is harmful, abusive, humiliating or degrading – Some children’s behaviour may be caused by medical or psychological conditions. Coaches & volunteers may need additional help including discussing the child’s needs with parents and/or carers and possibly from external agencies that already support that child – Rugby League can be a beneficial experience for all children and children should only be excluded from the sport in exceptional cases.



SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy It is essential that all adults involved with children in Rugby League understand what constitutes abuse and/or poor practice, how to recognise it and how to respond to disclosures and allegations (see Section 5). Abuse and poor practice can be very emotive and difficult subjects; however, it is important that they are discussed openly at clubs as this helps create an environment where people are more aware of the issues and sensitive to the needs of children. This open environment also gives people more confidence in recognising abuse and /or poor practice and reacting to it. Abuse can and does occur outside the family setting. Even for those experienced in working with child abuse, it is not always easy to recognise a situation where abuse may occur or has already taken place. The staff and volunteers in Rugby League, whether in a paid or voluntary capacity, are not experts at such recognition. However, they do have a responsibility to act if they have any concerns about the behaviour of someone (an adult or another child) towards a child and to follow the procedures set out in Section 5 of this document.


Any person 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 institutional or club environment by people known to them or more rarely by a stranger. Children can be abused by adults or by other children and some forms of abuse may be carried out through social media. The effects of abuse can be extremely damaging and if allowed to continue or left unacknowledged may follow a person into adulthood. For instance, a person who has been abused as a child may find it difficult to maintain stable or trusting relationships, may suffer from low self-esteem or self-harm, may become involved in drugs or prostitution, may attempt suicide and may inflict the same behaviour on to other children in future.

4.2.1 Categories of Abuse

i) Physical Abuse Physical abuse occurs if people physically hit, burn, poison, shake or in some way hurt or injure children and young people, or fail to prevent these injuries from happening. In Rugby League, physical abuse could happen where training methods are inappropriate for the developmental age of the child or young person, where they are allowed to play with an injury or when concussed or potentially concussed or before the appropriate Graduated Return To Play has been completed or where inappropriate drugs or alcohol are offered or accepted. It would clearly happen if a child or young person is hit or physically restrained or manhandled by those supervising the game or training session.

ii) Neglect Neglect takes place if adults fail to meet a child or young person’s basic physical needs, e.g. for food, warmth and clothing, or emotional needs such as attention and affection. It occurs if children or young people are left alone or inadequately supervised or where they are exposed to danger, injury or extreme weather conditions. In Rugby League, neglect could occur if children or young people do not have proper supervision, clothing or are allowed or encouraged to play whilst injured or the concussion rules are not followed. It could occur if a child or young person’s particular health needs are disregarded before, during, or after a game.

iii) Sexual Abuse Sexual abuse occurs if children or young people are used to meet another person’s sexual needs. This includes any form of sexual behaviour with a child or young person (by an adult or another child or young person), the use of sexually explicit language and jokes, inappropriate touching and exposure to pornographic material. It also includes ‘sexting’ an increasingly common activity among children and young people, where they share inappropriate or explicit images on-line or through mobile phones. 1 in 4 children have received unwanted images on the subject of sex according to SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy the NSPCC 2014. Creating an indecent image of someone under 18 or sending such images is against the law. Sexual abuse can occur in Rugby League. For example, where there is inappropriate touching, or where sexually-explicit jokes occur between adults and children or young people or if indecent images are taken or adapted and placed on pornography sites.

iv) Emotional Abuse Emotional abuse includes frequent threatening, taunting or sarcastic behaviour, along with holding affection or being extremely overprotective. It includes racist or sexist behaviour and demeaning initiation ceremonies. It can be inflicted by other children and young people as well as by adults. Children and young people who are being abused or bullied in any way will also experience emotional abuse. In Rugby League, coaches or parents emotionally abuse children and young people if they constantly criticise, abuse their power, or impose unrealistic pressure to perform to a high standard. It may also occur if a club allows members to deride people with disabilities or from minority cultures and use derogatory language about them.

v) Bullying Although anyone can be the target of bullying, children and young people who are perceived as “different” from the majority may be at greater risk of bullying. This includes children and young people from minority cultures or children and young people with disabilities. Bullying can be defined as: • Physical: hitting, kicking and theft • Verbal: name calling, constant teasing, sarcasm, racist or homophobic taunts, threats and gestures • Emotional: tormenting, mobile text messaging, ridiculing, humiliating and ignoring • Sexual: unwanted physical contact or sexually abusive comments. Bullying can take place anywhere, but is more likely to take place where there is inadequate supervision. In Rugby League it is more likely to take place in the changing rooms or on the way to and from the Rugby League pitch – but can also take place at a training session or in a competition. Rugby League’s competitive nature can create and even support an environment for the bully if individuals and clubs are unaware. In an NSPCC survey of young people (2000), bullying was reported to be the most common source of distress and anxiety. The bully in Rugby League can be: – A parent who pushes too hard – A coach or manager who has a win-at-all-costs philosophy – A coach who excludes a player or does not give them game time – Allowing other children or parents to make decisions on excluding a child – A child or young person intimidating another – An official who places unfair pressure on a child or young person. Bullying includes Cyber-Bullying which is using on-line spaces to spread rumours about someone or exclude them. It can also include text messaging, including video and picture messaging.

vi) Child Trafficking &/or Modern Day Slavery Child Trafficking and/or Modern Day Slavery are about taking children out of their protective environment and preying on their vulnerability for the purpose of exploitation. Any concerns about the possibility of a child or young person being trafficked or enslaved should be reported via the statutory agencies. Although no precise figures exist, the ILO (in 2005) estimated that between 980,000 to 1,225,000 children – both boys and girls – are in a forced labour situation as a result of trafficking internationally. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy

vii) Female Genital Mutilation Female genital mutilation is a form of child abuse common to some African, Asian and Middle Eastern communities in the UK. This illegal and life-threatening initiation ritual can leave young victims in agony and with physical and psychological problems that can continue into adulthood. Carried out in secret and often without anaesthetic it involves the partial or total removal of the external female genital organs. The NSPCC Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) helpline offers specialist advice, information and support to anyone concerned that a child’s welfare is at risk because of female genital mutilation. Though callers’ details can remain anonymous, any information that could protect a child from abuse will be passed to the Police or Social Care services. Clubs should be mindful if a regular attender goes missing from a club or if a child, their peer or relative starts expressing worries about a trip abroad. If you are worried that a child may be at risk of FGM, you can contact the 24 hour helpline anonymously on 0800 028 3550 or email [email protected]. If you wish to find out more about FGM then you can access the NSPCC’s fact sheet via this link – uk/Inform/resourcesforprofessionals/ minorityethnic/femalegenitalmutilation_wda96841.htm

viii) Forced Marriage A 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. It is recognised in the UK as a form of violence against women and men, domestic/child abuse and a serious abuse of human rights. 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). The Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) operates a public helpline to provide advice and support to victims and those being pressurised into forced marriages. Of the 1,300 plus cases dealt with in 2012 40% of victims were under 18. If you are worried that a child may be at risk of forced marriage, you can contact FMU via the helpline on 020 7008 0151 or email [email protected] . For more information on forced marriages go to

ix) Honour Based Violence The term ‘Honour Based Violence’ (HBV) is the internationally recognised term describing cultural justifications for violence and abuse. It justifies the use of certain types of violence and abuse against women, men and children. The Association of Chief Police Officers defines HBV as: ‘A crime or incident, which has or may have been committed, to protect or defend the honour of the family and/or community’. HBV cuts across all cultures, nationalities, faith groups and communities and transcends national and international boundaries. HBV is also a Domestic Abuse issue, a Child Abuse concern and a crime. If you are worried that a child may be at risk of HBV contact Children’s Social Care for further advice and guidance or speak to the RFL Safeguarding Manager.

x) Radicalisation Protecting children from the risk of radicalisation should be seen as part of an organisation’s wider safeguarding duties and is similar in nature to protecting children from other forms of harm and abuse. During the process of radicalisation, it is possible to intervene to prevent vulnerable people being radicalised. Radicalisation refers to the process by which a person comes to support terrorism and/or forms of extremism. There is no single way of identifying an individual who is likely to be susceptible to an extremist ideology. It can happen in many different ways and settings. Specific background factors may contribute to vulnerability which are often combined with specific influences such as family, friends or online, and with specific needs for which an extremist or terrorist or racist or supremist group may appear to provide an answer. The internet and the use of social media in particular has become a major factor in the radicalisation of young people. As with managing other safeguarding risks, staff/volunteers should be alert to changes in children’s behaviour which could indicate that they may be in need of help or protection. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy

4.2.2 Poor Practice.

Poor practice is the term used to describe practice which falls below the standards expected to such an extent that a child’s welfare is compromised and is where an adult’s or another child’s behaviour is inappropriate and may be causing concern to a child. In application of this Policy, poor practice includes any behaviour of a Safeguarding nature which contravenes the RESPECT Code of Conduct or Coaches Code of Conduct, infringes an individual’s rights and/ or is a failure to fulfil the highest standards of care. Poor practice is unacceptable in Rugby League, should never be sanctioned and will be treated seriously with appropriate actions taken. Some examples of Poor Practice are: – Insufficient care is taken to avoid injuries e.g. by excessive training or inappropriate training for the age or maturity, experience and ability of players; – Giving continued and unnecessary preferential treatment to individuals and regularly or unfairly rejecting others e.g. singling out and focusing on the talented players or the coach’s own children or not having a fair team selection policy; – Having a win at all costs mentality. – A club supporting a coach so that it appears that this over rides the principle that the welfare of the child is paramount – Placing children in potentially compromising and uncomfortable situations with adults – Allowing abusive or concerning practices to go unchallenged and unreported e.g. failing to deal with or report a coach who ridicules or swears at players who make a mistake during a match – Failing to adhere to the game’s RESPECT or other codes of conduct including the use of foul and abusive language – Issuing disciplinary sanctions which are not proportionate to age and/or involve violent or physical punishment or humiliation – Excluding a child from a club without working with the child and parents to improve behaviour

4.2.3 Practice Never to be Sanctioned.

No one involved in the foundation should ever:

– Engage in rough, physical or sexually provocative games, including horseplay

– Share a room with a child

– Shower with a child

– Allow or engage in any form of inappropriate touching

– Using or allowing children to use inappropriate language unchallenged

– Make sexually suggestive comments to a child, even in fun

– Reduce a child to tears as a form of control

– Allow allegations made by a child go unchallenged, unrecorded or not acted upon

– Do things of a personal nature for children, young people or disabled adults, that they can do for themselves

– Take a child or children to their home where they will be alone with them.

– Invite or allow a child or children to stay with them at their home unsupervised

– Contact a child directly by telephone or social media

– Allow or encourage children to drink alcohol, take drugs or smoke

SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy – Ignoring Health & Safety Rules N.B Personal Care It should be clear to everyone at the club (including young people and their parents/carers) that sports coaches and other volunteers should not be involved in providing intimate personal care for young or disabled participants. This should always be the responsibility of the parents, carers or other identified chaperones, care staff or volunteers. The reasons for this include: – It puts the child in a potentially vulnerable position – The potential negative impact on the young person’s privacy and dignity – Sports staff are unlikely to be trained to carry out this role and it isn’t their role – they are there to facilitate and supervise sports activities • It can impact on the level of adult supervision for the remainder of the group – There may be health and safety considerations around manual handling procedures – The adult may be vulnerable to others misinterpreting their behaviour or motivation, and may result in concerns or allegations arising – It can reinforce the child’s vulnerability and lack of autonomy – It models and may help to perpetuate poor practice file:///C:/Users/emmar/Downloads/personal-care-responsibilities-cpsu-factsheet.pdf If any of the following incidents should occur to staff or volunteers they should be reported immediately to another colleague/CWO and make a written note of the event. This action should be taken as soon as possible for the protection of all individuals concerned. Parents should also be informed of the incident: – If you accidentally hurt a player – If he/she seems distressed in any manner – If a player appears to be sexually aroused by your actions – If a player misunderstands or misinterprets something you have done


Children and young people may be reluctant to tell someone when they are being abused or may be bullied out of disclosing or forced to retract their concerns, so it is essential that every adult is aware of the possible signals that a child and young person’s welfare or safety is being threatened. However, there is rarely a clear sign and you may often have to piece together various snippets of information and rely on your instinct that something does not seem quite right. You may have one piece of information that, when added to that of others, forms a clear picture of abuse. This is often compared to fitting pieces of a jigsaw together. Only when you have a few pieces can you start to see the true picture. It is not the responsibility of those working in Rugby League to decide that child abuse is occurring, but it is their responsibility to act and pass on suspicions and/or information to the RFL SCMG and/or appropriate statutory agencies. The list below gives some possible physical and behavioural signs of abuse. Some are very explicit and specific, others are much more general.

You need to be careful as any one of these signs might have another very plausible explanation, such as a death in the family, loss of a pet, an absent family member or problems at school. However, you should remember to raise your concerns if there is a combination of unexplained changes over a period of time. Never allow a child or young person’s disability or cultural difference to explain away concerns. This is not a judgement for you to make. Indications that a child may be being abused include the following: SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy Physical Abuse Fear of contact, aggression, temper, running away, fear of going home, reluctance to change or uncover body, depression, withdrawal, bullying or abuse of others. Unexplained and unusual bruising, finger and strap marks, cigarette burns, bite marks, fractures, scalds, missing teeth Neglect Always being tired, early or late, absent, few friends, regularly left alone, stealing, no money, parents or carers not attending or supportive. Constant hunger, dirty, ill-fitting clothes, inappropriate clothing, weight change, untreated conditions and continual minor infections. Sexual Abuse/Female Genital Mutilation Apparent fear of someone, nightmares, running away, sexually explicit knowledge or behaviour, masturbation, bedwetting, eating problems, substance abuse, unexplained money or gifts, acting out with toys, self-harm.

Distress or anxiety on reading texts, being withdrawn, anger, moodiness, reduced performance. Genital pain, itching, bleeding, bruising, discharge, stomach pains, discomfort, pregnancy, incontinence, urinary infections, STDs, thrush, pain on passing motions. Emotional Abuse Unable to play, fear of mistakes, low self-esteem, fear of telling parents, withdrawn, unexplained speech & language difficulties, few friends. Weight change, lack or growth or development, unexplained speech disorders, self-harm. Bullying Difficulty making friends, anxiety over school, truancy, withdrawn, anger, moodiness, suicide attempts, reduced performance, money and possessions lost, stealing, distress and anxiety on reading texts Weight change, unexplained injuries and bruising, stomach and headaches, bedwetting, hair pulled out. Forced Marriage/Female Genital Mutilation A regular attender goes missing from the club or a child, their peer or relative starts expressing worries about a trip abroad. Radicalisation Showing sympathy for extremist causes, glorifying violence, especially to other faiths or cultures, making remarks or comments about being at extremist events or rallies outside school, intolerance of difference, including faith, culture, gender, race or sexuality or attempts to impose extremist views or practices on others. The RFL website contains detailed information about categories of abuse and how to recognise them and the RFL Anti Bullying Policy. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy


All those involved in rugby league need to be aware that some children can be more vulnerable to abuse because of their needs and background.

4.4.1 Disability.

Disabled Children may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may: – Require intimate personal care – Experience negative attitudes and abuse due to their disability – May be ignored and excluded from activities if people fail to recognise that it is the barriers that society puts up which prevent their involvement not their disability per se – May be dependent on their abuser for care – Be less able to resist either verbally or physically – Have a smaller network of friends to support and protect them – Lack access to peer groups to discover what is acceptable behaviour – Have significant communication difficulties including the use of sign language – Be more likely to have their verbal or non-verbal communication misinterpreted as relating to their disability rather than abusive experiences – Have medical needs which may be used to explain abuse.

4.4.2 Black Asian & Minority Ethnic groups.

Children from Black Asian & Minority Ethnic groups may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may: – Experience racism and racist attitudes – Expect to be ignored by people in authority due to experience of institutionalised racism – Be afraid of further abuse or racist abuse if they challenge others – Be subjected to myths based on racial stereotyping – Want to fit in and not want to make a fuss – Be using or learning English as a second language and therefore find it more difficult to communicate.

4.4.3 Religion and faith.

Children from various religions and faiths may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may: – Experience religious intolerance, fear or hatred based on their religious beliefs – Be subjected to myths based on stereotypes – Suffer bullying or assumptions about their commitment to the game due to their religious beliefs and practices – Be discriminated against, harassed or bullied based on their actual or perceived religious beliefs due to fear of religious extremism.

4.4.4 Sexual orientation.

SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy Children are often aware of their sexuality from an early age and many children may already identify as being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT). LGBT Children may be more vulnerable to abuse because they may: – Be subjected to homophobia – which includes bullying abuse or physical attacks – Have their experiences as LGBT children rendered invisible by heterosexist attitudes and assumptions which assumes that everyone is heterosexual and that this is preferable to being gay.

4.4.5 Match Officials.

A considerable proportion of the match officials at youth and junior games are children and their role makes them particularly vulnerable to abuse in all its forms. Many young officials face verbal, emotional and even physical abuse whilst carrying out the role and many become disillusioned at best or suffer a significant and lasting loss of confidence when faced with abuse of this nature. In addition to abuse from coaches and spectators match officials are vulnerable to abuse from other match officials. It is important that Leagues and Match Officials Societies implement all the safeguarding principles to protect young match officials.

4.4.6 Players on an Elite Pathway.

Research shows that players who are on an elite performance pathway may be subject to burn out, increased focus on win at all costs, excessive training regimes. Due to the culture of sport, an authority system may be created which facilitates power, obedience and potentially the rationalisation of abuse which can be more prevalent at the elite level. This abuse can take any form including physical, sexual and bullying. The elite environment can also be used to suggest that suffering poor practice or abuse is part of the requirements to succeed in that environment. For many young people, reaching a scholarship or academy or representative level has been their focus for a number of years, and they will have trained hard to achieve this. Some parents will also have made a significant contribution and often considerable sacrifices to support their child’s progress and success. In these circumstances it can be difficult for child, young people and parents to report abuse.

4.4.7 Children who take on Leadership Roles.

More and more children are taking on leadership and volunteering roles within Rugby League. This should be an enjoyable and positive experience. Unfortunately some adults (coaches, parents, volunteers and spectators) lose sight of the fact that an individual in a leadership role who is under 18 is still legally a child. Many children suffer verbal, physical and emotional abuse in leadership roles. This is unacceptable in Rugby League and the harm that is caused to these children needs to be recognised by adults within the game.

4.4.8 Economic Deprivation.

Children who come from families suffering short or long term economic deprivation may be more susceptible to abuse through neglect (which may be unintentional), lack of purchase power making them an easier target to a groomer using gifts and bullying by peers. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy


Children in Rugby League may be subjected to bullying by children of the same or opposite sex and may have assumptions made relating to their sexuality or sexual orientation because of their involvement in playing a competitive contact sport such as Rugby League. Such assumptions or stereotypes are wholly inappropriate and should not be condoned as they may increase the vulnerability of some children to abuse. It is important that both girls and boys are accorded the same levels of respect by all those working with them and should not be treated unequally because of their gender. Given the increased vulnerability of some groups of children it is important that clubs (match officials societies) create a safe culture including:

– Finding ways of understanding and communicating with all children

– Maintaining best practice at all times in physical and health care

– Considering and responding to the diverse cultures within which a club is based

– Respecting and valuing diversity

– Building positive relationships with parents and carers and include them in club activities

– Observing changes in mood, appearance and behaviour and discuss those concerns with families, carers, the CWO, or RFL Safeguarding Manager if suspicions or concerns are significantly raised about the care or welfare of the child

– Acknowledging that disabled children are additionally vulnerable and that vigilance is essential

– Having systems in place that ensures there is no abuse of match officials from anyone connected with the club

– Taking a zero-tolerance approach to abusive behaviour directed towards a child who is carrying out a leadership role is not acceptable

– Reporting inappropriate behaviour to the RFL Safeguarding Manager as abuse or poor practice

– Ensuring that the RESPECT code of conduct is enforced and actively promoted at the club

– Making sure that all club officials set good examples of behaviour at all times

– Ensuring that CWO and others are aware of the dangers of radicalisation

– Seek advice from RFL Safeguarding Manager


The power and influence that a coach (or other member of staff/volunteer) has over a child involved in sport cannot be under-estimated. If there is an additional competitive aspect to the activity and the coach/staff member/volunteer has some responsibility for the child’s success or failure, then the power and influence of that person is increased. It is therefore vital for coaches/staff/volunteers to recognise these issues and to ensure that they do not abuse their positions of trust. Whilst young people aged 16 or 17 can legally consent to some types of sexual activity, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 states that “It is an offence for a person aged 18 or over to involve a child under that age in sexual activity where he or she is in a specified position of trust in relation to that child. This includes those who care for, advise, supervise or train children and young people”. The RFL’s policy is based on the principles within that Act. Any person who has any direct and/or indirect power or influence over a Child within the Game (including, but not limited to coaches, team managers, match officials, CWOs and club officials) are in a position of trust with that Child. Each such person shall: SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy – act within appropriate boundaries in relation to all forms of communication with any such Child; – not have intimate, sexual or inappropriate relationship with any such Child Any breach of the above is serious Misconduct. For the avoidance of doubt a Child may be in a position of trust with another Child where they have taken on a leadership role.


The majority of adults working with children in Rugby League are committed to providing an enjoyable and safe environment in which to participate. However, a small proportion of adults actively seek opportunities to abuse children for their own sexual needs. When thinking about danger signs of grooming it is important to recognise that both boys and girls are groomed and/or sexually abused. Sexual abuse of children is often the result of pre-meditated actions that are carefully planned. Preparing a child or organisation (i.e. a Club) is described as ‘grooming’ and is illegal under the provisions of The Sexual Offences Act 2003 and Misconduct under this Policy. It is important to understand how an abuser can ‘groom’ a club or parents or a child by appearing trustworthy and helpful, therefore giving the impression that they can take responsibility for a young person/some young people. Abusers come from all sections of society, within and outside of the family and within and outside Rugby League. They may be perceived as ‘respectable’ people – the very last person anyone could suspect of abusing a child; this is usually the image they work hard to portray. Research into abuse demonstrates clearly that children are most likely to be abused by someone they know and who is likely to be in a position of trust with the child. Whilst the vast majority of sexual abusers are male, it is important not to overlook the fact that female sexual abusers do exist. Sexual abusers use various techniques to ‘groom’ children, organisations and parents. These include:

– Seeking opportunities to be in contact with children, e.g. volunteering.

– Making friends with children, coaches, volunteers or parents

– Appearing trustworthy and helpful

– Giving presents to children or offering additional individual support/coaching

– Complementing the child to make them feel comfortable and confident

– Threatening (you won’t get picked for the team) or bribing (you will get picked for the team) the child Abusers target children who they see as particularly vulnerable, this may be due to the child having low self-esteem or it appearing that they have little parental support. Therefore, children’s parents should always be encouraged to be part of the club as this can act as an extra safeguard. There are particular risks for talented children and these children are more at risk of abuse on ‘away trips’. These risks are particularly acute at the point at which a player is at ‘pre-peak’ performance. These risks relate to: – Separation from close family and friends– due to amount of ‘away’ travel and possibly living away from home – Dependence on the coach for team selection, advice, emotional support, money. – Lack of safeguards away from home such as lack of checks on accommodation practices SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy – Too much emphasis on winning and high performance and not enough on personal development and enjoyment. This environment can sometimes be condoned by parents. Any concerns relating to an adult’s behaviour or intentions towards children should be reported appropriately, see Section 5. 5 RESPONDING TO, RECORDING & REPORTING POOR PRACTICE, ABUSE AND BULLYING OR OTHER CONCERNS WITHIN OR OUTSIDE RUGBY LEAGUE


There is a legal and moral responsibility to report any concerns about a child within Rugby League and any concerns which may be raised about a child outside the sport. Child abuse of all types, particularly sexual abuse, can generate strong and confusing emotions in those facing such a situation for instance disbelief, disgust, anger etc. It is important to understand these feelings and not allow them to interfere with your judgement about any action to take. Abuse and poor practice can occur within many situations including the home, school and the sporting environment. It is understood that people may often have concerns about reporting the behaviour of adults who are aggressive and potentially violent. Where possible the RFL will protect the identity of the person who has reported an incident when they feel threatened by the individual concerned. It should be remembered that if these individuals are intimidating to other adults they are likely to be even more intimidating to any children within their care and that there is a duty of care and an obligation under this Policy to report such behaviour. Rugby League clubs are often close communities which generate strong loyalties between the volunteers working together. The RFL appreciates that it can be difficult to report close colleagues but would remind all those involved in the game of their over-riding moral duty to ensure the welfare of the children at the club above any sense of loyalty to colleagues or the club. All suspicions of abuse or cases of poor practice should be reported following the guidelines in this document. A coach, official or volunteer may have regular contact with children and be an important link in the identifying cases where a child needs protection. In addition coaches can often become the only adult that a child feels they can trust. This can often lead to a coach receiving a disclosure about abuse outside the club environment. In these circumstances there is a duty to pass on the information and coaches and other volunteers need to be aware of the action to take in these circumstances.


The RFL is determined to ensure that the culture of the sport is one in which it is safe, acceptable and gives confidence to those involved in rugby league to raise concerns about unacceptable practice and misconduct. In order to achieve this, the RFL has a Whistle Blowing Policy which can be found at The RFL rules make it an offence to harass or victimise a whistle blower.


In order for the Safeguarding Case Management Group (SCMG) to carry out its responsibilities under the Safeguarding Policy the Group needs to be informed of the following issues or related allegations. In appropriate instances the Group will log the issue/allegation and refer it to the relevant League or Club to deal with and report back to the SCMG, alternatively the SCMG will deal with the issue/allegation itself or refer it to the appropriate statutory agencies. The following is a list of issues and/or allegations which should be referred to the SCMG, please note this is not exhaustive and if anyone in the game believes a Child is at risk of harm this should be reported.

SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy

5.3.1 Physical abuse – Assault or inappropriate contact on a Child by an adult – Allegations or suspicions that a Child is being physically abused in or outside Rugby League

5.3.2 Verbal Abuse – Threatening and/or abusive language that causes (or that a reasonable adult would expect to cause) emotional distress to a Child NB just because a Child does not appear to be emotionally distressed does not mean that they are not, when verbal abuse is regular Children learn to hide their feelings.

5.3.3 Racist, homophobic or other discriminatory abuse – Racist, homophobic or other discriminatory abuse or allegations of abuse which have not resulted in a dismissal. NB if the Match Official has heard the abuse and dismissed the player then the report should be dealt with in the same manner as any other dismissal

5.3.4 Neglect – Allegations or suspicions that a Child is being neglected

5.3.5 Sexual abuse/breach of Relationships of Trust – Allegations or suspicions that a Child is being sexually abused either in the game or in any other place e.g. school, home, church, by other Children. – Allegations of an adult sharing a room with a Child, showering with Children, making sexually suggestive comments to a Child, inappropriate touching, taking or inviting a Child to their home on their own – Allegations or suspicions that a volunteer or employee is entering into a sexual relationship with a Child under 18 involved in the game

5.3.6 Information about Participants – Information and/or rumours about participants in the game which if true would lead a reasonable person to believe that the participant (regardless of age) may be a threat to the safety of Children

5.3.7 Bullying – Bullying of Children by adults Child on Child bullying should usually be dealt with by the CWO at the club who may contact the Safeguarding Manager for advice.

5.3.8 Female Genital Mutilation, Honour Based Violence, Radicalisation Allegations or suspicions of any of the above should usually be reported to the police, however CWOs may contact the Safeguarding Manager for advice.

5.3.9 Poor Practice Poor practice should initially be reported to the Safeguarding team who may decide to deal with it (particularly if either the adult concerned is already know to the Safeguarding team or if there have SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy been a number of incidents of poor practice raised at a particular club which the club does not appear to be capable of dealing with) or may refer the issue back to the club/league to deal with internally. In these situations the club/league must report back on their findings.


On becoming aware of or witnessing a concern, receiving a disclosure or an allegation or a breach of this Policy you should: In the case of Abuse: – Contact the CWO who will report to the RFL Safeguarding Manager – If the CWO is not available report your concerns direct to the RFL Safeguarding Manager – The RFL Safeguarding Manager will report to the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group or the statutory agencies as appropriate – If neither the CWO or the Safeguarding Manger is available and/or immediate action is required to protect the child contact Children’s Social Care or the police as appropriate In the case of Poor Practice: – Contact the CWO who will report to the RFL Safeguarding Manager – If the CWO is not available report your concerns direct to the RFL Safeguarding Manager


The points below set out general principles to be followed with all concerns, allegations and disclosures. If a child informs you directly that he/she, or another child, is concerned about someone’s behaviour towards them (this is termed a ‘disclosure’) then: The person receiving the information should:

– React calmly so as not to frighten or deter the child

– Believe what the child is telling you

– Tell the child he/she is not to blame and that he/she was right to tell

– Ensure the immediate safety of the child

– If the child needs immediate medical treatment, take them to hospital or telephone for an ambulance, inform doctors of the concerns and make sure that they know that this is a Safeguarding issue

– Take what the child says seriously, recognising the difficulties inherent in interpreting what is said by a child who has speech disability and/or differences in language

– Keep any questions to the minimum required to ensure a clear and accurate understanding of what has been said

– Do not ask leading questions or make suggestions about what may have happened

– Reassure the child but do not make promises of confidentiality which might not be feasible in the light of subsequent developments

– In the event of suspicion of sexual abuse do not let the child shower or wash until given permission to do so by the police as washing can destroy valuable evidence

– Before contacting parents ensure that they are not the perpetrators

SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy – Where appropriate seek advice immediately from Children’s Social Care or Police who will advise on the action to be taken, including advice on contacting parents, Expert advice can also be provided by the NSPCC Helpline on 0808 800 5000 or ChildLine on 0800 1111 (both 24 hours). – Alternatively contact the RFL Safeguarding Team who can make referrals on your behalf – Involve somebody else – if not Children’s Social Care or Police then the CWO, or the RFL Safeguarding Manager so that you can begin to protect the child and gain support for yourself. – Write down the details of the concern, incident and/or what the child has disclosed as soon as possible, including details of who this information has been shared with and when. The person receiving the information should NOT: – Panic – Allow their shock or distaste to show – Show any disbelief or fail to take the allegations seriously – Ask questions other than to clarify that they have enough information to act – Speculate or make assumptions – Make negative comments about alleged abuser – Approach the alleged abuser – Make promises or agree to keep secrets – Take sole responsibility – Shirk the responsibility to report the concern


Every effort should be made to ensure that confidentiality is maintained for all concerned. The legal principle that the “welfare of the child is paramount” means that considerations of confidentiality which might apply to other situations within the organisation should not be allowed to override the right of children to be protected from harm. However every effort must be made to ensure that appropriate confidentiality is maintained when an allegation has been made and is being investigated. Information should be handled and disseminated on a ‘need to know’ basis only. This may include the following people: – The CWO; – The League Welfare Officer; – The RFL Safeguarding Manager and Safeguarding Case Management Group; – The parents of the person who is alleged to have been abused (only following advice from the Children’s Social Care/Police or where the abuse does not involve the family); – The person making the allegation; – Children’s Social Care/the Designated Officer/Police; – The alleged abuser (and parents if the alleged abuser is a young person) only following advice from the Children’s Social Care/Police. Information should be stored in a secure place with limited access to designated people, in line with the data protection laws (e.g. that information is accurate, regularly updated, relevant and secure). SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy


Information passed to Children’s Social Care or the Police must provide as much detail as is available and relevant in order to be as helpful as possible, hence the necessity for making a detailed record at the time of the disclosure/concern. Information required at the referral stage: Child – Age/ gender / name / disabilities / address /date of birth/ contact details/ parental responsibility / agencies already working with the family / relationship between child and accused. Accused – Name / address / contact details/ position – employee / volunteer / paid / level of coach; Any other allegations; Marital status; Age; Previous incidents. Primary evidence Core information about the alleged incident.

a) Facts from the person making the allegation including dates/times/venue/witness details;

b) Records with dates;

c) Has anyone else been informed or is anyone else already involved in the investigation. Other than in the case of an emergency situation the initial report should be made to the RFL Safeguarding Manager who will act as the point of contact with the statutory authorities.

In an emergency reporting the matter to the Police or Children’s Social Care should not be delayed by attempts to obtain more information. A record should also be made of the name and job title of the Children’s Social Care or Police Officer whom the concerns were passed, together with the time and date of the call. Any information forwarded to the Children’s Social Care or Police must also be provided to the RFL Safeguarding Manager and/or the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group (as soon as reasonably possible) who will take over management of the case and consider any wider issues within the game and put in place relevant protections. Where reports are made to the RFL, the Safeguarding Manager will inform the Designated Officer where relevant as soon as possible. In cases which are not an emergency but where there are concerns about a child’s welfare the RFL Safeguarding Manager can make a referral to Children’s Social Care on behalf of a club.


Where clubs are made aware by any of the statutory agencies including but not limited to the Designated Officer, Children’s Social Care and the Police, that their club or a volunteer or child at their club is subject to an investigation relevant to any issue related to the Safeguarding Policy the club must always inform the RFL Safeguarding Manager immediately. The RFL may have to take immediate action to protect the welfare of children but will always work in tandem with the statutory agencies. SAFEGUARDING POLICY Operational Rules 2019 – Safeguarding Policy


(Please refer to RFL Operational Rules D1 and D4 for full details) All reports of alleged abuse or poor practice made to the RFL Safeguarding Manager are referred to the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group (SCMG) who meet regularly throughout the year to consider those cases. The powers of the SCMG are set out in RFL Operational Rules Tiers 1-3 and Tiers 4-6. – The SCMG may refer allegations to the RFL’s team of Independent Compliance Investigators, some of whom have specific Safeguarding experience. The Investigators will carry out an investigation and provide a report to the SCMG. Following the investigation the SCMG will consider the Compliance Investigator’s report and decide on the course of action to take under the Operational Rules. Where the Police and/or Children’s Social Care and/or a Designated Officer is involved in a case the RFL SCMG will liaise with the statutory bodies and may defer any action until the statutory bodies have completed their work. Irrespective of the findings of statutory bodies enquiries, the RFL Safeguarding Case Management Group will assess all individual cases to decide whether action should be taken by the RFL in line with the Operational Rules. The welfare of the child will always remain paramount.


Consideration should be given about what support may be appropriate to children, parents and members of staff and volunteers. Use of Help Lines, support groups and open meetings will maintain an open culture and help the healing process. The British Association of Counselling Directory may be a useful resource. The RFL may be able to advise on counselling options.


Consideration should be given about what support may be appropriate to the alleged perpetrator of the abuse. Additional information is available on or on request from the RFL