Bath law firm Stone King says local sports clubs should ensure they are doing enough to protect children following national allegations of historical abuse in football.
The firm’s charity and social enterprise team, which advises voluntary organisations on safeguarding matters, has produced a safeguarding information sheet to help local youth football clubs.
Stone King is also planning a free safeguarding advice workshop in early 2017 and is inviting club organisers in the Bath area to register their interest in attending.
Stone King safeguarding expert Sarah Clune said: “Whilst safeguarding practices have undoubtedly improved over the years, we mustn’t see the recent news about abuse in football as something ‘in the past’, as it is clear that good practice is not always consistently applied.
“In my experience, poor practice can leave a chink in the armour of safeguarding measures which can leave the door open to somebody with malicious intentions.”
Sarah added that local clubs should ensure they have the right policies and procedures in place to protect the children in their care.
“And more importantly, that you don’t just have great policies and procedures on paper, but also that your staff, coaches and volunteers – including parent volunteers – know what is expected of them,” she said.
“Do you have a code of conduct that sets clear boundaries because it’s important that well intentioned volunteers and staff know what is expected of them and what is considered appropriate in order to avoid finding themselves in tricky situations where their actions or intentions could be misconstrued?”
Local clubs also need to ensure they obtain the right checks on people involved with coaching children, for example, an enhanced level DBS check and possibly a barred list check where someone has regular, unsupervised contact with children.
Sarah added: “It’s important to remember that the vast majority of people volunteering in youth sport are deeply committed to the care and protection of our children, enabling them to develop sporting skills and important life skills such as teamwork and respect.
“Having safeguards in place not only protects and promotes the welfare of the children but it also enhances the confidence of trustees, staff, volunteers and parents.”
For a free copy of Stone King’s safeguarding information sheet, or to register your interest in attending a free safeguarding workshop, please contact Sarah Clune at firstname.lastname@example.org or 01225 326760.
Pictured above: Stone King’s safeguarding expert Sarah Clune