The University is an institution that formerly would have seen very few children on campus. However, the changing student population, with more mature students studying, together with the changing domestic needs of staff, have resulted in there being more children on campus than ever before. Coupled with this is the use of the campus for organised educational activities, social events, summer camps, sporting events and the use of the facilities by paying customers so that children are no longer a rarity on campus but a regularly invited part of the campus population. In addition children can be brought onto campus by their parents who may be staff or students. Finally the University permits the public, including children, access to its campus grounds and has, as a consequence, legal responsibilities for the presence of children who may be unsupervised.
As far as supervised activities go, all organisations working with, or providing activities for, children or young people have a responsibility to protect and safeguard their welfare. The Protection of Children Act 1999 (PCA) goes a long way towards ensuring that where people have been identified and considered unsuitable to work with children that they are prevented from gaining access to children through their work. There are regulations about staff ratios for different age groups and activities and there is a responsibility to act on any concerns through contact with the appropriate authorities and a duty of care to safeguard all children from harm.
The University of Exeter works with children in a variety of settings, such as research activities, summer schools, hosting visiting groups to providing short periods of work experience. In the majority of cases the children will be in the supervisory care of a teacher or parent; occasionally however, it will be a member of University Staff who will be supervising a child. Even if the statutory duties arising from the PCA do not apply, the Government does expect that, while there is no mandatory provision, all organisations will adopt the same level of protection for children in their care. For a few areas of the University’s work there may be a requirement to obtain Disclosure from the Criminal Records Bureau for particular staff or volunteers. For the majority of staff this will not be required, but a member of staff working with children, young people or vulnerable adults is a role model and will need to be aware of the potential risks and the practical steps that can be taken to minimise risks.
This policy therefore aims to protect those most vulnerable users of the University’s facilities against harm and ensure that they feel safe and secure whilst they are on campus and take with them positive feelings about their visit when they leave.
For the purposes of this policy:
(a) a Child is defined as a person who is sixteen years old or less
(b) a Young Person: young person means any person who has not attained the age of eighteen.
(c) An Adult is defined as a person of eighteen years or more.
(d) A Vulnerable Adult is defined as a person aged 18 or over who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.
Vulnerable adults are to be treated with the same standard of care as that offered to children and young people, although the University is not acting ‘in loco parentis’ in their case*. Thus, throughout this document reference to children and young people also includes vulnerable adults.
(e) A Hazard is something with the potential to cause harm (eg a moving vehicle).
(f) Risk is the likelihood that a hazard will cause harm (eg chance of a child being in collision with a moving vehicle).
(g) A Control Measure is a positive action taken to reduce the risk of a hazard causing harm (eg adult supervision of children when walking near traffic).
* ‘in loco parentis’ = “in the place of a parent.” (Latin)
C Policy Statement
(a) The University of Exeter (the University) recognises and accepts its responsibility as an employer for providing a safe and healthy workplace and work environment, as far as is reasonably practicable, for non-employees (students, contractors, visitors, children, young people and the public) who are on campus and who may be affected by its work, equipment or property.
(b) The University undertakes to comply with all statutory health and safety requirements pertaining to non-employees.
(c) The University wishes to adopt all other reasonably practicable means to eliminate hazards and reduce the risk of injury to non-employees.
(d) The University requires that a written risk assessment be carried out for all planned and supervised activities for children, young people and vulnerable adults.