1  Introduction

This policy explains how YCI keeps people safe, setting out especially what we expect of everyone working with children, young people and adults at risk of harm in our projects.

It defines:

  • the principles which inform how we engage, work with or impact children, young people and adults at risk
  • the expected minimum standards of practice which must be met by those working for, and on behalf of, YCI
  • the anticipated good practice which those working for, and on behalf of, YCI should strive to achieve.

2  Policy Statement

2.1  Our commitment to children, young people and adults at risk

YCI is committed to protecting, fulfilling and promoting the rights of children, young people and adults at risk engaged in our programmes whether as intended beneficiaries, volunteers, staff or otherwise affected by our work.

We have a responsibility to safeguard their health and wellbeing and to protect them from all forms of harm, including abuse, exploitation and violence. We seek to ensure that they are treated equally, with dignity and with respect at all times and feel empowered to take an active role in matters which affect them.

Every human being has a value and dignity. Everyone has an equal right to be protected from abuse regardless of their age, gender, disability, culture, language, racial origin, religious beliefs, sexual identity, personality or lifestyle.

We recognise that protecting people from harm is both a corporate and an individual responsibility. All members of staff, volunteers, trustees and consultants acting on our behalf should be proactive in taking appropriate, proportionate, preventative steps to reduce the risk of, or perception of, harm occurring to children, young people and adults at risk. They must always act and respond appropriately to any concerns or allegations of harm. In doing so the primary consideration should always be the best interests of those at risk of or experiencing harm.

All members of staff, volunteers, trustees and consultants acting on our behalf should work in a way which also reduces risk of harm to themselves, their colleagues, to others affected by our work.

We are aware that those in positions of trust and responsibility may abuse their power and exploit or harm others. We seek to take action to deal with any abuse and to challenge any abuse of power, especially by anyone in a position of trust.

If YCI becomes aware that a crime has potentially occurred (in whatever jurisdiction) we will consider what steps we can take to support prosecution, where necessary and appropriate. We will always seek to comply with our domestic statutory duties to protect children, young people and adults at risk.

YCI understands that it has specific duties to children, young people and adults at risk to enable them to make an informed decision before making a donation. We will not exploit the credulity, lack of knowledge, apparent need for care and support or vulnerable circumstance of any donor at any point in time. We will not accept donations where we believe the donor may be experiencing vulnerable circumstances; accepting the donation would be ethically wrong and/or harmful to the donor or where we know or have reasonable grounds for believing an individual lacks capacity to make a decision to donate.

2.2  Our commitment to staff, volunteers, trustees and others working on behalf of the organisation

It is the responsibility of everyone at YCI to protect and safeguard children, young people and adults at risk, and one another. We seek to promote the welfare of children, young people and adults at risk, work to prevent abuse from occurring, seek to protect those that are at risk of being abused and respond well to those that have been abused.

We strive to create an atmosphere where the principles of working with children, young people and adults at risk are openly discussed and effective ways of working can be shared and developed. We seek a culture of support and encouragement for those who wish to share safeguarding concerns even where these issues may be difficult to confront. We will promote a positive environment for giving and receiving feedback and fostering open lines of communication to all improve our relationships with children, young people and adults at risk.

All at YCI must understand the procedures for recognising, responding to and referring any concerns, allegations or disclosures of harm or abuse in accordance with our procedures. Those working with children, young people and adults at risk will receive encouragement, support and, as necessary, guidance and training to meet their duties.

We recognise that we will have representatives who are themselves, through reason of age, capacity, unmet support needs, vulnerability, previous experience of harm or personal characteristics, are at a greater risk of, or exposure to, harm through their work on our behalf. We aim to work with them to understand and reduce these risks and foster a culture where they proactively share information which enables us to work together to manage risk appropriately.

We will endeavour to offer care and support to all those that allege abuse, regardless of the type of abuse, when or where it occurred. Those who allege harm as a result of our work or by those working on our behalf will receive a compassionate response, be listened to and be taken seriously.

In cases where YCI representatives find themselves having to deal with sensitive situations, we aim to act compassionately and empathetically to these demands. YCI will provide emotional and counselling support to individuals where needed. This is currently provided by DAS and details can be found in the YCI Staff Handbook.

Where a safeguarding suspicion, concern or allegations of abuse have been raised or where practice is suspected to not be meeting our expected standards, we will work to ensure this is addressed in a legal, fair and just way proportionate to the risks and in a sensitive manner. We will endeavour to respect an individual’s rights under criminal and civil law.

2.3  Legal framework

In developing this policy and any associated procedures and guidance we have made reference to international human rights law and minimum standards for the treatment of young people. This includes, but is not limited to, the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The key domestic legislation upon which this policy is based includes the Children Act 1989, the Protection of Children Act 1999 and the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006 (as amended by the Protection of Freedom Act 2012). We have also sought to ensure that this policy is developed in light of the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Care Act 2014. This legislation gives an underpinning to how we should operate in light of the unique nature and structure of the organisation.

In addition we recognise that the Statutory Guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children and Care and support statutory guidance offers advice and guidance on what we should expect from statutory child protection or adult safeguarding services respectively. The Prevent Statutory Guidance also outlines the roles of a range of agencies of preventing people from being drawn into terrorism or extremist activity. [1]

The Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016 includes legislative requirements for charities to protect the vulnerable and to ensure that any third parties fundraising on their behalf maintain the same high standards. [2]

The Charity Commissions for England and Wales policy paper Safeguarding Children and Young People explains the role of trustees in keeping children safe from harm and their Strategy for dealing with safeguarding issues in charities contextualises the role of our key regulator. We recognise our responsibility to report serious incidents to the Charity Commission and, where necessary, refer individuals to the Disclosure and Baring Service.

We recognise that we regularly work with partners in situations governed by other laws, including when working in the different jurisdictions of the UK and in the Republic of Ireland. The relevant lead for the programme with that partner (e.g. the Programme Manager or Coordinator) should ensure they proactively seek awareness of relevant legal obligations of the countries in which they lead a relationship.

We will always seek advice from our partners on meeting legal obligations in their context.  Our international partners are expected to have safeguarding policies and procedures in place.  We will only enter in to a partnership agreement having checked these are adequate and reference will be made to them in contractual agreements.

YCI expects to be informed by its partners of any safeguarding incident in any YCI supported or directed project.  The partner has the primary duty of care to its beneficiaries and community members; they should lead investigation and YCI will support wherever it can and is appropriate to do so.

2.4  YCI’s approach to working with children, young people and adults at risk

YCI works within the broader context of the global YMCA movement and its guiding documents including the Paris Basis (1855); the Kampala Principles (1973) and     Challenge 21 (1998). These agreements emphasise the YMCAs role in working together as one, in equal opportunity and justice for all and advocating for and promoting the rights of women and upholding the rights of children.

As a youth focussed organisation we primarily seek to work with 15-24 year-olds. In doing so, we will have wider contact with children and adults at risk. We expect our representatives to work within these principles whenever involved in relationships with children, young people and/or adults at risk. They should promote them as good practice with our partner organisations and more widely.

  • Respect for human rights – we recognise young people as rights holders. We will work with them to ensure that they can claim and enjoy their full entitlement of human rights.
  • Participation & empowerment – In order to achieve YCI’s vision and mission, our work is based on the ascertainable needs, views and experiences of young people. This means ensuring that our work is based on a participative agenda with young people that accepts and values their opinions and experiences. People should be supported and encouraged to make their own decisions about their lives and have informed consent in their relationship with us.
  • Commitment to the holistic development of young people – YCI promotes the holistic development of children and young people through a range of programmes including education, capacity building and personal development. In this way, YCI seeks to empower and facilitate young people to become agents in their own development and that of their communities.
  • Equality and inclusion – we recognise the inherent worth of all. We aim to remove barriers which prevent young people from participating fully in our work.
  • Critical reflection and learning – Our work will be guided by good practice in international development and youth work. YCI encourages critical reflection on its practice, striving to evaluate our work in a participatory way and to ensure that the learning is used to further strengthen and develop our work with young people. We will value informal and experiential learning in the development process.
  • Evolving capacity – youth is a life stage characterised by the development of an individuals’ abilities and capacity to make decisions and to take action. We seek to work in a manner which respects the evolving capacities of individuals to make decisions and take action as they become fully aware of the consequences of those choices. We respect individuals with capacity right to make decisions, even where those decisions may not be thought to be in their best interests.
  • Prevention – we will always act in a way to prevent harm from occurring. We will work with individuals to reduce risks of harm or abuse. We will seek to develop high quality person-centred services in safe environments.
  • Proportionality – safeguarding responses should be proportionate to the nature and seriousness of the concern. Where we need to act in a manner which goes against the views and wishes of an individual we will choose the least intrusive and restrictive response appropriate to the risk.
  • Respect to parents and caregivers – We recognise that parents and families are the primary carers of young people. We will work with them, in all their diverse forms, and others who care for young people to fulfil their responsibilities. Where appropriate, we will ascertain the views of others who have an interest in the well-being of those with whom we work.
  • Partnerships – we recognise that we must work with others to achieve the right outcome for young people. We will work with others and wider communities to prevent, detect and respond to the needs of and young people.

3  When This Policy Applies

3.1  YCI Activity

This policy and associated procedures applies to all YCI supported or directed activities and may include:

  • through delivery of global youth work
  • work with volunteers
  • facilitating consultations and needs assessments
  • during project visits
  • monitoring and evaluation visits
  • collection of case studies

This activity may also include indirect contact, like reviewing personal details of young people engaged in our activities, having access to photographs or videos in which they feature or in writing about an individual.

This policy is to be used by three distinct groups directly involved in YCI activity. All these groups must follow the policy and procedures. They must ensure they are aware of the specific guidelines relating to them in their role.

These three groups are:

3.1.1  YCI Staff, Trustees, Volunteers; (from this point referred to as ‘YCI representatives’)

For staff, failure to follow the policy, procedures or guidelines may lead to disciplinary action. The Disciplinary Policy is included in the Staff Handbook. For volunteers, a similar failure may lead to YCI terminating our relationship with the individual.

Everyone, including staff and volunteers in partner organisations working on a YCI supported or directed project, are expected to agree to and sign YCI’s Code of Conduct.

For trustees, it is a requirement of the Trustee Code of Conduct to fulfil the duties outlined in this policy. The Trustee Code of Conduct can be found at this link: Trustee Handbook.  The Board nominates a safeguarding focal point, in keeping with best practice, and this responsibility is published on the Trustees page of YCI’s website together with a confidential email address for the Trustee to which safeguarding matters can be addressed privately. The Chief Executive reports to this Trustee any safeguarding matter that is made known to the Executive.

3.1.2  Consultants

YCI regularly contracts individuals who will undertake work on a consultancy basis on behalf of YCI. These are usually consultants, trainers, journalists or photographers contracted by YCI to undertake an assignment that will involve direct and indirect contact with children, young people or adults at risk.

The failure of the contracted individual or body to agree to YCI’s Code of Conduct, or follow the policy, procedures or guidelines in the Policy may lead to YCI terminating our relationship with them and seeking redress for breach of contract.

3.1.3  Visitors to YCI-supported projects

Visitors to YCI-supported projects in the UK, Ireland and internationally may include youth workers, young people, representatives from donor organisations, representatives from YMCA partner organisations and individual supporters.

All visitors must state that they have read and understood the Policy and Code of Conduct how it relates to their role. Before undertaking the visit, the YCI representative co-ordinating the visit must ensure they receive a briefing on the Policy. Failure to follow the policy, procedures or guidelines in the Policy may lead to YCI terminating our relationship with the visitor.

3.2  Responsibilities in a joint initiative

In any joint activities or initiatives with external organisations YCI will discuss with the partner organisation/s who has responsibility for safeguarding (“safeguarding lead organisation”) and therefore which polic(ies) and procedures will be followed for the purpose of the joint initiative.

In reaching this decision in discussion with the other agency the YCI representative should consider:

  • The contractual nature of the relationship
  • Which agency has most direct contact with young people during the initiative
  • The legal standards and context for the country where the joint initiative will occur
  • Where there are significant difference between the policies and procedures of the partner and YCI, namely, if following a partner’s standards would increase the risk of harm occurring to young people to an unacceptable degree in comparison with the use of YCI’s policies and procedures
  • Whether they believe the partner has the capacity to implement its own policies and procedures
  • The reputational risk to YCI in not following its own policies and procedures.

Should staff consider they need assistance in making this decision they should consult their line manager / relevant YCI contact. If this does not lead to a decision, the member of staff must consult the YCI Designated Safeguarding Lead.

Before the initiative begins, the YCI representative leading our participation in the joint initiative must ensure that a written agreement has been made which clarifies who is the safeguarding lead organisation and which procedures will be followed. Where possible this should be included in the relevant Memorandum of Understanding/Project Framework Agreement or similar document.

YCI always reserves the right to take independent action if we consider that the safeguarding lead organisation is not responding adequately enough, especially in situations of identifying immediate risk of harm. Where appropriate we will seek to discuss this with the other organisation in advance before substituting its policies or procedures.

Where YCI is the safeguarding lead organisation we will always accept challenge and concern from partners in a positive spirit and prioritise actions in the best interests of those who have experienced or are at risk of harm.

3.3  Our international partners

YCI’s partners are independent organisations that are expected to have their own and adequate safeguarding policies and procedures in place before YCI will enter in to partnership.

Everyone, including staff and volunteers in partner organisations working on a YCI supported or directed project, are expected to agree to and sign YCI’s Code of Conduct.

In most circumstances, when visiting a partner and a safeguarding concern has arisen, the YCI representatives will report a concern through the partner’s safeguarding procedures. If the partner organisation does not have a procedure for responding to a concern of harm, the YCI representative should use YCI procedures. Regardless, they must always inform the Designated Safeguarding Lead of the report.

4  Definitions

4.1  Definition of safeguarding

For the purposes of this policy, safeguarding is the proactive precautionary action necessary to protect people from abuse and maltreatment so as to prevent impairment of their health, development and/or a violation of their human rights. It aims to ensure that everyone, including children, young people and adults at risk can develop in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care, where their inherent worth and dignity are protected, and they have optimum life chances.

As part of our commitment to safeguarding we act to protect those who are experiencing or likely to experience significant harm. 

4.2  Definition of children, young people and adults at risk

Anyone can experience harm, abuse and maltreatment. Often where abuse occurs is linked to the circumstances individuals find themselves in rather than their characteristics. We believe that everyone should enjoy equal protection from abuse.

We recognise however that some have additional legal protection from harm and can be more vulnerable to harm occurring to them.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child defines all those under-18 years of age as children. Children have specific legal safeguards, and often different needs than older people. YCI will always be sensitive to the additional protections which are necessary for individuals under the age of 18, balancing respect for their evolving capacities and the additional protection which children are entitled.

It is a principle of English law that a child’s welfare is the paramount consideration in all matters. Where conflicts of interest arise between safeguarding children and adults, it is the best interests of children that will be given priority.

The UN defines a young person as those between the ages of 15 and 24. YCI recognises that the definition of a young person varies among its partner organisations, including through the legal definition in the specific country or context.

YCI mainly engages with individuals aged over 18, whom in most partner countries are defined as adults. We recognise that we have specific responsibilities to adults at risk of harm. These are adults who have care and support needs (including health needs) and experience, or are at risk of, abuse and unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of, abuse (including neglect) due to their needs.

An adult with care and support needs may include but is not limited to:

  • an older person
  • a person with a physical disability, a learning difficulty or a sensory impairment
  • someone with mental health needs, including dementia or a personality disorder
  • a person with a long-term health condition
  • someone who misuses substances or alcohol to the extent that it affects their ability to manage day-to-day living.

4.3  Definition of Abuse

“Abuse” or “maltreatment” constitutes ‘all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child or young person’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power.’[3]

Somebody may abuse or neglect someone by inflicting harm or by failing to act to prevent harm. People may be abused in a family or in an institutional or community setting, by those known to them or, more rarely, by a stranger. Often those who intend to cause harm will forge or use positions of trust, influence and power to abuse an individual. This abuse may occur both physically, mentally or via the internet. This abuse may be perpetrated by an adult or adults, or a child/young person or a group of children/young people.

We recognise that abuse can take many forms. Appendix one lists just some of the ways that we understand abuse and maltreatment to occur.

5  Policy Implementation

All YCI representatives – and not just those whose posts involve more direct contact with children and young people – share responsibility for the implementation and monitoring of this policy.

5.1  Board of Trustees

It is the responsibility of the Board of Trustees to ensure that there is a robust policy and procedure for safeguarding, to monitor safeguarding issues as it feels necessary and to decide whether to report Serious Incidents to the Charity Commission.

5.2  Chief Executive

The Chief Executive must ensure that the organisation has a designated staff member (“Designated Safeguarding Lead”) to support implementation of this policy and its associated procedures and guidance. The Chief Executive must ensure that the appointed individual has the relevant knowledge, skills and experience to fulfil responsibilities and that they have time and resources necessary for them to fulfil these responsibilities to the best of their abilities.

The Chief Executive must ensure that all Trustees are made aware of the Safeguarding Policy.

5.3  Designated Safeguarding Lead

The purpose of the Designated Safeguarding Lead is to champion the full implementation of the Safeguarding Policy. They must fulfil their responsibilities to the best of their abilities.

When the Designated Safeguarding Lead is unavailable or an individual believes it would be inappropriate to discuss a safeguarding matter with them any YCI representative with concerns should contact the Chief Executive directly.

5.4  Line managers

All YCI managers must ensure that the staff, volunteers or consultants they recruit or others for whom they have line-management responsibility or they are holding the relationship with are made aware of the policy, relevant procedures and guidelines. They are to ensure that they receive training and guidance appropriate to their role.

5.5  All YCI representatives

In addition to adhering to the principle of this policy, all representatives who receive an allegation or disclosure of abuse from any source, or who suspect abuse or have a wider concern about risk of harm, must report this to the Designated Safeguarding Lead.

5.6  Our wider safeguarding framework

In addition to this policy, the Designated Safeguarding Lead must ensure that there is an appropriate range of procedures and guidance relevant to our work. This will include:

  • Code of Conduct
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Induction, training and on-going support
  • Responding to a safeguarding concern
  • Confidentiality and information sharing
  • Soliciting and publishing information and images
  • Supporting our international partners to safeguard
  • Guidelines in specific circumstance
  • Guidelines for fundraising from adults at risk

This policy and its associated Procedures and Guidance work alongside our wider policy framework. This includes but is not limited to our Grievance, Disciplinary, Equality and Diversity, Data Protection, Whistle Blowing, Health & Safety, Lone Working, IT and Social Media policies. Where there is any conflict between this policy and its associated procedures and other policies, procures or established ways of working, the priority is always to safeguard people at risk of harm.

6  Awareness Raising

YCI recognises that effective policy implementation will depend on all YCI representatives and other relevant stakeholders having awareness of this policy. The Designated Safeguarding Lead is responsible for coordinating the awareness-raising of this policy amongst YCI representatives, consultants, visitors to projects and beneficiaries. However, this must be undertaken by all members of the Senior Management Team and line managers as necessary.

Actions which they could undertake include:

  • Ensuring a full copy and summary of the policy are available of the YCI website. This should include a summary in a manner which is targeted at children and young people which may be directly engaged in YCI activities.
  • A leaflet for young people directly engaged in YCI activities on how they can raise a concern about a YCI representative or consultant.
  • Ensuring a summary of the policy is translated into relevant languages.
  • Leading regular briefing and awareness raising sessions for YCI representatives and consultants.

7  Policy Review

The Designated Safeguarding Lead should regularly consult the Senior Management team and relevant staff on experience of implementation of the policy and procedures on a regular basis. Line managers should ensure that any feedback or learning gained in Regular Work Reviews and Exit Interviews in relation to the policy are proactively shared with the Designated Safeguarding Officer.

On an annual basis, YCI will publish a statement in its Trustees Annual Report and Accounts which highlights any significant changes or issues relating to safeguarding.

It is intended that at least every three years, a fuller review of the policy and procedures should be undertaken; including external challenge. This should include:

  • A reassessment of the legal and policy environment
  • Learning from the previous three years
  • Changes to the structure and type of activities undertaken by the organisation
  • The ascertainable views of young people on policies and procedures and how they are working.

This should result in a revised and republished policy and procedure for Trustee approval.

Appendix one: Y Care Internationals understanding of abuse and maltreatment

Discriminatory abuse / hate crime & incitement to hatred

An individual or group being treated unequally because of their personal characteristics. It involves ignoring a person’s values, beliefs and culture and includes forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment because of their personal characteristics. This includes but is not limited to someone’s age, disability, gender identity or expression, marriage and civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion and belief, sex or sexual orientation.

The term ‘hate crime’ can be used to describe a range of criminal behaviour where the victim, or anyone else, believes it was motivated by hostility or demonstrates hostility based on prejudice or hate.

‘Incitement to hatred’ is where a person says or does something which is threatening, abusive or insulting and, by doing so, either intends to stir up hatred, or makes it likely that hatred will be stirred up on the grounds of a personal characteristic.

Domestic abuse / Intimate Partner or Familial abuse

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive, threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are, or have been, intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality.

Controlling behaviour is a range of acts designed to make a person subordinate and/or dependent by isolating them from sources of support, exploiting their resources and capacities for personal gain, depriving them of the means needed for independence,

resistance and escape and regulating their everyday behaviour.

Coercive behaviour is a continuing act or a pattern of acts of assault, threats, humiliation and intimidation or other abuse that is used to harm, punish, or frighten their victim.

Emotional or psychological abuse

Emotional abuse is the persistent emotional maltreatment such as to cause severe and persistent adverse effects on the persons emotional development.

It can include:

  • conveying that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of another person.
  • not giving them opportunities to express their views, deliberately silencing them or ‘making fun’ of what they say or how they communicate.
  • age or developmentally inappropriate expectations being imposed on them. These may include interactions that are beyond the persons developmental capability.
  • overprotection and enforced social isolation – preventing someone accessing services, educational and social opportunities and seeing friends which them limit exploration and growth
  • preventing them from participating in normal social interaction.
  • seeing or hearing the ill-treatment of another
  • removing mobility or communication aids or intentionally leaving someone unattended when they need assistance and have a reasonable expectation of assistance
  • serious bullying (including cyberbullying)
  • causing young person frequently to feel frightened or in danger,

Some level of emotional abuse is involved in all types of maltreatment of a young person, though it may occur alone.

Forced marriage

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. A marriage must be entered into with the free and full consent of both parties where they feel they have a choice.

An arranged marriage is not the same as a forced marriage. In an arranged marriage, the families take a leading role in choosing the marriage partner, but both parties are free to choose whether to enter into the marriage or not.

Financial or material abuse

The use of a person’s funds and belongings without their permission. This could be theft, fraud, internet scamming, coercion in relation to an adult’s financial affairs or arrangements, including in connection to wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Honour based violence

A violent crime or incident which may have been committed to protect or defend the honour of the family or community.

It is often linked to family members or acquaintances who mistakenly believe someone has brought shame to their family or community by doing something that is not in keeping with the traditional beliefs of their culture. For example, honour based violence might be committed against people who:

  • become involved with a boyfriend or girlfriend from a different culture or religion
  • want to get out of an arranged marriage
  • want to get out of a forced marriage
  • wear clothes or take part in activities that might not be considered traditional within a particular culture

Neglect / omission or failure to act

Neglect is the persistent failure to meet a person’s basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of their health or development.

It can include failure of a parent or caregiver to:

  • provide adequate food, clothing and shelter (including exclusion from home or abandonment);
  • protect an individual from physical and emotional harm or danger;
  • ensure adequate supervision (including the use of inadequate care-givers); or
  • ensure access to appropriate medical care or treatment.
  • meet a child or vulnerable persons basic emotional needs.

Modern slavery

This encompasses slavery, human trafficking, and forced labour and domestic servitude.

Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Human trafficking includes the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

Organisational abuse

Where neglect and poor care practice within an institution or specific care setting (such as a hospital or care home or in relation to care provided in one’s own home). This may range from one off incidents to on-going ill-treatment. It can be through neglect or poor professional practice as a result of the structure, policies, processes and practices within an organisation.

Physical abuse

A form of abuse which may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm. Physical harm may also be caused when a parent or carer fabricates the symptoms of, or deliberately induces, illness or misuses medication. It can include inappropriate use of physical restraint and sanctions.

Radicalisation to violent extremism and/or terrorism

The process by which an individual or group comes to support terrorism and extremist ideologies associated with terrorist groups.

In English law, terrorism is defined as an action that endangers or causes serious violence to a person/people; causes serious damage to property; or seriously interferes with or disrupts an electronic system. The use or threat must be designed to influence the government or to intimidate the public and is made for the purpose of advancing political, religious or ideological cause.

This may include adopting increasingly extreme political, social, or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or reject and/or undermine contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice.

Caution must be given to the balance between exercising freedom of association or speech to express unpopular opinions and those which cause deliberate intent of harm.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is when a person becomes involved in sexual relationships or activities that they do not want to be involved in. They may have said that they do not want to be involved, were pressured into consenting or they may be unable to give consent due to age or capacity.

It may involve forcing or enticing someone to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the person is aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including assault or attempted assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside of clothing. They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving them in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images; indecent exposure; witnessing sexual activities; encouraging them to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming them in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).

Sexual exploitation is a form of abuse. It is a form of abuse where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive an individual into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator.


Those who fail or refuse to take care of their own basic needs. Neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings can include a wide range of behaviours such as hoarding.

Spiritual abuse 

Within faith communities, harm can also be caused by the inappropriate use of religious belief or practice. The coercion and control of one individual by another in a spiritual context.

This includes abuse perpetrated because of:

  • The misuse of the authority of leadership or penitential discipline, oppressive teaching, or intrusive healing and deliverance ministries.
  • The misuse of scripture or the pulpit to control behavior
  • Requirement of obedience to the abuser, the suggestion that the abuser has a ‘divine’ position
  • Belief in concepts of witchcraft and spirit possession, demons or the devil acting through individuals or leading them astray
  • Ritualistic activities cause harm to bring supernatural benefits or the use of their body parts is believed to produce potent magical remedies
  • Use of belief in magic or witchcraft to create fear to make them more compliant when they are being trafficked for domestic slavery or sexual exploitation.
  • Isolation from others, especially those external to the abusive context.

[1] See for details the Department for Education (2015) Working Together to Safeguard Children; Department of Health (2016) Care and support statutory guidance and Home Office (2015) Revised Prevent duty guidance: for England and Wales

Note, we will always follow the most recent version of statutory guidance in force. Our representatives may also find it useful to access the Department for Constitutional Affairs (2007) Mental Capacity Act 2005 Code of Practice and Office of the Public Guardian (2009) Making decisions: a guide for advice workers.

[2] See for details in the Fundraising Regulator (2017) Code of Fundraising Practice and the Institute of Fundraising (2016) Treating Donors Fairly’ Guidance

[3] World Health Organisation (1999) Report of the Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention