The Importance of Safeguarding I Sparta Health
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This post is by associate Triage Practitioner, and guest blogger, Matthew Savage 

When asked to rate level of risk in reference to certain scenarios, people will rate risk with a wide variation in scores. This score can be influenced by individual personality, social environment, how busy someone is, by what others have said about the situation, our life experience and our general attitude to risk. This is what makes the issue of safeguarding such an important subject to discuss as safeguarding can be likened to a jigsaw, in so much that it is not always easy to work out which piece fits where. Like a jigsaw, it is rarely the “corner bits” we need to think about. It’s the sky and the sea or the “grey areas” that we find harder to identify as they are more obscure, just like numerous issues in regard to safeguarding vulnerable adults and children.

But safeguarding is everyone’s business which is why it is important to understand who is most at risk, what the legislation says, what kind of risks exist, what are the signs of abuse and why it is so important to consider.

Who is “at risk”?

Anyone can be at risk to abuse, neglect or maltreatment but some people are more at risk than others. A child at risk can be defined as any person under 18 years old who is at risk of abuse, neglect or other kinds of harm and have needs for care and support. An adult will be defined as the same for someone over the age of 18 years (Care Act, 2014).

Major Safeguarding Legislation  

There are many different pieces of legislation that help those at risk. The following are just a few of the major pieces of legislation that it is important to know about:

The Care Act 2014 – The care act places local authorities at the heart of care and support for “at risk” adults and their wellbeing. The act defines safeguarding duties as providing care and support for those at risk, or experiencing, abuse and neglect and providing services and provision for the prevention and protection of at-risk people.

Working Together to Safeguard Children 2018 – Defining a child as anyone under the age of 18 years old, the “Working Together” legislation outlines guidance on how practitioners can ensure children and young people remain safe from harm, by working together under the same principles. The act aims to empower and provide guidelines for the prevention and protect of those at risk whilst promoting proportional responses and accountability of agencies.

Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) – The MCA’s main principle suggests that a person has capacity to make decisions unless proven otherwise. It’s about dignity and respect and provides guidelines for acting and making decisions in the best interest of adults who are deemed to lack the capacity to make decisions by themselves.

In addition to these, many other acts and guidelines exist to safeguard those at risk. These are useful to know and include the Declaration of Liberty Act, Domestic Abuse Act, Clare’s Law on domestic violence disclosure, Sarah’s Law (giving parents or guardians the right to ask police for information about adults who have been in contact with their child and whom they may be concerned about) and Ask for Angela incentive (aims to protect those who feel unsafe when in public, encouraging them to speak to venue staff and ‘Ask for Angela” who can then support them).

What safeguarding issues exist in today’s society?

As noted, spotting those at risk is not always easy. However, some of the main risks that exist today fall into the following categories:

Forced gang related activity – “County Lines” is a form of criminal exploitation whereby gangs often use children and vulnerable adults to take drugs to different parts of the country. This is a problem across the whole country and not just in inner city areas, with children as young as 9 and 10 found taking drugs from one part of the country to the other. Children and vulnerable adults can be coerced into such activities both face to face and online, tempted by money and material goods, social status or to combat social isolation. Others may not be capable of perceiving the risk. Signs of abuse may include changes in behaviour, signs of assault, unexplained bus or train tickets, using phrases such as “going country” or unexplained absences from school or other activities.

Grooming by extremists – It is often social isolation and a lack of processing ability that can lead to vulnerable adults and children being exploited by extremists. It could mean radicalisation to a particular way of thinking or encouragement to commit acts of hate, either in person or online. “Contest” and “Prevent” are the UK’s Counter Terrorism strategies and state the main areas of focus; Prevent, Pursue, Protect and Prepare. All of these steps are key to try and stop radicalisation, with ‘Prevent’ being something we all can try and do, simply by supporting those most vulnerable to exploitation.

Cuckooing – Named after the Cuckoo bird which takes over the nest of other birds, this is the practice whereby people take over another person’s home to facilitate exploitation. This does not have to be at the extreme levels of taking over a home for uses such as sex work or to deal or store drugs. This could simply be unwanted occupants, exploiting vulnerable people for their space. Those most at risk may feel incapable of asking people to leave and signs can include an increase in the amount of people entering or leaving a property regularly, an increase in cars or bikes outside, litter, signs of drug use, antisocial behaviour and a potential reduction in healthcare visitors for older or known vulnerable people (Crimestoppers, 2022).

Domestic servitude and domestic abuse – Abuse across both domains can include forced labour or abuse towards a spouse or person living in the same home as the person facing economic, emotional, controlling or coercive behaviours. The Domestic Abuse Act (2021) has now extended the scope of abuse and provided a statutory definition for this kind of abuse, which is a long overdue piece of legislation. It provides protection against abuse and states that domestic abuse can be committed by partners, ex-partners, immediate family members and family friends.

Conclusion

It can be difficult and scary to report safeguarding issues, but we must all try and raise concerns, no matter how small or trivial they may seem. It may be a concern that we might lose a job or the trust of a client or friend if working as a practitioner or some may feel “its not a good time”, “my friends/neighbours won’t trust me anymore”, “I will lose business” or “I might be put at risk”, but it is our duty of care to others to report safeguarding issues. For those who make reports, identities can be protected, and privileged notes can be created to ensure information is kept confidential. It is also important to remember that GDPR principles do not prevent, or limit, the sharing of information for the purpose of keeping children safe and this should be done to ensure children get the support and protection they need (GDPR and Dara Protection Act, 2018). We can all be a solution to the safeguarding puzzle if we work together and are advocates for those most at risk when they need us.

About Matt Savage

Matthew Savage is an associate triage practitioner and neurological personal trainer. He has two masters degrees, one in psychology, another in clinical neuroscience at the distinction level and is also a Level 3 Personal trainer. Matthew combines his knowledge and interest in neuroscience, cognitive and physical rehabilitation and general wellbeing to provide positive physical and mental support to his clients.

 

The Importance of Safeguarding

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